Te Rito Q & A

We love hearing your questions, here's answers to some frequently asked ones

Deployment process and timeline

1. When will our kura, school, Kāhui Ako or learning support cluster receive Te Rito, and what can we expect to happen?

Having recently completed and reviewed a national deployment plan, we need to take some additional steps in assuring that different systems can safely connect to Te Rito. While we do so, we are pausing the deployment of Te Rito.

Pausing deployment allows us to implement enhancements and continue preparation for a high-quality national deployment.

In the meantime, the development of Te Rito and support for those kura, schools and early learning services successfully using Te Rito will continue.  

We will keep you informed on progress. When we are back up and running, your regional team will work with you to agree when Te Rito will be available to your kura, school, Kāhui Ako or learning support cluster.

2. What can I expect to happen when we begin the process?

The process for connecting has three stages, Getting Ready, Getting Connected and Getting Started. Your regional office team will work with you to complete each stage.

We are currently working with all SMS providers so that they can integrate with Te Rito and will provide updates on timings as we progress this work. We are also working with providers to understand the commercial implications of any additional work to connect with and share information with Te Rito, so that you are not impacted by these changes.

The Ministry will provide training, including online modules, as part of the three-stage process for connecting. The Ministry Service Desk will provide technical support to you during and after your connection to Te Rito.

3. Which kura, schools or other education providers (early learning services, health schools, etc) will receive Te Rito?

We are working with all compulsory sector SMS providers so that they can integrate with Te Rito. We have specific technology requirements for the data connection, which are commonly used across the industry. We also set high standards for integration with Te Rito regarding things like security and privacy. This means that most SMS providers will need to make some changes to their systems, many of which are underway.

When we restart deployment, it is likely that we will prioritise kura and schools that are ready to connect, which includes their SMS being integrated with Te Rito.

Early learning services that are part of a learning support cluster will also be able to access Te Rito. They will do this directly, not via their SMS provider. Early learning service use of Te Rito is different from kura or schools, as the focus is on transition of learning support information as ākonga and learners move from early learning services into the compulsory sector. Early learning services will have access to the sLSR, the ‘Learning support’ and ‘Learning support over timedashboards. There is a different process for connecting to Te Rito if you are an early learning service.

Te Kura Pounamu will also be connected to Te Rito in due course.

4. Is Te Rito mandatory?

Connecting with Te Rito is voluntary. The dashboards and access to products like the sLSR are about enabling, informing, and empowering access to and use of information to benefit the education journey of ākonga and learners. We therefore hope that kura and schools will want to use Te Rito, and are able to describe the value and benefits to ākonga, learners, whānau and family.

5. Is Te Rito a Ministry system?

Te Rito is not a Ministry database - the Ministry does not have a log-on or access to data in Te Rito. Te Rito is a service maintained by the Ministry and available to kura, schools and early learning services to support ākonga and learners’ education journey. Information held in Te Rito belongs to the ākonga and learner, in the same way that information held in SMS and LMS systems belongs to the ākonga and learner.

If the Ministry wants to use aggregated information in Te Rito to inform policy or provide essential reporting, we will ask for permission via the Te Rito Kaitiakitanga oversight group, which is currently being established. Te Rito Kaitiakitanga is a cross-sector oversight group of principals, kaiako, teachers, ākonga, learners, parents, whānau, iwi and subject matter experts who will consider requests for the use and sharing of information in Te Rito.  Its role is to oversee and protect the appropriate use of information in Te Rito. If they approve a Ministry request for data sharing, the information will be sent from Te Rito to a Ministry database.

You will want to consider the benefits of using Te Rito for you, your ākonga and learners, their whānau, family and community.

We will provide guidance to support discussions about choosing to connect to Te Rito with your board and school community.

SMS providers

1. How does information travel between SMS providers and Te Rito?

Once your kura or school is connected to Te Rito, your SMS will automatically sync with it. This will happen every night so Te Rito will always have the most up to date information available.

