Karaka School - 23/05/2016

1 Context

Karaka School is located in a rural community between Pukekohe and Papakura. It caters for children in Years 1 to 8, and has a proud and long-standing history with its community. Rural learning opportunities and inter-generational family associations are a feature of the school. Eleven percent of the school's roll identify as Māori and five percent identify with Pacific cultures. The school has a history of positive ERO evaluations.

Since the 2013 ERO report the board has successfully managed the appointment of a new principal. She has led the school in its development of a school vision, values and whakatauki. The board and staff have been involved in significant self-review and professional development to support bicultural practice, current best teaching practice and student wellbeing.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are 'Embracing Learning. Building Resilience. Achieving Excellence.' Excellence and adaptability are valued expectations. The school's whakatauki, "Ka whangaia ka tupu,ka puawai", 'that which is nurtured, blossoms and grows' is understood by children and staff. In addition, the school promotes the notion that everyone is a learner.

The school’s achievement information shows that a clear majority of students are achieving well and meeting or exceeding the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. While most Māori students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics there is a 10-15% disparity in their overall achievement when compared with the figures for all students. The school's small number of Pacific students achieve very well in National Standards. Senior leaders report that some of the Māori and other students who are currently achieving below the standards are making accelerated progress.

Since the last ERO evaluation, leaders and teachers have improved assessment strategies and refined plans to promote accelerated progress for target groups of students. These new strategies and plans are currently being embedded. Senior leaders and teachers are now able to analyse and track data in a way that gives them a very detailed and holistic picture of the learning and progress of each child whose progress needs to be accelerated.

As part of initiatives to build the school's bicultural practice and responsiveness the board is using the Hautū: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review tool for Boards of Trustees. The board is also in the process of appointing a cultural responsiveness leader to work across the school with staff and students. These developments are likely to assist the school to meet the needs, and accelerate the progress of Māori students.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is responding effectively to children whose learning and progress needs to be accelerated. Knowing the learner holistically sits at the heart of the school's endeavours to be responsive. It is notable that a strong sense of identity and belonging for children and whānau is being developed as a foundation for accelerating learning and progress.

Robust school-wide systems for the early identification of children at risk of not achieving have been developed. Leaders and teachers place a strong emphasis on student wellbeing. They gather extensive information to create a context for understanding each child and their learning needs. This enables them to specifically tailor support and provide focussed instruction for children.

Useful support strategies to accelerate children's learning include very close tracking of the progress of target children, liaison with and use of external support services such as the Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour, and the early and ongoing involvement of parents. Focussed instruction for target children is primarily delivered through well differentiated class programmes and teacher inquiries aimed at accelerating individual children's learning.

Children whose progress needs to be accelerated benefit from additional small group tutoring programmes in reading, writing and mathematics, and buddy and paired reading and writing. The impact of support and instructional strategies for each child is regularly evaluated and strategies are appropriately modified or changed.

The board and leadership team use achievement information to set school-wide goals and targets. Senior leaders track children's progress over time and regularly report to the board the school's position in relation to achievement goals and targets. This information supports the board to determine appropriate strategic priorities and make good decisions about resourcing.

Senior leaders are developing an assessment literate community to help strengthen and support the acceleration of learning and progress. Teachers are committed to using evidence as a basis for reflecting on their practice and adapting it in ways that promote accelerated learning. Coherent and ongoing professional learning and development is helping them to embed and sustain these positive developments.

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 priorities for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum is effectively promoting children's engagement and learning. A newly developed school-wide curriculum reflects the school's local community and the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum. There is a strong emphasis on creating a caring, collaborative and inclusive school ethos. The new school vision, values and whakatauki strongly underpin the school's approach to raising student achievement in a nurturing learning environment that supports equity and excellence for all.

Senior leaders are systematically building teachers' professional and curriculum capability. Their approach emphasises the value of collaboration and trust. Distributed leadership opportunities and consistent school-wide expectations of teacher practice are building capability. This, together with ongoing teacher dialogue and reflection, is supporting a curriculum that focusses on the specific strengths and needs of learners.

Positive and respectful relationships are evident throughout the school. Children experience a learning environment in which it is safe to take risks and learn that mistakes provide further opportunities to learn. The unique place of Māori in Aoteroa/New Zealand is celebrated and Māori themes are woven throughout the curriculum. The development of a parallel curriculum that promotes bicultural practice is in place.

Parents and whānau are welcomed into the school. Board, school leaders, teachers and staff have developed positive relationships with families. Parents are being encouraged to become actively involved with the school and their children's learning. Meaningful consultation and reciprocal community partnerships are fostered.

The board of trustees know the community well through both formal and informal consultation. Trustees are well informed about the progress and achievement of all students. Honest discussions arise from student achievement reports and help board members and senior leaders to plan strategically for the future.

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 board and school leaders encourage high expectations for all learners. Together they are well placed to make considered and informed decisions about future school development. This is underpinned by an increasingly reflective school culture characterised by honest and robust discussions.

The board and senior leaders have strategically implemented a bicultural focus through the school. This supports all students to succeed in Aotearoa/New Zealand and further enhances the school's inclusive culture. The use of Ministry of Education resources Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, is assisting leaders and teachers with this focus. ERO affirms the school's plans to continue embedding, strengthening and sustaining bicultural practices.

The school has undertaken considerable development over the past two years to build local curriculum and more evidence-informed approaches to support teaching and learning. School leaders acknowledge that ongoing professional learning and evaluation will be necessary to ensure that these new initiatives are appropriately embedded to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

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:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • 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 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the board and school leaders continue to embed, strengthen and sustain bicultural practices and the school's new curriculum and teaching and learning initiatives. Ongoing and systematic evaluation should support school leaders to evaluate how well these practices and initiatives are being embedded and contributing to equitable and excellent outcomes for all children. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

23 May 2016 

About the school


Papakura, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 55% Girls 45%

Ethnic composition




Cook Island Māori













Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

23 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

June 2010

June 2007