Ohoka School - 13/03/2014

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Ohoka School is located in a small rural community in North Canterbury. A new but experienced principal started at the beginning of 2013. A new board chair and three new trustees also started in 2013. The school is seen as the centre of the community.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

There has been a significant increase in the use of achievement information to make positive changes for learners.

The principal and teachers are strengthening their use of achievement information to ensure that:

  • the judgments they make about student achievement in relation to National Standards are becoming more valid and reliable
  • teaching practices and the programmes provided are more effectively meeting learners’ needs
  • students who need extra support to achieve in mathematics are identified and their progress closely monitored at the classroom level
  • school-wide student-achievement targets in writing and mathematics are aimed at specific groups of students requiring additional support
  • reporting to parents about students’ achievement is clear and provides useful information on students’ abilities and next steps for learning.

The new principal continues to place considerable emphasis on this development. She has introduced clearer expectations and guidelines for assessment and useful systems to support school improvement in this area. In 2013, she has appropriately concentrated on supporting teachers to be more responsive to students who are achieving below the National Standard. The next step is to make sure that students whose achievement is well below the National Standards are included in student achievement targets.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The curriculum is appropriately based on students’ interests and needs and provides good support for students’ learning.

Students benefit from a curriculum that effectively supports them to:

  • develop the quality and range of their thinking skills through class programmes, activities and discussions with their teachers
  • understand and demonstrate the school’s COOL characteristics which focus on them being caring and creative, open minded, optimistic leaders and learners
  • experience a wide range of learning opportunities, within and beyond the classroom.

Senior students have ample opportunities to demonstrate leadership and give service to others. This reflects a focus in the school curriculum of supporting students to have positive relationships with each other. There are opportunities for older and younger students to interact together socially, successfully resolve conflict and support each other’s learning.

The principal has, with the support of senior leaders, increased expectations for teaching and learning. Teachers are being supported to improve their practice through:

  • more robust appraisal and attestation
  • well-targeted and regular professional learning opportunities including the use of external expertise
  • a process to help them reflect on their practice so that it more effectively meets the needs of individuals and groups of learners
  • recognising and sharing their strengths and good practices.

The principal and senior leaders have identified that it will be important to revisit the curriculum documents to make sure these show ongoing curriculum changes. This includes ensuring Māori perspectives, language and tikanga are more evident in curriculum documents, practices and programmes.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The board, principal and teachers have identified, and ERO agrees, they need to be more focused on promoting educational success for Māori as Māori. The board has identified that the school needs to clarify what promoting success for Māori as Māori could look like in board policies, school programmes, practices and environments.

Māori students continue to achieve at similar levels to their peers. Since the previous ERO review the school has consulted its Māori community, introduced kapa haka, hosted a kapa haka festival and has placed more emphasis on teachers using te reo Māori and incorporating more tikanga, such as pōwhiri, in some school practices.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. However, changes to the board soon after the on-site stage of the review means that the next step for trustees is to continue undertaking training to ensure their roles and responsibilities are clear around governance and management.

The board is focused on school improvement. Trustees have a range of skills that support their governance roles.

The principal is effectively leading school improvement. She has made very good use of self review to develop a clear understanding of the school’s current strengths and next steps for development. She is supporting teachers and the board to improve their review capabilities by providing useful guidelines and a clear process to carry out school self review. This process includes regularly seeking the views of the community and students.

An active parent teacher association provides ongoing support to the school and parents, and makes significant financial contributions to the school. This has been used to improve the physical learning environment, including a new play area for the junior school.

There have been considerable changes to improve teaching and learning introduced since the beginning of 2013. The school leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that the important next step for the school is to ensure that these changes are successfully embedded so that they are sustained over time.

The principal and board have also appropriately identified the need to revisit the school’s vision and strategic direction to make sure these continue to support the aspirations the school and parents have for their children.

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.

The board has identified some areas as no and unsure within the board assurance statement. Some of this is due to recent changes in school leadership and governance. The areas identified have little impact on student learning. The board and principal are in the process of addressing these areas.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

13 March 2014

About the School


Kaiapoi, North Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnicities





Review team on site

October 2013

Date of this report

13 March 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2010

July 2007

June 2004