The information is then stored in Te Rito, and can be accessed for dashboards, and combined with information directly input to Te Rito like the sLSR. When more than one kura or school in a Kāhui Ako or learning support cluster is connected, Te Rito can provide combined data and visual dashboards that show patterns and trends. This data is de-identified and aggregated, ensuring the privacy of individual ākonga and learners. So, no matter what SMS they use, you will have rich information about the ākonga and learners both in your kura or school and in your Kāhui Ako.

Currently the data flow is one-way. That means information comes into Te Rito from the SMS but does not flow back again. Over time this will move to two-way data flow. Two-way data flow will allow individual ākonga and learner information to ‘travel’ with the ākonga or learner. For example, when ākonga or learners move from one kura or school to another, their information will be sent from Te Rito into the new kura or school's SMS without needing to be entered again.

For the sLSR, personal information about learning support is manually entered into Te Rito and stays in Te Rito. The sLSR does not sync with your SMS provider, except for demographic data (like ākonga or learner’s name or NSN). When ākonga or learners move to other kura or schools, their learning support information will already be in Te Rito, for the new kura school to access directly, if appropriate consent has been provided.

2. Which SMS providers integrate with Te Rito?

Te Rito is designed to work with any kura or school SMS. All providers, including those already integrated, need to meet the same standards, including Te Rito’s strict security and privacy standards​. We are keen that each provider will be able integrate with Te Rito.

We are working with each SMS provider so that they have the same information and opportunity to integrate.

Part of the integration work we are doing with SMS providers is giving them a standard data format. This means that the information you enter to your SMS can be shared with Te Rito and will be consistent and compatible.

We have set up a specially designed test environment that SMS providers can use to test and learn one-way integration, using the Te Rito data specification.

Using Te Rito

1. What other education systems does Te Rito talk to, e.g. ENROL?

Te Rito is not currently intended to replace any existing systems, but we are planning to integrate with existing systems. We will work with the sector to understand which systems would be useful to connect to Te Rito. We have plans to connect with ENROL in the future, however, at this stage, there are no plans for Te Rito to replace ENROL. The ESOL register will not be a part of Te Rito. Over time, we also expect to connect with NZQA so that NCEA data can be accessed via Te Rito.

2. What information is automatically sent to Te Rito, and what can I add manually?

Once you’re connected, demographic and attendance information held in your SMS will automatically sync to Te Rito. Your SMS provider will align their system to the standard data format so that the information in the SMS is consistent and compatible.

It is not possible to extract learning support information from an SMS to Te Rito as there are too many variations in how data is entered. For example, naming conventions are not consistent from system to system. This means that learning support information will need to be manually entered and updated even if they are held in your SMS now. We expect Te Rito will be the single register for learning support needs.

The standard data format also means that any learning support information (or other ākonga or learner information) that is currently stored locally, in a spreadsheet for example, will also need to be manually uploaded.

You can upload attachments, like diagnoses or reports, directly into records of ākonga and learners in Te Rito, and there is no limit to how much information can be stored. Outside agencies will not be able to access Te Rito, but you can upload any files they share with you.

standardised Learning Support Register - process and practice

1. How comprehensive is the common language, how is it consistently understood, and how it will evolve?

When the types of information (drop-down fields) used in the sLSR were co-designed in 2019 we heard that learning support clusters found the most difficult part of collecting information was developing a shared language to describe needs. We also received feedback that plain, clear language is most likely to result in ākonga and learners getting the support they need.

By using the common language in the sLSR, you don’t have to develop your own language but you will still need to have conversations across your learning support cluster to agree interpretation of the fields so that you have a consistent way of communicating about the needs and strengths of ākonga and learners as they travel through the education system.

The current common language used in the sLSR is a starting point to develop the standardised register. There is a process of regular revision, which will include for example, how we continue to reflect a strengths-based approach. You will have an opportunity through this revision process to provide feedback on the language to ensure it works well for everyone. You can also send your suggestions to LearningSupport.Register@education.govt.nz anytime to contribute to this revision process.

