Specialist schools

Learn about access to specialist schools, including day specialist schools, residential specialist schools and regional health schools.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Learning Support Staff
  • RTLBs
  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • All Early Learning Services
  • Early Intervention Specialist Service Providers

Enrolling a student in a day specialist school, residential specialist school or regional health school may provide them with an education that best suits their individual needs. For a student to be enrolled, they must meet specific criteria and an application process must be followed.

Day specialist schools for students with high needs

Day specialist schools offer specialist teaching to students who have a high level of need. They teach students from Years 1-13.

As well as having a base school, many day schools have satellite classes. These classes are in regular schools so students can get the specialist teaching they need in a regular school environment.

Some day specialist schools also have an itinerant teaching service (also called outreach), where a teacher moves between schools to support students. This means that students can be enrolled at their local school and receive specialist teaching support from the specialist school.


A Specialist Education Agreement allows students to enrol in a specialist school.

Entering into a Specialist Education Agreement(external link)

Day specialist schools in New Zealand by region

Learn about day specialist schools in your region from this list of websites.

Area Location School
Northland Whangarei Blomfield Special School and Resource Centre(external link)

Te Atatu South

Central Auckland


New Lynn







Arohanui Special School(external link) 

Central Auckland Specialist School(external link)  

Mt Richmond School(external link)

Oaklynn Special School(external link) 

Parkside School(external link) 

Rosehill School(external link)

Sir Keith Park School(external link) 

Sommerville School(external link)

Wairau Valley School(external link) 

Wilson School(external link)

Waikato Hamilton Hamilton North School(external link)

Patricia Ave School(external link)

Coromandel Paeroa Goldfields School(external link) 
Bay of Plenty



Tauranga Special School(external link) 

Rotorua Specialist School - Te Kura Pūkenga o Rotorua(external link)

Hawke’s Bay



Fairhaven School(external link)

Kowhai School(external link)

Manawatu–Whanganui Whanganui  Arahunga Schoo(external link)l



Kimi Ora School(external link) 

Mahinawa Specialist School(external link) (previously Kapi-Mana) 

Nelson Nelson Maitai School(external link) 
Christchurch Christchurch

Allenvale Special School and Resource Centre(external link) 

Ferndale School(external link)

Waitaha Learning Centre(external link)

Otago Dunedin Sara Cohen School(external link)
Southland Invercargill Ruru Special School(external link)

Residential specialist schools (RSS)

Residential specialist schools are for students with educational needs relating to: vision, hearing, and socialisation, behaviour, and learning.

RSS enrolments

All RSS enrolments are made by entering into a Specialist Education Agreement.

Young people can access a RSS enrolment through RSS only access pathway without IWS support.

To find out more about how to access a residential specialist school, contact your local Ministry office

Schools for students with social, behaviour and/or learning needs

The following three schools are for students:

  • aged from 8-15 (Year 3-10)
  • who have social, behaviour and/or learning needs that are highly complex and challenging.

These needs impact in home, school and community settings. Local learning support services have been accessed and are unable to meet needs.

School Type Location
Westbridge Residential School(external link)  Co-educational Waitakere City
Halswell Residential College(external link) Co-educational Christchurch
Salisbury School(external link) For girls Nelson

Schools for students who are blind or have low vision

Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ(external link)) runs a national network with resource centres across the country. It also provides residential placements at Homai. These placements are for students who need residential programmes to support their learning.

Support for students who are blind or who have low vision provides more information about BLENNZ.

Schools for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand(external link) provides a national network of services for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They provide support for these students in their local schools through their Resource Teachers Deaf service. They have residential options, early childhood support and resource centres.

Support for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing provides more information about Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education.

Regional health schools

If a child is unwell and can’t go to school, then teachers from regional health schools can teach them.

Who regional health schools are for

The schools are for children who are:

  • unwell and can’t go to their usual school for a long period (they may have a physical or mental illness)
  • in a health-funded mental health programme 
  • returning to their usual school after being away for a long time and need support.

To get support, a child needs to:

  • have missed school for more than 10 days in a row because of illness — they could be at home or in hospital
  • have been in hospital six or more times in one year
  • have not been to school for more than 40 days in one year because of illness
  • be recuperating at home after being unwell
  • have been unwell and need support to go back to school.

How regional health schools work

Regional health schools provide teachers for children who are unwell. They can teach children from Years 0-13. There are three regional health schools: one in Auckland, one in Wellington and one in Christchurch.

However, health school teachers can teach a child anywhere in New Zealand. The children stay on the roll of their usual school while they get the support from the health school.

How to get help from a regional health school

You’ll need a medical certificate that says what the child’s condition is, how it’s being treated, and how it’s stopping the child from going to school.

Once you have a certificate, contact the regional health school that’s closest to you:

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