Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)
Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) is a service provided by the Ministry of Education that assists children and young people with safety and/or mobility needs that prevent them from travelling independently to school.
- How to apply
- Is my child eligible for SESTA?
- What services does the Ministry provide?
- Changes of circumstance
- Appealing a decision
- Responsibilities of drivers, school staff, and caregivers
If your child has safety and/or mobility needs they may be eligible for Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA). While it is your responsibility to get students to and from school, the Ministry may provide assistance in cases where extra assistance is required to make the journey as safe as practicable for your child.
Applications for SESTA should be completed together by the caregiver and the school. There are two ways to apply for SESTA:
- Online: fill in the online SESTA form
Online SESTA form
- Paper-based: Download the SESTA application form or pick up a copy from your local Ministry of Education office
SESTA application form
Local Ministry of Education office
Please note: we recommend filling in the online SESTA form over the paper-based application form. The online SESTA form is user-friendly, process times are quicker and it is more secure than the paper-based form. The online SESTA form also offers the ability to track your application through the SESTA approval process.
If you want to submit an application for SESTA for the following year or make changes to existing arrangements, the application should be processed as soon as possible and be received at the Ministry’s National Office no later than the date shown on the application form.
The personal information on the form is collected for the purposes of assessing eligibility for SESTA and for reporting and evaluation purposes. The information collected by the Ministry may be used or disclosed by the Ministry only for these purposes.
The information will be used and held by the Ministry under the Privacy Act 1993 (and, where applicable, the Health Information Privacy Code 1994), and caregivers have the right to see the information and ask us to correct it.
Please note that all SESTA vehicles are fitted with internal security cameras. The camera footage is only able to be reviewed by Police, and we require our operators to keep at least the last 168 hours of footage available
Students are eligible for SESTA if they meet all three criteria:
- are between the ages of 5 and 21 years old, and
- have safety and/ or mobility needs that prevent them from travelling independently to and from school or accessing public transport or a school bus. A safety need may be where a significant risk of harm or danger to the student, or to others, exists during the journey to and from school. This may be due to challenges such as epilepsy, communication and social skills, understanding, self-management and decision making. A mobility need may be due to challenges such as reduced mobility, fatigue, medical conditions or limited motor skills; and
- are attending the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational setting that they can enrol at.
Your child is not eligible for SESTA if they are:
- on ACC (contact ACC for advice)
- boarding at residential schools, and need transport to and from home for the weekend or holidays
- attending a private school.
Eligibility is assessed based on the needs of the student. The Ministry is not able to take into account your financial position, hours of work or other unique circumstances when reviewing your application.
Safe Travel Plan form
A Safe Travel Plan is required when your child’s behaviours pose a risk to themselves or others while on a vehicle service, or their medical, physical or other conditions mean that they may require assistance during transport. If assistance is required, you and the school will need to fill out a Safe Travel Plan form to support your SESTA application.
You are responsible for letting the Ministry and transport operators know about any changes that may impact on the safety of your child or any other person. When changes occur, a new Safe Travel Plan will need to be provided.
- Safe Travel Plan form [DOCX, 55 KB]
If your child is eligible for SESTA they will receive either a place in a vehicle (this is not always guaranteed) or a conveyance allowance payment, to help contribute to the cost of you transporting your child to and from the closest school they can enrol at.
The closest school is defined as the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational setting that the student can enrol at. This may be:
- The closest age and gender appropriate school to the student’s primary residence, and at which they can enrol; or
- A Regional Director of Education determines that because of the student’s specific needs they have to enrol at another school; or
- The student is attending a specialist school under an agreement under section 37 of the Education and Training Act 2020; or
- The student is subject to a directed enrolment under section 14 of the Education and Training Act 2020.
If you’re not sure what your closest school is, you can discuss this with a local school, and schools can contact the Learning Support Manager at your local Ministry of Education office if they need more advice.
A place in a vehicle
When deciding whether a place in a vehicle will be provided, the Ministry will consider:
- The safety of your child, other students and the driver on the service;
- The length of time in a SESTA vehicle. Journey times (one way) should preferably be no longer than 40 minutes and must not exceed an hour; and
- The cost and availability of the service.
Transport for your child between school and an approved alternative home address may be arranged if:
- respite or after school care arrangements have been made at an approved address other than the student's usual home
- the student has more than one home address because of shared custody.
Transport between your home and an alternate address is your responsibility.
Specialist Equipment Funding form
If your child is eligible for SESTA, you can apply for Specialist Equipment Funding to pay for equipment that is used for transporting your child to and from school.
- Specialist Equipment Funding Application Form [DOCX, 104 KB]
If your child is otherwise eligible for SESTA but is not attending the closest school that they can enrol at, assistance will be provided in the form of a conveyance allowance to help contribute to the cost of transport to the closest school.
Please refer to the information below on the processes for the various types of changes:
- Change of School or Address: Requests for a change of enrolling school or residential address will require a new SESTA application to be completed. This application will require Section B to be completed by Learning Support, who will then pass the application on to School Transport.
- Change of Timetable, Satellite or Respite Address: For a change of Timetable, Satellite or a change or addition of a respite address, complete the Change of Information Form [DOCX, 112 KB] and send it to School Transport at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cancellation of service: If a student no longer requires a SESTA service please notify School Transport at email@example.com
If you want to appeal a decision, contact your school’s Learning Support Coordinator (or the Learning Support Manager at the local Ministry of Education office) for support through the appeal process, and help to complete the appeal form.
- SESTA Appeals form [DOCX, 185 KB]
Drivers, school staff, and caregivers all have responsibilities when using SESTA.
These responsibilities include obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Vulnerable Children Act.
You should first contact your enrolling school for help.
You can also contact the Learning Support Manager at your local Ministry of Education offices.
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