Within the common language there are free text fields to record descriptive information about ākonga or learners, for example. if the ākonga or learner may be advanced or gifted.

2. How do we decide who to enter information about (what level of need), about who (which ākonga or learners), under what circumstances?

Each kura, kura or early learning service will independently determine which ākonga and learners have additional learning needs. These needs are recorded using the drop-down fields to choose the closest term that best describes the situation for that ākonga or learner. Descriptive information specific to their context and their strengths are entered in the free text field.

When gathering information about the strengths and needs of ākonga and learners, we encourage you to have conversations with whānau and family and acknowledge these conversations in the checkbox on the sLSR (feature to be added in 2021).

3. How will the sLSR handle the multiple needs of our ākonga and learners?

For each ākonga or learner you can record as many needs, strengths, and diagnosis as you wish. While each need is treated as an individual need in the sLSR and dashboards, all the needs that apply to an ākonga or learner can be viewed together on their profile.

4. How do I share information in the register, and gain input from whānau, family, kaiako, teachers, RTLBs, Service Managers etc?

Gathering ākonga and learner information to be included in the sLSR is a collaborative process based on educationally powerful conversations between whānau, families and the learning support workforce. That includes LSC, SENCO, kaiako, teachers, RTLB, Ministry Service Managers, specialist practitioners.

Learning support information about an ākonga or learner is entered as a personal record in the sLSR. This information is displayed in the “My register” for each kura, school or early learning service. Only approved staff from the kura, school or early learning service that ākonga or learner attends can access information that identifies that ākonga or learner. Your privacy policy will confirm what personal information is shared and with whom, how it is shared, and for what purpose it is shared.

The learning support dashboards only displays aggregated information that has been de-identified. The dashboards are a useful tool for kura or school leaders, learning support clusters leaders and learning support services to collectively decide on the level and type of learning support provided to meet aggregated learning support needs.

Access to Te Rito

1. Who (which roles) has access to Te Rito?

Te Rito user roles are set up to ensure that only those people who are authorised to access Te Rito can do so, and that each user’s level of access to ākonga and learner information matches the work that they do.

Understanding user roles explains each of the Te Rito user roles and their levels of access.

Because the Te Rito hold personal information about ākonga and learners, the Privacy Act 2020 applies to it. One of the principles of the Act is that you must only collect personal information if it is for a lawful purpose connected with your functions or activities as an educator, and the information is necessary for that purpose.

This means that anyone accessing Te Rito should only have access to the ākonga and learner information they need to do their job.

Principals or their Delegate Authoriser, will be responsible for assigning Te Rito user roles to each staff member who needs access to Te Rito, taking into account the above considerations.

Te Rito user roles currently use school staff terms for its user roles – for example ‘Principal’. User roles may not necessarily match staff job titles, and a decision will need to be made about which user role is most appropriate for each staff member who needs access. In future we anticipate having different labels for user access.

The user role you are assigned will determine the type and level of information you will be able to access. Some roles, like Learning Support Coordinator, will be able to see information about ākonga and learners from multiple kura or schools, while others, like Deputy Principal, will only be able to see identifiable information about ākonga and learners in their own kura or school.

There can be multiple people with the same user role, but each person can only have one user role in Te Rito. So, a kura or school can have multiple staff with a Deputy Principal user role, but the same person cannot have both a Principal and a Deputy Principal role in Te Rito.

In the future, as more applications are developed, user roles and access will be reviewed and may be expanded or increased.

RTLBs don't have access to Te Rito or the sLSR. Information in Te Rito will give the learning support cluster a comprehensive overview of the learning needs of ākonga and learners. A kura, school or learning support cluster may choose to share aggregated and de-identified information with an RTLB. If you want to talk about individual ākonga or learners, consent to use personal information will be needed from parents or guardians.

