Okaihau Primary School - 05/04/2013

1 Context

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

Students at Okaihau School come from a wide geographical area in rural Northland, and most of them travel to and from school by bus. Of the 149 students in the school, 88 are Māori. Māori language, culture and identity are valued by students, teachers and leaders. As identified in ERO’s 2009 report, students continue to enjoy the friendly and settled atmosphere of the school. Since that review, school leadership and staffing has remained relatively stable.

As identified in ERO’s previous reports, the effective partnerships amongst the principal, teachers, students, whānau and the community continue to provide a strong foundation for a caring and supportive environment for learning. A whānau approach in pastoral care is strongly evident. School leaders and teachers have high expectations of and for their students.

School leaders and teachers continue to engage in professional learning and development (PLD) in literacy to meet students’ ongoing needs. There has been some PLD in numeracy. Since 2009, three teachers have qualified for Ministry of Education sabbaticals that have enabled them to investigate early literacy attainment, goal setting and productive relationships with whānau. These studies have been beneficial to the school.

Leaders have responded well to many of the areas identified in previous ERO reports, particularly those relating to improving outcomes for Māori students.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement data are well used to set appropriate learning goals with and for students, including consultation with parents and family/whānau and aiga. Reports to parents continue to be reviewed and clearly show each student’s progress in reading, writing and mathematics over time. Leaders and teachers could now consider ways to further develop students’ own understanding of their progress and achievement, and next learning steps in relation to National Standards.

Student achievement data are also used to identify students with particular learning needs and abilities. Teachers use the information to target at least two students in their classrooms each term to provide additional support to accelerate their learning. Students with high needs are well supported in learning, and included in all school activities. School-wide student achievement data are used to identify appropriate PLD for teachers.

The board sets whole-school targets for achievement in reading, writing and mathematics with regard to National Standards. In response to the Ministry of Education’s school charter requirements, the school has appropriately included achievement targets for Māori students. While many students make good progress during the year, Māori students generally do not achieve as well as non-Māori, although some continue to excel.

Senior leaders agree that, in order to improve their use of student achievement data, they now need to:

  • review target setting practices to improve outcomes for groups and cohorts of learners, and ensure that these targets are relevant to all curriculum areas that require development
  • track and evaluate the progress of cohorts of students as they progress through the year levels over time
  • provide further support to teachers so that they are better able to inquire into the impact that their teaching practice has on students
  • ensure that reports to the board are evaluative and clearly identify further implications for teaching and learning, inform resourcing decisions, and determine the effectiveness of initiatives that support student learning
  • ensure that reports to the board fully meet the requirements of National Standards reporting, including the reporting of student progress and achievement in Years 1 to 3
  • ensure that reports to parents clearly meet the Ministry’s reporting requirements in relation to National Standards.

The school is well placed to make these improvements.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum reflects and responds well to its students and context. Senior leaders, through the board, continue to consult the community to develop a curriculum is relevant and meets the needs of Okaihau students. One significant outcome of this consultation is the introduction of weekly music and musical instrument learning for all students. Leaders and teachers want to ensure that students have fun whilst they are learning.

The school places high value on including parents, families/whānau and aiga in whole-school events. These shared experiences promote students’ sense of worth and belonging. Some initiatives target groups of students to engage them and their families/whānau in meaningful experiences specific to the school’s context.

Good quality teaching and learning is evident in classrooms, often with an emphasis on a tuakana-teina approach. Teachers work with students to develop appropriate goals based on their achievement information, and include parents in setting individual education plans for targeted students. Learning environments are attractive and reflect student work. Much work has been done to improve information and communication technologies (ICT). Students and teachers have made good progress in developing their ICT knowledge and skills.

Learning through literacy PLD is enabling teachers to improve teaching and learning, particularly in reading and writing. Leaders and teachers should now evaluate the extent to which their numeracy PLD has resulted in consistent and effective teaching and learning practices across the school. The board should also be assured that the teachers’ learning from PLD is embedded in their practices.

Senior leaders agree it is timely to review the school curriculum to:

  • evaluate the extent to which it aligns with and reflects the vision, values and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum, including all learning areas
  • ensure that teachers work together across year levels to provide connectedness and continuity in learning through Years 1 to 6.

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

The school’s curriculum has many facets that promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. School leaders and teachers know their students and whānau very well. They continue to build strong and supportive relationships with the Māori community. The principal leads and supports staff to provide a respectful and caring environment to enable Māori achievement. Many of the cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners, as outlined in the Ministry of Education’s Tātaiako document, are evident in school practices.

Taha Māori is the culture of the school. Māori contexts are integrated into many curriculum areas. Students and teachers often use te reo Māori naturally in classroom teaching and in the playground. Māori, as well as non-Māori students, lead and participate in whole-school kapa haka, pōwhiri and waiata. Educational success is celebrated. Students in this school are proud to be Māori.

The board consults with its Māori community. As identified in ERO’s 2006 and 2009 reports, the board could now further improve outcomes for Māori students by:

  • continuing to work with the Māori community to determine appropriate ways of consulting about and sharing Māori student achievement
  • developing and implementing a strategic plan for Māori that clearly identifies and achieves the school’s vision of success for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school’s vision, values, tone, culture and community engagement and relationships provide a sound foundation for sustaining and improving student learning. The board and staff reflect the diversity of the school’s community. The board of trustees is committed to providing an environment that supports positive outcomes for students. The principal establishes a relaxed and positive school culture. The leadership team and teachers support this approach.

The school is well placed to improve its performance. Regular self review occurs, but at this stage, much of it is informal. The board and leadership team agree that they should now improve their self- review processes.

These processes could include:

  • formalising and documenting school-wide self review
  • improving the evaluative content of reports to the board, including analysis of information and identifying implications for resourcing
  • developing systematic processes and structures to guide positive outcomes for student learning, including progress reports related to school goals, and the effectiveness of initiatives
  • ensuring that reports to the board are evidence based so trustees know that policies are implemented and that they are meeting their legal and governance obligations.

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 identified areas of non-compliance that must be addressed. The board must ensure that:

  • complete and adequate risk analysis documentation is prepared, signed off and filed for education outside the classroom experiences

[National Education Guideline, National Administration Guideline 5, 1993; Ministry of Education circular 2003-Safety and EOTC: A good practice guide for schools]

  • teachers report twice a year to parents in relation to the National Standards
  • the board sets at least one Charter target for students’ progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards, and the required National Standards information is included in its annual reports

[National administration guidelines, 2A]

To improve current practice, the board should make sure that the principal’s appraisal is closely aligned with, and reviewed against, his annual performance agreement. It should be robust so that the school’s educational leader is supported and challenged in his role.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

5 April 2013

About the School


Okaihau, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

5 April 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

November 2009

October 2006

June 2003