Arahunga School - 21/06/2016


A sustained focus on care and wellbeing supports students’ engagement in learning. Teachers have high expectations for students. Their achievements are celebrated. The curriculum prioritises literacy and mathematics and preparing students for life beyond school. The new principal provides clear strategic direction and improvement is well managed.

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

1 Context

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

Arahunga School is a specialist school located in Whanganui. It provides individualised learning programmes for students between five and twenty one years of age. The majority of students are funded through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). The Ministry of Education is contracted to deliver specialist therapy support for students.

The base school caters for students transitioning into the community. Satellite classes located in four host schools in Whanganui cater for students from new entrants to Year 13.

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 capabilities of the classroom teacher as the ‘leader of learning’.

Since the June 2013 ERO report there have been staffing changes. A new principal was appointed at the beginning of 2015. The senior leadership team structure was reviewed and a number of new positions created.

Since 2015 there have been a number of managed changes. The outcomes of these changes for students has yet to be evaluated.

2 Learning

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

The vision and valued outcomes for students to be empowered through education to become active, confident members of society is clearly evident.

Teachers have high expectations for students. They know the students and their families well. There is a sustained focus on student care and wellbeing.

Teachers use a good range of assessment information to plan and develop classroom programmes that are responsive to the individual needs of students. Senior leaders collect and collate achievement information and report overall achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. Progress and achievement is shared with parents. Developing shared knowledge and understanding of robust assessment practices across the school should better support students’ progress and achievement.

Students’ engagement and participation in learning is celebrated. Individual goals developed in collaboration with parents, whānau and students respond to family aspirations and the learning needs and care of students. Teachers tracking and monitoring of student’s progress and achievement of goals requires strengthening.

Transitions into and within the school are well considered and planned to meet individual student's requirements. Staff recognise the importance of future planning for students to support their transition to life beyond school.

3 Curriculum

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

A recently developed conceptual framework provides a foundation for curriculum implementation across the school. This is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and prioritises literacy and mathematics. Some components of the framework have been introduced in consultation with students, staff and the community. This continues to be a priority to ensure shared curriculum knowledge and understanding through cohesive systems and processes. Consideration should be given to how the Central Region Special Schools Curriculum (CRSSC) can be integrated to better support students’ access to the curriculum.

Vocational pathways have been introduced in the senior school. In 2015 the vocational pathway for hospitality was developed and the horticultural pathway is being developed. There is a focus on inclusion and engagement with the wider community and preparing students for employment and life beyond school.

In response to parents’ aspirations and students’ strengths and interests in the junior school, teachers use a thematic approach to integrate literacy, mathematics and other curriculum areas. Practical components and excursions into the community support students’ participation and engagement in learning.

Students' independence is encouraged and fostered. A wide range of digital technologies and teaching strategies is used to support students’ communication. This effectively enhances their access to and engagement in learning.

Parents and whānau are welcomed and involved in school activities as respected and valued partners in learning. Staff use a range of communication strategies to build positive relationships with parents and whānau.

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

Teachers' knowledge and understanding of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and the integration of te ao Māori across the curriculum continues to be an area for development.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to continue to review and develop its performance. There is a considered and planned approach to change. A comprehensive development plan clearly articulates the vision for the school and provides clear direction to move forward. Strategic decisions are based on the possible future needs of students.

Trustees bring a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience to their governance role. They proactively seek external advice and guidance when needed. Trustees are well-informed about student achievement, school developments and initiatives. The board and senior leadership team should review the provision of specialist therapy support for students to ensure their needs are fully met.

There is a planned approach to growing leadership. The new distributed leadership structure has strengthened communication and is supporting the implementation of new initiatives. The board and senior leadership team acknowledge the need to continue to embed this structure with clear roles and responsibilities for each position.

The appraisal process has been strengthened to include teaching as inquiry. Teachers' goals are aligned to school priorities. Teacher's deliberate inquiry into the impact of their practice in relation to student outcomes is in the early stages of implementation. Further development of the performance management policy and procedures is required to ensure they align with current practice.

As a result of review the principal and board have implemented a number of developments and initiatives over the last eighteen months. It is timely to increase the collective capacity of staff and trustees in internal evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building to embed and sustain improvement.

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.


A sustained focus on care and wellbeing supports students’ engagement in learning. Teachers have high expectations for students. Their achievements are celebrated. The curriculum prioritises literacy and mathematics and preparing students for life beyond school. The new principal provides clear strategic direction and improvement is well managed.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

21 June 2016

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Male 38, Female 18

Ethnic composition




Other ethnic groups





Special Features

Post Primary provision at base school. Satellite classes at 4 host schools in Whanganui. 2 Primary, 1 intermediate, 1 secondary. Outreach service providing support to schools in Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, and Horowhenua.

Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

21 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

June 2013

April 2010

March 2007