Big Rock Primary School - 26/09/2019

School Context

Big Rock Primary School is a Year 1-8 school with 107 children. This includes 13 children who identify as Māori. Since the 2016 ERO review, the roll has increased. Several new teachers have been appointed.

The school’s vision is that children will become independent, resilient, inquiring, life-long learners. Its stated values are managing self, cooperation, communication participation, and respect for self and others.

The school’s strategic goals are: that all children experience academic, cultural, physical and social success; to strengthen the use of digital technology as a teaching and learning tool; and to strengthen the integration of te reo and te ao Māori into day-to-day learning. The school aims to have all of its children at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress in reading
  • engagement and achievement in science, physical education and art
  • wellbeing.

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 is progressively achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for most of its students.

Over the last three years, most students achieved at or above the school’s expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori learner achievement is similar or better than other groups in the school.

Most students achieve at expected levels in science, physical education and art. Students report very positive attitudes towards learning in the different curriculum areas. Almost all students report feeling safe in both the classroom and playground.

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

The school has been very successful in accelerating the progress of Māori and other students below expected levels in reading. However, it has not analysed or reported to the board rates of progress in writing and mathematics.

Over two thirds of students in a recent reading intervention made accelerated progress. Most of these students are now at expected levels.

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?

Students experience a very positive and caring school culture. They learn in settled classrooms and show high levels of engagement in their learning. Older students relate well with and actively support younger children in their learning.

A key strength in the school is its holistic, broad and well-integrated curriculum. Students experience authentic, practical and engaging learning in each curriculum area. This includes good use of local people and places to enrich learning. Meaningful assessment across the curriculum informs planning, teaching and programmes. As a result, students show high levels of interest and engagement.

Teachers know their students very well as individuals and as learners. They carefully identify, track and monitor their progress, especially for those at risk of underachieving. They value students’ ideas and views, respond to their interests and adapt their teaching to meet their needs. Students with additional needs are well supported.

Leaders have intentionally built strong relational trust amongst trustees and staff and with parents and families. They value and use teachers’ strengths to enrich students’ learning. Through careful resourcing, leaders ensure that all students have equitable access to the full curriculum and experience personal success.

Trustees bring relevant skills and experience to their role and prioritise children in their resourcing decisions. They make well-informed resourcing decisions, such as funding the successful initiative to raise achievement in reading.

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

Aspects of strategic and annual planning need strengthening. This could have a greater focus on outcomes for children and more detail in action planning to achieve stated priorities. Present targets to lift achievement are general, rather than focused on children below expected levels.

Internal evaluation practices need extending and deepening. Presently, the board does not get sufficient information about rates of and sufficiency of progress for children below expected levels in literacy and mathematics. Some reports, such as progress against the annual plan, are descriptive rather than evaluative. Present reviews should be extended to include in-depth evaluation of particular curriculum areas or other school priorities over time.

Appraisal procedures and processes need strengthening. These should have a stronger emphasis on affirming and growing effective teaching practice.

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 Big Rock Primary 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:

  • a caring and positive school culture that promotes learning
  • a broad and responsive curriculum that excites and engages students in their learning
  • the shared commitment (trustees, leaders and teachers) to ensuring equitable opportunities for all learners to succeed
  • experienced trustees, who prioritise students’ learning in their resourcing decisions.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening strategic and annual planning so that this better guides school development and improvement
  • extending and deepening internal evaluation to better inform decision making for ongoing improvement
  • strengthening appraisal procedures and processes so that these better support teachers to continue to build their expertise in supporting students’ learning.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in two areas. The police vet for a new staff member had not been verified before commencing employment. Risk assurance management for education beyond the classroom (EOTC) in some instances was not consistent with the school’s procedures and best practice.

In order to address these areas, the board of trustees must:

  • ensure police vetting processes are complete
    [police vetting of non-teaching and unregistered employees at schools: s78C]
  • ensure student safety beyond the school
    [provide a safe physical environment for students: NAG 5(i)].

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review its policies and procedures with more rigour to ensure that these reflect current legal requirements and best practice
  • update the school’s policy and procedure framework to ensure that documents are current and readily accessible.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

26 September 2019

About the school


Brighton, Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full primary

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51%, Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 14%
NZ European/Pākehā: 81%
Other ethnicities: 5%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

July 2019

Date of this report

26 September 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: October 2016
Education Review: August 2013
Education Review: April 2010