Clutha Valley School - 09/04/2018

School Context

Clutha Valley School is a Years 1 to 8 school in rural South Otago. It has a roll of 110 children, some of whom enrol or leave the school mid-year. English is a second language for over 20% of the children in this school.

The school states that its vision is for ‘a journey of growth - to be the best we can be’ and that children will be ‘actively involved lifelong learners’. Its values are that children are respectful, responsible and honest citizens. Other valued outcomes are that children will be connected, collaborative, good communicators, critical thinkers, creative and feel that their cultures are respected.

The school’s stated goals are to:

  • continue to implement a future-focused curriculum

  • ‘grow’ students who progress and achieve well and take responsibility for their learning

  • build teaching practice and strengthen parent/community engagement.

The 2018 targets are to lift the achievement of children in writing and strengthen their engagement and success in the arts.

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

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • achievement trends over time in literacy and mathematics

  • children’s wellbeing.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, most teachers are new to the school. Professional development priorities for 2018 relate to strengthening student agency and building best practice to lift writing achievement. The school is part of the Big River Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning (CoL).

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?

Outcomes for different groups are mostly equitable in literacy and mathematics. School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that literacy and mathematics achievement needs to be lifted in order to achieve the school’s aspirations for excellence.

School information for 2017 shows that most children achieved at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. In reading, a third were identified as achieving above expected levels. These achievement patterns in literacy and mathematics have been consistent over the last three years.

A recent survey about children’s sense of safety and wellbeing shows that children are very positive about their experiences and relationships at school, and feel safe and cared for. All children have many opportunities to fully participate in learning and school life.

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

The school has had varied success in accelerating learning for those Māori and other children who need extra support to succeed in their learning.

Since the last ERO review, the school can show that almost half of Māori students have made accelerated progress in literacy. The proportion of Māori students in 2016 and 2017 achieving at or above the school’s expectations in mathematics was higher than their peers at the school.

Children who are English language learners make very good progress over time with the majority reaching expected levels in literacy over their time at school. Teachers can show examples of children who made two or more years progress within a year.

In 2017 the school had a target to accelerate the achievement of a large group of children in writing. School data shows that 25% made good progress. A next step for school leaders and teachers would be to increase the number of children accelerating their achievement in writing. Results for the reading target shows that over 50% children moved up a level.

Children with additional needs are very well supported to make progress against their individual goals.

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?

Children’s learning is enriched by the school’s authentic and localised curriculum. Children know and can talk confidently about the desired values, attitudes and what they are learning. The curriculum has an increasing focus on children taking responsibility for their own learning. Teachers and children make good use of digital technology to enhance the curriculum, especially in the senior class. Over time there has been a greater valuing and visibility of Māori culture.

There is a strong commitment to equity and inclusion in the school. Targets to lift achievement are set each year. New children quickly settle, and feel valued and positive about school. Trustees and parents contribute significantly to support children’s participation in all aspects of school life. Leaders and teachers ensure all children have equitable access to the full curriculum and related school activities.

School leaders and teachers have built purposeful partnerships in order to best support children. They build trusting relationships with new children and their families. They work closely with other parents and external experts when children need extra help to succeed. Parents’ and children’s views are valued and acted on. School leaders work constructively with local individuals, schools and business companies to support teaching and learning, and children’s wellbeing.

The school has very effective systems and practices to contribute to ongoing improvement and positive outcomes for children. Strong governance, management and appraisal practices are in place. Through the principal, trustees are well informed and prioritise children in their decisions. A range of effective internal evaluation practices ensure decisions are well informed. Priorities for development are identified in strategic and annual plans.

High levels of trust and cooperation are evident between leaders, trustees and teachers.

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

School leaders and ERO identified the following areas for further development.

School leaders need to analyse more deeply the sufficiency of progress for all groups of children. The board also needs better information, for example in writing, of the impact and value of interventions to lift achievement. This information should assist trustees, leaders and teachers in their decisions as to how best to support children who need to make more progress.

The school is in the early stages of developing learning progressions and statements about best teaching practice in literacy. The school also needs to develop useful progressions for Māori language learning.

While the school has completed significant work towards better valuing Māori culture, further work is needed in this area. A next step for the school is the implementation and evaluation of the school’s plans to support its Māori learners and their culture to continue to raise achievement.

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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • its positive and inclusive school culture

  • its well-considered vision, values and meaningful interpretation of the NZ Curriculum key competencies

  • its authentic and localised curriculum

  • the way leaders and teachers build constructive relationships with parents and the wider community

  • its strong governance and management practices.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to develop useful curriculum progressions and statements as to what best practice should look like to ensure sufficient progress for all learners

  • strengthening teachers’ inquiries into what strategies have the greatest impact in lifting children’s achievement

  • focused implementation of the school’s plans to support Māori children’s success

  • deeper analysis of the impact of interventions and rates of progress for different groups of children.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

9 April 2018

About the school


South Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full primary (Years 1 - 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 50% Boys: 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 13%
Pākehā: 65%
Other ethnicities: 22%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

9 April 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

October 2014
April 2013
June 2011