Awahou School - 22/05/2013

1 Context

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

Awahou School is a small, rural school located in the Pohangina Valley, north east of Palmerston North. Since the 2010 ERO report, staffing has been generally stable and there has been some refurbishment of the three main teaching spaces.

The small size of the school, strong relationships between staff and families and the involvement of board members in the life of the school, contribute to a positive, family-like atmosphere.

Students have access to many spacious and varied outdoor areas for play and learning. They generally spend break times being physically active and positively engaged in creative, imaginative and social play.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Students are very well engaged in their lessons; they are settled and focused on their tasks.

The school’s achievement information shows that most students, including Māori, achieve at and above the National Standards expectations in literacy and mathematics. Teachers have identified from this information that mathematics is an area for development this year. Recent Progress and Achievement Test (PAT) data suggests that reading vocabulary achievement is also an area to explore.

Students with special learning needs are identified and receive external support as required.

Teachers use assessment information to:

  • group students according to ability in mathematics and reading
  • report information about achievement to the board of trustees
  • target teaching and learning programmes to students’ specific needs in mathematics and junior literacy.

Teachers should evaluate how well the needs of students achieving below National Standards expectations are met through school programmes, teaching and resourcing.

Parents and whānau frequently receive information about their children’s learning and progress in a range of curriculum areas, including the National Standards and key competencies. Teachers are developing their processes to make accurate overall judgements about student achievement in relation to the National Standards.

The principal and teachers should explore ways to use assessment information more effectively to:

  • ensure teaching is targeted to individual learning needs in middle and senior level literacy, particularly writing
  • support students to have increased responsibility for their own learning so that they become better at self assessment, clearer about their next learning steps and have more input into decision-making about curriculum and learning.

3 Curriculum

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

Teachers and trustees have recently reviewed aspects of the curriculum to make it responsive to the needs of their students and relevant to the local context. This work has focused particularly on the inquiry learning approach which integrates aspects of the curriculum. Teachers, parents and students report that the modified programme has increased students’ interest and engagement.

Within the curriculum there are opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills in oral language and communication. Weekly student meetings foster leadership, school values and positive relationships. Students demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and confidence in the school environment. They are friendly and respectful and generally interact well with one another.

Teachers know all students very well. They demonstrate warm and affirming relationships and regularly provide positive feedback to promote learning.

Teachers use a range of strategies to support student engagement including well-paced and varied lessons and environments which promote learning. Well organised routines support students to work independently.

The principal is exploring further ways to meet the specific needs of Years 7 and 8 students through the provision of special interest programmes, and extracurricular and social activities. Including careers education and the opportunity to learn other languages should further enrich their educational experiences.

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

Teachers and whānau are working together to support success for Māori learners as well as to increase the bicultural nature of the school curriculum. Recent developments include the establishment of a kapahaka and a whānau group. Robust strategic planning, linked to a clear vision for the future, is needed to sustain and build on recent initiatives.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is developing its capacity to sustain and improve its performance. Parents work in partnership with teachers to shape strategic direction and curriculum design. Increased alignment of planning and review systems has increased the focus on student achievement.

Trustees are well-informed by the principal’s regular reports about teaching and learning and a range of school operations. They are visibly involved in the day-to-day life of the school.

The principal builds positive relationships with students, parents, staff and local learning networks. He is well-organised and leads a collaborative team. Teachers’ inquiry processes demonstrate that they are reflective and focused on improvement.

The board and staff have reviewed and improved the teachers' appraisal procedures so that they are a robust and cohesive process. Student achievement is now a key component. Teachers should consider how to include Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners in their professional learning and self-appraisal.

Teacher reflection is a key component of school self review. This should be extended further to be an evaluative, strategic and evidence-based self review process. It is likely that the robust evaluation of teaching and curriculum implementation will better support ongoing improvements for students.

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.


Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

22 May 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 25

Female 21

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Review team on site

March 2013

Date of this report

22 May 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2010

February 2007

May 2004