Providing education at off-site locations

It is important for the Ministry and the Education Review Office to know about all of the locations at which full time schooling is taking place.

This is because we have a responsibility to ensure that the schooling system is effective and safe for our children and young people.

Section 71A, Education Act 1989 — NZ Legislation website (external link)

Under this section, schools must gain approval from the Minister of Education (delegated to the Secretary for Education) for arrangements where the enrolling or managing school is providing education off-site to one or more students on a full-time or long-term basis. The enrolling school must then enter into a written agreement with the Secretary for Education identifying responsibilities for the operation of the off-site location.

Purpose of section 71A

The purpose is to ensure that:

  • it is clear who is responsible for the education, welfare and safety of students at off-site locations
  • the Ministry is better able to manage the schooling network by knowing at all times where education is being provided.

What does and does not require approval under the Act?

An arrangement constitutes use of an off-site location by a school, and requiring approval under section 71A(2), only if all the following apply:

a) One or more students enrolled at that or another school will be using the site.

b) The students will be receiving education at the site — it is not ancillary to curriculum delivery, for example, a study centre

c) The use will be more than transitory — the arrangement is ongoing.

d) The site is separate from the school’s main delivery site — their usual address, which includes unitary split sites such as a side school.

e) There are 2 parties — the board whose students are going off-site and the host party (which could be a subcontracted third party using its own or another site). The board needs to provide evidence to the Ministry that the host agrees to the use.

What sort of information will the written agreement between the Secretary and schools contain?

The written agreement will set out:

  • who is responsible for the education provided at the off-site location
  • who is responsible for the welfare and safety of the students at that location
  • any other matters the Secretary considers relevant.

New off-site arrangements

A school wishing to establish off-site provision should contact their local Ministry education advisor to discuss requirements. In some instances, where formal application and approval processes already exist (such as establishing a Teen Parent Unit), the approval will be handled as part of the existing process.

Satellite units on host school sites

Transition arrangements 2017–2018 for schools with existing off-site locations

Schools with an existing off-site location need to gain approval for it under section 71A by 19 May 2018. Once approved, they also need a signed agreement with the Secretary for Education for how the arrangement will operate. The agreement document will outline who is responsible for the education, welfare, and safety of the students at the location, and any other matters the Secretary considers relevant.

Who is managing the transition process and how does a school gain approval for an existing off-site location?

The Ministry is managing this transition process, and is contacting schools progressively to make the necessary arrangements. Schools do not need to apply to the Ministry. However, if you have not yet been contacted, it would be wise to contact your local Ministry office to ensure we are aware of your off-site arrangement, as the deadline is not that far away.

Typical examples of off-site arrangements requiring approval under section 71A:

  • Satellite units by special schools on host school sites.
  • Satellite units operated by kura or wharekura (for example, kura teina-kura tuakana arrangements).
  • State schools operating split sites.
  • Teen Parent Units operated off-site of the managing school.
  • Activity Centres operated off-site of the managing school (approval is only required by the managing school; not the enrolling schools).
  • Alternative Education provided off-site through third party subcontractors (approval is only required by the managing school; not the enrolling schools).

The following are not off-site arrangements for the purpose of section 71A:

  • Short courses or visits.
  • Sending students to another school’s technology hub, or for any course taught by another school.
  • “One-day schools”.
  • Trade Academies, or short courses run off-site by Service academies.
  • Study centres.
  • Special School resource centres.
  • State integrated school satellites (these become part of the school premises upon varying the integration agreement).
  • Regional health school sites (regional health schools operate standalone teaching sites from a central administrative hub).

Application of section 71A Education Act 1989


Approval required under s71A?

General Comment

Kura kaupapa Māori: students on another kura site or other type of site (for example, marae) – arrangement by kura



Special School satellites


Can be on tertiary education site or school site

Special school resource centres


Students don’t normally attend class at these. If they do it is for occasional/short periods

State schools with satellites


If satellite property owned by board




Eg Te Kura-a-lwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano use of former Cheltenham school site

State integrated schools with satellites


These are not “off-site” once integration agreement varied

Schools with split sites operating as if a single site (e.g. a sports field up the road, or the school is located on two sides of a road that divides it).


Operational definition excludes these from being “off-site” for section 71A purposes

Split campuses operating as one school serving the same community of students


Especially if historically resulting from a merger, for example

Service academy


Academies are based on school sites. Short term (eg 12 days) specific provision on NZDF land or bush.

Section 71(1), Education Act 1989 (external link)

Trades academy


Not used by the school for secondary school curriculum delivery – used for tertiary (trades) or work experience.

Section 71(1), Education Act 1989 (external link)

“One-day schools” – specialist provision by private organisation, typically one day a week, for students with particular learning needs (e.g. gifted, dyslexic)


These are not provided by the enrolling school, or on a full-time basis.

Section 71(1), Education Act 1989 (external link)

Swimming lessons at another school’s or council pool


These are not providing education on a full-time basis.

Section 71(1), Education Act 1989 (external link)

Use of technology hub



  • Managing school 

  • Enrolling schools







A managing school runs the hub, either on-site or off-site, employing the staff. Other schools pay the managing school for their students to use it.

Section 158, Education Act 1989 (external link)

Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour (RTLBs)


RTLBs support teachers and students at the student’s school.

Alternative Education (AE - mixture of on-site and off-site)

  • enrolling schools referring students to AE (all off-site) 

  • managing school with off-site AE for its and/or enrolling schools’ students

  • managing school subcontracting 3rd party to provide AE offsite


  • managing school providing AE offsite and there are no enrolling schools


  • managing school providing AE onsite and there are no enrolling schools








 As per previous 2 points






There is a contract between the Ministry and managing school. Enrolling schools refer students to AE and keep the student on their roll. The managing school can subcontract AE to community provider.

Activity Centres (AC)

If off-site

  • enrolling schools


  • managing school


If on-site  








Ministry has MoU with managing school. If AC is on-site, board is funded through 5YA and Property Maintenance Grant for building maintenance. If AC is off-site Ministry makes lease payments.

Teen Parent Units (TPUs)


  • on-site 


  • off-site (re managing school) 






Students are enrolled at the managing school of the TPU.

Study support centres


Not delivery of curriculum

National Mentoring Service


Not delivery of curriculum

Steiner Schools ECE MoU re 5-6 yr olds

 If the school runs the class off-site





These arrangements fall under a Minister-approved MoU.

Home schooling


Not a school.

Regional health schools


Regional Health Schools have an administration hub with the school sites deployed where student need arises. Although there can be a unit co-located with the administration hub, this is not a ‘main school campus’ that other units are ‘off-site’ from.

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