Mata School - 29/06/2018


Mata School although small and isolated provides a rich, broad curriculum and a positive environment for students. ERO has concerns about the sustainability of the school due to the changing composition of the board of trustees, teaching staff and student roll, and will continue to monitor the school as a result.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

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

Mata School is an isolated rural school located on Huiarua Station, inland from Tokomaru Bay. It is staffed with one full time sole charge principal and another teacher is employed as the principal's release teacher. They regularly team teach providing children with personalised learning programmes. The school caters for students in Years 1 to 8. At the time of this review there were six children at the school most of whom identify as Māori. The roll is highly transient.

The school is located between Mount Hikurangi and Mount Arowhana on the Raukumara Range and the Mata River as reflected by the school logo. The school aim is to develop learners and leaders who are confident, family oriented, reliable, respectful, inquisitive, honest, loyal and effective communicators.

Since the previous ERO report in 2016, the staff and board have remained stable.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development:

  • assessment capability and moderation in Years 1 to 8
  • reporting on achievement to board and parents
  • targets for accelerating at-risk learners and planning for specific individual learning needs and strengths
  • curriculum review and development
  • teaching and learning
  • internal evaluation.


There has been significant progress made in several of the areas identified for review and development in the previous ERO report. The principal and release teacher bring a range of complementary skills and work well together to improve student outcomes. However, the retention of teaching staff and board membership is an area of concern.

The principal and release teacher have made good progress in using assessment information to support student learning. They have developed a useful assessment schedule that includes an appropriate range of nationally referenced tools and achievement focused resources. This has strengthened the reliability and dependability of achievement data. Teachers make good use of achievement information in their planning, particularly for literacy and mathematics. They have developed and implemented learning progressions to help students monitor their own learning and achievement.

The school has made significant progress in reporting reliable achievement information to parents. The board does not receive overall reports on the achievement of the school due to privacy considerations for the small number of children that attend the school. However, they are well informed of the progress of their own children. Parents are regularly updated on their child’s progress through informal contact with teachers. They also receive comprehensive individual written reports about progress and achievement particularly in reading, writing and mathematics. A feature of these reports is specific next learning steps. The school sets targets to accelerate the progress of students at risk of not meeting expected curriculum levels. Individual education plans are developed for each child designed to meet the needs and strengths of students. These plans support accelerated progress for these students.

The school has made significant progress in developing expectations for teaching and learning. ERO observed a calm and settled classroom with high levels of student engagement and positive relationships between children, teachers and whānau. Teachers use an appropriate range of strategies to support student learning. Teachers work collaboratively and make good use of skills and knowledge to support accelerated learning, particularly in reading. The classroom is well presented. It reflects the programmes for learning and promotes a strong sense of belonging for students.

The school has developed a broad, engaging curriculum. This local curriculum places priority on utilising the environment and the wider community to provide authentic contexts for learning. Students have regular interactions with their peer group at neighbouring schools and there are many events including sporting, cultural and educational activities available to support learning. A feature of the programme is the active promotion of tuakana/teina and ako, with multiple opportunities for teachers, whānau and students to share their expertise and lead learning in the local surroundings.

Next steps

The principal and release teacher should:

  • regularly access moderation with other schools to further strengthen achievement information
  • continue to seek professional learning and development opportunities that support effective strategies to accelerate the learning for those students that require this
  • document the school's local curriculum to support ongoing sustainability and provide coherent learning pathways that reflect the principles of the New Zealand Curriculum
  • develop and implement a graduate profile for Mata School that reflects whānau aspirations
  • strengthen internal evaluation processes and practices

[ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

ERO has concerns about the future sustainability of the school due to:

  • pending changes to the membership of the board including the position of board chair
  • the viability of the board and its ability to fulfil governance obligations
  • probable future changes to staffing
  • the instability of the school roll.

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.

ERO noted the following areas of non-compliance:

  1. The principal was not annually appraised in 2017. There is a process in place for 2018. This process must assess the principal's performance against all the professional standards for principals
    [s77C State Sector Act 1998; NZ Gazette and relevant Collective Employment Agreement].
  2. The board needs to develop and implement policies and procedures for the appraisal of staff and ensure this is based on the Standards for the Teaching Profession established by the Education Council of New Zealand for the issue and renewal of practising certificates
    [Ref: Part 31 Education Act 1989].
  3. The school needs to comply with the requirement to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once every two years, after consultation with the school community
    [Section 60b Education Act 1989].
  4. The board needs to receive regular reports on its compliance with Health and Safety at Work Act
    [HSWA 2015]
  5. The board needs to establish, implement and show documented evidence that suitable human resource management practices are implemented including police vetting of non-teaching staff, employees, contractors and paid children's workers have Identity Confirmation.
    [Section 77A State Sector Act; Vulnerable Children's Act 2014; requirements for Safety Checks of Children's Workers Regulations 2015]

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • meet regularly and access specific training to support their understanding of the governance role in relation to charter development and ensure the school policies reflects the context of this small isolated school.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the board seeks ongoing support and guidance for:

  • the incoming board chair and new trustees from the New Zealand School Trustee Association (NZSTA)
  • the principal, from the current leadership advisor.


Mata School although small and isolated provides a rich, broad curriculum and a positive environment for students. ERO has concerns about the sustainability of the school due to the changing composition of the board of trustees, teaching staff and student roll, and will continue to monitor the school as a result.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

29 June 2018

About the School


Tokomaru Bay

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 5 Boys 1

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

29 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2016

July 2013

June 2010