Private and independent schools

Private school reviews are different from reviews of state or state-integrated schools

Our reviews of private schools have a different process from our reviews of state and state‑integrated schools.

The reviews are done so that we can report to the Secretary for Education on whether your school meets the criteria for registration for a private school.


There are different requirements for private schools

The legislative requirements are significantly different for privately owned schools from those for state and state-integrated schools.

Private schools can charge fees. They have a contract between the people paying for the child’s tuition (generally the parents) and the school’s managing body.

They are not required to follow the Government’s national education guidelines. They have the freedom to choose an appropriate curriculum and do not have to follow The New Zealand Curriculum or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

However, private schools must have regard to the Statement of National Education Learning Priorities (NELPs) in the operation of the school. They must ensure that the principal and staff have regard to the NELPs when developing and delivering the curriculum.

What we focus on in your review

Criteria for registration

The focus of the review is to confirm whether your school meets or does not meet the criteria for registration for a private school.

If your school does not meet the criteria, the review report gives you information about the areas where improvement is required.

During the review we check and discuss with you how you are meeting each of the criteria.

The criteria for registration, set out in clause 2, Schedule 7 of the Education and Training Act 2020, are that the school:

  1. has premises that are suitable, as described in clause 3 
  2. usually provides tuition for 9 or more students who are of or over the age of 5 years but are under the age of 16 years
  3. has staffing that is suitable to the age range and level of its students, the curriculum taught at the school, and the size of the school
  4. has equipment that is suitable for the curriculum being delivered or to be delivered at the school
  5. has a curriculum for teaching, learning, and assessment and makes details of the curriculum and its programme for delivery available for parents
  6. has suitable tuition standards, as described in clause 5
  7. has managers who are fit and proper persons (as described in clause 6) to be managers of a private school
  8. is a physically and emotionally safe place for students.


School hostels

If your school has a hostel for students, we will ask you to check your compliance with hostel requirements and discuss this with us during the review.  

We are interested in how you support students in your hostel.

Read more about how we review school hostels.


International students

If your school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice, we will ask you to discuss this with us during the review.

We are interested in how you support any international students in your school.

Read more about how we review your support of international students in your school.


What happens before the review

We notify your school managers by email of the dates for the review. The email asks you to send us information we will need and will include these two documents:

The ERO reviewer leading your review will contact you by email or phone to provide more information about the review process and arrange our visit.


Documents you complete before the review

We ask your school managers to complete and return a Private School Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist related to what we focus on in the review. You may also find these useful for your own self-review.

Before the review, the managers of your private school (the principal and each member or director of the school’s managing body) must complete a:


Other documents we need to see before the review

We will want to see other documents to help decide whether your private school meets the criteria. These could include:

  • your school’s curriculum and delivery programme, and how information about these is made available to parents
  • your school management’s definition of “suitable” premises, staffing, equipment and tuition standards (this may be in your registration application, prospectus, management plans or other documents)
  • your school policies and procedures that provide for a physically and emotionally safe place for students
  • teacher/class timetables
  • school map
  • a staff list with responsibilities, teacher registration details including expiry dates and police vetting for non-teaching staff
  • the school prospectus or handbook for parents
  • any other school policies that you think would be useful in the review process.

What happens during the review

Our reviewers will gather information to consider whether your school meets the criteria for registration. This can include looking at the physical environment, observing teaching and learning, and reading documents and records.

We will talk with members of your school’s managing body, the principal and other people in or associated with your school.


We will ask to see:

  • information about how your school is meeting the requirements for “suitable” premises, staffing, and equipment
  • information about achievement expectations for your students (such as curriculum plans, student assessment, reporting records)
  • information to show that risks to student safety are regularly assessed and evaluated with a view to eliminating, or at least reducing, harm
  • the most recent Ministry of Education roll audit
  • attendance registers and student enrolment records
  • records of student stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • any relevant property information
  • evacuation procedures.


What happens after the review

We will prepare and send you a draft private school report. This includes our judgements about whether your school is meeting or not meeting each of the criteria for registration, with our overall conclusion.

You can send us your comments on the draft report to advise us of any errors of fact or ask about the basis for the judgements, with documentation to support your comments.

We will contact you about your comments and any changes to the report. Once this is done, we will send you the confirmed private school report. We send this report to the Ministry of Education and publish it on our website.