Leigh School - 27/06/2013

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s Arotake Paetawhiti review?

Leigh School is a small Years 1 to 6 primary school located in Leigh, Northland. The school has meaningful connections with the wider community, including the local marae and preschool. Local resources are used well to offer students a broad and interesting curriculum.

The November 2011 ERO report noted the positive tone of the school and the respectful relationships between teachers and students. However, ERO found that the board of trustees and the principal faced some significant challenges and recommended external assistance. ERO has monitored the school’s progress closely since the 2011 review.

The school had a history of fluctuating levels of school performance. Relatively frequent changes of principal, four principals in eleven years, made it difficult for staff to sustain and embed changes or initiatives.

A new principal, appointed in 2010, agreed that improvements were needed in data management, assessment and reporting and that teachers would benefit from professional development to implement more effective approaches to teaching and learning.

The board of trustees required additional support to improve their governance processes and to manage their legal obligations better. Improving the quality of reporting to trustees, and focussing on evidence-based decision making and self review, were key next steps.

Over the past 18 months, a significant change has occurred in board processes. School leaders and staff have worked closely with a Ministry of Education student achievement facilitator (SAF) and professional development providers. New teaching and learning approaches are now in place to better support students to learn, make progress and achieve well. The current Ministry of Education contract will conclude at the end of 2013.

2 Review and Development

ERO and the school agreed on the following priorities for this ongoing review:

  • improve school systems for collating and using student achievement information
  • develop teaching practices that further promote effective student learning
  • continue to promote Māori success
  • develop, document and use self review to support ongoing improvement.

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

The school has addressed the areas for review and development identified in the 2011 ERO report. School leaders have made very good use of the external support from the Ministry of Education.

The school now has a detailed strategic plan and annual plan with systematic review processes to determine future direction. The positive and shared response of school leaders, trustees and teachers has resulted in a shift towards a more collaborative school culture. Effective decision making is improving student outcomes, including levels of achievement.

Very good progress has been made in collecting and using student achievement information. Specific targets for improving student achievement are being well used to respond to learners’ needs. School leaders are now in a better position to respond to changes in patterns and trends of achievement.

Student achievement information is well managed by leaders and teachers. Students’ progress and achievement is analysed carefully. Student progress is monitored and measured more consistently. The school has robust assessment and moderation processes. Reporting to parents is more useful and valid. A more reflective school culture is evident.

Teachers have made good progress in responding to individual student learning needs to help them make accelerated progress. Effective systems are in place for evaluating student achievement. Teachers share their expertise and are keen to make informed changes in their approaches to student assessment.

Targeted professional development has significantly improved teaching and learning. Ongoing review is now being used to give students more opportunities to participate in decision making about their learning. Improved teaching practice is better linked with performance management and is monitored closely by the principal.

School leaders consult regularly with Māori whānau and use their perspectives to improve school policies and plans. Good planning is in place to sustain the whānau group. Māori students are achieving, progressing well, and succeeding as Māori. This is most evident in Years 5 and 6.

Teachers are increasing their capacity to deliver a te reo Māori programme that advances students’ language skills and strengthens school tikanga. This whole-school programme remains a key area for the staff to continue to progress. Kapa haka is a strength of the school. School leaders could continue to improve the visibility of the school’s bicultural commitment in authentic and meaningful ways.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain its current good practices and to continue to improve its performance. School leaders have significantly improved their capacity to reflect, plan, act and report to their community, using evidence that includes student achievement.

The board of trustees is well led. Trustees have planned ongoing improvements and have a clear focus on continuing to raise student achievement. Relevant work plans and improved operating processes are evident. Policies and procedures are current, and succession planning is well in place. The board is continuing to refine its governance policies.

Resourcing is now critically reviewed and is allocated appropriately to school goals and student needs. Robust review questions guide decision making. The board is committed to ensuring that teachers continue to receive relevant, ongoing professional development.

The principal’s reports provide good quality information to inform the board about student achievement and progress towards school goals. Trustees are better managing their delegations to the principal and their quality assurance of systems to meet legal obligations. They have useful tools to guide self review. A more inquiring culture is clearly evident at all levels of school operations.

The principal has benefited from external leadership support. She has very good working relationships with teachers and students. Staff meetings are now more focussed on teaching and learning to support student learning. The board should continue to support the principal to maintain a range of external professional relationships.

Effective planning is evident to sustain the positive changes that have been made. Leaders have identified a number of future developments, including a review of the school’s vision so that it better aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum. Further consultation with the community could be a key part of this review as the school develops an effective learner profile.

ERO and school leaders agree that next steps should focus on:

  • designing a more student-led curriculum to further promote students’ ownership of their learning
  • using explicit learning intentions and success criteria to help students evaluate their learning
  • continuing to use Tātaiako: cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners and Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education Māori education strategy, to inform teacher and school review.

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

27 June 2013

About the School


Leigh, Warkworth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 30

Boys 27

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

27 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

November 2011

August 2008

November 2005