Waitakaruru School - 11/02/2014

1 Context

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

Waitakaruru is a full primary school catering for 93 students in Years 1 to 8, of whom 33 are identified as Māori and 3 as Pacific. There has been significant roll growth since the last ERO report, when the roll was 46. Most of this roll increase has occurred during the last year.

A new principal was appointed in mid 2012. A fourth classroom teacher and new office administrator have also been employed. The board continues to be led by an experienced chairperson, and a new parent representative was elected. Recent property initiatives include the replacement of the school boiler and improvements to a sports facility.

Members of this traditional rural community maintain their sense of identity with the school, and are actively involved in the life of the school. The school’s vision is ‘he taonga o tatou tamariki’; ‘where children and their hopes and dreams are treasured’. The principal and trustees have undertaken consultation with parents, staff and students, to gain their views on future directions for school development.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. Trustees and school leaders responded to the agreed priorities and areas for review and development in the 2011 ERO report. These related to strengthening teacher planning, performance management, and the consistency of assessment. Trustees and school leaders have undertaken professional development and training in these areas of governance and management.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Waitakaruru School uses achievement information and other relevant evidence to make effective and positive changes to students’ engagement in learning. Classroom teachers are guided by a detailed assessment schedule to gather and analyse achievement information using an appropriate range of standardised assessment tools. They record this information in student learning journals, and use it to develop class descriptions that identify and record support needed to meet individual learning needs and abilities. Teachers use this information to plan their programmes, and to monitor and report student progress.

School leaders collate school-wide data to identify trends and patterns in student achievement. They report this analysed data to the board with recommendations for setting specific targets, especially for priority learners, and to inform decisions on the allocation of additional resources.

Current school achievement data indicates that most students, including Māori, are achieving at or above National Standards in relation to reading, writing and mathematics. The school maintained an emphasis on teaching mathematics throughout 2013, and data shows Māori students made particular progress in this area. School leaders recognise that, overall, boys’ achievement in writing needs to be an area of focus in 2014.

The school carefully analyses information on student attendance. This information is well used to track and report patterns of attendance to the board, and for staff to work with parents to maintain high rates of attendance.

3 Curriculum

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

Waitakaruru School’s curriculum promotes and supports learning by providing students with access to a wide range of academic, social, cultural and leadership opportunities. Staff and parents work together to facilitate activities beyond the classroom that include:

  • visits to community venues
  • biennial noho marae
  • education outside the classroom
  • drama productions
  • traditional rural school events.

An inclusive and respectful culture is highly evident throughout the school community. Students new to the school, at any year level, are made to feel welcome and helped to become involved in school life. In particular, the on-site playgroup supports these preschool children to be familiar and confident to start school. Older students have opportunities to take responsibilities and are encouraged to show considerate and supportive behaviour towards younger students through tuakana-teina relationships.

Teachers know students and their families well, and establish respectful reciprocal relationships. They maintain high expectations for learning and behaviour. Classrooms are settled and purposeful environments. Teachers make reference to The New Zealand Curriculum and the school’s local curriculum, The Mighty Ruru, to plan programmes and emphasise key competencies. They are beginning to use a student-led inquiry approach to integrate areas of the curriculum.

School leadership encourages professional development through staff meetings, visits to other schools, the performance management system and by sharing in-depth professional reflections.

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

Educational success for Māori, as Māori, is well-promoted by the school. Academic achievement and progress for Māori students in relation to National Standards is generally comparable to other students in the school. The principal personally works with Māori families to involve students and their whānau in constructive engagement in the life of the school. Matariki is celebrated, and a kapahaka group has been started recently. The annual noho marae provides opportunities for Māori tikanga to be observed and celebrated through participation in a range of activities. The school is aware of the need to strengthen the integration of te ao Māori in school programmes, environments and protocols.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Students are learning in a culture and context that nurtures their sense of identity and promotes their engagement in the school’s programmes and activities.

The school’s performance is supported by the following specific features:

  • the school is well governed by an informed board of trustees
  • the principal is highly visible as a leader who articulates and models strong commitment to the wellbeing and learning of students
  • teachers and staff work collaboratively, undertake professional development and reflect on their practice
  • Māori students are supported to achieve educational success, as Maori
  • parents articulate confidence in the school and its leadership, the progress their children are making, and acknowledge that their views are respected and valued
  • self review is well informed by evidence from assessment and consultation.

School leaders, the board of trustees and ERO agree that the areas for review and development are to:

  • review assessment practice to establish shared expectations for teachers for supporting students to have ownership of their learning
  • develop modern learning environments that best support student engagement. This is necessary to manage the effects of roll growth on resources, property and teacher workload.

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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

In order to improve practice the board of trustees should ensure that:

  • all non-teaching staff have current police vetting
  • health and safety matters are effectively identified and addressed or minimised
  • a second language programme is provided for Year 7 and 8 students.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 February 2014

About the School


Waitakaruru, near Thames

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 48

Boys 45

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Cook Island Māori



Other European











Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

11 February 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

March 2008

February 2005