New Zealand Certificate in Education Support (Level 4)


Dunedin Campus with work-based learning

13 weeks full-time
March and August

Do you want to see young people reach their potential and thrive? 

Education Support workers work alongside teachers and other education professionals and are in high demand in New Zealand. 

Roles include a Teacher Aide for students ranging from early childhood students up to, and including, tertiary students. Support work can span health or the social services sectors assisting disadvantaged young people or those with disabilities. 

This programme is for those currently working in an education support role (who would like to upskill and gain a formal qualification recognising skills and experience) or those that would like to be. It has been designed to ensure you graduate with the full range of skills that these support roles demand. 

Please note: You need to either be currently employed as an education support or be willing to work on placement (in a volunteer capacity) where you will be supervised as you assist young learners in their education setting. 

Career opportunities

Graduates will have the skills and knowledge for roles such as:

  • Teacher Aide
  • ICT Assistant
  • Library Assistant Administrator in a school or early childhood settings
  • Community Support Worker in the community disability sector. 
Entry requirements 

Academic requirements

  • For those under 20: NCEA Level 2 with passes in English/Te Reo Māori, or equivalent.
  • For those 20 and over: No minimum academic requirements.
  • In exceptional circumstances, an applicant under the age of 20 who does not meet the academic entry requirements may be granted entry to the programme where you supply evidence of your ability to succeed on the programme. 

English Language requirements 

If English is not your first language, you must provide:

If you need to improve your English Language skills, we offer a wide range of English programmes.

Other requirements 

  • You must provide evidence that you have access to an education setting to complete 72 hours of paid or voluntary work under the supervision of a registered teacher. Please note: applicants may be supported to locate a suitable setting but Otago Polytechnic does not undertake to provide placements for learners.
  • You’ll be required to undergo a safety check consistent with the Children’s Act 2014. This will include:
    • satisfactory reference check: you’ll need to provide two character references. These should be from people in positions of trust or responsibility such as an employer, teacher, pastor, kaumatua or kuia. References from family, friends or work colleagues will not be accepted.
    • satisfactory police check: you’ll need to provide a signed consent form which allows Otago Polytechnic to check your record of convictions on entry, during and prior to completing the programme.

Please note: All applicants with any convictions will be required to attend an interview with the Programme Manager and may be declined entry depending on the severity, recency, age at offending and pattern of offending.  

Selection process

Where there are more applicants than places available, learners will be selected based on the order of their applications being received. 

Want your existing skills recognised?

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification through work experience in age support, disability support, mental health, social work or youth work or other relevant community services. 

You will study 

This programme is made up of four courses. 

Roles and Responsibilities

(Level 4, 10 credits) 

Examine the roles and responsibilities of an education support or teacher aide worker. Develop skills in professional communication, roles and relationships, as well as the ethical and legal responsibilities as they relate to the health and safety of children within a bicultural context of Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Indicative content

  • Legal responsibilities
  • Professional responsibilities
  • The Education Act
  • Children’s Act
  • Health and Safety
  • Self-regulation and Positive Guidance
  • Responding to challenging behaviour
  • Role of the teacher aide/education support worker
  • Role of the teacher
  • Communicating with colleagues, children and hanau
  • Child protection
  • Education Council Code of Ethics
  • Reflection 

Including All Learners: E Pā Ana Ki Kā Ᾱkoka Katoa

(Level 4, 10 credits) 

Develop reciprocal, responsive, and inclusive relationship-building strategies alongside children within the bicultural context of Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Indicative content

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • Treaty-based practice (bicultural practices)
  • Whakawhanaungatanga
  • Reciprocal, responsive relationships
  • Te Reo and Tikanga Māori
  • Tātaiako cultural competencies
  • Learner needs
  • Inclusion: i.e. inclusive practice – age; gender; cultural; socio-economic background; additional needs; ability
  • Language and labelling
  • Children with additional needs
  • Individual education plans
  • Working with special education services
  • Resources to support working with diverse learners e.g. sign language 

Children’s Learning and Development: Te Akoraka Me Te Whanaketaka Tamariki

(Level 4, 10 credits) 

Explore how children learn and develop, focusing on the influence of culture and society on learning and development using theories relevant to the bicultural context of Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Indicative content

  • Socio-cultural theory
  • Learning and developmental theory
  • Ako – Reciprocity of teaching and learning
  • Developmental progressions may include language, physical, literacy, numeracy and social
  • Cognitive development
  • Relevant Ministry of Education reports and documents 

Supporting Children’s Learning: Tautoko I Te Tamariki

(Level 4, 10 credits) 

Develop your skills in working alongside teachers to plan, implement and evaluate teaching and learning for children in the bicultural context of Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Indicative content

  • Curriculum documents
  • Assisting with planning, implementation and evaluation of teaching and learning
  • Learner-centred practice
  • Resource uses and development
  • Technology-enhanced learning
  • Teaching strategies for working with individuals and small groups
  • Transitions within and between contexts 
Work placements

These placements provide invaluable learning opportunities and will help you to link theory with practice. 

You’ll be required to engage in a range of education support and related activities in a nationally-recognised education setting under the guidance of your Otago Polytechnic lecturers. 

Examples of work-integrated activities include planning teaching and learning activities, as well as using strategies to engage and support young children in learning. 

Your workload

Full-time learners would be expected to spend about 30 hours a week studying and part-time learners about 15 hours. The programme will be delivered flexibly and a proportion of your learning will be work-based. 

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme. 

Further study options
Student loans and allowances with TTAF

Whilst this programme is free for you to study via the Trades and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), this fund only covers tuition fees and compulsory costs such as student levies. It does not cover any living costs. You can pay for additional and living costs by yourself if that is possible for you or by applying for a loan or allowance through Studylink.      

It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

  • For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website 

Please note: Student Loans and Allowances and TTAF are available for domestic students only.  

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