Day and residential special schools

Day and residential special schools cater for students with specific needs. Space entitlements for special schools are calculated using a different formula than the School Property Guide for mainstream schools. As a board of trustees of a day or residential special school, you are responsible for managing the property on your base school site.

Calculating space for a special school

Day special schools are for students in years one to 13, though some students stay until they are 21.

Residential special schools offer students full accommodation services as well as specialist classroom and education services. Find out more about residential special schools and day special schools.

Day and residential special schools may have satellite units. A satellite unit is a special education facility within a mainstream (host) school.

As a board of trustees of a day or residential special school, you are responsible for managing the property on your base school site. Day-to-day property management is the responsibility of the mainstream school that hosts your satellite unit, though you should be consulted when any property projects are planned for the unit.

Property entitlement for special schools

Day and residential special schools have the same property entitlement. However, residential special schools have an additional hostel entitlement.

Area entitlement for special schools

You can use the following table to work out the area entitlement for day and residential schools.

Formulas to calculate area entitlement for a day or residential school



Description and comment

1. Teaching area:



Classroom area


General classroom area, which excludes withdrawal, therapy and storage areas. The classroom area is provided as a total envelope of area.

The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) is for students with the highest special education needs.

  • ORS very high needs

11m2 net per student

  • ORS high needs

5m2 net per student

  • Non-ORS student

3m2 net per student

Therapy area

1.4m2 x ORS roll

A lot of therapy occurs in the classroom. However, the therapy area is a shared therapy space for occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech language therapy services. The therapy area could be combined with the therapy storage area.

Withdrawal area

1.4m2 x ORS roll

A flexible space to cater for the diverse range of student needs. Its uses could include being a quiet or sleep area, or a space for therapist sessions, assessment interviews, etc.

2. Administration area

31 x square root of total roll, to a maximum of 177m2

You can choose how to allocate this space. The following is an indicative allocation of the maximum area:

  • Visitor reception/waiting room – 30m2
  • Office area – 20m2
  • Principal’s office – 20m2
  • Photocopying area – 6m2  
  • Car seat alcove/area – 6m2
  • Medical area – 16m2
  • Ancillary area – 31m2
  • Kitchen area – 10m2
  • Activities of daily life (ADL) kitchen area – 18m2
  • Snoezelen area (multi-sensory room) – 20m2

3. Management area
(deputy principal’s office)

12m2 net

For management other than the principal. Large enough for a workstation with a computer, 2 filing cabinets and a bookshelf.

4. Professional office area


Common office space to promote professional teamwork for all staff working with the students.


2m2 per teacher

Teacher aide

1m2 per teacher aide


4m2 per therapist

5. Staffroom area

1m2 per staff member

The allocation is equivalent to the allocation under the School Property Guide (SPG).

6. Library area

6m2 net x square root of total roll


7. Resource area



General storage area

12m2x square root of total roll

A space for storage of professional resources and development of new resources. This area may be regularly used by teachers from satellite units as well as those located on the base school site.

Wheelchair storage

1.5m2 x non-mobile roll

Only applies to students who are non-mobile.

Therapy storage

7m2 x square root of ORS roll

A storage space for equipment used for assessments and therapy, and specialised equipment.

8. Whānau area

2m2 net x mobile roll plus 4m2 net x non-mobile roll

A large area to provide a weather-protected play area. Also used as a social gathering point and/or a dining area.

9. Toilet area

Go to the toilet entitlement calculator for special education schools

Every special school has a minimum entitlement to one fully accessible (‘works’) toilet, plus additional entitlement. The additional entitlement is based on a schedule of toilet types according to the mobility and number of students.

10. Net to gross ratio (NtG)

1:1.3 plus toilet area

This ratio recognises the need for wider corridors and verandas, and student pick-up and set-down areas. It is calculated on the sum of the areas for:

  • teaching
  • administration
  • management area
  • professional office area
  • staffroom
  • library
  • resource area
  • whānau areas.

11. Gross entitlement

(NtG x facilities 1–8) plus toilets



Area entitlement for hostels at residential special schools



Description and comment

Hostel entitlement

22–30m2 net per residential student

Only for residential special schools. As the needs of students at these schools vary, the appropriate space entitlement will be determined on a case-by-case basis within this range.

Net to gross ratio

1:1.2 including toilets



Funding the construction of a special school and hostel

We calculate Ministry funding to construct a special school and hostel as follows.

Funding component

Funding rate

Construction rate

Current specialist classroom rate (hostels are based on the appropriate residential rate)

Site costs

Current site works rate or estimated cost

Furniture and equipment rate

Current regular rate

Refurbishment rate

50% of construction rate


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