Residential special school enrolment - RSS only pathway

A young person can enrol in a residential special school (RSS) with or without additional support from Te Kahu Tōī Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS). This page provides information about the RSS only pathway without IWS support.

Who can initiate the process?

A parent, educator or learning support provider can request that a residential special school is considered for a young person.

How to apply

Applications are only made by the young person’s learning support provider in their home region. This could be a Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), a Ministry specialist, or a day special school or a fund-holder school.


There are three criteria for residential special schools.

  • The young person is aged 8 - 15 years (year 3–10)
  • They have social, behaviour and/or learning needs that are highly complex and challenging (and may associated intellectual disability) and require support at school, home and in the community
  • Local learning support services have been accessed and have been unable to meet these needs.

The application process

The application process involves families, educators and learning support providers in the home region.


  • meet to carefully consider and decide if an appliction will proceed
  • ask will the application be for RSS enrolment with or without IWS support 
  • nominate the referrer who will make the application
  • complete the application and a risk assessment


  • regional panels for intensive support make decisions 
  • the principals of the three residential special schools recommend which school will best support the education needs of the young person and a section 9 agreement application is made.

Involving young people

Young people need to be fully informed, consulted, and supported to understand any decisions that impact on them. When decisions about a move to a residential school are being considered, listening to the voice of the student is very important. This is the responsibility of the family and providers of specialist support in the home region.

Benefits of the RSS only pathway include

  • Allows young people to access a residential special school 
  • A lead worker in your home region will stay involved.

Applying Online

To apply online, please use Google Chrome (external link) , and visit the online application form:

Online application form (external link)

Your progress on the form will be saved as long as you are using the same browser, and you do not clear your browser's history and/or cache.

Your form's data will be restored when you visit the form url ( (external link) in the same browser.

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