Specialist schools

Specialist schools support high needs students, either in day schools or residential schools across New Zealand.

Day schools

Day specialist schools can provide specialist teaching and specialist services to your child if they have high needs. As well as a base school, many specialist schools have satellite classes on site at regular schools, where your child can receive specialist teaching and have the opportunity to integrate in a regular school environment.

Some specialist schools also offer an itinerant teaching service, so that your child can be enrolled at their local school in a regular classroom but get specialist teaching from the specialist school.

Can my child attend a day special school, and how do I apply?

There are 28 day specialist schools in New Zealand for students in years 1 to 13 who have high needs. High needs means that they may need to have the curriculum adapted for them, and may need support from specialist staff, additional teaching time and teacher's aide support. Your child can attend day specialist schools until they are 21 years old.

Contact the school in your region directly to see if your child can go.

Contact information for day special schools

Residential schools

Residential specialist schools can support your child if they are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, have low vision, or have severe behaviour needs, or have educational, social and emotional needs together with a slow rate of learning.

Can my child attend a residential special school, and how do I apply?

This support is available when your child has high needs and their local school setting doesn't meet their needs. The information below includes the age range or school years that each school caters for.

To apply contact your local Ministry Learning support team.

Local Ministry Learning support team(external link)

Residential and Specialist Provision for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Ko Taku Reo | Deaf Education New Zealand can provide education programmes and specialist services if your child is Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH). 

Ko Taku Reo provides:

  • Early Childhood Centres in Auckland offering a rich bilingual language environment for DHH children, their siblings, and children of Deaf adults.
  • Residential services in Auckland and Christchurch for ākonga aged 10 – 21 to access Enrolled School provisions.
  • Direct enrolment offering access to Teachers of the Deaf, Teacher Aides for the Deaf, NZSL Tutors, and Educational Interpreters. Enrolled Primary, Secondary or post-Secondary ākonga access learning either at the Kelston site in Auckland or in Satellite Provision classrooms in partner schools in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
  • Specialist Services for ORS verified ākonga.
  • NZSL Day school (hubs) in Invercargill, Dunedin, Wellington and Hamilton operating one day per week to support ākonga learning, social networks, Deaf identity, language and culture.

For any enquiries on DHH services, contact Ko Taku Reo | Deaf Education New Zealand.

Ko Taku Reo | Deaf Education New Zealand(external link) 

School for children who are blind and have low vision

Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ) provides a variety of educational options both on campus and at local mainstream schools for children and young adults, aged 5 to 21 years old, who are blind or have low vision. Long-term residential placements and limited short-term booster placements are available for your child if they're from the Auckland area and need a residential programme to support their learning outcomes. 

There's an early childhood education centre on the BLENNZ Homai Campus in Manurewa in Auckland for children aged 0 to 6 who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision.

BLENNZ also provide assessment services for blind and low vision students throughout New Zealand.

Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ)(external link) 

Schools specialising in educational, social and emotional needs, together with an underlying intellectual impairment

These schools provide special education in a residential setting for students in years 7 to 10 who need a significantly adapted curriculum because they have to a slow rate of learning combined with educational, social, emotional or behaviour needs.

Your child may have the option for a residential placement as part of their Individual Plan if they are receiving an Intensive Wraparound Service.

Intensive Wraparound Service(external link)

Back to top 

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.