Appendix 2: School building requirements and property entitlements linked to special needs

Extracts from the Ministry of Education’s Schools Property Management Handbook

6.17 Special needs students – access in schools

6.17.1 Ensuring access

The New Zealand Disability Strategy provides that no child should be denied access to their local, regular school because of their impairment. In addition, the Education Act 1989, the Human Rights Act 1993, the Building Act 2004 and the Building Code require boards to make sure that students with special physical, behavioural or sensory needs can access school buildings, including the toilets and technology areas.

To align with government policy and the legislation, the ministry has developed a range of requirements to provide for students and staff with special needs, including design standards and a funding policy. Section 3 covers the funding policy. The information in this section will help boards design and implement property modifications to accommodate students and staff with special needs.

6.17.2 The New Zealand Standard

New Zealand Standard 4121 Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities, known as Access 2001, ensures access to public buildings and other related facilities for people with disabilities. Access 2001 contains a lot of prescriptive information, for example, door handles must be able to be opened by people who have limited arm strength (usually by specifying lever type door handles not door knobs).

3.6 Special needs funding for first time enrolments

3.6.1 Purpose of the policy

The New Zealand Disability Strategy provides that no child should be denied access to their local, regular school because of their impairment. In addition, the Education Act 1989, the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Building Act 2004 (and the Building Code) require boards to make sure that students with special physical, behavioural or sensory needs can access school buildings, including the toilets and technology areas.

To align with government policy and the legislation, the ministry has developed a range of property policies to provide for students with special needs, including design standards and a funding policy.

3.6.2 How boards qualify

Property entitlement for children with special needs is linked to staffing ratios for ORRS8 students. That is, each high needs student receives approximately three times the property entitlement of mainstream students in SPG, teaching space and 5YA funding. Similarly each very high needs student receives approximately five times the property entitlement of mainstream students.

This provides funding for students/staff members with special needs when they first enrol/join the school. If circumstances change for example, a student’s condition deteriorates or an existing student/staff member becomes disabled, this policy equally applies.

Any reasonable property modifications (for example, ramps, ablution facilities, lifts) required to enable a student’s first-time enrolment will be decided by the ministry and discussed with the board and the student’s caregiver. A budget for the modifications will be agreed, with the scope of the modifications being all reasonable work required to support the student’s needs.

Special needs funding is not available for work of a health and safety nature. For example, repaving areas for easier wheelchair use is really a health and safety issue, as uneven pavement can affect all school occupants. This must be budgeted for in the 10YPP.

3.6.3 Process for getting this funding

A specific project budget separate from the board’s 5YA budget will be provided for this work and paid out in accordance with the Project Management Requirements in Section 5. It is expected that the work will be completed within 12 months of the first-time enrolment. If the student does not enrol at the school, or the construction cost is less than the budget, then any unspent funding will be removed from the project budget.

After the initial enrolment costs, 5YA budgets are adjusted for ORRS students to provide for special education. No additional square metres can be provided to boards unless the adjustments for ORRS students prove inadequate on a case-by-case basis.

Any past spending on property modifications to enable a student’s first-time enrolment will not count in the school’s 5YA past expenditure calculations. Any modifications subsequently required must be included by boards in their 10YPP.: