Murchison Area School - 21/09/2018

School Context

Murchison Area School is a Year 1-15 school with 146 students. The roll is steadily growing and includes a significant group of students, approximately one third, who enter and leave within the school year. Half of the students travel by bus from the surrounding rural area.

Since the 2015 ERO review, a new senior leadership team has been appointed, including a new principal. There have also been several new staff and trustees appointed.

The school’s vision for its learners is, Living to Learn, Learning to Live. Its three key aims are that students have the right attitudes, application and achieve well. This includes students having a ‘growth mindset.’ Other valued outcomes are that students will show respect, honesty, responsibility and consideration.

The school’s strategic goals are to provide a responsive and varied curriculum, support student wellbeing and achievement, and work in partnership with the community to achieve these things. A third goal is to provide a positive learning environment. The school’s achievement target is to raise student achievement in mathematics in Years 4-8, and raise endorsement levels in NCEA level 2.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement of Year 11-13 students in NCEA and university entrance

  • destination information for students who leave the school

  • year level achievement data for Year 1-8 students

  • the impact of learning support for students with additional needs.

The school is part of the Top of the South Island Kāhui Ako |Community of Learning (CoL).

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

The school did not have sufficient achievement and progress information for Year 1-10 students for 2017 and the first half of 2018 for ERO to make a judgement as to how well the school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

2017 NCEA results show that almost all students achieved Level 1, 2 or Level 3. 2018 interim data shows the school is on track to increase endorsements at NCEA level 2. Almost all school leavers made a successful transition to further study or work.

Interim mid-year data for 2018 shows that almost all Year 1-8 students are at or above expected levels in reading. Close to 60% are at or above curriculum expectations for writing and mathematics. Māori students achieve very well in reading. There is disparity in achievement outcomes for boys in reading and writing.

There was no collated school-wide information for Year 9-10 students. Throughout the school there are good attendance levels.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

School leaders do not have clear school-wide information about rates of progress for students. Therefore, ERO is not able to make a judgement about how well the school accelerates learning for Māori and other students who need this.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

Respectful and caring relationships contribute to equitable and successful outcomes for students. Students learn in a settled and supportive learning environment. Teachers know students very well as individuals and as learners and focus on their holistic wellbeing and academic success. Individual students’ learning is well tracked and monitored by classroom teachers. The school and wider community work closely to support and enrich students’ learning.

Students benefit from a varied and responsive curriculum. Increased curriculum and vocational/trade options at the senior level have resulted in greater choice, engagement, attendance and retention. Senior students from Years 11 to 14 have individual mentoring and pathways planning. A high number of students successfully transition to further study or employment. Teachers and students make very good use of digital technology, including distance learning, as a teaching, learning and communication tool. Isolation is not accepted as a barrier to learning. Provision for education outside the classroom is a feature of the school.

Students who need extra assistance to succeed are very well supported. There are improved systems to effectively identify, monitor and support these students. The school works constructively with parents and experts beyond the school to find solutions to improve student outcomes at home and at school. Students with additional learning needs benefit from well-considered individual learning plans and are supported towards full inclusion.

The vision, values and priorities that underpin the school’s culture and curriculum are well known and evident in practice. This includes restorative practices and growth mindset approaches.The school’s valued outcomes for students are regularly shared to build and embed understanding. The school tone is positive and student views and opinions are increasingly sought and valued.

School leaders are reflective and improvement focused. Students are at the centre of decision-making. The new leadership team is working in an increasingly collaborative manner. They have benefited from relevant leadership professional learning and development (PLD) that is resulting in school improvement. A strong appraisal system supports teacher practice. Purposeful PLD is provided for teachers and learning assistants that aligns well with school priorities.

The board represents and serves the school well. There is relational trust and focus on doing what is best for students. Trustees work constructively with the school leadership team. Generous funding is targeted to support student learning. The board makes well-considered resourcing decisions from available information and is strategic in its staffing appointments. Trustees engage in board training to better understand their roles and responsibilities.

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

There are four key areas that need to be improved to better enable achievement of equity, excellence and acceleration of learning for students. The board, school leaders and teachers need to:

  • extend and deepen the understanding and effective use of internal evaluation to better inform decision-making for improvement
  • considerably develop data management processes, including clear analysis and use of progress and achievement information, especially schoolwide for Years 1-10
  • continue to develop understanding and capacity to build responsive bicultural practices across the school, including consultation with Māori
  • further increase students’ understanding and management of their own learning in alignment with the school’s growth-mindset aspirations for curriculum and teaching practice.

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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to consulting with Māori.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. consult with Māori community regarding policies, plans and targets for improving the progress and achievement of Māori students [NAG 1.(e)]

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a broad curriculum for students that offers considerable options for students at senior secondary level

  • very good NCEA achievement at level 1, 2 and 3 with almost all students going on to further learning or employment

  • positive school culture and relationships centred on student wellbeing and learning

  • individual student support through provision of targeted learning support and mentoring

Next steps

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

  • ensuring robust data management and analysis of learner information to show a full picture of school-wide student progress and achievement, particularly in Years 1-10

  • improving understanding and use of internal evaluation to improve outcomes for students

  • consulting with Māori and ensuring te ao Māori perspectives are effectively interwoven in curriculum and school practices.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services Southern

21 September 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Area School Year 1-15

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 55%

Boys: 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori 15%

Pākehā 82%

Other 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

21 September 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: June 2015

Education Review: June 2012

Education Review: May 2009