2. Do parents, whānau, ākonga and learners have access to Te Rito and/or the sLSR?

Parent access, potentially via a parent portal, is being planned so that parents will be able to access information about their tamaiti or child if they are authorised to see that information. For practical purposes, until the parent access is developed, we recommend sharing information in Te Rito with parents, guardians, whānau and family in another way e.g. printing it out or showing on the screen.

We also plan to provide access to ākonga and learners in a similar way to providing parent access.

3. Does the Ministry, or any other agency, see information in Te Rito?

Because the information in Te Rito belongs to ākonga and learners, the Ministry does not have access to it. The Ministry does not have a log-on to Te Rito. The Ministry may ask for de-identified and/or combined information to be shared from Te Rito into a Ministry database, with appropriate consents. This includes information that the Ministry currently requests you to send from your SMS but will now be requested via Te Rito.

We are working with some other agencies (like the NZQA) to provide information to Te Rito, but there are currently no plans to integrate with health systems or other external agencies. This could be a potential feature for the future, with appropriate controls and permissions.

4. How will the Ministry or other agencies use the information to improve outcomes?

One of the benefits of Te Rito is that it enables the Ministry to be informed (where consent is given for information to be shared) about what is happening at a local, regional or national level. Information the Ministry receives will used be to support essential reporting, evidence-based policy development and decision-making. Any information sent to the Ministry will always be combined and de-identified.

The Ministry does not have a log on or other access to Te Rito and may only ask for de-identified and/or combined information to be shared from Te Rito.

1. Is the system secure?

Te Rito is an online, cloud-based platform that has stringent security and privacy protocols and requirements in place, to ensure the safety and integrity of the information.

Te Rito is designed to government agency security and privacy standards. There are several layers of checks and controls to detect and avoid human error, including how we make sure that anyone accessing Te Rito has the authority to do so, and is who they say they are. There are strict information sharing restrictions in place too. There are tools to audit who has accessed Te Rito, and processes for business continuity in case of a disruption to service.

2. What do I do if the ākonga, learner, whānau or family want to remove or alter information, and how long is it stored for?

Information is stored throughout the educational journey of the ākonga or learner, in line with kura or schools’ archival policy under the Public Records Act. It can be deleted if it is incorrect or if there is no consent to retain it.

If any information is incorrect, then the ākonga, learner, parent or guardian has the right for it to be corrected or removed. If there is a disagreement about its accuracy, the ākonga, learner, parent or guardian has the right for their disagreement to be recorded.

3. What support will the Ministry provide to help with privacy and consent?

We will support you regarding overarching privacy and consent practice and processes, including the implications for Te Rito and the learning support register. Overall responsibility for understanding and applying the principals in the Privacy Act 2020 lies with each kura, school or early learning service. The Ministry will provide as much support as we can to help you meet your obligations. Our support will include suggestions for updates to your enrolment and/or consent forms to reflect the existence of Te Rito, including that combined and/or de-identified information may be shared and used. Te Rito includes specific consent for sharing identifiable ākonga and learner learning support information with other kura and schools via the learning support cluster register.

4. What if I don't get permission to use Te Rito from the Board of Trustees?

As a kura or school leader, you will need the agreement of your Board of Trustees to connect to and use Te Rito. We hope that the Board will see the value of Te Rito for its ākonga and learners and their whānau and family. Information packs, and templates that help with sharing information with the Board and kura or school community will be available. NZSTA is aware of Te Rito and is a member of our Sector Advisory Group.

5. What if I don't get consent to use Te Rito and the sLSR?

Parents or guardians must be notified about how Te Rito manages information before any personal information relating to their tamaiti or child is recorded and stored in Te Rito. This is in the spirit of enabling educationally powerful connections.

