Okaihau Primary School - 26/09/2016

1 Context

Okaihau Primary School sits on the top of a plateau that connects the Hokianga from the west with Te Pewhairangi (Bay of Islands) to the east. Students come from a wide geographical area in rural Te Tai Tokerau and most students travel to and from school by bus. Of the 157 students in the school, 59 percent are of Māori descent and are mostly connected to hapū of Ngāpuhi.

The recent elected board has a mixture of experienced and new trustees. The principal and staff are mostly long serving. The Ministry of Education has offered support through a Student Achievement Function advisor to support them to improve student achievement.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are 'Ma ngā hau e kawe te matauranga ki te taumata,' 'Riding the Winds to Success.' This vision is taken from the many puriri trees that dominate the school grounds. The centre of the tree is envisioned as the heart of the matter, the branches are the attributes and values that children will display now and in the future, and the trunk and the roots are the support networks that nourish the child.

The school’s achievement information shows that between 2013 and 2015 for Māori students, there has been a decrease in the percentage achieving at and above the National Standards in reading from 57 to 50 percent and in writing a decrease from 54 to 52 percent. However, there has been an increase in the percentage achieving National Standards mathematics from 47 to 57 percent. This means that 50 percent of Maori students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, 52 percent in writing and 57 percent in mathematics.

The National Standards achievement data for other students shows that there has been a similar decrease in the percentage achieving the National Standard in reading from 65 to 60 percent. However, there has been an improvement in achievement in mathematics, with movement from 56 to 67 percent at and above the National Standard, and in writing the percentage of students at and above the National Standard has moved from 54 percent to 59 percent.

Trustees and senior leaders are aware that they now need to accelerate student achievement. The senior leadership team have discussed how to increase the sense of urgency about improving student achievement.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has had professional development in writing, mathematics, and reading. The professional development has led to improved teaching practices and increased reflection on teaching strategies and relationships with students and their families. Teachers meet fortnightly to reflect on student progress and achievement.

The senior leadership team acknowledge that many of these improved practices are still developing and that some are at the beginning stages.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is only partially effective in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. However, the school is continuing to develop strategies to respond more effectively to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Strategies identified by leaders and teachers to raise Māori children's confidence in engaging in learning include providing leadership opportunities in assemblies, promoting the use of te reo Māori, whai korero, waiata, kapa haka and sports. The school continues to get good support from committed Māori parents to help the school through various activities and events when these occur. The formal consultation process with Māori parents is less successful but school leaders continue to look at finding ways to do this better.

Senior leaders should now consider the disparity between Māori children's achievement and the achievement of others and how they could specifically reduce this. Some of these strategies could involve developing a raising achievement plan to specifically address underachievement in literacy and mathematics. The plan should:

  • identify specific teaching strategies to enhance the Māori learner
  • identify specific strategies to improve and monitor student progress
  • explore better ways to involve Māori parents as partners in children's learning.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is only partially effective in responding to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Leaders and teachers gather achievement information to inform learning programmes and students' progress. The regular conversations around student achievement have begun to provide greater focus on target students and on the use of effective teaching strategies to raise student achievement. There is a willingness by senior leaders to further enhance learning opportunities and to find effective ways to accelerate student achievement.

Senior leaders now need to consider a more collaborative and consistent approach to:

  • ensuring there is effective planning to monitor specific targeted students who are well below and below in reading, writing and mathematics
  • implementing deliberate acts of teaching to cater for the specific needs of students who are currently not being accelerated effectively
  • providing external moderation to validate overall teacher judgements and assessment data
  • improving the analysis and reporting of achievement data, particularly for targeted students.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum is partially effective in developing and enacting the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

School leaders have established a supportive culture to promote student wellbeing and engagement, a sense of belonging, unity and connectedness. School leaders work collaboratively on developing and enacting the school's vision, values and goals for equity and excellence. They have actively involved students, parents, families and the community in learning-centred relationships, although they recognise there is still more to be done. Senior leaders also ensure that parents and the community take part in making decisions about the curriculum. They are aware of the need to ensure that cultural responsiveness is part of their curriculum development and direction.

Respectful relationships in the school signify the value placed on diversity. Local and global contexts are acknowledged. Students undergo positive transitions into school and as they progress through school. Students experience an environment where it is safe to take risks and errors are used as opportunities to learn. Bicultural practices are evident throughout the school.

The school should now develop a school-wide curriculum document to guide the leaders and teachers and to ensure coherence in:

  • developing a high quality curriculum to be delivered across the school
  • further developing teaching as inquiry and learning as inquiry as part of the curriculum
  • implementing a curriculum that is relevant for all students
  • building collective capacity in evaluation and inquiry for sustained improvement and innovation.

Reporting to the board of trustees by the principal should further be improved with more regular reporting of accelerated progress particularly for target and priority students. Evaluative reporting to the board should also identify the effectiveness of strategies and programmes designed to bring about positive changes for learners. Reporting to the board needs to be clear and enable trustees to fulfil their stewardship role in scrutinising achievement information to improve board decision making.

The principal needs to improve the appraisal process for teachers. Improvements should include better alignment to the Practising Teacher Criteria and the curriculum and include more evidence about teacher practice. The board should also improve processes for the appraisal of the principal and senior leadership team.

School leaders and trustees work well together. They should now consider how they can improve internal evaluation of the school as part of their planning and efforts to improve the school's performance in promoting high levels of achievement for all students.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

Senior leaders and teachers know their children and families well. Strong relationships with families, whanau and the wider community are evident. The board of trustees, senior leaders and staff work collaboratively to provide positive outcomes for students. Senior leaders and teachers are aware that many children need their learning accelerated.

The next step is for senior leaders and teachers to implement a strategic approach to ensuring specific and deliberate teaching practices occur. Improving systems for monitoring and evaluating teaching practice, student assessment and professional development aligned to accelerating student achievement will contribute to improved achievement outcomes for students.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop a Raising Achievement Plan to further develop processes and practices that respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement plan and the progress the school makes.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 

To improve current practice the board should review its health and safety policies in regards to the Vulnerable Children's Act 2014 and its impact across all school operations.

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the school seek support from the Ministry of Education to bring about the following improvements:

  • accelerating the achievement of students who are underachieving
  • developing teaching strategies to address accelerated learning and educational disparities
  • developing a curriculum document that is innovative and future focused
  • implementing a robust and rigorous appraisal system
  • focusing leadership and governance on improving achievement outcomes for students. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

26 September 2016

About the school


Okaihau Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition



Cook Island Maōri








Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

26 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2013

November 2009

October 2006