Satellite units on host school sites

Find the entitlement calculations for satellite units and guidance for constructing, upgrading and managing a site.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Boards from host schools of a satellite unit
  • Boards from base schools to use the satellite unit
  • Principals and Tumuaki

Boards may make arrangements with a residential or day specialist (base) school to host a satellite unit. Establishing a new satellite unit requires the agreement of the base school, the host school and the Ministry. 

Establishing a satellite unit

Residential and day specialist schools (base schools) have arrangements with schools throughout the country to host satellite units (host schools).

Students are enrolled at the base school, but are educated in the satellite unit on the host school’s site. They may attend classes run by the host school or the base school. The base school staffs and operates the satellite unit.

Through this arrangement, students can:

  • receive specialist teaching
  • gain opportunities to integrate into a mainstream school.

A satellite unit can be established in either:

  • existing surplus space at the host site – as the first option (see the area entitlement calculator to find out how much space is required), or
  • a newly built facility.

Establishing a new satellite unit requires the agreement of the base school, the host school and the Ministry.

Constructing or upgrading a satellite unit

As a host school, you receive the funding and are responsible for building the satellite unit. The base school should have input into the construction process and how funds are spent for the satellite unit. This includes providing input into the location of the satellite unit so it can best support the students it serves.

Calculating the funding to build a satellite unit

Where a host school has Ministry funding to construct a satellite unit, we calculate the funding as follows.

Funding component

Funding rate

Construction rate

Current specialist classroom rate

Site costs

Current site works rate or estimated cost

Furniture and equipment rate

Current regular rate

Refurbishment rate

50% of specialist classroom rate

All funding provided to build or upgrade a satellite unit must be spent on the unit.

Additional footprint entitlement for host schools

As a host school, you are entitled to additional space for common areas. Another 10m2 per satellite classroom is added to your School Property Guide (SPG) entitlement. This recognises that staff and students of a satellite unit may use common facilities of the host school.

If establishing a new satellite unit means your school will have less space than its SPG entitlement, the project budget should include the cost of providing 10m2 per satellite classroom. This will be funded at the appropriate non-teaching space rate for your school type, plus the appropriate site works allowance. You must use this funding to upgrade your common areas to accommodate staff and students attending the satellite unit.

If establishing a new satellite unit does not mean your school will have less space than its SPG entitlement, this suggests you already have sufficient space for common areas. If you need to rearrange existing space to better suit the needs of your school, you should use 5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding.

Area entitlement for satellite units

The following table sets out the formulas for calculating the area entitlement for a satellite unit.

Formulas to calculate area entitlement for a satellite unit



Description and comment

1. Base area

47m2 per unit

The base area includes an area allowance for a general resource area, therapy storage area, professional workspace, kitchen area and laundry area.

2. Teaching area



Classroom area

  • ORS very high needs
  • ORS high needs
  • Non-verified


  • 11m2 net per student
  • 5m2 net per student
  • 3m2 net per student

General classroom area. This does not include withdrawal, therapy and storage areas. The classroom area is provided as a total envelope of area. 

The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) is for students with the highest specialised education needs.

3. Toilet area

Go to the toilet entitlement calculator for specialised education schools

Every specialist school has a minimum entitlement to one fully accessible toilet. It has an additional entitlement, based on a schedule of toilet types, according to the mobility and number of students.

4. Net to gross ratio (NtG)

1:1.2 plus toilets

The net to gross ratio is less than that used for mainstream schools because satellite buildings are small so do not require a large gross area. It is calculated on the sum of the areas for teaching, administration, a professional office area and resource areas.

5. Gross entitlement

(NtG x facilities 1–2 plus toilets)


Managing a satellite unit’s property

Once the satellite unit is established, as the host school you will receive ongoing property funding to look after the unit. This includes Property Maintenance Grant (PMG) and 5YA funding for any footprint added for common spaces.

As a host school, you must:

  • plan for the satellite unit’s ongoing maintenance and modernisation in your 10 Year Property Plan (10YPP)
  • spend property funding generated by the satellite unit on the facility
  • form an agreement with the base specialist school on satellite unit maintenance and cleaning
  • provide the satellite unit with furniture and equipment after consulting with the base school about any specialised requirements
  • make sure the satellite unit has an ongoing supply of gas, electricity, telephone services and water.

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