Arahunga School - 06/06/2019

School Context

Arahunga School, is a specialist school located in Whanganui. It provides individualised learning programmes for students between five and twenty-one years of age. All students are funded by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). The current roll is 59 and includes 23 who identify as Māori.

Five satellites operate in host schools that cater for primary, intermediate and secondary school students. A transition class at the base school caters for students transitioning beyond school.

The school’s vision is to empower students through education to become active, confident members of society. The valued outcomes identified for students are: independence and autonomy; integrity and honesty.

Strategic planning is focused on achieving the vision and has identified key focus areas: students’ learning, engagement and transition; health and safety; personnel and community engagement.

Professional development in literacy with a focus on effective teaching strategies in reading, and the key competency framework ofThe New Zealand Curriculumis being undertaken by staff in 2019.

The school provides an Outreach Service of specialist teachers for schools in Whanganui, Taranaki, Manawatu and Horowhenua. The team of teachers work alongside these schools to support the inclusion of ORS funded students and to raise the capability of the classroom teacher as the ‘leader of learning’.

Since the June 2016 ERO report, a new management structure has been implemented. The new executive team includes the principal, administration officer and three regional managers who have responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of teaching and learning in their regions.

Since the previous ERO report the school has established an on-site specialist team, who provide therapy support to students, their parents and whānau.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • progress and achievement in relation to individual goals
  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement in relation to the key competencies
  • achievement at a result of a specific literacy intervention.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school has a very clear focus on promoting equity through inclusion and students’ progress in relation to their individual social, academic and communication goals. There are high expectations that each student will progress and achieve based on their individual abilities.

The school reports that at the end of 2018 most students achieved their social and academic goals and a large majority their communication goal.

Overall Māori students achieve better than non-Māori. Learning outcomes for male and female students is equitable.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school successfully promotes the progress of all students. There is evidence that a group of students in Years 9 to 13 made more than expected progress as the result of a specific literacy intervention.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The curriculum promotes success for individual students through well-developed education plans (IEP). It is well aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum and underpinned by the key competency framework and well documented learning progressions in reading, writing and mathematics. The curriculum is flexible and responsive to the values and curriculum emphases of the host schools.

Assessment provides meaningful evidence of achievement and progress and is used as a basis for determining next steps and IEP goals. The accumulative evidence of achievement and progress in student profiles also supports ease of transition across the satellite classes. Student ownership of learning is promoted through sharing progress in relation to their goals.

Teachers are well supported through leadership, systems, processes and practices to provide programmes that are responsive to the needs of their students.

Students are purposefully engaged in individualised learning programmes. Caring, respectful, responsive relationships are highly evident. Collaboration and communication between teachers and support staff provide high quality learning opportunities for students. Programmes are well structured and predictable, supported by an appropriate range of visual communication strategies. Comprehensive plans are in place to support students’ safety and wellbeing.

An effective range of communication strategies ensures parents and whānau are well informed about their child’s progress, achievement and participation in the programme. Students’ success is regularly celebrated.

The recently established specialist team is highly supportive of students, teachers, parents and whānau. Students benefit from direct therapy that is responsive to their needs. Teachers value the professional knowledge, expertise and accessibility of this team that enables them to more confidently implement diverse strategies to support students.

A strategic approach is responding to learner needs through appropriate professional learning and development. A strengthened appraisal process includes the components of an effective system and supports teachers’ professional growth and development.

Leadership is focused on building capability. Using complementary knowledge and skills, leaders support consistent yet flexible practice, improved communication and relationships with stakeholders, for improved outcomes for students.They demonstrate an understanding of internal evaluation and use this to make decisions for development and ongoing improvement, and to know about the impact of newly implemented systems, processes and practices.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

There is a strategic approach to strengthening knowledge, understanding and implementation of te ao Māori across the satellite classes. It is timely to review progress against this plan to determine areas for further development.

Defining benchmarks for expected progress of individual students should assist leaders to refine target setting and to collect data that more accurately shows progress and acceleration for individual students. Collation of this data should enhance opportunities to evaluate the school’s effectiveness in promoting equity and inclusion for all students.

3 Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board 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
  • finance
  • 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 and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Arahunga School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • collaborative leadership that has a well-considered and strategic approach to improvement and the promotion of inclusion
  • a curriculum that is flexible and responsive to the needs of individual students
  • a team approach that uses collective knowledge, strengths and skills to promote positive outcomes for students.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • refining target setting by defining benchmarks for expected progress of individual students.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

6 June 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Male 43, Female 16

Ethnic composition

Māori 23
NZ European/Pākehā 36

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

April 2019

Date of this report

6 June 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2016
Education Review June 2013
Education Review April 2010