Glenorchy School - 18/12/2012

1. Context

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

Glenorchy School is a small and isolated rural school set at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. The teachers make very good use of their unique environment and local history to enrich their students’ learning. Students talked about how much they enjoyed tramping, ski trips and visits further afield.

Years 1-8 students learn in two multi-level classrooms. Class numbers are small and students get frequent one-to-one teacher time. Students relate well with each other and quickly acquire the skills to work well independently and in small groups.

The students get a very solid foundation in literacy and mathematics. Their classrooms are well resourced, interesting and attractive.

The school has a family-like culture. The students see the school as their school, where their ideas and interests are valued. They described the school to ERO as a happy and safe place. Students are respectful and confident in the way they relate to their teachers.

The school is very well supported by its parents and local community. It shares some community facilities, such as the local swimming pool and a large new adventure playground.

2. Learning

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

Almost all students are highly engaged and interested in their learning. Students make good progress and most achieve well with their learning.

Areas of strength

Teachers have high expectations for students’ learning and behaviour. Students, including students in the junior class, know how to work independently and cooperatively.

Teachers know each student very well. This is evident in the detailed planning and specific teaching to the needs, interests and abilities of all students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Students told ERO that their work was set at the right level of challenge. Students could talk about the purpose of their learning, their individual learning goals and the usefulness of the strategies that help them to learn.

Students benefit from very good quality teaching. Teachers focus on the strategies that enable students to become successful and independent learners. They give students specific feedback and next steps for their learning. Students who need extra help are identified early and given support.

Teachers frequently talk with parents about their children’s successes, learning and wellbeing. The new reports to parents state simply what students can do, what they need to improve on and how parents might help.

Area for review and development

Aspects of assessment could be improved. Teachers need to extend their assessment to include all curriculum areas. Students could be more involved in developing and assessing their own and their peers’ work against agreed indicators of success. The present cycle for reporting to parents does not align with National Standard requirements. Close to the completion of each child’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd year at school, parents need to receive a report about their child’s progress and achievement.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is broad and interesting and strongly promotes and supports students’ learning.

Areas of strength

The school’s curriculum is flexible, responsive and relevant to the learning needs of the students. Teachers make very good use of the local environment and expertise when planning students’ learning experiences. Students told ERO that they often made choices and decisions about what they learn and how.

Teachers have thought carefully about the school’s physical isolation and found constructive ways to offset this. For example, students often travel beyond the school for well-planned sports, cultural and other learning experiences. Students talked about how they skype, email and use on-line and other resources to enrich their learning. They valued their work with their art and music specialists.

Students benefit from a well-resourced and attractive learning environment. Resources are chosen with the students’ needs and interests in mind and are well used. Classrooms are attractive with students’ work carefully displayed. These displays and other visual prompts assist students to manage their work independently.

Areas for review and development

Teachers need to review more rigorously how well the school’s expectations for teaching and learning and the different curriculum areas are planned and taught. The development of self-review guidelines and a schedule for review should help.

The teachers are very reflective in their work. However, they need to better document what aspects of their teaching went well, what did not and what changes they might make.

ERO and the teachers identified several areas which would benefit from being reviewed. These include how well students are supported in their transition into and out of the school, and how well the inquiry approach to learning is used.

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

The principal and teachers provide a very supportive learning environment for Māori students.

About a quarter of the students are Māori. These students show high levels of interest in and enthusiasm for their learning. They spoke very positively about their school, their teachers and the wide learning opportunities they have.

Teachers have high expectations for their Māori students. They expect them to make good progress, achieve well and be successful. There is very good support for any student who is below expected levels or needs help in any way.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school’s ability to sustain and improve its performance will depend in part on the new principal. Trustees have worked hard to develop a good understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities. This should help the school sustain and improve how well the school is governed and managed.

Areas of strength

Trustees show high levels of commitment to their work by their willingness to travel significant distances to get governance training. They work well as a team and have good relationships with staff.

The principal has built good relationships within and beyond the school. She ensures that the board is well informed about students’ progress and achievement and learning programmes. The board uses this information well when making decisions about resourcing.

The principal regularly seeks parents’ views and ideas about their children’s learning and experiences at school.

Most of the recommendations from the last ERO report have been well addressed.

Areas for review and development

Some aspects of strategic planning and self review could be improved.

The front section of the school’s charter, and the strategic and annual plan, could be simplified and better aligned.

The principal needs to more regularly report to the board on progress towards achieving the goals in the annual plan.

The targets against the National Standards need to be more specific.

The board and principal need to talk with parents of Māori students about suitable targets for their children.

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.

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

18 December 2012

About the School


Glenorchy, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 14 Girls 12

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

18 December 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

July 2006

March 2003