Mata School - 16/09/2016

1 Context

Mata School is located on Huiarua Station, inland from Tokomaru Bay. It provides education for children in Years 1 to 8 from the surrounding farming and forestry community. At the time of the ERO review there were 6 students on the roll, including four Maori children. The principal was on sabbatical leave for the 2016 year. An acting principal was appointed and took up his role at the beginning of 2016. Since the ERO review the principal resigned and the acting principal was permanently appointed. The principal's release teacher is an experienced practitioner, appointed to her role in 2016. Most children are also new to the school in 2016. The board chairperson continues to provide informed leadership for school governance. Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to support children as motivated, able thinkers, achieving excellence through effort. Priority is placed on providing children with the life skills they need to achieve success in their lives. Honesty, creativity, whanaungatanga, diversity and perseverance are valued outcomes for students.

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2015, all 5 children were achieving at or above National Standards (NS) in mathematics and almost all were achieving in reading. The school identified the need to improve student achievement in writing. Students currently on the roll were not present in 2015. Due to the transitional nature of the roll, longitudinal achievement information for the past 3 years is not relevant to the children currently attending the school.

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation, the school has made improvements to systems and processes for reporting on individual student's progress. The acting principal was still developing his understanding of current assessment and reporting systems in the school. He recognised the need to further develop knowledge about these systems and processes for the gathering, analysis and use of student achievement information to:

  • identify Māori children and others at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes
  • make accurate overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards
  • plan appropriate programmes that accelerate and sustain children's learning
  • monitor and track the progress of groups and individuals over time
  • report timely and reliable information to the board of trustees and families.

2 Equity and excellence

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

There has not been a long enough period of time for the new teaching team to show how they respond effectively to children whose learning needs acceleration. The quality, range and use of assessment information in literacy and mathematics is not yet sufficient to provide accurate teacher professional judgements about children's achievement and progress. ERO cannot be assured of the validity and reliability of student achievement information. 

In 2016 teachers implemented specifically planned activities linked to meaningful life experiences to improve student understanding about writing and to accelerate their achievement. Students are enthusiastic about their learning, and engaged in writing and confidently expressing themselves. At the time of the ERO review there had not been sufficient time to gather longitudinal information about student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards.

The acting principal makes regular and meaningful use of te reo and tikanga Māori. He demonstrates a good understanding of the language, culture and identity of Māori children. The school reports that this is resulting in increased engagement, presence and enthusiasm for learning for these children. The release teacher is a reflective practitioner with experience in teaching children in the early years of primary education. Teachers use exemplars to support teacher judgements about writing. These are shared with children to build their understanding of success criteria for their writing. The teaching team are currently exploring ways to establish formal moderation processes with other schools to strengthen the validity of judgements.

3 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 is yet to effectively promote equity and excellence for all learners. It requires ongoing review and development. Learning progressions in literacy and mathematics have recently been implemented and have the potential to enhance each child's understanding of their own learning pathways. Attention should be given to a more deliberate approach to the daily teaching of mathematics at appropriate levels for each child.

Clear expectations should be developed, documented and implemented for:

  • coverage of all learning areas in the New Zealand Curriculum
  • monitoring  children's progress over time through clear learning progressions
  • teaching practices, including teaching as inquiry, that accelerate the progress of children at risk of not achieving.

This should provide greater continuity and consistency for teachers and children through changes of staff and students. Trustees recognise that there is a need for them to receive timely, accurate and reliable achievement information to inform decision making, and support setting realistic targets for children's achievement.

An ongoing strength of the school is gathering and responding to student voice in decision making. This has resulted in improvements to the learning environment. Teachers responded to student ideas by arranging the classroom environment to give children wider choices and reflect their interests and learning needs. Children are demonstrating independence and confidence in managing aspects of their learning.

Tuakana are building their leadership skills as they confidently take responsibility for younger children through the tuakana-teina approach to learning. Positive relationships are established amongst adults and children. There are many opportunities for families and whānau to participate in learning conversations with teachers and share learning experiences alongside children.

A significant development in the school is the provision and use of digital technology. Children regularly access the internet for research purposes, and make connections with the wider world. Enrichment programmes in literacy and mathematics extend learning opportunities for children. They work with tutors outside of the school through specialist programmes to build their understanding about computer programming, robotics and other innovations. Digital technology has the potential to improve learner engagement and enhance learning outcomes for Māori and other children. Regular education outside the classroom experiences are promoting interesting and challenging opportunities for children to develop life skills and knowledge about natural science, and the environmental impacts of logging on the nearby river and marine life in the area. Children participate in many experiences that promote the school's vision, values, goals and priorities. Trustees and teachers have not yet had time to evaluate how effective these initiatives have been on accelerating the progress and achievement of all children.

The school's isolation presents many challenges for the school's community. Dedicated trustees and committed parents and whānau make every effort to provide the organisational processes and support that enable children to participate in sporting, cultural and social events within and beyond the local district. Trustees have a good understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities, attend training when possible and provide sustainability through careful budgeting and financial management. The school is well maintained and appropriate resources are being purchased to respond to the needs of children.

4 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • have not yet adequately built their knowledge of the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet adequately established necessary conditions to effectively accelerate learning and achievement
  • are not well placed to achieve and sustain accelerated achievement for all children who need it

Trustees and teachers should now develop and implement assessment systems and processes that:

  • set specific, accurate and individual learning targets and goals for each child
  • inform children and families about children's progress, achievement and next learning steps
  • support teachers to track and monitor children's progress in all curriculum areas
  • promote teaching as inquiry to support teachers to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching in accelerating and sustaining the progress of children who are at risk of not achieving
  • contribute to school-wide self review and identify priorities to strategically guide school improvement and development.

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years. 

5 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
  • the school’s policy and procedures in relation to the application of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

6 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the board to bring about the following improvements:

  • improve the knowledge and understanding about the management and use of student achievement information at all levels of school operations
  • support the ongoing development and documenting of the school's curriculum. 

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

16 September 2016

About the school 


near Tokomaru Bay, East Coast

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 3
Girls 3

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

16 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

July 2013
June 2010
June 2006