Elstow-Waihou Combined School - 13/07/2016

1 Context

Elstow-Waihou Combined is a full primary school located in a rural setting near Te Aroha. The school caters for 96 students in Years 1 to 8 of whom 17 identify as Māori. Since the previous ERO report in 2011, there has been a decline in the roll. A new principal has been appointed, and there have been some changes to the teaching staff and board of trustees. Teachers have been involved in a range of professional development opportunities with a current focus on digital teaching and learning, and mathematics.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are captured in the school's vision, 'Reach for the Stars - Totoro hoki nga whetu; Success; Teamwork; Attitude and Respect'. The 2016 school charter outlines goals to promote success for Māori in areas of school life through the application of the principles of The Treaty of Waitangi. The values of Ako, Mahi Tahi, Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga and leadership for Māori students are also promoted throughout the school.

The school gathers achievement information using a range of recognised standardised tests, which they use, along with teachers' observations of students' learning, to make judgements about each students' achievement in relation to National Standards. These judgements are moderated by teachers to ensure they are reliable and consistent across the school.

The school’s achievement information shows that for the last three years a significant majority of students has continued to achieve at or above National Standards. In addition, the percentage of Māori students achieving National Standards has improved each year. Data for the beginning of 2016 shows that of the 92 students enrolled, 10 were achieving below National Standards in reading, 12 in writing and 13 in mathematics.

Data for the end of 2015 shows:

  • nearly all Māori students are achieving National Standards and Māori as a group are not disproportionately represented in the school's identified priority learners
  • well over 80% of all students achieved at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics
  • overall, boys are performing slightly better than girls.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • developed robust processes to identify students achieving below expected levels
  • provided additional support for at risk learners
  • established target groups in classes made up of students whose progress requires acceleration (priority learners)
  • ensured that teachers plan for, and closely monitor, the achievement and progress of priority learners
  • participated in an external professional learning contract to target the acceleration of progress for a group of students achieving below expected levels in mathematics.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school responds positively to all children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school has good information about the numbers, names and needs of those children who are at risk of achieving below National Standards. Data for 2015 shows that some students achieving below expected levels made accelerated progress.

The board currently sets achievement targets and receives achievement information in terms of broad percentages for cohorts, including year, gender and ethnic groups. The next step for the school is to ensure that annual targets are more specifically related to students at risk of not achieving National Standards at the end of the year. This enhancement is necessary to enable trustees to more specifically determine the extent to which the school has been successful in accelerating achievement for these learners.

The principal analyses school-wide data to report levels of achievement for year, gender and ethnic groups. The principal continues to work with teachers to regularly revisit and reflect on the achievement of the small group of students at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes, and to track their progress during the year and as they move through the school.

Teachers use achievement information to identify children who are at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes in reading, writing and mathematics. They also use this information effectively to identify priority students and plan specific targeted interventions and teaching programmes. Teachers use a range of strategies and assessment tools to moderate their judgements about student achievement in relation to National Standards. To enhance the reliability and validity of these judgements, they are currently exploring broadening the range of tools used. In addition, the school is considering involvement in a Community of Learning (CoL) alongside other local schools to further moderate these judgements.

Trustees have received collated data from the principal that shows school-wide achievement and progress for all students including gender and ethnic groups over the past three years. This information enables them to make appropriate resourcing decisions that support overall school priorities and direction.

More specific monitoring and reporting to trustees during the year, should enable trustees to more clearly establish how effective the school has been in accelerating and maintaining progress for these learners and plan accordingly.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum is responsive to the needs, strengths and interests of children as learners. This local curriculum is coherent and inclusive. It is appropriately focused on literacy and mathematics and provides comprehensive guidelines for teaching and learning. Work continues on reviewing sections of this document as part of ongoing planned review. This review is timely to ensure the curriculum includes consideration of accelerating progress for priority learners.

Trustees have a well-developed understanding of the purpose and the importance of effective review for school improvement. They have undertaken extensive training about school governance and have good knowledge of levels of school-wide achievement and progress, including the numbers and needs of priority learners. Policies and procedures are regularly reviewed to ensure school operations continue to benefit staff, students and families, and maintain a focus on accelerating progress for all learners.

The principal is an effective professional leader and leader of learning. Her sound knowledge of curriculum and assessment enables her to focus on improving teachers' professional practice and supporting them to reflect on student progress and achievement.

Recent professional development in mathematics is resulting in a targeted approach to building the capability of teachers to accelerate progress for at risk students. To achieve this teachers recognise the need to embed the process of teaching as inquiry across the school. This is necessary to enable teachers to more consistently reflect on the effectiveness of their practice in relation to accelerating progress for these learners. Children continue to benefit from focused teaching where they are well engaged and learn in caring, respectful environments.

Parents receive detailed information about their child's achievement, including how they can help at home. An open-door policy and strong informal community networks also ensure there are multiple opportunities for parents to be involved in the many events and activities of this country school. Parents are keen to receive more detailed information about their child's achievement in relation to more specific learning progressions. In addition, there is a need for the school to consult more effectively with parents and families about school priorities and future direction.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school is well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

The school is working hard to achieve equitable outcomes for all children and is well positioned to address the following next steps identified by ERO:

  • involve parents more closely in a partnership in learning focused on student goal setting in relation to learning progressions and acceleration of progress where appropriate
  • formalise and embed the 'teaching as inquiry' as an essential component of reflection, review and refinement of effective teaching practice to accelerate achievement
  • consult more effectively with parents and families about their views, aspirations and priorities for future school direction and development
  • ensure that annual achievement targets are more specifically related to those students who are below and well below National Standards. This enhancement should also enable trustees to more easily determine the extent to which the school has been successful in accelerating progress for specific groups of students during the year and as they move through the school.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • physical safety of students.
  • teacher registration.
  • processes for appointing staff.
  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.
  • attendance.
  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the principal works with trustees, teachers and the school community to address the next steps identified by ERO. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

13 July 2016

About the school


Te Aroha, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 46 Girls 50

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

13 July 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

November 2008

September 2005