Opua School - 28/02/2019

School Context 

Opua School, in the Bay of Islands, provides education for students from Years 1 to 8. Approximately 116 children are on the school roll, and 33 percent have Māori heritage.

The school’s motto and vision, ‘manaakitanga me te awhina - sharing and caring’, is to educate and equip children for life. The values of achievement, curiosity, hauora and community underpin the school’s mission. Current school goals focus on developing children’s literacy and numeracy skills so that they can access all aspects of the curriculum. Ongoing professional development for teachers in mathematics and learning with digital technologies is supporting them to achieve the school’s goals.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for children in relation to:

  • overall achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • progress towards and achievement of school targets for reading, writing and mathematics

  • wellbeing for success

  • progress and success for those with additional learning needs.

Since ERO’s last review in 2015, some new trustees have been elected to the board. Trustees have made good use of external support to help them grow their stewardship role. School leaders and teachers have responded well to the recommendations in ERO’s 2015 report, and have successfully maintained and built upon the strengths identified in that report.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

Children are positively supported to achieve well in relation to the school’s valued outcomes. They are proud of their school, have a strong sense of belonging, and demonstrate the values of manaakitanga me te awhina in their interactions with each other and adults. Children know that they have a role to play in supporting each other. They are learning to value diversity and difference. Teachers encourage children to develop their self-management skills. As a result, children’s sense of self-efficacy is growing.

School data show that over the last three years the large majority of children achieved at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. The 2018 school data show that:

  • most children, including Māori and girls, achieve at or above expected curriculum levels
  • there has been a significant improvement for all groups of children in mathematics, with Māori and Pacific learners achieving slightly better than other groups
  • while there is improved parity of achievement for Māori children in writing, a disparity continues to be evident between boys and girls.

Most children, including Māori, achieve at or above expected curriculum levels in reading. However, boys’ achievement in reading fluctuates over time, with recent data showing some disparity between boys and girls.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is accelerating learning for Māori and other learners, where necessary. The board receives a range of good quality achievement information and other data. This includes the perspectives of children and parents. Trustees scrutinise information for trends, patterns and progress. This helps them to make strategic decisions, identify priorities, and set appropriate school goals and targets.

Leaders and teachers identify children whose progress requires acceleration. Individual learning plans are developed for ‘target’ children that focus on teaching strategies to lift their achievement. Close monitoring of these children shows that overall, most make good, and in some cases accelerated progress.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

The school vision is well lived. Children participate and learn in caring, collaborative and inclusive learning environments. Relationships are respectful and productive. There are positive reciprocal relationships within the school and with the community. These positive community relationships enable children, teachers, staff and parents to enthusiastically contribute to the school’s success.

Children learn, achieve and progress in the breadth and depth of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). They also benefit from the NZC key competencies being well integrated into learning programmes throughout the school. Classroom learning environments strongly reflect children’s learning and are well-resourced. Within classes and across the school, children’s learning is celebrated and appreciated. As a result, children demonstrate high levels of engagement in learning.

The board actively represents and serves the school community. One of the board’s important goals is to encourage and sustain relational trust with the school community. To achieve this, trustees offer a range of opportunities to communicate and regularly seek input from staff, children, parents and families/whānau. These strategies are encouraging the school community to have increasing input into school decisions.

Leadership promotes an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to children’s learning and wellbeing. Leaders have established clear and consistent expectations to support teaching and learning. Leaders and teachers have a deep focus on professional learning and development. This has had a positive impact on children’s achievement.

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

Several well-established and effective strategies are supporting Māori learners to achieve success as Māori. These strategies include successful whole-school kapa haka and teachers who use te reo Māori with children. It would be appropriate for the board to develop a Māori education plan to establish further goals to build on these successes. Having a plan would help the board to monitor progress towards achieving its goals for Māori learner success.

School leaders identify the need to review and strengthen the school’s documented curriculum. Implementing the digital technologies and environmental education programmes is a priority. Leaders agree a key next step is to develop an inquiry model. This should be designed to enable children to become self-regulated learners. This would mean that they would be able to plan, set goals, organise self-monitor and evaluate while building their knowledge and skills.

The principal and teaching staff have established good teaching practices that support their focus on those learners at risk of not achieving well. Strengthening ‘teaching as inquiry’ processes is likely to help leaders and teachers to build their knowledge about how best to accelerate children’s learning.

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 four international students attending the school. International students are provided with good quality support for their education and wellbeing in classrooms. Appropriate monitoring systems and some internal evaluation processes help the school to continue meeting its obligations under the Code.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • positive reciprocal relationships within the school community that enable children, teachers, staff and parents to enthusiastically contribute to the school’s success

  • board stewardship that is collaborative with staff, children, and families/whānau and enables trusting relationships to continue to develop

  • respect for difference and diversity that promotes learning environments where children can participate and learn in a climate that is collaborative and inclusive

  • orderly and supportive classrooms conducive to children’s learning and wellbeing

  • children who are highly engaged in learning, and are achieving and progressing in a broad curriculum that has a positive impact on their achievement.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are to:

  • develop a Māori education plan to assist the board to monitor its progress in relation to its goals for positive outcomes for Māori learners

  • review the school’s curriculum plan to include an inquiry model to strengthen opportunities for children to become self-regulated learners

  • strengthen ‘teaching as inquiry’ processes that help teachers to build their knowledge about the most effective strategies for promoting and accelerating children’s learning.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern


28 February 2019

About the school


Opua, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Year 1 – 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori 33%
Pākehā 50%
other European 10%
other Asian 4%
other ethnic groups 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

December 2018

Date of this report

28 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review November 2015
Education Review February 2012
Education Review June 2008