Under the Education Act or other legislation, you do not need consent to use Te Rito to support ākonga and learners with their education, but it is good practice to let ākonga and learners know what information you will collect and how you will use it. Sharing personal information that you have collected requires consent. For example, if parents, guardians, ākonga or learners do not give consent for learning support information to be shared, no information will appear apart from demographics, which will be pulled from the kura or school’s SMS.

Parents, guardians, ākonga and learners can choose not to give consent or change their consent at any time.

Resources will be made available to support consent processes and sharing information with your kura or school community. These can be integrated into your existing processes around consent and information sharing.

6. What happens with a principal moves kura or schools?

A kura or school’s connection to Te Rito does not depend on the principal. Once a kura or school is connected, (and if your SMS provider stays connected) the connection to Te Rito remains in place. An incoming principal who has not previously passed the mandatory Privacy Module for Te Rito will need to complete this within a reasonable period – it is essential that principals are familiar with and understand privacy as it relates to Te Rito.

A principal or Board may revisit a decision to connect Te Rito at any time.

7. What if the ākonga, learner, parent or caregiver doesn't want information to be shared?

As the data belongs to ākonga and learners, so it will be important to have a discussion with them to talk through their concerns.

As the ākonga or learner moves through their education journey, consent should be revisited at transition points, for example early learning service to kura or school. The ākonga, learner, their parent or guardian, may want to consider changes to their situation, including decisions about who has access to their information.

There are also separate consents required for sharing personal learning support information across a learning support cluster, using the cluster register.

8. How long does consent last for, and is it revisited?

Consent only applies for the context the information was collected. Consent must be refreshed if a significant change is made to the purpose or type of information being gathered, shared, or used, e.g. the creation of a new data collection regime. Other changes may also prompt a refresh, e.g. if an ākonga or learner comes of age where they have the right to determine their own position.

Remember, the information stored in Te Rito belongs to ākonga and learners and their whānau and family. Good practice would involve regularly revisiting content in your discussion with ākonga, learners their whānau and families.

9. What support and guidance will the Ministry provide, and how will we (kura and schools) be able to explain the privacy and security with parents, ākonga and learners?

The Ministry will provide guidance on additional consents that you will need to obtain so that people are aware of Te Rito and how information is shared and used. For most kura and schools, this will mean updating your existing enrolment, privacy, and consent documentation. Any guidance will include information about how you can do that.

We strongly recommend informing parents and caregivers that Te Rito exists and what this means for them and their tamariki or children as far in advance as possible.

Information will be available to support conversations about the value of Te Rito, privacy and consent.

Data sovereignty and the cloud

1. What is the cloud?

The cloud is a series of servers held in a data centre, i.e. in a different location to your kura or school. This allows you to securely access your information over the internet rather than it being held locally on your own machine or network. Security controls for cloud solutions, like Te Rito, are amongst the highest in the world, and stronger than education providers can achieve in their own local systems.

The cloud is a recognised government approach to securely storing and transmitting sensitive data, and Te Rito meets government standards.

Data storage and sovereignty are considerations within the procurement processes we followed when establishing Te Rito.

The information in Te Rito is stored in Australia, as there is currently no comparable infrastructure available in NZ. We remain the legal custodian of the information, and it is held securely and under a contractual arrangement that is enforceable in a jurisdiction that recognises our legal rights.

More information about the Government’s ‘cloud first’ policy, is available here Cloud services | NZ Digital government.

2. How is using Te Rito similar to/different from SMSs that are on-premise vs in cloud?

For those of you that use a web-based SMS, Te Rito works similarly. For those of you using an SMS that stores data on premises, instead of your data being stored on a physical machine at your location, it will be stored in the cloud. For all users, irrespective of your SMS, Te Rito will expand your data sources and tools to analyse data, by allowing you to aggregate your information with other kura and schools in your Kāhui Ako or learning support cluster, enabling kura and school and Kāhui Ako and learning support cluster insights for informed decision-making and impact analysis.

Further questions?

If you have any further questions about Te Rito and how it works, drop us a line.

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