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Alternative education

Students may come to alternative education for a number of different reasons. Alternative education is a short term intervention which supports students who have been alienated from mainstream education. It re-engages students in a meaningful learning programme targeted to their individual needs and supports them to transition back to mainstream school, further education, training or employment.


He tini ngā whetū e ngaro i te kapua iti.
      Many stars cannot be concealed by a small cloud.


Target student group

Alternative education caters for students between 13 and 15 years of age who are alienated from mainstream school. To be eligible for alternative education, the student needs to meet one of the following criteria: 

  1. Out of a registered school for two terms or more.
  2. Excluded and enrolment is refused by local schools (including a history of stand-downs or suspension in the past two years).
  3. Has dropped out of Te Kura after enrolment in either category 1 or 2.
  4. Absent for at least half of the last 20 school weeks for reasons other than illness and the absence has meant they are unable to maintain a mainstream programme.
  5. Has multiple suspensions and risks further suspension.
  6. Alienated. At any one time 20% of students do not have to fit one of the first five categories above but in the professional opinion of the school alternative education is the best option for the student.

Students can remain enrolled in alternative education until the end of the year in which they turned 16. In exceptional circumstances students may stay in alternative education past the age of 16 at the discretion of the Director of Education. 

Funding and operation

Managing schools are contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide alternative education. The managing school holds the contracted funds and manages any subcontracted third parties to deliver alternative education. The managing school is responsible for the final decision to approve or decline a referral into alternative education.

The enrolling school refers students to alternative education. The enrolling school maintains educational and pastoral responsibility for students while they are enrolled in their school and are attending alternative education, as per the National Education Guidelines (NEGs) and National Administration Guidelines (NAGs). The enrolling school is responsible for the student’s educational success, including their achievement results.

A provider may be subcontracted by the managing school to deliver alternative education on their behalf and is responsible for supporting students to achieve their Individual Learning Plan goals.


Each student in alternative education will be supported by an Individual Learning Plan (ILP). The ILP is developed by the enrolling school in partnership with the student, their whanau and the alternative education tutors. The ILP outlines learning goals relevant to the student’s individual needs. At a minimum, the ILP must include attendance goals, wellbeing goals, goals related to the key competencies outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum, numeracy and literacy goals and transition goals. The ILP must be reviewed and updated regularly, a minimum of once every term.

A suggested outline of an Individual Learning Plan

Word 2007 icon. Individual learning plan 2017–2018 (Word 2007 704 KB)

Students enrolled in alternative education are able to be dual enrolled at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – The Correspondence School (Te Kura) and may access up to four subjects. This is funded by the Ministry of Education.

Forms and templates

The following templates and forms support the provision of alternative education.

Word icon. Assessment form and case conference information sheet (Word 183 KB)

The assessment form checks the eligibility of students to attend AE. To be completed by enrolling school at point of referral. The case conference information sheet records case conference minutes which are required for all referrals. To be completed by enrolling and managing schools.

Word 2007 icon. Application to remain in alternative education past 16 years of age (Word 2007 70 KB)

For students who would benefit from remaining in alternative education past 16 years. To be completed by enrolling and managing schools and approved by the Ministry of Education.

Word 2007 icon. Pedagogical Leadership Plan (Word 2007 64 KB)

Records how a managing school will provide pedagogical leadership to alternative education tutors. Developed by managing school, pedagogical leader and AE provider.

Contract monitoring and reporting 

Word 2007 icon. Monthly status report (Word 2007 15 KB)

Monitors entry and exit of alternative education students. To be completed every month by provider or managing school.

Word 2007 icon. AE 2017 Annual report template (Word 2007 20 KB)

Excel 2007 icon. Alternative Education 2017 mid-year report (Excel 2007 31 KB)

There is a contractual requirement for managing schools to report on outcomes and student achievement and to ensure accountability for public funds. To be completed by managing school.

More information

Word 2007 icon. Alternative Education Guidelines 2017–2018 (Word 2007 212 KB)

The Alternative Education Guidelines provide practical information on the Ministry of Education’s policies related to providing an alternative education programme. The guidelines include information on referral and entry, recording enrolment and attendance, transitioning out of alternative education, contract management, good practice (including pedagogical leadership), legal obligations and links to cross government tools and support.

Visit the website of  Alternative Education National Body New Zealand .

For further queries you can email Alt.Ed@education.govt.nz

Managing schools providing alternative education:

Tai Tokerau

  • Dargaville High School
  • Kaitaia College
  • Kamo High School
  • Okaikau College
  • Otamatea College
  • Taipa Area School


  • Aorere College
  • Green Bay High School
  • James Cook High School
  • Kaipara College
  • Mt Albert Grammar School
  • Onehunga High School
  • Orewa College


  • Coromandel Area School
  • Forest View High School
  • Hillcrest High School
  • Huntly College
  • Kawhia School
  • Matamata College
  • Melville High School
  • Mercury Bay Area School
  • Paeroa College
  • Raglan Area School
  • Taumarunui High School
  • Te Awamutu College
  • Te Kuiti High School
  • Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga
  • Waihi College


  • Mt Maunganui College
  • Murupara Area School
  • Opotiki College
  • Otumoetai College
  • Tarawera High School
  • Rotorua Lakes High School
  • Taupo-nui-a-Tia College
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau
  • Te Puke High School
  • Tongariro School
  • Whakatane High School

Hawke's Bay / Tairāwhiti

  • Central Hawkes Bay College
  • Flaxmere College
  • Lytton High School
  • Ngata Memorial College
  • Rerekohu Area School
  • Tolaga Bay Area School
  • Wairoa College


  • Hawera High School
  • Opunake High School
  • Palmerston North Boys High School
  • Patea Area School
  • Rangitikei College
  • Ruapehu College
  • Spotswood College
  • Stratford High School
  • Whanganui High School


  • Chanel College
  • Dannevirke High School
  • Heretaunga College
  • Kapiti College
  • Kuranui College
  • Makoura College
  • Manawatu College
  • Naenae College
  • Otaki College
  • Porirua College
  • Tararua College
  • Wainuiomata High School
  • Wairarapa College
  • Wellington High School

Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast

  • Buller High School
  • Golden Bay High School
  • Greymouth High School
  • Marlborough Boys College 
  • Motueka High School
  • Nayland College
  • Waimea College


  • Amuri Area School
  • Ashburton College
  • Cashmere High School
  • Darfield High School
  • Opihi College
  • Rangiora High School 


  • Bayfield High School
  • Central Southland College
  • Cromwell College
  • Southland Boys High School
  • St Peters College, Gore