Otewa School - 16/12/2019

School Context

Otewa Primary School, located in a rural setting approximately 10 km from Otorohanga, caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The school's current roll of 68 includes 21 students who identify as Māori. There has been a significant roll increase since the previous ERO review in 2016. The school experiences a high turnover of students each year.

The principal continues in her position and there have been several changes to the teaching team. A new board chairperson and several new trustees were elected in the 2019 elections. The wider school community remain fully involved at the school. Teachers have had professional learning about literacy, mathematics and science.

The school’s mission statement states ‘Otewa School will produce students who are effective communicators, team players, environmentally aware, self-confident and respectful.’ Priority is placed on empowering students to be confident, independent, communicators throughout life. These outcomes are underpinned by the values of contribution, care, communication, creativity and challenge.

The current strategic aims include a focus on:

  • a balanced education focusing on a culture of values-based learning, life skills and literacy and numeracy
  • enhancing and maintaining a rural school environment
  • providing a future focused environment
  • supporting teachers to learn, collaboratively think and lead student learning
  • an understanding in the community of the importance of their involvement with Otewa School.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • reading, writing and mathematics.

The school is a member of the Nga Awa ki te Moana Kāhui Ako and the principal is the leader.

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?

The school is working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all of its learners. School data for 2018 shows that most students achieved at expected curriculum levels in reading and the majority of students achieved at expected curriculum levels in writing and mathematics.

This data also shows that Māori students achieved at similar levels to their peers at the school in reading and writing but significantly lower in mathematics and girls significantly outperformed boys in reading, writing and mathematics.

Data collected over the previous three years shows consistent patterns of achievement in reading and a slight improvement in writing and mathematics.

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

The school is accelerating the learning for some Māori and other students who need this.

Writing data for 2019 indicates that approximately half of at-risk students made accelerated progress. School data for 2018 shows that a small number of students whose learning is at risk in reading, writing and mathematics made 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?

Strong professional leadership guides all aspects of school development. A planned approach to induction, mentoring and coaching is enabling teachers to build their capability in a supportive and collaborative environment. Clear expectations and shared understanding about assessment and teacher planning have been developed. Information about accelerated learning outcomes is systematically gathered, analysed and reported on. Leadership builds relational trust and educationally-focused partnerships with parents and whānau.

Teachers use a range of useful strategies to enhance student learning in multi-level settings. Relationships between teachers and students are respectful, affirming and focused on learning and wellbeing. Classroom culture strongly reflects the school’s core values. Teachers plan learning programmes based on a range of relevant assessment information. A deliberate approach to planning for new students enables smooth transitions and continuity for these learners. Teachers have introduced a framework that enables students to reflect on their learning and the extent to which they have been successful.

Teacher and leadership capability are being systematically enhanced through evidence informed internal evaluation. Teachers have established a process to inquire into their practice which is focused on improving outcomes for at-risk learners. Performance management processes are well aligned with professional learning priorities, cycles of professional inquiry and building teacher capability. Teachers continually reflect on and adapt their practice to improve outcomes of learners.

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

Teachers should give priority to implementing practices that support students to have a greater understanding of their own learning progress and next steps. This focus should include continuing to build teachers’ knowledge of learning progressions frameworks and establishing more visible reference points for students that enable them to monitor their own progress. This is likely to support student goal setting and self-directed learning.

Leaders and trustees need to set specific targets focusing on acceleration of at-risk learners in reading, writing and mathematics in the annual charter. This should provide a stronger framework for reporting to the board throughout the year about the effectiveness of the initiatives in place to accelerate the learning of at-risk students.

The school has identified the need to:

  • review and further develop the local, placed-based curriculum
  • implement a programme of trustee training to systematically build new trustees’ knowledge and understanding of governance.

ERO’s evaluation confirms these priorities.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Otewa School’sperformance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership that is effectively guiding school improvement
  • useful teaching strategies that support student learning and wellbeing
  • reflective practice that supports teacher learning and accelerated outcomes for students.

Next steps

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

  • growing teacher practice to build on and embed student agency
  • establishing annual targets to focus on acceleration across all aspects of literacy and mathematics
  • establishing a local curriculum to support teaching, learning and culturally responsive practice across all learning areas
  • engaging trustees in board training to support their understanding of governance roles and responsibilities.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • maintain school records about staff appointments that meet the requirements of safety checking the work force
  • ensure staff performance management processes and records meet all the requirements of Teaching Council New Zealand.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

16 December 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1-8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 36 Female 32

Ethnic composition

Māori 21
NZ European/Pākehā 47

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

16 December 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2016
Education Review July 2013
Education Review June 2010