Entering into a section 9 agreement

A section 9 agreement allows students to enrol in a special school or regional health school. It also allows students to enrol outside the legal age in exceptional circumstances. The name ‘section 9’ refers to a part of the Education Act 1989 that deals with special education (learning support) services.

What section 9 agreements are for

A section 9 agreement is for:

  • students who wish to be enrolled in a special school
  • students who wish to have a regional health school as their base school
  • students who are under 5 or over 14 and whose exceptional needs mean that a primary school is the best place for their education
  • students who are over 19 and whose exceptional needs mean that a secondary school is the best place for their education (if not ORS verified).

A section 9 agreement is a formal agreement between the Ministry and the parent or guardian of the child.

Criteria for section 9 agreements



Children starting school before they are 5

The Ministry will agree to this only in special circumstances. It must be proven that it’s in the child’s best educational interests.

Students staying at school longer

Sometimes the parents, the school and the Ministry agree that it would benefit a student’s education if they stay longer at their regular school.

A section 9 agreement is needed to allow them to stay in a primary school beyond the year they turn 14 or in a secondary school beyond the year they turn 19.

Students enrolling in special schools

Before a student is enrolled in a special school, a conversation with the Ministry, the parents and the school takes place.

After this, a decision is jointly made about whether to apply for a section 9 agreement.


Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)(external link) is not included as part of a section 9 agreement. Parents need to apply for this separately.

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)

The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) is one form of agreement under section 9 of the Education Act.

If a student is:

  • In the ORS, they still need a section 9 agreement for enrolment in a special school.
  • NOT part of ORS, parents can still apply for a section 9 agreement. 

To be successful, an application needs to be supported by the school and the Ministry.

Things to think about when entering into a section 9 agreement

All parties need to think about:

  • what’s best for the student’s education
  • any health and safety issues
  • what kind of specialist teaching the student needs
  • what therapy the student needs
  • the location of the child’s home and the location of the school
  • the transport options to and from the school – Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) needs to be applied for separately
  • whether the school has capacity for the student
  • the length of the enrolment and the date the agreement ends or is reviewed.

Applying for a section 9 agreement

If you are considering a section 9 agreement contact your local Ministry office. You can access the form and supporting documents online [PDF, 704 KB].

If a section 9 agreement is declined

If a section 9 request is declined the Manager Learning Support or the Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) team will support access to other learning support options.

Parents can also ask for a review of a section 9 agreement decision. To request a review contact the Manager Learning Support in your local Ministry office. They will provide information about the review process.

When a student with a section 9 agreement leaves the school

When a student leaves their special school or class, the section 9 agreement ends. A new section 9 agreement is needed each time a student wants to enrol at another special school or class.

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