Muriwai School - 28/03/2017


Teachers know students and their families well and are caring and supportive of students. The school has undertaken useful developments to improve curriculum provision and school operation following ERO’s 2015 report. However, there is insufficient progress in key priority areas.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Muriwai School is a rural school located south of Gisborne. It caters for students in two Years 1 to 8 classes. About half of the students travel daily from Gisborne on the school’s bus. The principal, teaching and support staff, and several of the trustees are long serving.

The school has a sustained focus on supporting te reo me ngā tikanga Māori specific to Te Iwi o Ngāi Tāmanuhiri. Most students whakapapa to this iwi. Whānau have high expectations of students and the school in promoting their success as Māori.

One class provides instruction through te reo Māori immersion, and the other is bilingual. Student achievement in the bilingual class is assessed in relation to the National Standards aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). In the immersion class, it is assessed in relation to Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori aligned to Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

The August 2015 ERO report identified the need for the principal to lead improvement in a number of areas. These included the use and quality of assessment information, curriculum development, and provision for accelerated learning for students at risk. Improvements were also needed to appraisal, board reporting and internal evaluation.

Following that review, ERO decided to undertake a process of ongoing evaluation to support the school's development over a period of 1 to 2 years.

Since the 2015 ERO review, trustees have received training in their governance role from the New Zealand School Trustees Association. A Ministry of Education student achievement function (SAF) practitioner has provided teachers with support to improve their use of assessment information. A new teacher has been appointed for the rumaki class, and in 2016 three new trustees joined the board. 

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

Initial priorities were to:

  • improve systems for targeting specific groups of students at risk. This included developing robust assessment practices to assist teachers to make judgements about students' achievement in relation to National Standards. Teacher inquiry and schoolwide evaluation of the effectiveness of targeted strategies for accelerating learning also required development
  • develop and implement a locally based curriculum with clear guidelines for teaching and learning. The curriculum needed to reflect whānau/iwi aspirations and provide for rich learning opportunities and progression for students. Monitoring of implementation and review of effectiveness of the curriculum also required strengthening.

Further priorities for improvement of governance were identified during 2016. More deliberate action by the board was needed to address identified priorities and enact responsibilities in relation to the principal’s appraisal, policy review and internal evaluation.


Improving assessment practices and systems

There is evidence of improved assessment practice by teachers. Guidance by the SAF practitioner has supported development of new systems to identify and monitor students at risk in their learning. This is helping teachers to look more deeply at assessment information and to group children for instruction.

Teachers are planning more deliberately for students’ learning needs and reviewing students' achievement and progress. Teachers now need to embed these processes and improve their understanding of learning matrices and progressions. This should support teachers to plan and implement next steps for students’ learning more effectively.

Developing effective, reciprocal learning relationships with parents and families is a key next step for teachers, especially for those students at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Improved processes have been introduced for regular and meaningful reporting to the board about student achievement. An action plan has been developed for monitoring and reporting of achievement. This is supported by templates for reporting on the progress of targeted students.

These developments are providing regular opportunities for assessment and reporting in relation to goals. Staff and trustees should ensure these systems continue to be developed, implemented and evaluated to ensure students’ progress is adequately promoted and monitored.

Teachers have worked with other schools and external providers to increase their understanding about making overall judgments about students' achievement in relation to the National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga. Further work is needed to ensure teachers’ judgments are dependable and well supported by appropriate evidence.

The school is beginning to implement aspects of its plan to use the Ministry of Education Progress and Achievement Tool (PACT) to develop shared understanding and promote teachers' robust and consistent assessment practice.

Curriculum development

A school mural has been developed with the help of a local artist. This effectively represents significant tipuna, stories and locations related to local iwi and history. It should be a useful springboard for development, implementation and evaluation of the effectiveness of the school's curriculum in promoting students’ sense of belonging, culture, language and identities as they learn.

External support has been accessed to develop a school curriculum document. This includes important elements aligned to the NZC and local kaupapa Māori. Consultation with parents and the wider community about the curriculum document has occurred. Teachers and the board have reviewed the responses.

Further development of the curriculum documents should now ensure that they include:

  • specific and useful guidance for teaching and learning
  • sufficient opportunities for learning in core learning areas
  • how local resources and educational opportunities will be used to enrich learning
  • more deliberate provision for students’ learning progression and career pathways.

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 not yet sufficiently well placed to sustain or continue to improve and review its performance.

There are elements of progress, but this is not yet coherent, aligned or embedded. The principal and trustees still have significant work to do to ensure the school provides effectively for its students and families.

There is a shared school vision for students to be successful academically and as Māori. Whānau and the school community demonstrate a strong commitment to participating in school life and promoting the success of the school. An important next step for ongoing improvement is to establish systems for communication and input from families for setting direction, decision-making and evaluation of effectiveness.

Teachers know students and their families well. They are caring and supportive of students. Recent discussion of school values contributes to a positive school tone. Students are focused on their learning. They demonstrate a sense of pride and belonging in the school. They develop positive relationships and support each other as they learn.

A number of new trustees are accessing good support to understand and undertake their governance roles. The board provides strategic and action plans aligned to priorities. Development of collective action is required to ensure the board as a whole is effective in addressing priorities and leading improvement and review. 

Further development of professional leadership by the principal is required. An appraisal cycle for the principal was completed in July 2016, and a new appraiser has recently been appointed. The board has yet to implement a responsive plan of action and develop a new annual performance agreement with the principal to guide the current appraisal cycle.

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.

In order to improve practice, the board of trustees should ensure that:

  • policies are effectively reviewed in a timely manner and there is improved alignment between policies, procedures and practice
  • the cycle for appraisal of the principal is fully implemented and findings appropriately acted on
  • personnel matters are consistently managed within the board's in-committee procedures
  • all complaints are recorded and responses and outcomes are well documented
  • a clear system for teachers' reporting and checking of daily absences is established
  • useful, appropriate procedures are developed for all relevant policies
  • a system for the administration of medication is implemented
  • an anti-bullying policy and procedures are developed. 

4 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about improvements in:

  • effective management and implementation of the principal appraisal process
  • support for leadership and the board in managing their roles, including parent partnerships
  • effective curriculum development and implementation, including use of student achievement information
  • increased understanding and use of internal evaluation for improvement. 


Teachers know students and their families well and are caring and supportive of students. The school has undertaken useful developments to improve curriculum provision and school operation following ERO’s 2015 report. However, there is insufficient progress in key priority areas.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

28 March 2017

About the School 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 17 Male 19

Ethnic composition





Special Features

One rumaki class and one bilingual class

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

28 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2015

September 2012

May 2009