Otewa School - 18/07/2013

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Otewa School is a small rural primary school that is located 10 kilometres south east of Otorohanga and caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The school has been a focal point for its farming community for several generations. Twelve of the 55 students on the roll identify as Māori. The school is situated on an attractive and well-maintained site that provides students with a variety of physical challenges and recreational activities.

The 2010 ERO review found that positive and affirming relationships were a feature of the school. Community involvement was encouraged and contributed to the high-quality learning environment for students. There had been an effective school-wide focus on improving mathematics teaching practices, which was resulting in sustained improvements to student achievement. This 2013 ERO review finds that these positive features have been sustained. In response to areas identified for development in the 2010 ERO report, the board has supported staff professional development to improve literacy teaching and learning. A new principal took up her position in 2011. She has assisted staff in continuing to refine literacy teaching and assessment practices.

Strong community support for the school is reflected in the continuing success of such events as Calf Club days and assistance with education outside the classroom. The principal and teachers place strong emphasis on explicitly promoting the school values of caring, communicating, accepting challenge, being creative and contributing. These values are well understood by students and reflected in their co-operative behaviour. Teachers maintain positive relationships with the local marae and kohanga reo. New families are welcome and valued.

Students are confident and articulate. Those spoken with by ERO demonstrate pride in their school and are particularly proud of their many leadership roles. These include membership of the student council, responsibilities for school assemblies and newsletters to parents, and leadership within the school’s house system. Older students accept responsibility for coaching sports teams and providing interesting play-time activities for other students. Some have had first-aid training so that they are able to care for those who sustain minor playground injuries. A settled and purposeful tone is evident throughout the school day.

2 Learning

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

Students are well engaged in learning and over half achieve at or above National Standards for their year levels. The principal and teachers analyse assessments in reading, writing and mathematics to identify students who need to make accelerated progress and those who require extra challenges. Target groups of students who are at risk of underachieving are identified in all classes and these groups are closely monitored. School-wide achievement records demonstrate progress over time for individual and year-level groups.

Teachers use assessment information effectively to group students for differentiated instruction and to assist in determining progress in relation to National Standards. They are developing effective procedures for moderating teacher judgements about achievement in relation to National Standards. Reports to parents, including individual portfolios, clearly show students’ progress and achievement through the year.

The board regularly receives useful information about school-wide student achievement to guide target setting and resourcing. A current professional development focus on instructional writing is in response to the need for improving school-wide achievement in this subject.

ERO and the board agree that next steps are to:

  • further develop processes for determining and moderating overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards
  • strengthen the use of formal assessments to guide teaching and learning
  • further involve students in self and peer assessment
  • ensure that the acceleration of target groups is a consistent appraisal goal for teachers
  • develop criteria for formally identifying students who are gifted and talented.

3 Curriculum

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

The Otewa School curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. It emphasises literacy, numeracy, thinking skills, school values, integrated learning, the use of computers for learning, and education outside the classroom. Consultation with staff, parents and students has resulted in the documentation of very clear guidelines for class programmes.

Effective teaching practices evident at this school include:

  • positive relationships with students
  • affirming and celebrating students’ best work
  • providing meaningful contexts for learning
  • continual use of computer technology by teachers and students
  • maintaining stimulating, creatively presented class environments.

There is a planned approach to curriculum review.

  • ERO and the board agree that next steps are to:
  • continue to review and develop the school’s curriculum expectations and guidelines
  • continue teachers’ professional learning and development in instructional writing.

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

Māori parents have indicated that they want students to be happy at school and to achieve success in the foundation subjects of literacy and mathematics. While some Māori students are achieving National Standards, others are at risk of underachieving. The board has annual targets for raising the achievement of this group and provides support to accelerate their progress.

Bicultural perspectives are increasing throughout the school. Cultural experiences are evident in marae visits, curriculum, and wall displays. Te reo Māori is taught each week in all classes, but there is a need to increase its integration throughout the curriculum.

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 because:

  • governance is effective. There is comprehensive guidance for new trustees and established processes for the review of policies, annual objectives and strategic goals
  • the principal’s professional leadership is effective in continuing to improve teaching, learning and student achievement
  • there are rigorous and useful processes for the appraisal of the principal and staff
  • teachers are establishing a staff culture that is collaborative, reflective and improvement focused. They are engaged in ongoing professional learning and development
  • the school benefits from a strong partnership with its community.

ERO and the board agree that next steps are to:

  • strengthen self review so that it is continually focused on improving outcomes for students
  • ensure that the incoming board receives training in its roles and responsibilities from an external adviser.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

18 July 2013

About the School


Otorohanga District

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 31 Boys 24

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Other groups




Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

18 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

October 2007

February 2004