Wakari School - 17/03/2014

1 Context

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

For over 150 years, Wakari School has provided education for Year 1 to 6 students in the Wakari suburb of Dunedin. The school is a valued part of the community and some children are the third generation to attend.

Parents and the wider community support the school in many ways and often attend school events. The Home and School group raise significant funds for resources and organise social occasions, including a welcome for new families. Parents are often in the school and are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning.

There is an increasing number of students from different cultural backgrounds, including students who speak English as a second language. These students are very well supported in their learning and quickly become valued members of the school community.

The school values of consideration, cooperation, common sense, courtesy, respect and honesty are strongly evident in the way adults in the school and students relate to each other. Students spoken to by ERO described their school as ‘safe’, and as a place ‘where you are looked after’ and ‘where we can trust people’.

The school is welcoming and inclusive. It is an especially supportive and caring place for students who have special needs.

Students learn in settled, well-organised and well-resourced classrooms where the focus is on learning. The school’s present priorities are that teachers and students confidently use Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) as a teaching and learning tool and that students' have wide and interesting learning experiences. These priorities are very evident in students’ day-to-day learning.

At the beginning of 2013, a new principal was appointed. Teachers and support staff emphasised how much they appreciate the positive and collaborative ways different groups in the school work for the benefit of the students. Staff feel well supported by their principal and the board of trustees.

The school has made good progress in addressing the recommendations from ERO’s 2010 report.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very well to support student learning.

Areas of Strength

Students have useful learning goals that are shared with parents, revisited and changed over time. They have meaningful opportunities to assess their own and their peers’ work.

The teachers know their students very well. They use a wide range of assessment information to make well-informed judgements about students’ progress and achievement and to plan their next teaching steps. Teachers and syndicate leaders quickly identify students who need extra help with their learning. They share relevant learning information, and teaching ideas, with teacher aides who also work with these students.

Senior leaders regularly share with the board, information about how well students are achieving from across the curriculum. From this information, the school has set appropriate targets to lift achievement for specific groups of students. Trustees feel well informed and prioritise significant funds for students who need extra support with their learning.

Overall, students achieve well against the National Standards. In 2012, 81%, 78% and 74% of students achieved at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics respectively.

Through face-to-face meetings, samples of children’s work, and written reports, parents receive very good information about their children’s progress and achievement.

Areas for review and development

The teachers and senior leaders have identified that with their new student-management computer system, they could better analyse student achievement information and students’ progress over time.

To further improve existing good practices, senior leaders need to report more specifically on:

  • progress towards meeting achievement targets
  • the impact of learning-support programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

Students enjoy and appreciate the interesting and broad curriculum. Most students show a high level of interest in their learning.

Areas of Strength

Students benefit from a well-planned, rich and varied curriculum that challenges and engages them. Topics have included interesting studies such as; ‘How things work - technology’, ‘Coping in War’, and authentic experiences such as designing and laying a pathway. Students have good opportunities to develop skills in visual and performing arts. This includes Māori and Pacific dance and song. Teachers thoughtfully integrate other curriculum areas into these studies.

Other strengths in the school’s curriculum include:

  • the frequent use of ICT by students and teachers to enrich their learning
  • the recent development of an ICT resource that enables students and teachers access to a variety of learning programmes, and to share and reflect on students’ learning and involve parents
  • well-planned support for new-entrant students to help them in their transition to school
  • teachers regularly reviewing different curriculum areas and units of study to see what went well and what they could do better
  • high expectations for behaviour and learning.

The school has a range of high-quality learning support programmes, including support for students who are learning English. Experienced and competent teacher aides work with teacher guidance to provide specific help for individuals and small groups of students. The learning-support programme is very well managed.

Teachers have benefited from recent professional learning to build their confidence and understanding in how to better value Māori culture. ERO noted that many of the school’s special qualities, like its culture of care (manakitanga) and valuing of family (whānau), strongly reflect core Māori values.

The staff includes a balance of new and experienced teachers who share their strengths, ideas and resources with each other. Students benefit from good to high-quality teaching.

Areas for review and development

School leaders have identified that their key priorities are to continue to:

  • implement the new school-wide ICT learning resource
  • develop teachers' understanding of culturally responsive teaching and learning.

Other next steps are to:

  • ensure that curriculum reviews clearly evaluate how well programmes are achieving planned outcomes
  • review how usefully student achievement and progress are reported to the board
  • review the guidelines and better document the many ways that the school provides for students with special abilities.

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

Thirteen percent of students at Wakari School identify as Māori. Overall these students achieve well. Those who need extra support with their learning are catered for.

The school has used a variety of ways to gather the views of whānau and parents of Māori students about how the school can better support their children. Since the last ERO review, there has been significant development in the way that the Māori dimension is valued in the school.

Area for Review and Development

The next step is for the school to regularly review how well the school’s curriculum, environment and practices reflect the Treaty of Waitangi principle outlined in its curriculum plan.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to continue to sustain and improve its performance.

The new principal has quickly established good working relationships with the staff. He makes good use of teachers’ strengths and interests and has been well supported by the board of trustees.

Senior leaders have found constructive ways within the school to help teachers further improve their practice. Initiatives include: teachers who have expertise in a particular area modelling new ideas and effective practices, professional discussion groups and very specific development goals for each teacher. The focus of these initiatives is to help teachers to better support students’ learning.

Trustees get regular information about curriculum initiatives and student achievement. They have specific roles and responsibilities. There is a good balance of new and experienced board members. New trustees have had relevant professional learning and support.

The school has an effective appraisal system and teachers feel well supported in their work.

Areas for review and development

The board and ERO agree that the next steps are to:

  • review the annual and strategic plans so that they better reflect the school’s current priorities
  • regularly monitor and document progress in implementing the annual plan.

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 two 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.

International students benefit from high-quality pastoral care. Their education and integration into the school and its community are closely monitored and supported. The school keeps parents of international students well informed about how well their children are supported and about their achievement and progress.

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.

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

17 March 2014

About the School


Wakari, Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys: 53% Girls: 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā










Special Features

Base for Supplementary Learning and Support teachers

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

17 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2010

May 2007

April 2004