Omarama School - 28/08/2012


1. Context

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

Omarama School is a small school serving the town of Omarama and surrounding rural area. Some students travel to the school by bus from the farming community. The area’s unique environment provides students with some rich contexts for learning which are integrated into the school’s curriculum.

Students learn in a friendly family-like atmosphere. They show respect for themselves and others. Students benefit from some very high quality teaching. The new teaching team is working well together to support students’ learning. ERO observed high levels of student interest and motivation in both classrooms.

Teachers and parents ensure students have many opportunities for playing sport and participating in activities within the wider community including with neighbouring schools. Teachers are working to ensure that the individual needs of students at each level are well catered for.

Since the 2009 ERO review there have been changes to staff and board membership, including the appointment of a new principal in 2012. The board faces significant challenges in developing an appropriate governance and management framework to support the teachers and staff at the school.

2. Learning

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

The school’s information shows that most students are achieving well in relation to the National Standards.

The school’s end of 2011 information shows that in writing (written language) most students were achieving at the National Standard. A small number of students achieved above this standard. Three quarters of the students were achieving at or above the National Standard in mathematics. Two thirds of the students were achieving at or above the National Standard in reading.

Areas of strength

Students’ learning in the junior classroom. Students benefit from continuity of high quality teaching. This is evident through:

  • students’ understanding of what they are learning and what they need to do to improve
  • the positive and personal interactions for learning between the teacher and students
  • the teacher and teacher aide having a shared focus, through explicit planning, on specific learning for individuals and groups of students
  • the significant progress some students are making in their learning.

Parents reported high levels of satisfaction with the achievement and progress of their children.

Student achievement monitoring and reporting. The school has set targets to raise student achievement in relation to the National Standards. The board has received very useful and high quality information on how well all students are achieving. Students who have been targeted to have their achievement raised have individual student achievement targets. Their progress towards these targets is closely monitored and reported to the board each term.

Areas for review and development

Reporting to parents. Teachers’ reporting of students’ achievement and progress to parents could be reviewed. It is not always clear how well students are achieving in relation to the National Standards. Parents should consistently receive more-specific information about how they can help their child's learning at home.

Technology for learning. Teachers and the board have identified, and ERO agrees, that students should have better access to information technology resources and equipment.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students learning.


Education outside the classroom (EOTC). Students have many effective learning experiences outside the classroom. Teachers take opportunities to integrate their classroom learning with the local environment and events. The board should ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken and documented to manage the operation of these learning activities.

Learning environment. Teachers and other staff actively work to build and maintain a positive and constructive learning environment for students. Staff work well together. The new teaching team is developing effective relationships to support students and their families.

Areas for review and development

Curriculum priorities. The board and teachers should clarify and agree on the parent community’s priorities for its children’s learning. These should be satisfactorily aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum. Teachers should show specifically how core curriculum learning will be integrated into topic/ theme/integrated learning units.

Bicultural awareness. The board, principal and teachers should review and improve the opportunities they offer to students to increase their understanding of te reo and tikanga Māori.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

At the time of the review there were four Māori students at the school. Teachers support individual students to achieve success in their learning. The board does not receive information about how well Māori students are achieving as a group. The board and teachers should clarify how Māori students can be supported to realise their own unique potential and succeed in their lives as Māori.

There is currently no programme to support Māori students to learn more about their culture. The school’s Māori consultation procedure/policy has not been enacted.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is not well placed to sustain its performance. Since the on-site stage of the review the board has requested that the Ministry of Education appoints a Limited Statutory Manager to take responsibility for aspects of school governance.


The board is in the early stages of working together as a governing body. Some trustees are new and unfamiliar with a governance role. The board has begun governance training. A significant challenge for the board is to establish effective relationships with its employees.

The newly appointed principal should have appropriate resources and support to be the professional leader of the school. Some key school documents were not immediately available to the new school principal or to ERO. The trustees should ensure that they are acting within its policies or procedures at all times.

The board has identified, and ERO agrees, that external assistance in developing effective and sustainable governance for the school is an urgent priority.

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 student 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.

The board should ensure it completes its review of its health and safety policies and procedures and that they are consistently implemented. This applies particularly to risk analysis documentation and other areas of personnel and health and safety management as identified by the board in the board assurance statement.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

28 August 2012

About the School


Upper Waitaki Valley, North Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)



School roll


Gender composition

Girls 19

Boys 10

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

June 2012

Date of this report

28 August 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

April 2006

February 2003

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.