Otaki School - 23/12/2015


Students at Ōtaki School experience a positive, inclusive environment where te ao Māori is valued and celebrated. The curriculum comprises three pathways: Māori language immersion; bilingual; and English medium. Expectations for learning and behaviour are clearly articulated and understood. Leaders and trustees provide sound support for continued improvements in student achievement.

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?

Ōtaki School provides education for 227 students in Years 1 to 8. The majority, 88%, identify as Māori. There has been an overall roll increase of 20 since the November 2012 ERO report.

The school has three learning pathways. Te Korowai Whakamana offers five classes of total immersion in te reo Māori. Kia Manawanui comprises two bilingual classes, and the third, Matariki, is English medium.

The newly revised curriculum is a blend of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Teaching and learning are underpinned by the school’s vision: Ko ā tātou tamariki ngā rangatira o āpōpō - Learners today, leaders tomorrow. The STAR values (safe, totally responsible, awesome learner, respectful) express expectations for students’ learning and behaviour schoolwide.

Leaders and trustees have made good progress in addressing the areas for further development identified in the previous ERO report.

2 Learning

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

The school has good knowledge about the progress and achievement of individuals and groups of students. Leaders, teachers and trustees use this to:

  • identify students in need of additional support
  • set annual improvement targets
  • highlight aspects of students’ learning that require building, strengthening or extending
  • provide in-class targeted teaching to accelerate their progress
  • access appropriate internal or external support
  • monitor the impact of these strategies
  • report progress to and set goals with parents and whānau
  • inform board decisions about resourcing for learning support.

Teachers’ assessment practices are guided by well-documented expectations. Overall judgements about students’ progress against National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga are moderated within the school to test their accuracy. To further strengthen the reliability of judgements, leaders should explore opportunities for external moderation with other schools.

The school’s analysis of literacy and mathematics data for 2014 shows that in recent years, the percentage of students whose achievement is well below expected levels in relation to National Standards or Ngā Whanaketanga has decreased. The targets set for 2014 were all met or exceeded.

The small number of Pacific students achieve well. Those who require English language tuition are identified and appropriate support is put in place. In 2014, all five Pacific students were above the National Standards.

Percentages of ākonga in Te Korowai Whakamana who achieve at or above expected levels are significantly higher than national patterns.

National Standards data from 2014 showed that mathematics achievement was tracking well over time. Smaller percentages of boys and Māori were at or above expected levels. A pattern of underachievement for boys is noted by the school as a concern across all three learning areas.

The target for 2015, based on this data, is to increase the percentage of students who achieve at or above the National Standards in reading. The principal provided the board with a mid-year report showing students’ progress towards the target. There is still some way to go to show success for all students.

Students with additional or complex learning needs are carefully monitored. Personalised support for them is provided in classes alongside their peers.

Leaders and trustees recognise that specific targets aimed at particular priority student groups should be considered for 2016. This approach should help teachers to develop and implement strategies that focus on the precise aspects of learning that need strengthening. Close monitoring and regular reporting of the impact of these strategies is likely to contribute to accelerated student learning and improved outcomes.

3 Curriculum

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

The design of the curriculum reflects a collaborative approach, incorporating the ideas and aspirations of parents, whānau, staff and students. Teachers have clear guidelines and expectations to inform the planning and implementation of learning programmes that respond to diverse student needs. The curriculum is relevant and meaningful, reflecting te ao Māori, local contexts and the community.

The school’s priorities, goals and values are highly evident in documentation and classroom practice. Building students’ literacy and numeracy skills is a key focus. Appropriate professional learning supports ongoing development of teaching and improvement in outcomes for students.

Learners’ language, culture and identity are valued, celebrated and infused throughout the curriculum. A sense of wairuatanga, whanaungatanga and tūrangawaewae is evident schoolwide.

Students and teachers have good access to digital devices. They are well supported to build their capability in using them effectively to promote learning and progress. Students in four classes have their own devices, which they can keep and take with them as they move on to secondary school. The school reports that integration of digital learning has accelerated the engagement and progress of significant numbers of students.

Bringing together three learning pathways in one school has been a major focus for school leaders. Consistent, shared understanding and enactment of expectations of teachers and students are evident in programmes, relationships interactions and tikanga schoolwide.

Staff work together collegially in teams and as a cohesive group across the pathways. They demonstrate a shared commitment to the school’s vision, values and kaupapa.

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

Ōtaki School fully reflects te ao Māori and mātauranga Māori.

Māori students experience an environment where their cultural heritage is valued and authentically integrated into every aspect of the school day. They show confidence and pride in their identity.

Most of the staff are Māori. They, along with ākonga, demonstrate strong leadership and modelling of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. Teachers are well supported to build their cultural knowledge and responsiveness.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Students, staff and whānau benefit from the school’s positive culture and tone. The environment is orderly, supportive and conducive to learning and wellbeing. Relationships are respectful at all levels of the school community.

The school actively seeks and fosters learning-centred relationships that engage and involve parents, whānau and the community. A range of strategies and opportunities successfully encourages families to play a meaningful and active part in school activities.

The principal and senior leaders form a strong, cohesive team with a high level of professional commitment and capability. They work collaboratively to develop and enact the school’s vision, goals and priorities. Their consultative approach promotes unified support for agreed priorities and planned strategies.

A comprehensive set of policies and procedures provides sound guidance for school operations. Until now there was very little documentation kept for appraisal and endorsement of teachers' practising certificates. Recent changes in the appraisal system are consistent with good practice and legislative expectations. It is timely for the board to review related documentation to align with these changes.

Leaders and trustees are developing processes to evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and initiatives. To increase the rigour, usefulness and consistent quality of evaluative inquiries, a recommended next step is to create a guiding framework to inform practice schoolwide.

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.

Two aspects of health and safety provision were found to be inadequate. To address these the board of trustees must:

  1. ensure that further police vetting is obtained for all non-teaching employees every three years if they still work at the school[Education Act 1989, sections 78C to 78CD]
  2. ensure that the board understands and accepts its responsibility for students and others involved in EOTC activities.[National Administration Guidelines 5; Ministry of Education EOTC Guidelines]


Students at Ōtaki School experience a positive, inclusive environment where te ao Māori is valued and celebrated. The curriculum comprises three pathways: Māori language immersion; bilingual; and English medium. Expectations for learning and behaviour are clearly articulated and understood. Leaders and trustees provide sound support for continued improvements in student achievement.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

23 December 2015

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type


School roll


Gender composition

Boys 54%, Girls 46%

Ethnic composition




Other ethnic groups





Special Features

Five Level 1 Māori Immersion classes Years 1-8

Three Level 2 Bilingual classes Years 1-8

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

23 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

September 2009

August 2006