Maniototo Area School - 22/12/2011

1. Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Maniototo Area School provides good quality education for Years 1 to 13 students. The school is in an isolated area but has found positive solutions to the challenges this brings. These include:

  • individualised learning programmes for senior students that result in a successful transition into work or tertiary education
  • effective use of local people, resources and places to enrich students’ learning
  • distance learning opportunities.

Students, teachers, trustees and ERO identified other special qualities that relate to the school’s context and size. Students benefit from low class numbers, resulting in more individual attention from teachers. Their teachers know them well, including their learning strengths and needs.

Students spoke positively about their school. They describe it as friendly and know that their teachers care about them and their learning. ERO observed respectful relationships between teachers and students. Teachers also talked about how well they work with each other.

A new principal was appointed mid 2010. He has built positive relationships with the different groups in the school, worked cooperatively to identify priorities and begun to introduce a range of constructive initiatives. Some of these are in the early stages of implementation.

The school is well supported by its community. This support ranges from sharing knowledge and skills with students, providing scholarships, to helping with sports and other education outside the classroom programmes.

A third of the students identify as Māori. This year, initiatives have been put in place to better meet these students’ needs and abilities. There are also some students who move between schools because of their parents’ employment. This includes some students who are learning English as a second language. Teachers and other students go out of their way to help new students settle into the school.

The board has developed plans to upgrade buildings and create a special area for senior students to work in. Trustees and ERO believe that these initiatives will have a positive impact on students’ learning. The school continues to upgrade its information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and resources.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students work in settled and well-managed classrooms. In Years 1 to 8, most students achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The overall progress and achievement of Years 9 and 10 students in literacy and mathematics is more varied.

When compared to similar schools, NCEA results vary each year. This is in part due to the small number of students working at each NCEA level. Overall:

  • Level 1 literacy results are lower but numeracy results are similar
  • the number of Level 1 certificates is lower
  • Level 2 and 3 certificate achievement rates are similar.

The deputy principal works with each student in Years 11 to 13, to plan goals for the future and how they will achieve these. Students talked about the success of this mentoring programme. Over the years, almost all students achieve their goal of finding work or tertiary education opportunities in their chosen area.

Other findings

This review found that students are well supported in their learning. In some classes, students show especially high levels of interest and engagement in what they are learning. ERO found that:

  • overall, students benefit from good, to high quality teaching
  • teachers know their students well
  • some teachers show special skill in how they use a range of formal and informal assessments to inform their teaching
  • students who need extra help with their learning are quickly identified and well supported.

There are several initiatives to increase students’ engagement and rates of progress in Years 9 to 13. These include:

  • monthly reporting to parents on students’ work habits and learning goals
  • regular mentor meetings with Years 11 to 13 students
  • more work-based, NCEA approved programmes.

Areas for review and development

The principal recognises the need to develop a shared understanding of what ‘involvement in learning’ for students really means. Some teachers do this very well. Their practices could be shared with other teachers and built on.

The quality of assessment practices through the school is variable. Procedures to guide teachers towards good practice need to be reviewed. Variability was seen in:

  • teachers’ confidence in making well-informed judgements based on several sources of information
  • how well teachers integrate assessment into their day-to-day teaching
  • the quality of written feedback to students about their learning
  • the usefulness of some students’ learning goals.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

School leaders show a genuine commitment to understanding and promoting Māori student success. They know and care about these students.


Most Māori students work well in class. In Years 1 to 10, overall levels of achievement are lower than those of their peers. Results are more varied for students in Years 11 to 13. Māori students who achieve below expected levels in their learning are identified and well supported.

Māori students spoke enthusiastically about their school and the support they get from their teachers. Some talked about how their teachers go out of their way to help them. The school has recently introduced a number of initiatives to better value Māori students and their culture. Initiatives include:

  • the board employing a kapa haka tutor
  • appointing a teacher to be responsible for monitoring Māori student achievement, the te reo Māori programme and developing the knowledge and skills of other staff
  • the development of guidelines for teachers about how to ensure success for all Māori students.

Area for review and development

The initiatives listed above are new. The next steps are to strengthen and build on these. The board is yet to set a specific target to lift the achievement of Māori students.

Some teachers could better include a Māori dimension in what and how they teach. The school environment and resources could better reflect Māori culture.

3. Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

All students benefit from a broad curriculum. In Years 1 to 8, there is a strong focus on literacy. Years 11 to 13 students can choose from a wide range of New Zealand Qualification Framework and work-related courses.


The new principal has led the revision and alignment of the school’s curriculum with the New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum overview is easy to follow and clearly states the school’s chosen values and priorities.

This review also identified other strengths in the school’s curriculum and how it supports students’ learning. These include:

  • meaningful integration of the different curriculum areas (especially literacy) in the Years 1 to 8 programme
  • relevant contexts for learning
  • interesting curriculum activities beyond the classroom
  • well-planned use of local people, resources and opportunities to enrich and ‘hook’ students into learning
  • good progress with implementing the National Standards.

Years 11 to 13 students appreciate the wide range of learning opportunities. These students can choose from NCEA, Gateway, STAR, correspondence, and new courses such as building, forestry and agriculture. These students often work individually but are well supported by their teachers.

Area for review and development

Maniototo Area School has recently revised its curriculum so that it aligns with the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and better reflects its community’s priorities. The next step is to ensure that all teachers confidently use the revised school curriculum to guide teaching and learning. This could include:

  • making the key competencies, values and principles more evident
  • identifying and spreading best teaching practices across the school
  • reviewing other school documents so that they align better with the revised school curriculum, NZC and best practice.

The principal has identified several other priorities. These include:

  • establishing a middle school as a way to increase student engagement and progress
  • developing skill-based learning progressions for Years 7 to 10 students.

4. Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and improve what it is doing for students.


The principal has established effective working relationships with his staff and with trustees. The board receives useful information about student achievement and what is happening in the school. The principal is working strategically to make changes that are appropriate, manageable and sustainable. He and the board have identified key priorities for future planning.

Areas for review and development

The next steps for the board and principal are to:

  • develop a useful strategic plan that clearly shows the school’s priorities for the future
  • extend self review and refine it, so that it is more evaluative
  • extend and improve the quality of some reporting to the board on student progress and achievement
  • make student achievement targets more specific
  • report to the parent community on overall student achievement.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review, there were no international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

The school hosts small groups of short-stay students from time to time. The principal records evidence of how the school complies with the Code. The board receives information about how well visiting students are supported, provided with appropriate programmes, and given many opportunities to experience life in New Zealand beyond the school. Good provision is made for the language needs of international students.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

22 December 2011

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 55% Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā



South African





Review team on site

October 2011

Date of this report

22 December 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

November 2008

April 2006

November 2004