Owairaka District School - 06/11/2015

ERO's findings about the school

Owairaka District School embraces its multicultural community. Environmental education and a wide variety of learning opportunities are features. A positive learning culture supports students and staff to be successful, active and confident learners. A capable board and senior team provide high quality governance and leadership.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1. Context

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

Owairaka District School in Mt Albert, Auckland, is a contributing school that provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. Students from 36 different ethnicities attend the school. The largest groups of students are Pākehā, Samoan and Māori. Tongan, Indian and Middle Eastern students also comprise significant groups. The diversity of the growing roll is representative of the local community.

Community engagement is a positive feature of this school. Families, including many who are new to New Zealand, report having a sense of belonging in the school. Parents take good advantage of the invitation to engage in and contribute to school life.

The school vision is to ‘grow great learners’ through a positive and nurturing learning culture. The ‘You can do it’ school philosophy is founded on the concepts of getting along, organisation, persistence and confidence. These foundations contribute to the development of students’ resilience. The school prioritises supporting students to be socially well prepared for life.

A very affirming 2011 ERO report noted several areas of strength, including governance, leadership, student engagement and achievement and community engagement. These positive features have been sustained. The new principal, appointed in 2014, has continued to build on the existing school culture and priorities.

The Ministry of Education is working with the school to establish an enrolment zone for 2016. The board is aware of the potential impact of the proposed zone on the local community and their ability to attend the local school.

2. Learning

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

School leaders and staff make very good use of student achievement information to positively influence students’ progress and achievement.

Students learn in settled and purposeful classes. Attractive classroom environments support and celebrate their learning. Teachers are well organised and prepared for the school day. Students have a good understanding of the routines of the class and staff expectations of them as learners. As a result, good use is made of class time for teaching and learning.

The school community has a holistic definition of success. Students make good progress and achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics in comparison with other students in the region and nationally. Students who spoke to ERO talked confidently about their learning and their achievement.

School leaders set achievement targets that support the group of students who are currently achieving below the relevant standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers identify a further group of students who could make accelerated progress. The progress of these two groups of students, and the teachers’ responses to their learning needs, are the focus of professional conversations. Clear links are evident between teachers’ appraisal processes and their responsiveness to the learning needs of students.

Students benefit from caring relationships with staff and a positive learning culture. They know that the staff will advocate on their behalf. Staff encourage students to ask questions and to challenge themselves with new learning.

School leaders know their students and staff well. They know what is happening for students as individuals and provide worthwhile support and guidance for teachers. Senior leaders provide good opportunities for teachers to develop leadership in their areas of strength or interest.

Children with special needs are included well. Good systems are in place to support students who need additional help with their learning. Teacher aides participate in good quality professional development to build their understanding of the students and their individual learning needs.

Parents receive written reports twice each year about their children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. Teachers use plain language to describe students’ learning. School leaders are reviewing the effectiveness of their reporting to parents about student learning across the breadth of the curriculum.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning well. The school’s priorities and values are evident in the programmes of work and opportunities available to students. Students make good use of times when they follow their interests and plan for their own learning. School leaders are reviewing school documentation to ensure that it captures the richness and extent of the Owairaka curriculum in action.

Environmental education is a key element of the school’s curriculum. Many people from the community support students in the Garden to Table programme adopted by the school. Students have many opportunities to learn about and respect the natural environment.

Senior leaders provide good guidance and support for staff and parents. They are continuing to support high needs students to participate fully in school life.

Staff and students share a good understanding of what it means to be part of Owairaka. This understanding, known as the ‘Owai way’, is built on a strong foundation of relationships, collaboration and community engagement.

Families that attend the school bring a rich diversity of culture and experience with them. Many groups provide options for students to learn about their own or other cultures. The school acknowledges and celebrates the diversity of the community. The fale provides a focal point for many Pacific and other events.

The school is part of a cluster that aims to accelerate student achievement through equitable digital learning access in the local area. The cluster model of digital learning is for students to learn, create and share their learning with others. This cluster support helps to assure school leaders that they are introducing modern learning practices effectively to staff and students.

In some classes, older students use their own mobile technology to support their learning. Students speak positively about the impact that this style of teaching has on their learning. School leaders plan to further enhance learning programmes by extending the use of digital technologies and by continuing to focus on increasing student ownership of learning across the school.

Children are well supported as they transition into the school. They have good opportunities to visit and to participate in their future classroom. Access to resources such as dress ups and family corner equipment helps new junior students settle into classroom routines.

Pacific students who spoke with ERO were self-assured and articulate. Their identities, cultures and languages are valued and nurtured within the school. As a result Pacific students feel well supported in their learning. Staff are representative of the many Pacific nation groups. Cultural groups and celebrations provide good opportunities for parents to contribute to their children’s schooling.

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

The school has many good practices to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. As a group, Māori students achieve at a higher level in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics than Māori students in other schools in the region and nationally.

The school acknowledges the significance of Owairaka, their maunga, and Wairaka, to their area and history. Māori students who spoke to ERO share an understanding of the position of Māori as tangata whenua. Natural connections between the school’s environmental programmes and the Papatuānuku concept help embed the links between school directions, and the culture and identity of Māori students. The school pepeha and waiata are well known and feature during protocols such as whakatau.

Staff members provide good leadership for teachers to broaden their knowledge in te reo Māori me ōna tikanga. This good support builds teachers’ confidence to teach aspects of te Ao Māori in their class. Staff plan regular and incidental te reo lessons for their classes. Māori students have additional te reo Māori classes that extend what is learnt through regular classroom programmes.

Regular whānau hui provide opportunities for whānau of Māori students to meet and contribute their ideas to the school directions.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain current good practices and to continue improving. The school has skilled, professional leadership and is governed by capable trustees.

Trustees are very proud of their school. They share a strong commitment to the vision and culture of the school. They understand their governance role in fostering educational success for the community’s children. The board is progressive, future focused and makes well considered decisions. The board is led by a capable experienced chair. Trustees bring expertise and skill to their roles. They appreciate the staff and their learning relationships with the students.

The principal’s leadership nurtures the school vision. The senior leadership team works well together to ensure high expectations are met and school directions are promoted and embedded. School leaders have established a very consistent learning culture across the school. Professional development is well aligned with school goals and future directions.

The school is improvement focused. Self review is planned and responsive. Parents, teachers and students have opportunities to contribute their ideas and suggestions. As a result, decision making is based on evidence and the input of those who are affected. School leaders agree that the refinement of self review documentation could further support the evaluation of school decisions and initiatives.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were two international students from one family attending the school. The school works closely with the family to promote inclusion and high quality learning opportunities. Specifically reporting to the board about the international students could help trustees to know about the effectiveness of planning for these students.

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.


Owairaka District School embraces its multicultural community. Environmental education and a wide variety of learning opportunities are features. A positive learning culture supports students and staff to be successful, active and confident learners. A capable board and senior team provide high quality governance and leadership.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

6 November 2015

About the School


Mt Albert, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 57%

Girls 43%

Ethnic composition




Middle Eastern





Cook Island














Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

6 November 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2011

May 2008

May 2005