Irongate School - 25/09/2018

School Context

Irongate School caters for 334 students in Years 1 to 8 in Flaxmere, near Hastings. Three quarters of students attending the school are Māori. Other key student groups include 80 Pacific students with Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island and Kiribati heritage.

The school’s stated vision recognises the importance of the local Flaxmere community, hapū, Ngāti Kahungunu iwi and the Kāhui Ako. The school vision is learning for life and to facilitate learning opportunities that enables personal success, development and growth for students. Key values are ako, whanaungatanga, kotahitanga and manaakitanga.

The recently redeveloped Year 8 graduate profile indicates a focus on students having a sense of identity, pride and belonging in knowing who they are and where they are from. Key 2018 strategic goals focus on students being productive by participating and contributing and persevering.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics, including the analysis of variance for the annual plan

  • positive behaviour for learning

  • trends in attendance.

Since the August 2015 ERO report, an experienced new principal was appointed at the start of 2018. Staffing remains generally stable with some recent changes. A core group of experienced trustees provides continuity in governance.

Key staff professional development includes a focus on mana enhancement for learners, junior students building on their early learning experiences and a focus on school leadership for learning. Groups of staff participated in Poutama Pounamu for culturally responsive teaching approaches, positive learning behaviours and enhancing teacher and student use of digital technologies.

The school is a member of the Te Waka o Māramatanga Kāhui Ako.

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 has yet to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners. The school reports that the majority of students achieve at or above expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Girls achieve better than boys in all three areas, particularly in literacy.

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

The school is at the early stages of developing clear systems and processes to respond to those learners whose progress and achievement need acceleration. Data for 2017, shows that just under a third of students targeted in a schoolwide writing intervention programme made accelerated progress.

Lifting student achievement particularly in mathematics remains an ongoing next step to achieve more equitable and excellent student outcomes.

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 learn in a positive and settled school environment. Respectful relationships and a focus on students’ holistic wellbeing fosters their strong sense of belonging. Whanaungatanga, kotahitanga, ako and manaakitanga are increasingly enacted by students and staff.

An ongoing review of the school curriculum began at the start of 2018. This contributes to good early progress with establishing expectations for culturally responsive practices. Teaching frameworks based on te ao Māori strongly affirm students’ culture, language and identity. This approach is becoming integrated into all aspects of the school.

Consultation with whānau and families contributes to the redevelopment of the Year 8 graduate profile. Students’ views are increasingly valued and used to inform changes. Growing learning partnerships with parents and whānau is an ongoing priority.

Teachers are embracing opportunities to develop collaborative strategies to enable students to make choices and lead their learning. A sustained focus in 2017, on the teaching of writing to students who needed targeted support, resulted in a positive lift in overall achievement. This was particularly noticeable for Pacific and Māori learners.

Provision and resources for students with additional learning requirements are a key priority. Individual students are well known and supported to participate and engage in learning alongside their peers. Appropriate external expertise is accessed to enhance opportunities for students.

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 staff should develop and strengthen the review of the school curriculum and supporting implementation plan to enable students to continue to lead to their learning. This should include establishing schoolwide expectations for:

  • dependable assessment practices schoolwide, moderation and analysis and more regular reporting of student progress and achievement

  • effective teaching and learning in collaborative teaching and learning spaces.

The board has a clear focus on making resourcing decisions to enable students to equitably access learning resources. It is timely to strengthen their focus on implementing and monitoring the strategic plan to promote positive student outcomes, including the acceleration for those learners who need it. This includes strengthening:

  • timely and clear processes for identifying target students, monitoring their progress, teacher analysis and evaluation and reporting to trustees on accelerated learning

  • reporting the impact of special programmes and strategies for students receiving additional assistance, including English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)

  • the alignment between strategic improvement targets, target students, teachers’ inquiry into their teaching practices, appraisal and the use of schoolwide internal evaluation to improve student outcomes.

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.

Action for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to a teacher with a lapsed practising certificate.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • ensure all teachers hold a current practising certificate at all times.
    [Education Act 1989]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure that the school submits its charter to the Ministry of Education by the due date and enable the timely implementation of annual student achievement targets

  • strengthen governance, including developing a systematic approach to reviewing policies, procedures and practices.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a positive and increasingly responsive learning-focused school environment that is based on supportive relationships

  • more responsive school practices that enable students to celebrate their culture, language and identity

  • developing collaborative teaching practices that increasingly allow students to make choices and to lead their learning.

Next steps

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

  • developing a responsive school curriculum and expectations for effective teaching and learning

  • strengthening the alignment of school systems and processes for supporting improved student outcomes, including appraisal, teaching as inquiry and internal evaluation

  • improving the effectiveness of governance practices, including policies and procedures

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school]

  • internal evaluation processes and practices.
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders]

ERO recommends that the school seeks support from New Zealand School Trustees Association in order to bring about improvements in:

  • governance policies, procedures and practices.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

25 September 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 59%, Female 41%

Ethnic composition

Māori 72%
Pacific 24%
Pākehā 4%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

25 September 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2015
Education Review July 2012
Education Review July 2009