Learning Support

For a student to learn effectively, many pieces need to fall into place – the school environment, their home environment, and the student’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Sometimes one of those areas needs support to bridge the gap to the student’s success, and that’s where the Learning Support Department comes in.

Learning Support focuses on providing support and care for students finding regular classroom learning difficult. The difficulties may result from learning, health or behavioural issues.

  • short term help is available for students dealing with physical injuries, short term medical problems or knowledge/learning gaps
  • long term help is available for students with physical, sensory, medical, mental or physical health issues, diagnosed learning differences such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, behavioural needs such as ADD/ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as those with literacy or numeracy problems.

We support students of all academic abilities and work closely with others in our school Student Support team – Guidance Counsellors, Deans, School Nurses – and with outside specialist support services such as Resource teachers for children with vision and hearing problems, Occupational Therapists, Educational Psychologists, and Special Needs advisors.

While many students arrive at the school with diagnosed or known conditions, some develop a need for assistance during their time here. In both cases, our team is committed to assessing the student’s difficulties and developing an individual plan to assist.
Most students are included in regular classroom lessons with learning programmes adapted to meet their specific learning styles and needs, and with Teacher Aide support.

Some students attend individual or small group classes in the Learning Centre for specialist teaching across all or some curriculum areas and levels. All of these students are encouraged to attempt suitable and relevant standards towards the NCEA qualifications.

Another of the Learning Centre’s programmes is a Learning Studies option course for students who need extra time and assistance in small groups to complete work in other subjects, or help with study and organisational skills.  Entry to these classes is decided on individual need.

In the Junior school, additional literacy and/or numeracy support classes run as an alternative to the language option classes.

Year 11,12 and 13 students may select a unit standards course, LIFT, which focuses on developing study, research and future training skills.

At certain times for many different reasons, students who have special learning needs may be briefly withdrawn from their usual lesson to meet with a specialist from outside MAGS or with a teacher from the Learner Support faculty at MAGS.

Reasons include:

  • Meeting with a teacher or advisor from Kelston Deaf Education Centre or the Blind and Low Vision Network NZ
  • Meeting with a teacher from the Northern Health School
  • Meeting with a Special Education advisor from the Ministry of Education
  • Meeting with a Learner Support teacher regarding special assessment conditions, assistive technology etc
  • Meeting with a Learner Support teacher for an assessment

These meetings are important and care will be taken that students do not have too much time out of their usual class.  They will not be withdrawn from class in a period when others in their class are doing an assessment. Every care will be taken to ensure the disruption is minimised.

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)

Special Assessment Conditions may be given for students with recognised learning difficulties, physical disability, sight or hearing impairment, or a medical condition.  To be eligible for SAC, data to support the application is needed from either a registered assessor, medical specialist or from school-based evidence of specific learning needs.  This assessment must be carried out within two years of students entering NCEA.


We encourage any eligible Junior student to experiment with the various assessment assistance options available during Years 9 and 10 as these trials form part of the school’s application for assistance for NCEA level work from Year 11 on.


An application for Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) is made by the school for students who meet the criteria for specific learning difficulties, sensory and medical needs. The decision around eligibility is made by NZQA. Students with approved SAC may use them for NCEA internal assessments, school examinations and external examinations. To discuss eligibility, please contact the Head of Learning Support.

Click here to contact staff in the Learning Support Centre