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Richards Centre

Physical, medical and learning challenges – The Richards Centre  

How can my child with special needs cope at secondary school?

We can work with you to create a great programme for your child at our excellent mainstream secondary school. We can provide the physical and/or learning support they need to make the most of their educational opportunities. Some students will be fully mainstreamed and heading for university but need physical support. Some will need a lot more learning support in basic literacy, numeracy and community skills so will have a programme at their level.  Some have a rare medical condition that makes coming to school difficult. 


The Richards Centre can support your child to “realise their potential” with our multidisciplinary team of specialist teachers, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapists, special education assistant and teacher aides.


If your child has Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) or Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) funding, please contact the friendly, caring team at the Richards Centre to discuss your child’s situation. 

The Richards Centre practises the Ministry of Education Specialist Service Standards. In our last review, we showed that our specialists provide an excellent service to our students.

Richards Centre enrolment

Student A - An ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) funded student could have a physical disability like Spina bifida, Cerebral palsy or Muscular dystrophy and use a wheelchair. They could have a full mainstream programme with teacher aide support and physiotherapy, occupational therapy and/or speech therapy provided during school time.


Student B - an ORS funded student has a physical disability but they have an independent attitude and do not want to have teacher aides with them in class. They want to attend mainstream classes, but need to have physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech/language therapy instead of Physical Education or one option line.


Student C - an ORS funded student could have a cognitive impairment and need support to learn to read and do basic Mathematics. They will have the opportunity to be included in some mainstream classes with teacher aide support as well as having Specialist teacher input on an individual or small group basis. They need a comprehensive Life Skills programme as well as Work Experience and access to Speech/Language therapy and/or Occupational Therapy.


Student D - could have ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) funding following an accident. This student wants to be at a local secondary school yet needs on-going physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy and teacher aide assistance. They may need to use specialised assistive technology such as a laptop or dynavox.


Student E - could have a rare medical condition needing input from nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech/language therapist and teacher aides to access mainstream classes. They need an individual programme which may allow them to have shorter school hours or rest periods. They need to attend many hospital appointments and have fragile health. This student could have ORS or SHHNF (Schools High Health Needs Funding).


Students with Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS), Schools High Health Needs Funding (SHHNF) or ACC funding and live in the Southern or Eastern areas of Auckland have priority for enrolment. Enrolments are requested during Term 3 for the following year. However we consider late enrolments.


We welcome enquiries. Please phone Mrs Tricia Walton to make a time to visit.


Papatoetoe High School 
Phone: (09) 279 3064 ext: 732 

Programmes & staff

Specialist teachers:

  • use IEPs (Individual Education Plan) meetings to design the most effective programme for each student, in consultation with the student and their parents, caregivers, whanau.

  • organise their timetable so students receive the therapy they need during school hours.

  • assist each student to be involved in PHS classes with the support required to achieve national qualifications.

  • provide support in basic literacy, numeracy and community skills.


 Teacher aides:

  • assist students with their learning programme. Because we are a fund-holder school we are able to provide a generous allowance of teacher aide time for students.

  • assist students with personal cares and enables students with fragile medical conditions to attend secondary school. We have excellent toilet facilities and hoists. 

 Occupational therapist (part time):

  • helps students to transition to a successful future.

  • helps students “to participate in the activities of everyday life.”

  • helps with access to mainstream classes and learning by using the latest appropriate technology with Assistive Technology Applications.


 Speech and language therapists (part time):

  • provide expert assessment, diagnosis and intervention for speech, language, reading and swallowing difficulties

  • work with the students individually or in-class, to implement tailored programmes to improve communication and develop interpersonal skills.


 Physiotherapist (part time):

  • assists students to achieve their potential physically through assessment, intervention, education, therapy and home programmes, with goals that are relevant to each student and their families/ whanau.

  • offers a range of activities to encourage confidence and participation in school and in the community.


The physiotherapy room has a range of therapy equipment, including hoists, standing frame, various exercise equipment and a therapy bench. Therapy may include:

  • increasing muscle strength to improve function and improving balance and motor coordination. 

  • encouraging weight bearing through arms and legs. 

  • regaining/maintaining muscle strength and flexibility following surgery. 

  • ordering specialised equipment to assist independence e.g. wheelchairs, walking frames 

  • recommending orthotic and specialist mobility aids such as splinting to improve standing and walking. 

Useful Links

Below are a list of useful links for further information regarding Papatoetoe High School and studying in New Zealand:

ERO report 

Immigration NZ

Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2022

Ministry of Education


NZ Now

Study Work and Live in Auckland

Term Dates 2023 

External Exams Dates

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