Opua School - 13/02/2012

1. Context

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

Opua School, in Northland, caters for students in Years I to 8. The school is situated on a hill overlooking the Opua harbour. Students who attend come from a wide mix of cultures, with some students coming from boating families. The school has recently celebrated its 125th anniversary.

The school motto, ‘Manaakitanga me te Awhina’, ‘Caring and Sharing’, is clearly reflected in the welcoming and inclusive environment and the school’s day to day happenings. Teachers know students and their families well. Affirming and responsive relationships between teachers, students and parents are evident in daily interactions.

The school has a history of positive ERO reports. It continues to benefit from the involvement and commitment of staff, parents/whānau and the wider community, many of whom have had a longterm association with the school.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are well engaged in their classroom learning and in the variety of extra-curricular programmes provided. Good levels of interest and motivation are evident across all groups of students. Teachers have high expectations that all students can learn.

School information indicates that most students are achieving at levels that are at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. While trustees and teachers believe that students make good progress, reports to the board could now show student achievement more clearly in relation to the National Standards.

The principal uses collated summative data and teachers’ knowledge of students’ learning to make judgements about progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. Teachers should be increasingly involved in this process. Processes are developing for making well evidenced and carefully moderated judgements about student achievement.

The principal and teachers are developing appropriate ways of reporting to the board and parents in relation to the National Standards after students have been one, two and three years at school. All reports to parents should show a clear link to the National Standards and could include students’ next learning steps and show how parents can support students’ learning at home.

Students enjoy the many good quality learning experiences that teachers provide for them. Relevant support is given to students who are not achieving or who are at risk of not achieving. Consistent teaching approaches are evident in programmes. There is a good pace to lessons and students know routines well. To further improve practice, teachers could now:

  • increase the use of written comments to show students how they can improve their learning
  • encourage students to discuss assessments and exemplars so that they can identify their own next learning steps and how they will achieve them.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Māori students benefit from the school’s inclusive and supportive environment. A strong bicultural perspective is valued by students, staff and the community. School achievement data show that Māori students achieve as well as their peers.

The school’s Treaty of Waitangi policy, although not currently well implemented, provides a good guide for continuing to improve outcomes for Māori students. This policy could be used to guide consultation and review practices that could further promote positive outcomes for Māori students.

3. Curriculum

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

Opua School’s curriculum promotes student learning effectively and supports students to become confident, responsible and caring. The broad and relevant curriculum enables teachers to be responsive to students’ interests. A priority on reading, writing and mathematics is evident.

Teachers integrate learning areas and use local and topical contexts. Students’ curriculum experiences are enriched through regular excursions. A feature of the school’s programme is an ongoing focus on environmental and sustainability education.

Senior students are able to make choices about their learning investigations. School leaders agree it is timely to evaluate the school’s inquiry learning model and to identify ways of improving it to support self-directed learning throughout the school.

Teachers provide positive guidance in attractive classrooms. These environments celebrate a range of well presented student work. A variety of well designed learning prompts is evident in all classrooms.

Opua School is well resourced. Leaders have plans to increase access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support learning across the curriculum.

Senior students have many leadership opportunities and show commitment to their responsibilities. They are positive role models for their younger peers.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

Opua School continues to sustain and improve its performance. Features that contribute to this stable governance and management of the school include:

  • a committed board of trustees and dedicated staff who promote and support progress and achievement for all groups of students
  • shared decision making by the principal and staff
  • positive and supportive relationships between the school and the parent community.

It is important for trustees to continue to access relevant training to expand their understanding of the responsibilities and requirements of governance responsibilities. Consideration should also be given to succession planning to ensure that good quality governance is sustained. Trustees could also streamline and more clearly document school policies and procedures.

School leaders should now improve the rigour of performance appraisal processes by including self reflection, goals in relation to school priorities, and personal goal setting. The principal should ensure completion of the appraisal cycle and regular review of its impact on improving teacher performance and students’ learning.

It is timely to strengthen review processes to enhance effective school operations and to further improve the quality of the education received by the students. School leaders could implement and document review plans, monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of school processes in order to sustain current good practices and ensure continuous improvement.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school. International students are warmly welcomed and supported to integrate into daily school life. The school should review its self-review processes for international students to ensure these are thorough.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

To meet its agreed accountabilities, the board must:

  • with the principal and teaching staff, report in writing to students enrolled in Years 1 to 8 and their parents on the students’ progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards,[National Administrative Guidelines 2A (a)]
  • ensure that it excludes the public when matters that are confidential or private are being discussed. In committee minutes must be kept accurately and in a secure place,[Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, Part VII s48].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

13 February 2012

About the School


Opua, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)



School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 50%, Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Sri Lankan

Cook Island Māori

other European

other Asian











Review team on site

November 2011

Date of this report

13 February 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Discretionary Review

June 2008

June 2005

August 2001

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.