Otewa School - 15/08/2016

1 Context

Otewa Primary School is located in a rural setting approximately 10 km from Otorohanga. The school's roll of 52 includes 12 Māori children. Over the last two years the school roll has fluctuated. Since the last ERO review in 2013 a new principal has been appointed and some changes made to the teaching team. A new chairperson was also elected to the board of trustees. There have been significant developments to buildings and grounds that enhances facilities for children and teachers. The wider school community remain fully involved at the school.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to be confident, independent, communicators throughout life. These outcomes are underpinned by the recently reviewed and well known values of contribution, care, communication, creativity and challenge.

Teachers make Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJ) using a range of appropriate assessment information. These judgements are moderated by teachers and the principal to ensure they are reliable and consistent across the school. 

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2014 and 2015 half of all Māori children achieved at the National Standard in writing, reading and mathematics. Achievement for other students in the school is slightly higher than that of Māori children. All students achieving below expected levels are either included in a target group in classrooms or are receiving specialist support to accelerate their achievement.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has established a focus on identifying and addressing the learning needs of Māori and other children achieving below expected levels through:

  • refining assessment systems to make effective use of achievement information at all levels of the school
  • redesigning the school's curriculum placing greater priority on New Zealand's dual cultural heritage and Māori language, culture and identity
  • providing teachers with professional learning and development to accelerate achievement for all children with a particular focus on priority learners
  • reviewing and further developing performance management systems for the principal and teachers.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school effectively identifies Māori children who are at risk in their learning. The principal and teachers gather reliable information about their learning strengths and needs and use this information to set relevant targets to raise achievement levels. In addition, the school has developed a policy and procedures that outline expectations for identifying the needs of children when they enter and leave the school during the year. 

The school responds effectively to children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration particularly for those children who have been at the school for a longer period of time. In 2015, the significant proportion of students in the below National Standards category in mathematics and writing were targeted. The schools end of year data indicates that approximately half of the targeted children were no longer in the school. Of those remaining children most made good progress. Clarification and definition of accelerated progress needs further discussion within the teaching team.

The board receive collated data from the principal. This data shows school-wide achievement and progress for all students including Māori and by gender. The board uses this data to make resourcing decisions to support programmes and interventions for at risk learners. Trustees are yet to scrutinise achievement data to determine how well the school is accelerating the achievement of at risk learners throughout the year.

Teachers are making good use of data to plan targeted programmes. There is a need to continue to build their knowledge of learning progressions. Teachers should also develop strategies that enable children to better understand the own progress and achievement levels and next learning steps.

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 professional leaders are working on Otewa School's broad curriculum to improve its effectiveness in promoting excellent and equitable outcomes for Māori and other children. Appropriate priority is placed on literacy and mathematics. Children's enjoyment at school is fostered by a strong family-like atmosphere that includes many opportunities for them to develop their leadership skills and strong tuakana/teina relationships.

The school's curriculum particularly in relation to literacy and mathematics is well documented and clearly reflects the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). There is a need to review and define learning expectations in relation to other curriculum areas and establish expected learning progressions for children as they move through the school. 

As part of the curriculum review process priority should be given to documenting how the curriculum is adding complexity to student learning as they move through the school in non-core subject areas.

The school is developing processes to build partnerships with parents that support them to assist with their children's learning. Parents are well informed through written reports, individual portfolios and interviews. They contribute and participate in school events and are regularly involved in consultation about school developments and priorities. An open-door policy is well enacted and parents feel welcome to participate.

Teachers work well together and have established close and respectful relationships within the team, with children and parents. They are continuing to build their knowledge and understanding of 'teaching as inquiry'. This is enabling teachers to better focus on accelerating the progress of children who are at risk of not achieving National Standards. ERO observed examples of teachers using effective strategies that support children's engagement in meaningful learning.

Robust systems have been implemented to support teachers to make reliable judgements in relation to the National Standards in Mathematics. These processes need to be further refined and extended to reading and writing.

The school effectively responds to children with high and complex learning and health needs in relation to meeting their social and ongoing learning development. These children are fully included in the life of the school and enjoy positive relationships with their peers, teachers and support staff.

Trustees work well together and value the work of the principal and teachers. It is important that all trustees participate in training to further develop their understanding of governance and effective self-review, including making appropriate decisions for students needing to accelerate their learning. 

The principal provides focused professional leadership for learning about accelerating achievement for Māori and other children at risk of not achieving. She effectively guides teachers to specifically target the learning needs of these children and supports them to plan programmes to accelerate achievement. Strengthening the links between teacher appraisal processes and students who are at risk of not achieving should add rigour to performance management processes and help to further build teacher capability.

5 Going forward

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

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school is working hard to achieve equitable outcomes for all children and is well positioned to address the next steps identified by ERO. The principal has developed a comprehensive plan to accelerate the achievement of Māori and other children at risk of not achieving at expected levels.  Full implementation of this plan should support the school's commitment to providing excellence and equitable outcomes for Māori and other children. This plan specifically includes strategies to:

  • define and accelerate the achievement of those students who move into and out of the school
  • strengthen processes that support teachers to make reliable overall judgements in reading and writing
  • further develop "teaching as inquiry" in relation to defining and implementing strategies to accelerate children's achievement
  • implement processes that support children to develop a greater understanding of their next learning steps
  • assist trustees to scrutinise and make better use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives to accelerate achievement
  • continue to grow the use of Māori language and presence of culture and identity as part of the school curriculum.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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
  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the trustees and principal review and strengthen the achievement plan to ensure it includes processes, practices and expectations outlined in the Going Forward section of this report. 

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

15 August 2016

About the school 


near Otorohanga

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls    33
Boys    19

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

15 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

July 2013
June 2010
October 2007