Kaitoke School (Claris) - 21/02/2014

1 Context

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

Kaitoke School near Claris, is one of three schools on Aotea, Great Barrier Island. It caters for students up to Year 8 in two multi-level classrooms. The school has experienced roll growth since 2012, and now has 31 students. About one-third of these students began their schooling and have remained at Kaitoke School. Some students leave the island for periods of time and return to the school, and most leave to attend secondary school on the mainland.

A particular feature of the school is the high level of involvement that staff and students have with the wider Great Barrier community. The school initiates and leads several annual community events. The board and principal continue to strengthen cooperative relationships with the two other schools on the island and to increase the sharing of resources. Many students who start school at Kaitoke come from Aotea Island Playcentre next door to the school. Playcentre children and their families are often involved in school activities.

Great Barrier Island’s isolation from the mainland has contributed to the school’s history of frequent staff turnover. However, the current principal has been at the school for two years and teaches in the senior class. A permanent teacher has been at the school for about five years. She has worked in both junior and senior classrooms and provides continuity as well as expertise in the school’s reading recovery programme. A part-time teacher has recently been employed for the junior classroom. The school’s long-term office executive and property manager also provide continuity and valuable assistance for the principal and teachers. The board of trustees includes both experienced and new members. All staff and trustees demonstrate high levels of commitment to the school and the island community.

Whanaungatanga, aroha and manaaki in the school are indicators of strong relationships amongst staff, whānau and students. This contributes to the sense of family and community and the positive and inclusive environment for learning. Students have a sense of security in the school.

ERO’s 2011 report recommended that the board develop stronger connections with the school’s Māori community. ERO also recommended more reflection of the Kaitoke community in the school’s curriculum and greater challenge for older students. ERO acknowledged the ongoing challenge of multi-level teaching, and noted that considerable improvement had been made since its 2009 review. Most of those improvements have been sustained and further progress has been made.

2 Learning

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

Teachers are making increasingly good use of student achievement information to set targets, plan appropriately, group students for learning, and track their progress. This information is used to report to parents and the board about students’ progress and achievement against the National Standards.

The permanent teacher has a leading role in gathering, recording and analysing achievement data. She provides skilled support for students who have been at risk of not achieving to their potential so that they make accelerated progress. School information indicates that the majority of students achieve the National Standards in literacy and mathematics. Some students achieve well above the National Standards in reading and mathematics.

Teachers have very good knowledge of students’ learning needs. They continually seek ways to actively engage students in their learning. Older students are encouraged to reflect on their learning, are aware of their achievement levels and know what they need to do to improve. They often work independently and are confident contributors to class discussions and school decisions. Students are confident learners and are in a good position to take greater responsibility for their own learning progress.

Students are settled and familiar with school routines and expectations. Senior students have many opportunities to support other students in their learning and to take leadership roles in the school. Students with special learning needs are very well supported and new entrants are quickly included as members of the Kaitoke School family. A buddy system supports tuakana/teina relationships where younger students learn from and are supported by their older peers. These positive features contribute to the caring, inclusive culture and sense of shared responsibility for students’ wellbeing that are evident throughout the school.

Teachers and the board are aware that to improve students’ levels of achievement there is a need for professional development to help teachers increase the consistency of good quality teaching and learning in mathematics. Teachers are also keen to improve their practice in the teaching and assessment of writing.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is increasingly broad and effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning. Students have a wide range of learning opportunities that associate with the local island community. Students also have extended learning experiences through national and international internet links, the many visitors to the school and trips that they have to the mainland.

Students’ learning has been enriched by the increased inclusion of te reo Māori in the classrooms and a stronger association with Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Rehua, through Okiwi School. Meaningful projects include sustaining and caring for the natural island environment, community events such as the Matariki celebration, and the annual wharf-to-wharf marathon, which is an international event.

Teachers are hard working and capable. They are committed to professional learning and to improving their practice, as they move towards a more student-led curriculum. They agree that to build on current effective practices and enrich the curriculum, next steps include:

  • continuing to build meaningful learning partnerships with students and their families
  • working with the community to review and formalise the school’s strategic vision and curriculum, and to ensure that students have good access to all curriculum areas
  • inquiring more deeply into their practice and strengthening professional networks with other schools to support their professional learning and development.

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

The school’s curriculum is becoming more effective in fostering Māori students’ confidence as learners and pride in their heritage. Māori students are making good progress in reading and mathematics. They value the school’s positive, caring culture and are encouraged to take leadership roles. While consultation has mostly been informal, the principal is beginning to seek Ngāti Wai and whānau expertise and to build students’ sense of tangatawhenuatanga and kaitiakitanga. He is keen to foster greater whānau engagement in supporting their children’s learning.

The board and principal recognise that they should now make the school’s commitment to Māori success more explicit in school documents, including the charter, and in board practices. They are keen to use Ministry of Education strategy documents such as Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success, and Tātaiako, to help them reflect on their practice and support their strategic thinking.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain existing good practices and to continue improving its performance. Students’ wellbeing and success are at the heart of school operations. The board is conscientious and well informed. Trustees are developing a good understanding of their governance role and think strategically about the future. The principal has led positive initiatives for change and improved outcomes for students. The school’s office executive manages systems well.

All staff have significant levels of commitment, work collaboratively for the school and are encouraged to share school leadership. They are valued for their strengths and contributions and respected as professionals. The board and principal have a goal to strengthen students’, and the community’s, view of the school as a vibrant, inclusive place of learning.

The board and principal agree that strengthening sustainability in the school should include a more cohesive, considered and aligned approach to school vision, annual targets, self review and strategic development. This approach should be reflected in the principal’s performance agreement and teachers’ appraisal. More specific targets and reporting would help the board to monitor progress against strategic goals for continued improvement.

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.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

21 February 2014

About the School


Claris, Great Barrier Island

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 16 Girls 15

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

21 February 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

February 2011

November 2009

June 2008