Otahuhu School - 20/09/2017


Otahuhu School has a long history in its South Auckland location, and will soon celebrate 160 years of education. It caters for about 500 children from diverse cultural backgrounds. Most children and families are from Pacific nations with Samoan and Tongan being the largest groups. About 25 percent of children are Indian. Māori children make up 12 percent of the school’s roll.

Most children on the roll attend several different schools during their primary years. The number of children who have been at Otahuhu School from Years 1 to 6 is small.

Many children speak languages other than English, and over a third are learning English as a new language. The school offers three bilingual facilities. Te Whānau Tūtakitanga provides for Māori, Tafa o Ata for Samoan, and Lalanga Mo’ui for Tongan bilingual learning. The board of trustees, senior leaders, teachers and staff reflect the cultural and language diversity of the school’s community.

The school has a new senior leadership team. As the principal is on study leave for most of 2017, the long-serving deputy principal is currently acting principal. A new deputy principal was appointed in 2016 and an existing senior teacher has filled the other deputy principal role. Many teachers and support staff have worked at the school for many years. They are well supported by newer staff.

The 2014 ERO report identified many areas of good practice. It identified next steps that included further promoting children’s ownership and leadership of their learning, and strengthening processes to accelerate children’s learning progress.

The school belongs to the Otahuhu Community of Learning (CoL). The CoL is in the early stages of setting its achievement challenges.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school achieves equitable outcomes for Māori and all other children. The board of trustees, principal and staff place Māori, Pacific and other children at the centre of their pursuit for equity and excellence.

Teachers and leaders place significant value on knowing their learners and creating cultural connections with children and whānau. They have very good systems, strategies and approaches that make a difference to children’s lives and learning. Children’s engagement and success is enhanced by learning experiences that promote positive learning challenges and encourage children to think critically.

Children are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

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

Equity and excellence

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

The school responds effectively to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

School leaders and teachers use achievement data and other information about children skilfully, to identify their learning and wellbeing needs. They explore the use of teaching strategies and initiatives that work best for different children. Staff expertise around children’s language, culture and identity means that approaches are based on who children are culturally, alongside their strengths and experiences.

Many children throughout the school achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Girls, especially Pacific girls, generally achieve better than other groups. Children in Tafa o Ata and Lalanga Mo’ui achieve similar levels as children in the English medium classes. The school’s key priority is to accelerate learning progress for Māori children, especially Māori boys, in Te Whānau Tūtakitanga and the rest of the school. Many children who stay at Otahuhu School for all of their primary years achieve very well.

Leaders and teachers have very good systems in place to track and monitor children’s progress and achievement. These visible, school-wide processes are continually reviewed and refined, and include teachers discussing children’s achievements and sharing teaching ideas. Teachers in Te Whānau Tūtakitanga make good use of Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori - Kura Auraki, for planning and assessing reading, writing and mathematics.

Collaborative practice allows teachers to moderate the judgements they make about children’s achievement, promotes teachers’ skills and encourages whole-school responsibility for children whose achievement needs acceleration. School leaders are looking forward to moderating with other schools as part of their CoL participation.

Senior leaders agree that a useful next step is to further improve how data is used strategically throughout the school. This data use includes making achievement targets more specific so that the accelerated progress and achievement of Māori and other groups of children can be planned, monitored and reported.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

The school’s processes are effective in enabling the achievement of equity and excellence.

Throughout the school children are settled and engaged in their learning. They have many opportunities to collaborate and discuss their ideas and learning with each other. Children experience high levels of care and positive interactions with their teachers. The strong, school-wide focus on heart values of honesty, excellence, attitude, respect and tolerance has further promoted how well children, parents and staff support and respect each other. High levels of respect for children’s languages, cultures and identities are reflected well in the school’s values.

The board, school leaders and staff promote children’s wellbeing very effectively. They recognise that promoting children’s health and wellbeing is precursor to children’s learning, progress and achievement. Children with special learning needs are very well supported by the school’s Awhi team and by classroom teachers. The school-wide positive behaviour for learning focus, including Te Mana Tikitiki in Te Whānau Tūtakitanga, is enhancing the school’s inclusive culture.

The school’s curriculum is based strongly around the languages, cultures and identities of children and whānau. Māori, Samoan and Tongan bilingual learning spaces enrich the delivery of culturally responsive learning for children throughout the school. Learning programmes for all children are framed interestingly around broad science themes and increasingly integrate other areas of the curriculum, especially reading, writing and mathematics. Children follow an inquiry approach that provides good opportunities for them to investigate and explore their own ideas.

Teachers work as a collaborative team. Professional learning is based around the school’s strategic goal to promote a growth mind-set. This good professional learning is enhancing teachers’ understanding and the visibility of teaching and learning practices, and children’s achievement. As a result teachers’ reflections and critique of their practice is strengthened, and children’s confidence and ownership of their learning is fostered.

Parents are supported to work in partnership with teachers to further improve their children’s learning. Teachers provide useful professional learning for parents that helps them understand how children learn and the specific strategies required to accelerate their children’s learning progress. The three bilingual units have strong collective partnerships with their parents, whānau and communities. They have partnered with whānau to review the purpose and vision for each bilingual space.

Strong professional and strategic leadership supports an effective, professional school culture. Senior leaders promote collaborative practice and have ongoing expectations for teachers to improve their practice. Good systems and approaches promote relational trust alongside accountability. Leaders have a good understanding of internal evaluation, including the teachers’ appraisal process,as a tool for ongoing improvement.

Trustees bring varied skills to their roles, and are dedicated to promoting equitable and excellent outcomes for children. They scrutinize data and resource the school strategically to enhance teaching and learning environments and opportunities for children and adults. As a group, trustees are pursuing ongoing training to further strengthen school governance practices.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

The school has good processes in place to further promote equity and excellence.

Trustees and school leaders are well placed to deepen how internal evaluation is used throughout the school to further improve outcomes for children. Ongoing development would include making achievement targets more strategic, and focused specifically on Māori and other children whose achievement needs acceleration. It would provide leaders with the opportunity to inquire into the effectiveness and impact of programmes and initiatives on promoting the learning and achievement of groups of children.

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

  • 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.

Going forward

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

Children are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are to accelerate Māori children’s achievement in reading, writing and mathematics by:

  • further improving how data is used strategically throughout the school, including planning, evaluating and reporting on more specific achievement targets

  • strengthening internal evaluation practices throughout the school.

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

20 September 2017

About the school


Otahuhu, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Primary Years 1 to 6

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 55 Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori 12%
Pākehā 2%
Indian 24%
Samoan 23%
Tongan 22%
Cook Island Māori 10%
Fijian 2%
Niue 2%
other 3%

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

20 September 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review, May 2008
Education Review, June 2011
Education Review, May 2014