Learning support property modifications funding

Process details, project eligibility, funding rules, timelines and more.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Proprietors
  • Administrators
  • Project Managers

When a student plans to enrol at your school, or another person joins your school, we provide funding for property modifications that allow them to enter the school and perform normal school activities.

Key information about learning support property modifications funding

What learning support property modifications funding is

This funding is for property modifications that allow new students and/or staff with learning support needs to enter and perform normal school activities.

What it is for

Learning support property modifications funding is for capital work such as alterations to buildings and grounds.

It is not available for operating expenses such as painting (except in circumstances where painting is required to enable safe movement into, within and out of buildings to participate in school activities) or general maintenance.

Who it is for

This funding is available for:

  • students who qualify for funding through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS), a scheme for students with the highest additional learning needs
  • students with additional learning needs who aren't ORS funded
  • staff members with learning support needs
  • other frequent school users, such as caregivers, who need property modifications to take part in normal school activities.

The process for getting property modifications

When a new student plans to enrol in a school (or staff, caregiver, frequent school user), property modifications may be considered to support their learning needs.

Schools can initiate the process by completing a property modification request form when:

  • they plan to enrol a student with accessibility requirements, or a current student has a change in need that the school's property cannot adequately cater for.
  • they employ a staff member with accessibility requirements.
  • they identify other frequent school users (for example, parents and caregivers) that require property modifications to enable them to take part in normal school activities.

Property modifications should:

  • meet the needs of the child, their whānau and the school
  • be completed in a timely manner
  • adhere to the recommendations in the occupational therapist property modifications report.
  • adhere to the Ministry's policy, standards, requirements and design guidance to guarantee safety, maximise educational outcomes and protect property.

The diagram shows the steps involved in getting property modifications done at your school. This process can take 6-12 months to complete.

Learning support process map

Steps in the process

There are 9 steps in the property modification process:

  1. The student is planning to be enrolled at a school.
  2. The school contacts the Ministry with a referral. If there are concerns raised about the student’s safety, the Ministry will arrange a 'serious risk' assessment and provide recommendations for solutions.
  3. The Ministry organises a site visit to discuss the modifications needed.
  4. The Ministry provides a Property Modification Report outlining possible solutions.
  5. The school engages a project manager to develop the possible solutions.
  6. The Ministry approves or declines design solutions.
  7. The school and/or project manager tenders for contractors to carry out the work.
  8. The tender is approved, and work commences.
  9. The learning support therapist, project manager and school property advisor sign off that the completed work meets the needs of the student, as outlined in property modification report.

Consider accessibility for everyone

Consider incorporating elements that will improve accessibility for everyone when planning your modifications for the new student who's enrolling. Discuss this possibility during the planning process.

Parties involved in property modification

The following people and groups are involved in getting property modifications done at your school.

The student:

  • provides input on specific needs through an assessment with the Ministry’s learning support therapist.


  • contribute to the initial assessment and recommendations.

School and learning support therapist:

  • contribute to the initial assessment and recommendations.

The early intervention teacher:

  • may notify the school of the planned enrolment
  • also provides information for the assessment of the student’s needs.

The learning support occupational therapist/physiotherapist:

  • completes the assessment and makes initial recommendations based on the student’s needs
  • later reviews the plans and checks that the work done does meet the student’s needs.

The learning support behaviour practitioner:

  • completes a serious risk assessment if this is required.

The school principal:

  • is involved in the initial assessment and liaises with the school property advisor
  • engages the project manager and/or architect.

The board:

  • is represented by the principal or a current member authorised to act on behalf of the board.

The project manager:

  • is responsible for delivering the project on time and within budget
  • is a professional consultant with particular skills and experience in construction management.

A project must have a project manager when it needs a building consent.

The architect/designer:

  • draws up concept or full plans based on recommendations in the property modification report.

The school’s Ministry property advisor

  • coordinates the process of approving and allocating funding for all school property work.

Spending property modification funding

If we approve the property modifications, as illustrated in the above step 7, we agree a budget with you so you can get them done.

You'll receive a specific project budget for this work, separate from your other capital funding.

Note: This funding doesn't count as past funding against your next 5YA funding.

Rules and requirements 

  • The modifications must meet the requirements for capital funding.
  • Note the lower capitalisation threshold of $2,500 for these projects. Any modifications less than that should be paid for out of your Property Maintenance Grant.
  • The funding is for changing existing space. You can't use it to a build new area that goes beyond your school’s entitlement. If you think modifications can’t be accommodated within the existing building, we'll assess the need for new space on a case-by-case basis.
  • You can't use the funding for health and safety work, like repairing uneven pavements. As this work affects everyone in the school, you must pay for it with maintenance or capital funding.
  • You can't use the funding for work that was otherwise planned to be completed in your 10YPP prior to an assessment being conducted.

Property Maintenance Grant

Managing the project

  • You must meet our project management requirements.
  • If you need further modifications that you didn't factor into the project budget, you must pay for them from your 5YA funding. Refer to the section Paying for ongoing property work below.

Project management

Unspent funds

You must return any unspent funding to the Ministry. For instance, if the student doesn't join your school after all, or the construction costs may be less than the budget.

Timeframes for spending

The modifications can be carried out in a staged manner but must be completed within 12 months.

You must send us the mandatory project management forms within 1 year. If you don't, we'll withdraw the project budget — unless we've approved a time extension.

Funding for modifications to off-site facilities

You can get funding for modifications to improve access to off-site facilities owned by the Ministry, like swimming pools or technology centres. This funding doesn't cover non-Ministry facilities like a pool owned by the community or council. Contact the facility’s owner to discuss any recommended modifications.

We will consider funding a fixed pool hoist through learning support property modifications funding, but only if the pool is Ministry-owned.

A fixed pool hoist is usually bolted to the ground and powered by water hydraulics. This can be moved with the student when they change schools. If the new school cannot accommodate it, it remains at the original school.

Paying for ongoing property work

Any modifications not included in your original project budget must be paid for from your 5YA funding. Any ongoing work must also be paid for from your 5YA. 

Note: If a student’s needs change, we'll consider whether to provide further funding on a case-by-case basis.

You receive a set amount of property funding per student in your 5YA as follows:

  • each high needs student receives approximately 3 times the property entitlement of a mainstream student.
  • each very high needs student (under the ORS) receives approximately 5 times the property entitlement of a mainstream student.

Property planning guidance

You must plan for students with learning support needs when carrying out any property projects using capital funding.

This includes projects for:

  • modernising learning environments under the 5YA
  • building new classrooms
  • addressing space shortages under the NTS funding programme.

Accessibility design

Refer to our accessible property for schools page for information and guidance about making your school accessible.

Accessible property for schools

Refer to our designing schools standard for guidance on how to design an accessible school.

Designing schools in Aotearoa New Zealand

Evaluation of the physical environment

When you make any modifications to your school you should consider the requirements of your school's physical environment.

The School Evaluation of Physical Environment (SEPE) is a questionnaire that evaluates how well a school’s physical environment supports its desired teaching and learning approaches.

Refer to the designing learning environments page for more information regarding SEPE.

Designing learning environments

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