Linkwater School - 21/02/2018

School Context

Linkwater School is a Year 1 to 8 rural school located in the Marlborough Sounds. It has 40 children who learn in multilevel classrooms.

The school’s priorities for children are that they will become lifelong and self-directed learners and understand the importance of sustainability. The vision is to provide ‘An excellent education in a caring and nurturing environment in order to produce confident and expressive young achievers.’

The school’s key targets are to increase student agency, lift achievement in writing, ensure a rich, localised curriculum and to work constructively with other schools and institutions.

School leaders regularly report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • children’s wellbeing

  • children’s perceptions about their learning.

Linkwater School is one of five schools in the Pelorus Cluster.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Most children achieve very well in reading and mathematics. Writing is slightly lower. There is no significant disparity in literacy and mathematics achievement between different groups of children in the school.

In 2016 at least 85% of children achieved at or above expected levels in reading and mathematics. A large group of children achieved above expected levels in reading. For writing, 73% achieved at or above expected levels. With the changes in the school population, there has been some variation in achievement levels over the last three years.

The 2017 wellbeing survey showed that Linkwater children feel safe and supported. End of Year 8 surveys show that children feel very well prepared for secondary school.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school can show that teachers have accelerated the achievement of most at risk learners in reading and writing. These were the prioritised areas for lifting achievement in 2016 and 2017.

In 2016 almost all of the children who were part of a reading intervention, made accelerated progress and reached expected levels. Mathematics was not a school target in 2016. However, just under half of the children below expected levels made accelerated progress. In 2017 most of the children in the target writing group made accelerated progress to reach expected levels.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Children show high levels of engagement in and responsibility for their learning. They have frequent opportunities to have a voice in what, how and where they learn and to reflect on their learning. Children, especially those from Year 3 onwards, take an active role in the assessment of their work and sharing their learning with their parents. Core Māori concepts such as tuakana/teina and ako (children helping each other with their learning) are strongly evident.

The school’s curriculum provides highly responsive and deep learning opportunities for children. Children and teachers skilfully use digital technology as a teaching and learning tool and for the sharing of learning between children, teachers and parents. Each child follows an individualised learning pathway at their appropriate level. Other strengths are the frequent use of local people and places to enrich learning, and the focus on sustainability and lifelong-learning skills.

Teachers know the children very well as individuals and learners. They use innovative and collaborative approaches to assessment and each child’s progress is carefully tracked and monitored. Teachers work intensively with children who need additional support and can show the difference that they have made.

The school has developed constructive partnerships to enrich children’s learning. Teachers work closely with parents about how best to support their child’s learning and regularly seek parents’ views. Staff members work collaboratively with each other and with local schools to best meet children’s needs and interests.

School leadership is innovative, reflective and future focused. New developments in the school, such as self-directed learning, are research informed, well considered and successfully implemented. Teachers benefit from targeted professional learning that strongly aligns with the school’s priorities for learning and effective pedagogy.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence?

Some processes need to be refined and embedded to continue the good practices that are contributing to equity and excellence.

The board, school leaders and teachers need to extend and strengthen aspects of internal evaluation. This includes ensuring that reviews are more evaluative. It is timely to extend internal evaluation to include how well the school’s valued outcomes for learning and all learning areas are realised.

School leaders need to continue to strengthen the integration of te ao Māori in the day-to-day curriculum. This includes developing progressions for te reo Māori. The school’s commitment to valuing te ao Māori needs to be more visible in the school’s strategic planning and curriculum guidelines.

Aspects of target planning and reporting need to be improved. Targets to lift achievement need to be more specific. The board needs to receive more frequent and detailed reports that clearly show the sufficiency of progress for target students (and others as appropriate).

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.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • high levels of student engagement and agency in their learning

  • the breadth, depth and richness of children’s learning

  • individualised learning pathways and meaningful integration of digital technology

  • the strong learning partnerships with parents, local schools and the wider community

  • collaborative, innovative and future-focused teaching and learning practices

  • clear strategic priorities and alignment of practices to these.

Next steps

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

  • extending and strengthening understanding of internal evaluation in order to better evaluate what is working well and what could be improved

  • strengthening the integration of te ao Māori into the day-to-day curriculum in order for all children to experience a bicultural curriculum everyday

  • improving school achievement targets and the frequency and quality of reports to the board about the sufficiency of progress target children are making.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

21 February 2018

About the school


Marlborough Sounds

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female: 25 Male: 15

Ethnic composition

Māori: 7
Pākehā: 23
Other: 10

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

21 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

10 September 2014