Becoming a designated character school

A designated character school is established under section 156 of the Education Act 1989 (the Act). It's a state school that has a particular character which sets it apart from ordinary state schools and kura kaupapa Māori. The only students who may enrol at a designated character school are those whose parents accept the particular character of the school.

A designated character school may be established as a new school or it may change from being a mainstream school or a kura kaupapa Māori, to being one with a designated character. Most commonly, the existing school's board and community indicate that they wish to change the school to a designated character school.

Kura kaupapa Māori are designated character schools that are further designated as kura kaupapa Māori under section 155 of the Act.

What to think about

  • Why does the school want to become a designated character school?
  • What is the designated character that you'd want for your school?
  • What are the educational benefits for students that you'd hope to achieve?
  • Is this type of education available at any other state school that the students could conveniently attend?
  • How wide is the community’s support for the change?
  • What other local provision is there for parents who don't want this type of education?
  • Do the teachers support this change?

What you should do

  • Contact your local Ministry of Education office for information about the process.
  • Consult the school community about the possible change and its implications for students.
  • Consult the staff of the school about the proposal and what it would mean for students and for employees of the board of trustees.
  • Seek advice on staff employment issues from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (or the board of trustees’ employment advisor).
  • Inform the relevant employees’ unions about your proposal.
  • Inform any other schools where the roll might be affected by the change and invite comment from them.
  • Keep documentation of all of your consultation actions and responses.

Local Ministry office

Other relevant information

If changes are needed to existing school transport services contact your Ministry of Education School Transport Agent or read our section on school transpoert.

School transport contacts

School transport

The process of change

You should send an application to the Ministry by 1 April of the year before you wish to implement the change. This is to ensure all the necessary processes can be completed before the start of the school year. We can't guarantee that a later application will be able to be processed in time for the following year.

When the Minister of Education has approved the school’s redesignation to a designated character school and a notice has been published in the New Zealand Gazette, the change becomes legal. A date for the change will be stated in the Gazette notice.

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