Ambury Park Centre - 18/02/2013


On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Ambury Park Centre for Riding Therapy meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

1 Background

The Chief Review Officer has a statutory duty to report on the performance of private schools throughout New Zealand.

ERO reviews of private schools are significantly different in process and more limited in scope and reporting than those for state and state-integrated schools, focusing as they do on the Criteria for Registration set out in section 35C of the Education Act.

Section 35I of the Education Act 1989 requires the Education Review Office (ERO) to review private schools and to report to the Ministry of Education on whether each school continues to meet the criteria for registration. The schools are privately owned and the legislative requirements are significantly different to those for state and state-integrated schools. Private schools are not required to follow the National Education Goals or National Administration Guidelines.

What does apply in place of the legislation imposed upon state schools by the Education Act is the contract between the persons paying for the tuition of the child at the school – the parents – and the school authority. Those are matters between the parent and the school’s governing body. More information about ERO reviews of private schools can be found on ERO’s website.

The criteria for registration are that the school:

  1. has premises that are suitable, as described in section 35D; and
  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; and
  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; and
  4. has equipment that is suitable for the curriculum being delivered or to be delivered at the school; and
  5. has a curriculum for teaching, learning, and assessment and makes details of the curriculum and its programme for delivery available for parents; and
  6. has suitable tuition standards, as described in section 35F; and
  7. has managers who are fit and proper persons (as described in section 35G) to be managers of a private school.

Ambury Park Centre for Riding Therapy is a fully registered private special school for students from Years 9 to 15.

2 Criteria for Registration

Ambury Park Centre for Riding Therapy provides suitable premises, staffing, equipment and tuition standards. The high quality provision acknowledged in previous ERO reports remains evident.

The curriculum is designed to engage young people with behavioural or psychological challenges to re-engage in learning. Students benefit from programmes designed to meet their individual special learning needs. The school’s focus on riding therapy and equestrian activities provides students with diverse opportunities to experience success as they improve their personal and social skills.

Students benefit from being members of a wider community with a strong sense of shared purpose. Their pride in their work helps to motivate them and to develop their sense of self worth as they develop independent life skills.

Academic programmes focus on literacy and numeracy. Students are able to achieve credits in NCEA at Levels 1 and 2 through the support of Te Kura, The Correspondence School. Teachers and teacher aides provide students with good support to meet their individual learning needs. They make very effective use of the environment to provide the context for learning. Students also enjoy the opportunity to gain credits in Equine Studies.

The school has a growing number of Māori and Pacific students. School leaders are keen to increase their support for students’ cultural identity. Their current focus in professional development for staff is on how best to meet the needs of priority learners. The ongoing success of staff in working with other agencies to support the students plays an important part in promoting the culture and identity of individual young people.

The board has a careful process in place to appoint staff to the school who have appropriate professional skills and who are well suited to the environment. Apart from the school teaching staff there are a significant number of other adults on the premises. All staff and volunteers are police vetted, but it would be easier for the board to be assured of the status of staff if the information about police vetting of all adults was collated and held in a central database where its currency could be readily ascertained.

School classrooms are adequate for their purpose and students have access to appropriate equipment and resources to support their learning across the curriculum. Students enjoy opportunities to develop life skills in the well equipped kitchen as part of their ongoing personal development. Taking responsibility of the horses and for themselves lies at the heart of the curriculum. Much of the most important teaching in the school happens in the stables, arena and paddocks, and staff and students take good care to keep these premises attractive, hygienic and as safe as possible.

The board is responsible for the governance of the entire organisation, including therapy, the school and the vocational service. The board members and staff demonstrate long-term commitment to the good of the organisation. Despite ongoing challenges in funding the centre, they have built a professional culture that is of benefit not only to the students but also to a diverse range of users from the wider community.

Over the years the board has documented a significant number of policies and procedures that could now be simplified. Reducing the number of policies to reflect key accountabilities could strengthen self review and enable clearer reporting.

The school’s managers have attested that they comply with the provisions of section 35G in respect to their being fit and proper persons to manage the school.

3 Other Statutory Obligations

There are good systems in place for the school’s managing body to be assured that its statutory obligations are met.

4 Conclusion

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Ambury Park Centre for Riding Therapy meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

18 February 2013

About the School


Mangere Bridge, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Private Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 13

Boys 11

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā












Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

18 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Private School Review

Private School Review

Private School Review

June 2009

January 2006

April 2003