Students at a new tertiary education centre for young people with special needs are relishing the independence it gives them.

Ministry of Education-funded Oaklynn TEC is a branch of nearby Oaklynn Special School, which has several other "satellite classes" in primary, intermediate and high schools around West Auckland.

Situated on Great North Rd in the heart of New Lynn, the centre has been refurbished with new classrooms, a kitchen and an activities space and will cater to about 20 students aged from 18 to 21.

They will get community-based learning - as opposed to mainstream tertiary learning - with opportunities to get work experience at local businesses, and to learn how to live independently, such as catching a train.


Yesterday, students showed off their new space and took part in various activities, including reading and working on hand-eye co-ordination.

Rose Natana, 19, and classmate Darius Davoodi, 20, lined up to have a go with the newly installed Wii, before showing off their pool-playing skills.

Rose says it was good to be at a school that was not tucked away on a suburban street and which therefore meant they were able to get out more.

"Today we went to the library and we can just walk there [because] it's not far," she says.

Darius, who works part-time at the local ITM building supplies store, says he likes the independence he has at the centre.

"I make myself a cup of tea whenever I want. We're learning about how to catch the train - no more taxis for me," he says.

Principal Louise Doyle says in the few weeks the students had been using the facility staff had noticed a big difference.

"It really acknowledges their adulthood and values them as young adults and helps give them their independence.

"A space like this is just the kind of thing you would get at a university or a tech and this is exactly what other 19 and 20-year-olds studying have got."

Oaklynn TEC will be officially opened tomorrow.