Otorohanga South School - 25/06/2012

1 Context

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

Otorohanga South School is a full primary, located in the rural township of Otorohanga and caters for students in Years 1 to 8. These students come from the town and the surrounding farming areas. The school has a roll of 336, and there is a growing proportion of students who are of Māori descent. The board, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, has implemented an enrolment scheme to manage roll growth.

Since the previous ERO review in 2009, leadership, governance and teaching personnel has been largely unchanged. Following consultation with the school’s Māori community, a Māori achievement plan designed specifically to promote successful outcomes for Māori students, has been developed and is being implemented by staff and board. The attached special needs unit has closed and these students now attend other schools in the local district. The school continues to provide specialist education and care for students with high health and learning needs.

The school’s charter clearly documents its commitment to building teaching capability and effectiveness, to raise student achievement. The principal and board have placed high priority on the provision of school-wide professional development and learning, using both internal and external expertise. Positive and affirming relationships contribute to a calm and inclusive environment for learning that is evident throughout the school.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The school’s effective self-review processes are based on evidence and informed by student achievement data. Under the leadership of the knowledgeable principal, and deputy and assistant principals, the school is continuing to strengthen the validity and reliability of achievement information. This is enabling leaders to identify priority groups of learners and set meaningful targets, which are carefully monitored throughout the year to determine progress. The school has developed effective processes to report National Standards to parents twice each year. Achievement information reported to the board at the end of 2011 shows that in reading, writing and mathematics a vast majority of students are working at and above National Standards and progressing at expected rates. The school achievement information indicates that as a cohort, most Māori students are also achieving at and above the National Standards in these curriculum areas.

There are clear expectations for teaching practice, and teachers are well supported to make good use of a wide-range of assessment information. This effective use of achievement information is well-embedded in the practice of many teachers. School leaders acknowledge the need to further promote the analysis and use of assessment information as a key element of the teaching as inquiry process.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides a comprehensive and responsive curriculum that effectively promotes and supports learning. Literacy and numeracy are strongly prioritised in class and school programmes and are well supported by targeted professional development programmes. Teachers are benefiting from well-informed professional leadership and ongoing learning and development in mathematics and writing. This is enabling them to increasingly use strategies that effectively engage students in the learning process.

ERO and school leaders have identified the importance of reviewing and developing the performance management system to ensure that it is sufficiently robust. Strengthening appraisal should assist teachers to build on their practices, and the board and principal to ensure that consistently high standards of teaching practice are promoted and maintained.

The board is committed to the provision of additional learning support programmes. ERO and the school agree that more frequent reporting to the board regarding the effectiveness of these programmes is likely to enhance and strengthen decision-making and resource allocation.

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

Through its curriculum, the school is responding to the growing proportion of Māori students on the roll. Partnerships with whānau and local iwi organisations are beginning to develop. Teachers demonstrate a commitment to the goals and intent of the school’s Māori student achievement plan, and ERO observed some teachers who are highly responsive to, and are able to promote success for Māori as Māori. They build strong relationships and include meaningful contexts for Māori student learners into the curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is strongly placed to sustain and improve on its performance because:

  • highly effective governance is provided by experienced and well-informed trustees
  • there is Māori representation on both the board and staff that has the potential to forge meaningful educational partnerships
  • the principal provides well-informed and inclusive professional leadership for board, community and staff
  • senior leaders provide high levels of support and guidance for teachers, especially in literacy and mathematics
  • teachers work collegially, and share and reflect on their teaching practice
  • there is a well-embedded culture of quality self review and reflection, and high expectations for student achievement
  • there are many opportunities for parent and community involvement.

ERO and the principal agree that a review of the school’s leadership structure would be beneficial. This review should consider maximising the use of teacher expertise, in order to further develop a cohesive approach to teaching and learning across the school.

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
  • 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 four-to-five years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

25 June 2012

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)



School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

NZ Māori





Review team on site

May 2012

Date of this report

25 June 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2009

April 2006

October 2002