Enrolments, school property and facilities

Learn about the Ministry’s property portfolio, how schools are funded and who is responsible for school property including how spaces are used.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Administrators
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

We recommend that boards understand how the Ministry property portfolio functions, and how they can access our support in managing property and property investment. This guidance provides introductory information, and links to further resources at the bottom.  

School property

The Government owns or leases the school property portfolio. This refers to all the land, buildings and facilities of all state schools (excluding state-integrated schools) in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We fund the ‘capital’ (the land and buildings) of all state school property. State integrated school property is owned or leased by the proprietor, and the proprietor is responsible for its maintenance. The owners of private (or independent) schools also own or lease their own land and buildings.

The school property portfolio currently includes:

  • over 2,100 schools
  • more than 15,000 school buildings
  • 35,000 teaching spaces
  • 9,000 hectares of occupied land.

It would cost approximately $30 billion to replace the school property of all the state and state-integrated schools.

State schools

Boards are responsible for the day to day management and maintenance of school property. A board’s and our responsibilities for buildings owned by the Government are outlined in a Property Occupancy Document (POD).

Some state schools might have buildings or facilities that aren’t owned by the Government but are instead owned by their board. For example, a hall or swimming pool for which the school community has raised funds themselves. Some boards may lease or own some of their own land and buildings. The board is solely responsible for managing and maintaining these.

Property funding

State schools receive capital funding to use over a five year period (5 Year Agreement funding or ‘5YA’) specifically for managing their school property.

As well as a 5YA, all boards of state schools are required to have a 10 year property plan (‘10YPP’). This sets out planning and maintenance priorities for school property over a 10 year period. It could include work to ensure buildings and facilities meet health and safety requirements, essential infrastructure and maintenance work, planning for any potential change in roll numbers or for changes to learning spaces.

Once we’ve approved the 10YPP, the board works with us to undertake the projects in the 10YPP.

State-integrated schools

The proprietor of a state-integrated school, not the Government, owns or leases the land and buildings at the integrated school. Though state-integrated school property is not part of the school property portfolio, we provide some property funding to state integrated schools (to the board) to maintain their buildings.

Property funding

We provide ‘Policy One’ funding to state-integrated schools to maintain their school sites, buildings and services (similar to 5YA). Sometimes we also provide ‘Policy Two’ funding to build new property to expand the state-integrated network of schools.

State integrated schools can also receive funding to furnish and equip their buildings, and proprietors of state-integrated schools are able to use the attendance dues they receive to pay for capital work at their school.

Some boards might generate property funding through fundraising in addition to the funding they receive from us. If we approve, it can be used for school property projects too, but generally any addition to a state-integrated school is funded by the proprietor. Funds in the board’s bank account are Crown funds, and should not be used to enhance property that belongs to the proprietor.

School property and learning outcomes

The way schools use their spaces and deliver the curriculum is the responsibility of boards. This includes teaching styles, how classrooms are configured, decisions on furniture and equipment, and how students and teachers are safely accommodated in one space or building.

The physical design of a space can impact student learning outcomes – and boards prioritise aligning their school’s learning spaces with its educational vision, and ensuring they have good acoustics, thermal comfort, air quality and lighting. The look, standards, accessibility and function of school buildings, grounds and learning spaces can be a consideration when parents and caregivers are making their enrolment decisions.

Growth leading to overcrowding affects everyone’s wellbeing, when the learning environment and facilities can’t cope with the extra demand. However, how we respond to growth may be different at each school. Very few schools are brand new or completely rebuilt. Older buildings can be upgraded and improved with careful planning and modifications, and learning spaces designed for use in multiple ways.

Creating learning environments

A learning environment is made up of social and physical elements, as well as the teaching and learning practices that take place within it. Factors such as advances in technology and a greater understanding of how people learn have meant that schools are rethinking their approach to teaching and learning.

There is no single “right” type of learning environment.

Changes to learning environments are also driven by today’s curriculum, which is based in collaboration, communication and self-management. Sensitivity to individual differences must be the foundation for decisions relating to teaching, practice, and design of flexible spaces, and the need to plan in partnership with students, teachers, parents and experts. Spaces need to support the full participation and engagement of all students.

We require new builds and redevelopments to be easily configured and able to be used in a number of different ways. Schools and teaching spaces that are designed with adaptability in mind means that they can evolve as education needs and teaching and learning approaches change over time.

Planning for growth

To support boards in making sure the physical size of the school is right for the number of students they need to accommodate, the Ministry monitors rolls pressure and school capabilities across the whole network at national, regional and local levels.

If there is an issue, a school might:

  • put an enrolment scheme in place
  • change the year levels they cater for
  • have additional classrooms put onto the school site.

In areas of population decline the Ministry will work with a board to consider other options such as merging, co-locating or closing schools.

Planning for growth in the network and the management of the school property portfolio are interdependent because the capacity and space in one will always be influenced by the capacity and space of the other – with shifts in student populations affecting the shape of both.

How we help

We support our network of schools through funding, support from our regional offices and specialist services. 

We monitor

  1. We monitor changes in a community that could influence demand on school properties and facilities.
  2. We calculate how much space a school needs based on analysis of their enrolment numbers, how they’re using existing space and infrastructure, what’s happening at other schools nearby, population projections based on Statistics NZ data, and whether a school’s projected roll growth is sustainable.

Together with boards, we use a range of information and tools to:

  • determine options for areas of growth
  • ensure the most effective use of existing property
  • understand whether a school has and is using all the space it’s entitled to.

We support

  1. Our regional property advisors work with schools to support them to manage school property and property investments including procurement support, advice on new building design, and initiating property accessibility modifications among others.
  2. We secure funding through the Government’s budget each year to expand schools in areas of growth. This funding is prioritised nationally to assist schools facing the greatest accommodation pressures.
  3. Depending on the difference between required teaching spaces and actual teaching spaces, and whether the school has an enrolment scheme, funding might be provided for new teaching spaces as a response to roll growth.

We help implement

  1. We manage complex capital works projects for schools such as weather-tightness, roll growth, and major redevelopments, and work closely with them on their use of funding.
  2. When a property solution to a growth issue is appropriate, we first look to help schools make better use of their existing infrastructure.

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