Residential special school enrolment - RSS only pathway

A young person may enrol in a residential special school (RSS) with or without additional support from Te Kahu Toi 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.

Who makes the application

Applications are only able to be 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 or fund-holder school.


There are three criteria for residential special schools:

  • the young person is aged 8 to 15 years old (Year 3–10)
  • they have social, behaviour and/or learning needs that are highly complex and challenging (and may have 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 application will proceed
  • note the RSS only pathway is not an option where high and complex needs indicate intensive specialist interagency support across home, school and community contexts is required
  • consider whether the application will be for RSS enrolment with or without IWS support?
  • decide who will complete the application.

Once the application is submitted:

  • Regional Panels for Intensive Support make initial decisions
  • the Principals of the three Residential Special Schools and others work to make final decisions to confirm if the application and a section 9 agreement is supported.

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 possible move away from family to a residential school are being considered, listening to the voice of the young person is very important. This is the responsibility of the family and providers of specialist support in the home region.

Thinking about a RSS application?

Young people may enrol at a residential school through IWS or the RSS only pathway. Each enrolment needs to be agreed through the section 9 process.

Access criteria and the application process ensure that support is accessed by young people who are most likely to benefit from it. Some applications will result in an RSS enrolment and others will not. Local teams should establish a range of possible options for schooling and learning support.

Applications may only be completed and submitted by a current learning support provider.

If you are considering making an application, apply for the pathway that best meets the young person’s needs. If a young person’s needs indicate that a high level of specialist support is required across home, school and community contexts, an IWS application is indicated.

  • The RSS only pathway provides 24 hour teaching and learning opportunities through the school day and residential provision.
  • IWS is a wraparound service which includes an individually tailored and comprehensive range of supports across home, community and school settings. This can include a regular school or a day or residential special school.

A RSS is an education intervention.

  • It does not replace accountabilities for educators and other agencies to provide quality services locally.
  • Each young person needs to have a home, RSS is not a solution for a young person without home or care arrangements in place.

A RSS application takes time, if this is a crisis situation other solutions will be needed.

How to apply

The current learning support provider completes the application. This consists of:

Do not attach any other documents.

Once it is complete, submit your application to your local Regional Panel for Intensive Support (Panel). You can email the Microsoft Word form along with the three attachments OR submit electronically when using the web based form.

When emailing confidential Microsoft Word documents please encrypt the files and check you are sending to the correct address.

Panels set and circulate due dates for applications to be received  each term. To check due dates call your local Ministry Office.

Applying online

You can choose to use the Microsoft Word form or the online form.

Regional Panels for Intensive Support

Tai Tokerau



Bay of Plenty

Hawke's Bay


Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast



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