A question mark is hanging over the future of a special education school for girls due to a falling numbers.

The Government has begun consultation with the board of Salisbury School in Nelson, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.

Salisbury School is a residential school for Year 3 to Year 10 girls with complex needs, based in Richmond, Nelson.

Despite its "long history of educating girls with high and complex needs" the successful implementation of the Intensive Wraparound Services (IWS) scheme had reduced the demand for residential schooling, Ms Parata said.

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Since 2011 Salisbury's roll has fallen from 72 to nine, pushing the per student cost of educating girls at the school to $214,909, she said.

This was in comparison to the $27,000 average cost of providing intensive, localised support through IWS.

"The high cost of continuing to fund Salisbury School for a very small number of students versus the significantly lower cost and higher demand for IWS raises questions about the most effective use of resources for students with high and complex needs," Ms Parata said.

The Minister also announced she was initiating consultation on an application from Halswell Residential College in Christchurch to become fully co-educational.

"Because the decision on Halswell's application could affect my decision on the future of Salisbury, I am initiating both these consultation processes at the same time."

If a decision was made to close Salisbury, the Ministry of Education would work with parents and the school to determine what is in the best interests of the students, she said.

Consultation on the Halswell proposal will end on July 15, and consultation on the proposed closure of Salisbury ends on August 12.

The proposed date for the school's closure is January 27 next year.

NZH pd