Onewhero Area School - 19/02/2018

School Context

Onewhero Area School is located in the small rural community of Onewhero in the Waikato district. It provides education for students in Years 1 to 13 who come from the local and surrounding areas. The school roll of 538 students includes 102 Māori children and 34 children from other nationalities.

The school states that it places a strong emphasis on teaching and learning as inquiry in order to build a solid foundation for future learning. Its vision is ‘Being the best we can – No limits!’ The school prioritises the values of purpose/ako, character/mahi nga tahi and community/whanaungatanga. The school’s charter has three overarching goals which focus on:

  • advocating for learning and generating a desire to enquire
  • developing community partnerships of diversity, unity and shared high expectations
  • enabling positive, well rounded contributors to a global society.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement within the Qualifications Framework
  • school leaver qualifications and destinations
  • Trades Academy and Gateway placements
  • students with additional learning needs and case studies
  • pastoral care and guidance.

Since the previous ERO review in 2014, there have been many changes to the teaching team. In September 2017 the board appointed a new principal.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

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

The school is not achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all of its students.

The school’s achievement data from 2014 to 2016 shows the majority of students are achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. There has been significant improvement in Māori student achievement in reading and writing over the past three years and improvement is also evident in mathematics. Disparity between Māori and Pākehā remains in reading and mathematics. The number of boys achieving at or above the standards in reading and writing has increased, but there is still significant disparity with girls in writing.

The school is gathering achievement data for students in Years 9 to 10 but is not yet analysing the data to show how well equitable outcomes for all are being achieved.

Achievement data for all students in 2016 shows that National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results are comparable to national comparisons in Level 1 and University Entrance (UE), but below national comparisons in Level 2 and Level 3.

NCEA data over the past three years shows that Māori student achievement has decreased over time at Level 1 and there is growing disparity with the achievement of Pākehā students. The disparity trend between Māori and Pākehā students is also reflected in the data on students leaving school with NCEA Level 2.

The retention of Māori students to senior levels has increased.

The proportion of boys achieving Levels 1 and 2 NCEA has decreased over time and in 2016 there is a significant disparity with girls at Level 1. In 2016, boys achieved at higher levels than girls in Level 2 and University Entrance.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is not responding well to all Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school can show accelerated progress for some at risk learners, including Māori students in Years 1-8 in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school has not yet analysed Year 9 to 10 student achievement data to show accelerated outcomes.

In 2017 the school has identified at-risk learners in Years 11, 12 and 13. A significant majority of these learners has accelerated learning and gained NCEA qualifications throughout the year.

Longitudinal data over a four year period shows that some targeted students (including Māori students) who were below the standards in reading writing and mathematics, made accelerated progress to achieve Level 1 and be on track for Level 2 NCEA.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

Leaders carry out effective internal evaluation practices. They review the effectiveness of programmes and strategies to meet the learning needs of students. Leaders have carried out useful case studies on individuals and groups of students, providing rich qualitative information to inform decision making. They are regularly tracking and monitoring the progress of individual students across the school. The newly appointed principal has a clear vision for school development and strengthening a cohesive approach to school-wide practices.

The school has a highly supportive culture for learning. There is a family atmosphere and positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students are evident. Teachers are focused on identifying students at risk of not achieving and encouraging them in their learning. Professional learning and development has supported teachers to make reliable judgements in relation to the standards and collaborative moderation across the school is supporting the reliability of data. Special education programmes support children with additional learning needs.

Curriculum design enables students to experience success. New school vision and values have been developed through consultation with the community. Māori students are affirmed in their culture through participation in te reo and tikanga cultural practices. There are flexible pathways to future employment and ongoing education for senior students. Students benefit from a personalised approach to supporting their learning.

The board is providing effective governance. Trustees undertake regular policy review and review of governance practices. The appointment of Māori representatives has supported a strategic focus on culturally responsive practices. Since the last ERO review, the board has improved relationships with local iwi and the Māori community through consultation with whānau and hui celebrating Māori student success. The board follows clear procedures and seeks external advice in order to act and respond appropriately to governance matters as they arise.

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

The management and use of school-wide achievement information requires strengthening. Assessment practices need to be reviewed to ensure consistency and alignment with curriculum levels and NCEA. Faculty reports need to show clear analysis of achievement data for year level cohorts and gender and ethnic groups.

There is a need to develop a strategic and aligned approach to raising student achievement across the school. Achievement targets, including all students at-risk of not achieving, are not specified in the charter. Professional learning and development needs to focus on targets and strategies to support at-risk learners. The performance management system needs to be fully implemented to further develop teacher capability to accelerate students’ learning needs.

Whole school expectations for teaching and learning need documenting.

Priority should be given to:

  • developing student ownership, engagement and understanding of their learning and next steps consistently across the school
  • enhancing communication and partnerships for learning with parents and whānau
  • strengthening academic counselling for senior students
  • developing sustainable and embedded school practices and programmes.

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.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were 21 international students attending the school. The school has effective systems and processes in place to support the pastoral care of international students. Students are well integrated into the school during their short term stays. They have many opportunities to share their culture with other students, develop positive relationships and experience schooling in New Zealand.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • internal evaluation practices that lead to school improvement

  • a culture for learning that is caring and inclusive

  • a responsive curriculum that is learner centred and builds future learning pathways

  • informed governance that provides sound organisational conditions.

Next steps

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

  • leadership for learning to build collective capability in teaching and assessment practices
  • improving outcomes for students to achieve equity for all groups (including Māori and boys)
  • targeted planning to accelerate learning.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

19 February 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Area School (Years 1 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 71%
Māori 19%
Pacific 3%
Asian 3%
Other 4%

International Students


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

19 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

June 2014 June 2011