Specialist schools

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.

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

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 to 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

Day specialist schools in  Aotearoa New Zealand by region

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

Area Location School

Te Tai Tokerau

Whangarei Blomfield Special School(external link)


Te Atatu South

Central Auckland


New Lynn







Arohanui School(external link) 

Central Auckland Specialist School(external link)  

Mt Richmond School(external link)

Oaklynn School(external link) 

Parkside School(external link) 

Rosehill School(external link)

Sir Keith Park Special School(external link) 

Sommerville Special School(external link)

Wairau Valley Special School(external link) 

Wilson School(external link)



Hamilton North School(external link)

Patricia Avenue School(external link)

Coromandel Paeroa

Goldfields School(external link) 

Bay of Plenty



Tauranga Special School(external link) 

Rotorua Specialist School(external link)

Hawke’s Bay



Fairhaven School(external link)

Kōwhai Specialist School(external link)


Whanganui  Arahunga School(external link)




Kimi Ora School(external link) 

Mahinawa Specialist School(external link)


Nelson Maitai School(external link) 



Pītau-Allenvale School(external link)

Ferndale Te Ahu(external link)

Waitaha School(external link)


Dunedin Sara Cohen School(external link)


Invercargill Ruru Specialist School(external link)

Residential specialist schools

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


All enrolments into residential specialist schools are made by entering into a specialist education agreement.

Entering into a specialist education agreement

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

RSS-only pathway

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

Local Ministry offices

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

The following 3 schools are for students who:

  • are aged from 8 to 15 (Year 3 to 10)
  • 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) 


Waitakere City

Halswell Residential College(external link)



Salisbury School(external link)

For girls


Schools for students who are blind or have low vision

Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ) 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

Schools for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand 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

Regional health schools

If a child is unwell and can not 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 6 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 to 13.

There are 3 regional health school locations: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

However, health school teachers can teach a child anywhere in Aotearoa 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 will 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 is closest to you.

The Northern Health School is based in Auckland and covers the northern part of the North Island.

Northern Health School(external link)

The Central Regional Health School is based in Wellington and covers the lower half of the North Island.

Central Regional Health School(external link)

The Southern Regional Health School is based in Christchurch and covers the South Island.

Southern Regional Health School(external link)

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