South Featherston School - 13/12/2016

1 Context

South Featherston School is a small rural school in South Wairarapa that caters for students in Years 1 to 8. At the time of this ERO review, 59 students attend the school, 5 of whom are Māori.

There have been many personnel changes since 2015. The deputy principal started at the school in April 2015 and a new principal began in Term 2, 2016. All trustees are new, either joining the board near the end of 2015 or being elected in 2016.

Two of the three classrooms have been opened to enable teachers to work in a more collegial way. The principal and teachers are exploring innovative learning environments and they recently attended a workshop to assist with future developments.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to be 'creative, independent, knowledgeable lifelong learners'.

The school’s achievement information shows that at the end of 2015, most students were achieving at or above the reading, writing and mathematics National Standards. Those students who were achieving below the National Standards were identified as target students. During 2016 many target students have made accelerated progress.

In October 2016, all Māori students are achieving at and above the National Standards.

Teachers have moderated their overall writing judgements in relation to the National Standards across the school in 2016. Systems for moderating judgements in reading and mathematics have yet to be determined.

Since the July 2013 ERO evaluation the school has:

  • focused on developing a team culture of collaboration between staff
  • established a sound process of teachers reflecting on and inquiring into their practice to raise student outcomes.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Teachers respond effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. They know the students well. They regularly reflect on individual student progress and what changes they will make to future practice. Teachers are inquiring into the effectiveness of their practice, using a sound framework.

Teachers use a suitable range of assessment tools, including many that are nationally-normed, to identify specific needs and appropriate teaching strategies. Well-considered, deliberate actions support learning and accelerate the progress of many target students.

Regular student achievement reports are presented to the board of trustees. Adding documented analysis of the data and strategies for improvement to these reports should better inform the board's decision-making and resourcing.

A next step is to use the analysis of student achievement data to inform the school's target setting. Targets should be specific and include groups of students not achieving the National Standards. Clear action plans should accompany each target.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

Some aspects of the school's organisational processes and practices develop and promote equity and excellence. It is timely to review all school systems and, building on sound practice from the past, document new plans and ways of working. This should give clarity and a shared understanding of the future direction of the school.

New trustees bring a range of experiences to their stewardship role. They are enthusiastic and are participating in board training opportunities.

The school's direction is guided by four useful strategic goals relating to student achievement, internal evaluation/self review, curriculum and the school's culture. Expected outcomes are documented and these provide clear indicators of success for measuring and evaluating progress.

The curriculum is clearly linked to The New Zealand Curriculum and reflects the local context. Students participate in a wide range of learning experiences. Bicultural practices are reflected in mihi whakatau for visitors. Students have regular kapahaka sessions led by whānau and participate in regional kapahaka events.

Further work is needed to consult, and strengthen links, with whānau to develop learning partnerships. The school charter includes Treaty of Waitangi procedures and current staff and trustees should revisit this as part of ongoing review to ensure that current practice reflects what is documented in the charter.

Students are highy engaged in their learning. They confidently talk about their achievement and next learning steps. Students work co-operatively.

Three-way conferences are a well-established way of discussing each student's achievement and progress. Teacher-written reports to parents inform them of their child's achievement in relation to the National Standards. They include information about what each student can do and note some next learning steps. Senior students continue to be involved in writing their own reports.

Parents are welcomed to the school and actively participate in school events. The school is a focal point for the local community. There has been a strong focus on the use of social media to communicate with families and whānau.

The charter is due for review in 2017 and this will be a useful opportunity to consult with families and whānau to determine the strategic direction and curriculum of the school. The principal is beginning this process.

The appraisal process has a clear focus on promoting ongoing development of the principal's and teachers' practice and positive outcomes for students. Teachers regularly reflect on strategies they have used and the impact on students' achievement and progress. Useful feedback following observations of teaching guides future practice. Student voice is sought and valued in the appraisal process. The appraisal policy should be revised to ensure that it refers to the Practising Teacher Criteria and teaching as inquiry and that it reflects current practice.

Evaluation is evident at the teaching and learning level of the school. A next step is to develop a shared framework for evaluation to inform future school direction and resourcing.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Teachers are responding effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management. 

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

In order to improve practice, the board of trustees should revisit the school's policies and procedures to:

  • make decisions about whether to keep and build on the current policy framework or to adapt it
  • determine a process for review
  • ensure that policies and procedures reflect current practice
  • update the appraisal policy
  • revise the Health and Safety policies using the Ministry of Education guidelines 'Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: A Practical Guide for Trustees'.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that new leaders and trustees prioritise the documentation and consistent implementation of school systems and processes. Development of a shared understanding of evidence-based evaluation should also strengthen future planning and decision making. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

13 December 2016

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 32, Female 27

Ethnic composition



Other ethnic groups




Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

13 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2013

December 2010

June 2008