Cobham School - 18/11/2019

School Context

Cobham School, a contributing primary school located in Gisborne, has students in Years 1 to 6. The current roll of 43 students, includes 31 who identify as Māori. The school values promote ‘care, respect and learning’.

Since the August 2016 ERO evaluation, there have been significant changes of staff and the majority of trustees are new to their roles. An acting principal was appointed at the beginning of 2019 and the Ministry of Education (MoE) has been working with the school. A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) has been appointed to support and guide the governance and management of the school as recommended in a MoE specialist audit report.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics.

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 unable to reliably demonstrate how well students progress and achieve in reading, writing and mathematics because of the lack of dependable data over time and for 2018 and 2019. Strengthening the management and use of student achievement information is a high priority for school leadership.

Students with additional needs are well supported, however ERO is not confident in the reliability of the achievement data for these students.

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

The school is unable to identify, dependably, the rates of acceleration for those Māori and other students whose learning is at risk.

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?

A range of culturally responsive practices foster Māori students’ language, culture and identity.Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are naturally integrated in classroom programmes and the school culture. Caring and positive relationships are evident between teachers and students. Teachers know students and whānau well and successfully promote tuakana teina relationships. Students enjoy extra learning opportunities including trips, sporting competitions, events and school camps.

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 need for significant development across a range of conditions for sufficient coherency in school operation, to have good performance that promotes positive learning outcomes for all students.

Trustees and leadership need to give priority to:

  • developing and providing a clear strategic direction for the school
  • developing a school curriculum that supports students’ engagement and provides meaningful learning opportunities
  • collation and analysis of dependable student progress and achievement information and strengthening its use by students, teachers, leaders and trustees
  • annual targets focused on accelerating the achievement of all at-risk students in reading, writing and mathematics and reporting on these regularly to the board of trustees
  • building teacher capability, including aligning professional learning and development to school goals
  • implementing a robust appraisal system to build teacher capability
  • accessing training to more clearly understand their trustee and leadership roles and responsibilities
  • creating and fully implementing school policies and procedural guidelines.

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 Cobham School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths using a range of culturally responsive practices that fosters Māori students’ language, culture and identity.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in significantly strengthening school governance and leadership, teaching and learning for equitable outcomes for students and to equip them to be life-long learners.

Actions for compliance

The board has attested that in all areas, except finance, it is not meeting its legal obligations in terms of the National Administration Guidelines.

ERO’s evaluation confirms that the school has not met its legal obligations relating to board administration, curriculum, health and safety and welfare, personnel, finance and assets. Key areas pertaining to student welfare include:

  • procedures for preventing bullying
  • police vetting of non-teaching staff
  • crisis prevention/preparedness or support
  • up-to-date complaints policy and procedures.
    [The National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) Nags 1-8]

The acting principal and Ministry of Education are working to address these issues.

6 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education continue the statutory intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to provide urgent support for:

  • planning and implementing a strategic approach to address the priorities identified in this report
  • ensuring the implementation of policies and procedures to meet legislative requirements
  • gathering reliable schoolwide progress and achievement data to better respond to student learning needs and inform ongoing school improvement
  • curriculum development and design to engage students in meaningful learning
  • implementing an effective appraisal process and performance management system to build teacher capability.

ERO recommends that New Zealand School Trustees Association provides training to the board of trustees to grow the capability and understanding of their role as stewards of the school, to meet all their legislative obligations and to drive ongoing improvement.

ERO identifies the need for the LSM, trustees, leaders and teachers to work together to ensure that areas for further progress identified in this ERO report are incorporated into the school’s strategic and annual plans and appraisal goals. These plans should be sent to ERO when completed for ongoing monitoring, review and support.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

18 November 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing Years 1 to 6

School roll


Gender composition

Male 26 Female 17

Ethnic composition

Māori 31
NZ European/Pākehā 2
Pacific 10

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2019

Date of this report

18 November 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2016
Education Review October 2013
Education Review March 2011