Ongaonga School - 15/12/2015


The Ongaonga School curriculum promotes successful learners through a focus on literacy and numeracy and integrated learning of other subjects. Teachers use a good range of assessment data to identify and respond to students’ strengths and needs. Leaders need to strengthen evaluation to find out what is working well and areas to improve.

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

1 Context

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

Ongaonga School is located east of Waipukurau in Central Hawkes Bay. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The roll of 124 includes 15% who identify as Māori. Since the November 2012 ERO report, a new deputy principal and two teachers have been appointed.

Students have a strong sense of belonging with the school and enjoy the family atmosphere. Some families have a long association with the school. Students participate in learning, leadership, sport and cultural activities that connect them with the local community and world beyond.

Respectful relationships are evident amongst students and with staff. The ‘ACE (accept, challenge, encourage) values and attitudes are evident in conversations and behaviours in classrooms and the playground.

Trustees demonstrate a commitment to enabling the best outcomes for all students.

The school continues its positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Teachers collate and use a good range of assessment data to identify students’ strengths and needs. They use this information to monitor students’ progress and develop suitable personalised learning programmes. Individual Education Plans, with targeted strategies, are put in place for students not achieving expected outcomes.

Achievement data reported in 2014, shows that most students were achieving at and above in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Some Māori students are achieving at and above in relation to the standards. However, others are yet to achieve at expected levels. Leaders recognise the need to focus on accelerating the learning for all students who are not at the standards.

Students needing extension and extra support, and those potentially at risk with their learning, are catered for through specific programmes. Some students and their families and whānau work with external agencies as part of their learning support. Trustees receive reports about these programmes. Information about the impact of these interventions on students’ progress would better inform trustees about what is working well for these students.

Teachers have a range of well-considered practices in place to discuss assessments across year levels and make judgements in relation to the National Standards. The school has recently joined other schools in the area to compare their assessment decisions.

Senior leaders set 2015 targets to raise achievement in mathematics and for boys. These include Māori students. Senior leaders agree with ERO that a next step is to identify numbers of targeted students at each year level. This should mean the principal provides trustees with specific reports about the progress of individuals and groups of students.

Parents talk with teachers about their children’s achievement in relation to expected progress and the National Standards. In order to improve written reports to parents, teachers need to ensure they clearly state where students are achieving in relation to the National Standards and how families can help with learning at home.

Regular activities and evenings with parents and whānau build collaborative relationships between teachers and families.

3 Curriculum

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

The Ongaonga School curriculum promotes successful learners. It has a clear focus on literacy and numeracy and the integration of other learning areas.

In 2014, teachers started trialling student self-directed learning. This was triggered by leaders’ concerns about achievement data for some students and current teaching approaches not accelerating their progress. Students participate in workshops based on their identified needs. Teachers support students through individual conferencing to become self-managing learners. Students keenly engage in learning with, and alongside, teachers and their peers. Teachers use assessment data and feedback about students’ strengths to identify next steps with them. These discussions are supporting students’ understanding of how they learn and know is needed to progress.

Leaders agree with ERO that it is timely to inquire into the impact this teaching approach is having on students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The previous ERO report identified the need for leaders and teachers to consider what outcomes they wanted for students from school’s curriculum. The school is currently reviewing its curriculum. The local curriculum should include:

  • better alignment with all aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • learning experiences that are located in the community
  • guidelines and expectations for self-directed learning
  • programmes that promote New Zealand’s dual heritage and Māori students’ success.

These changes should enable better alignment with current classroom practices and guidance for consistency of classroom teaching.

Students and families develop positive relationships during well-considered transitions to school. Teachers recognise and respond promptly to students’ oral language needs. They develop appropriate strategies to support children’s language development. Students’ second languages are celebrated and used in learning.

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

The school needs to strengthen its promotion of educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Māori students have opportunities through their schooling experiences to listen to and use te reo Māori, experience te ao Māori and participate in cultural performance and leadership roles across the school. Teachers recognise the importance for Māori students having access to te reo Māori.

Setting explicit cultural expectations and measureable outcomes for leaders and teachers continues to be an area for further development from the previous ERO report.

Senior leaders agree with ERO that developing a plan to strengthen culturally responsive practices in the school is a next step. The process should focus on:

  • working in partnership with whānau, hapū, and iwi to develop cultural outcomes that identify what success for Māori students at Ongaonga school could look like
  • building leaders’ and staff knowledge of culturally responsive practices
  • expectations for effective culturally responsive teaching strategies
  • reflecting te ao Māori in the school environment and breadth of the school‘s curriculum.
  • using internal evaluation to monitor student outcomes identified in the plan.

The plan should increase trustees’, leaders’ and teachers’ understanding and knowledge of strategies that engage Maori students in learning and enable them to accelerate their achievement.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has coherent structures and systems in place to promote internal evaluation and to know the impact of processes and programmes on student outcomes. ERO, trustees and the principal agree there is a need to strengthen review through a more clearly planned and documented process. This should include:

  • developing indicators of success in plans and reviews so that progress can be reported against these
  • using student data and other information to evaluate the impact of programmes, teaching and interventions on accelerating students’ achievement. This applies to students at risk of underachievement.

These practices should enable more timely information sharing to inform progress, improvement and next steps.

The charter identifies relevant priorities for improving student outcomes, staff development and schoolwide improvement. It includes increasing the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning programmes and school systems.

Trustees have a good range of governance experience and actively engage in training. They are representative of the community and very accessible to families and whānau. A new governance manual provides useful information to guide trustees in their roles and responsibilities.

Teachers are a collaborative and improvement-focused team. Their professional learning aligns with the school goals and targets. Staff regularly use student data to reflect on their teaching practices. They develop shared understanding of strategies that should enable students to make accelerated progress.

Teacher appraisal is being adapted to meet the requirements of the Education Council. Classroom observations provide teachers with useful feedback on their strategies and suggestions to enhance practice. Improving the scope and quality of evidence in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria is an area to further strengthen.

It is agreed that there needs to be a more strategic approach to growing leadership in the school. Senior leaders recognise that to build internal evaluation across the school’s curriculum, leadership oversight needs to be extended to all learning areas.

Trustees, leaders and staff value collaboration and inclusive relationships with the community to enhance students’ learning opportunities, achievement and wellbeing.

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 Ongaonga School curriculum promotes successful learners through a focus on literacy and numeracy and integrated learning of other subjects. Teachers use a good range of assessment data to identify and respond to students’ strengths and needs. Leaders need to strengthen evaluation to find out what is working well and areas to improve.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

15 December 2015

School Statistics


Ongaonga, Central Hawke's Bay

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 60%, Female 40%

Ethnic composition




Other ethnic groups





Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

15 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

July 2009

May 2006