Kawakawa Primary School - 05/09/2016

1 Context

Kawakawa Primary School caters for children in Years 1 to 8. The school has a long history of inter-generational connections and significant links with the community. The majority of children are Māori, most of whom whakapapa to Ngāti Hine o Hine a Maru. The three bilingual classes continue to be a special feature of the school.

Since the 2013 ERO review the school has experienced some significant changes in leadership. An acting principal managed the school for a period of time and was then appointed as principal in 2015. A new deputy principal was appointed in 2016.

The board has initiated a number of property developments in the last two years. Most recently the school has been repainted, new signage displayed and the outside courts resurfaced.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are captured in the school's whakatauki, "Kia u, kia te pai, Uphold that which is good." This is underpinned by the values of respect, responsibility and resilience promoting equity and excellence for all. The school's mission statement is 'acknowledging the past, challenging the present, and creating the future'. These provide good foundations for building strong learning relationships with children and their whānau. Valued outcomes for all learners in this school community focus on children:

  • engaging well in learning and taking responsibility for their personal learning
  • being confident in their language, culture and identity through bilingual education
  • feeling confident and connected and being resilient problem solvers.

The school’s achievement information shows that close to half of all children are achieving at or above the National Standards in writing and mathematics. Just over half of all children are achieving at or above in reading. Analysis of the 2014 and 2015 achievement data for the small number of children who do not identify as Māori indicates that the majority of these children achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school charter includes annual targets aimed appropriately at accelerating learning for children who are not achieving national standards. Student progress towards these targets is closely monitored by the board, leaders and teachers. Analysis of the 2015 achievement information shows some children made accelerated progress particularly in writing, to achieve the appropriate National Standard.

School achievement data also shows some gender-based differences. The overall achievement of girls against National Standards exceeds that of boys, particularly in reading and writing. School leaders and trustees are committed to reducing this disparity as they develop their internal evaluation.

The school has a clear commitment to bilingual education. Teachers are working with external providers to increase their use and understanding of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga, in a bilingual and mainstream setting. Māori children proudly participate in school pōwhiri with older children leading karanga, whaikōrero and waiata.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has worked with experienced professional learning and development providers to improve leaders' and teachers' capability to respond to underachievement. These initiatives are at the early stages of implementation.

The leadership team has implemented coherent plans and actions, focused on building professional capability and collective capacity that supports children's academic success. Innovations have included:

  • building teachers' understanding and use of curriculum progressions
  • supporting teachers to inquire into the impact and success of their practice on children's achievement
  • building leadership capacity and capability to support accelerating student progress and raising achievement
  • strengthening learning relationships with children and their whānau.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is increasing its effectiveness in responding to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Professional development is clearly focused on increasing teachers' and leaders' knowledge of the curriculum and strategies for accelerating student learning.

The board of trustees and school leaders have a sense of urgency about accelerating the achievement of all children who are at risk of not achieving. Evidenced-based decision making and coherent improvement plans help trustees and staff to enable more children to achieve better results.

Leaders are building collective staff responsibility for improving outcomes for children. Assessment systems, processes and practices have been evaluated and strengthened. Teachers are increasingly confident in using achievement information to identify and respond to children's learning strengths and needs. They have attended moderation workshops to further develop their understanding of the National Standards and build the reliability of achievement information.

Staff promote an environment that values te reo Māori me ona tikanga to support success for Māori children. Tuakana teina relationships bring older and younger children together, building a strong sense of whanaungatanga and belonging.

There has been a deliberate planned approach to improving student and whānau engagement in the school. Children report that as a result of a school community event, their kuia and kaumātua are more involved with their learning. The increased use of digital technologies in senior classrooms has contributed to a more focused learning environment. Participating in external professional learning networks also support staff development of e-learning.

School leaders could further progress achievement by designing, implementing and monitoring a detailed plan for accelerating learning. This plan should include identifying;

  • the specific roles and responsibilities of trustees and staff
  • how achievement challenges are going to be met
  • indicators of successful acceleration and
  • regular evaluation of whether decisions are making a difference to student outcomes.

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 and organisational processes are becoming more effective in promoting equity and excellence for all children. The strategic plan provides a clear direction to achieve the school's vision, values, goals and priorities.

Children benefit from a settled and positive school tone. They are confident, capable learners who engage and experience success in a broad range of sporting, cultural and outdoor activities. The local community's celebration of art is reflected in the high quality of children's artwork in the school. The school's active promotion and support for children's wellbeing impacts positively on their engagement and learning.

The new principal in consultation with children, staff, trustees and whānau has set a new educational direction for the school focused on improving outcomes for children. She is building trusting relationships with the community to support transparency and collaboration. ERO affirms the school’s new direction as both timely and necessary.

Trustees, leaders and teachers are strategically engaging in developing long term responses to underachievement by building quality learning relationships with whānau. They are increasing teaching and leadership capability in internal evaluation and in the use of data for inquiring into effectiveness.

Teachers’ performance appraisals are linked to the new Practising Teacher Criteria (PTCs). Senior leaders could now consider aligning the appraisal evidence more closely to the PTCs and access external support to help build a robust appraisal system.

Positive developments are underway, with external expert support, to review the school's curriculum. The aim is to develop a more connected, thinking curriculum which promotes children's ownership of learning and reflects the Kawakawa community. Digital learning technologies are increasingly integrated in teaching programmes to enrich children's learning opportunities.

Trustees, staff and whānau have high expectations for all children to experience and celebrate success. Whānau who spoke with ERO appreciate the school's open, inclusive culture and increased communication practices. They value opportunities to contribute suggestions for improvement and are keen to further develop positive learning-centred partnerships to support their children's learning at home.

The new board is comprised of new and experienced trustees. They bring complementary skills and experience to their roles. Trustees have accessed a set of board policies that cover all aspects of board operations and are systematically reviewing these to align them to the school's context. It could be useful for trustees to access external expertise to support them in this work.

The school has expressed an interest in forming a Community of Learning (COL) with a number of local schools. Staff also participate in local education networks and clusters as part of wider community work to build their professional capability and collective capacity.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

The school is becoming well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The leadership team foster a school culture of relational trust where staff collaborate and are open to making changes to improve outcomes for children.

To ensure that the new educational direction is consolidated, school leaders and trustees should focus on evaluating the effectiveness of new practices and the impact they have on accelerating student progress and teacher development.

School leaders and trustees agree that the next steps in school development include:

  • continuing to review and refresh the school curriculum and expectations for teaching and learning, as part of building greater coherence and challenge across Years 1 to 8
  • documenting the school-wide approach to embed and help sustain the new initiatives to enhance equity and excellence for all children
  • continuing to focus on building teachers' capability to accelerate progress and increase student ownership of their learning.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop a Raising Achievement Plan to further develop processes and practices that respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement plan and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full 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

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should ensure that children in Years 7 and 8 receive appropriate career's education guidance.

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the school:

  • review current improvement plans, using the findings from this review, to provide a more coherent planned response to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration
  • continue to use internal evaluation to monitor and report on the impact of improvement initiatives on children's progress and achievement. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

5 September 2016 

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 57% Girls 43%

Ethnic composition







Special Features

3 te reo Māori Bilingual Classes

Review team on site

July 2016

Date of this report

5 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

June 2010

March 2007