Otamarakau School - 16/08/2016

1 Context

Otamarakau School, located in a rural area, south east of Te Puke, provides education for children in Years 1 to 8, in three multi-level classrooms. The school roll of 58, including 23 Māori children, has remained relatively consistent over recent years. The principal is leaving at the end of Term 2, and a new deputy principal commenced at the beginning of 2016. The board of trustees funds extra teacher aide hours to provide additional learning support.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are 'Together we build life-long-learners'. This aspirational vision is underpinned by the core values of respect for self, others and our turangawaewae.

The school’s achievement information shows that from 2012 to 2015, patterns of achievement for Māori children are similar year to year. Most Māori children are achieving National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. At the end of 2015 National Standards data for the 21 Māori children showed 3 were below in reading, and 7 in both writing and mathematics. In comparison to all other children in the school, the overall achievement for Māori in writing is similar, in reading significantly higher and in mathematics it is below. Māori childrens' achievement is similar to the National comparisons for all children.

Teachers moderate their judgements about children's progress and achievement in relation to National Standards using assessment information from a range of sources.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has taken the following actions to improve outcomes for children and accelerate learning and achievement.

  • Implemented the 'Reading Together' programme that supports Māori and other parents to more effectively assist their children to develop reading confidence, strategies and enjoyment.
  • Undertaken school-wide professional learning and development in writing. This has changed both teachers' and children's perceptions about writing.
  • Consulted with Māori whānau to develop a plan for building on children's knowledge of Māori language and cultural concepts as they progress through the school.
  • Established a student achievement function (SAF) change group, in response to 2015 mathematics results. This group is led by the Ministry of Education SAF facilitator and consists of the principal, deputy principal, a trustee, teacher aide, teacher, and parent representative.
  • Developed a framework for identifying at risk Māori and other children, planning for their learning needs in mathematics and deciding how teachers intend to accelerate progress. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The principal and teachers have successfully used individual achievement information to identify Māori children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration in mathematics. Teachers know children well and are providing group and individual programmes designed to meet identified learning needs. It is important for teachers to now develop action plans to more effectively monitor and focus on accelerating learning and achievement of Māori children, and evaluate the effectiveness of targeted teaching strategies.

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

The school has recently implemented processes for identifying and responding to other children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Specific action plans for addressing learning needs are required to assist teachers to more effectively monitor children's progress. These plans should explicitly document deliberate teaching strategies most likely to raise achievement and accelerate progress.

The principal and teachers have yet to develop a shared understanding of expected and accelerated progress. This will enable them to more effectively track individual children's progress within a year, and across their years at school.

The school's achievement information shows that patterns of achievement for other children have remained similar from year to year. National Standards data for 2015 shows for other children, 9 were below in reading, 11 in writing and 8 in mathematics. The proportion of girls achieving below National standards in writing and mathematics is greater than boys.

Trustees set targets in the charter that are focused on progressing the achievement of children in the below categories of National Standards. These targets have in recent years focused on writing, and there is currently a focus on mathematics. It is important for trustees to receive interim reports about how target children are tracking toward National Standards. This is necessary to assist them to make responsive and well-informed resourcing decisions throughout the year.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school has developed a safe, inclusive and family-like culture that is clearly underpinned by the value of respect. Māori and other children demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility in caring for their turangawaewae, through gardening and other practices that promote sustainability. Children benefit from the significant level of participation from parents and whānau in school activities, and contributions to children's learning experiences and opportunities.

The school is currently developing a graduate profile that outlines expectations and valued outcomes for children as they leave Otamarakau School at the end of Year 8. As part of this ongoing development, consideration needs to be given to consulting with, and including aspirations and concepts valued by Māori parents, whānau and iwi.

The principal and teachers share assessment information and are implementing some collaborative ways of making National Standards judgements. In reading and mathematics, they use a range of assessment tasks and nationally referenced tests to inform their overall judgements. Writing samples are moderated by teachers across the school. These well-considered, moderation practices are leading to more valid and reliable overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards.

Trustees value and are supportive of the principal and staff. They are well informed about school-wide achievement levels. This information is used to set appropriate goals and targets designed to raise the achievement of Māori and other children at risk of not achieving National Standards. Trustees receive regular reports related to teaching initiatives and resourcing of support programmes. The principal and teachers now need to include more specific information about learning outcomes to enable the board and school leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and decisions about ongoing resourcing.

Teachers are continuing to develop and implement strategies that enable children to more readily understand and take responsibility for their learning. They use a range of assessment and other information to focus on identified learning needs of groups and individual children. The recently introduced teacher reflection journals are assisting teachers to consider the effectiveness of their practice, particularly for target groups. These journals could be refined to focus more specifically on the effectiveness on teaching strategies in relation to achieving positive outcomes for target children.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • do not always or systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • have a plan in place but have not yet built teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children.

The next steps for improving equitable and excellent outcomes for Māori and other children at risk of not making accelerated progress are to:

  • develop more specific actions to plan and teach deliberately to meet the identified learning needs of Māori and other target children
  • evaluate the effectiveness of practice and programmes to identify teaching strategies that make the greatest difference
  • develop a shared understanding of expected rates of progress and accelerated achievement among leaders and teachers
  • continue to consider the school's graduate profile ensuring that aspirations and concepts valued by Māori are integral to this development
  • more specifically report to trustees about how target children are tracking toward the expected National Standards, assisting them to make responsive resourcing decisions throughout the year
  • use learning outcomes data to improve the effectiveness of internal review and evaluation.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop a Raising Achievement Plan to further develop processes and practices that respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement Plan and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years. 

6 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 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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance
  • the school’s policy and procedures in relation to the application of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the school develops a raising achievement plan to address the areas outlined in this report. 

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

16 August 2016 

About the school 


Te Puke

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys    34
Girls    24

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

16 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2013
November 2010
November 2007