Leaving secondary school (transition)

If you have a disability you can attend school up until the age of 21, depending on your funding.

The process of moving on from secondary school to adult life is called a transition. It is one of the most important changes in our lives. You need to start thinking about it early – by the time you are 14 at the latest. That will give you, and your family or whānau, time to explore different options.

Talk to your school, your Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC), or your ACC support coordinator about how to get started.

You’ll need a transition plan

A transition plan focuses on what you would like to do and the choices available.

For example, you might want to plan for:

  • Going flatting or getting a place of your own.
  • Working in paid work or as a volunteer.
  • Studying at a polytechnic or university.
  • Doing an apprenticeship or work experience.
  • Getting your drivers licence or other transport options.
  • Doing sports or hobbies.

If you have Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding

If you have ORS funding, your school will refer you to a Transition Service.

The Ministry of Education says (to parents):

  • The Vocational Services Transition Service is funded by the Ministry of Social Development.
  • You should receive information about this service before your son or daughter leaves school.
  • The service will begin the year before your son or daughter leaves school.

If you don’t have ORS funding

If you don't have ORS funding then you should contact your local NASC for a new assessment.

Your NASC can help you work out what you want to do and outline the options available in your community. This can vary in different communities.

Depending on what you need, your NASC can organise for you to get services that are funded by the Ministry of Health. For example:

  • Home and community support services.
  • Supported living services.
  • Residential support services.

Your NASC might also refer you to services that are funded by other government agencies. These include:

  • Further education providers.
  • Supported employment services.
  • Vocational/day activity providers.

Read more about NASCs or find your local NASC.

Needs assessments for government funded support

Find your local NASC (external website)

If you have an injury-related disability

ACC says their transition service is available to people with injury-related disabilities aged from 14 to 21 years. It helps teenagers and their whānau/families to work through options for the future. Read more about how ACC can help you after you finish school.

What happens when secondary school finishes? (external website)

More information about leaving school

Ministry of Education booklet, Preparing to leave school

The Ministry of Education has a booklet (published June 2011) for parents and caregivers of young people with special education needs. It covers transition plans, support for moving into tertiary education and work, housing options and support, budgeting, support from government agencies and support for parents.

You can download a copy from the Ministry’s website.

Life after school (external website)

Help with decision-making

The Ministry of Education suggests some websites and resources for secondary school students to help with decision-making.

Websites and resources

Find out more about Careers NZ, Vocational Pathways (NCEA choices) and the Tertiary Education Commission.

Moving on from secondary school (external website)

Education options after secondary school

Find out more about higher level education, youth programmes (Youth Guarantee, Modern Apprenticeships, Gateway), and on the job training.

Further education and training options (external website)

National Transition Guidelines

The Ministry of Education has guidelines to ensure that transition support is put in place for students with special education needs.

National Transition Guidelines for students with special needs (external website)

Search Firstport

Find transition providers on Firstport. You’ll need to type ‘transition’ in the search box.

Support Services