Pakaraka School - 23/10/2014


How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for improvement?

Pakaraka School has a positive school tone and culture. Low student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics is an area of concern. The principal and the board plan to work with external support to establish leadership and governance strategies that will promote ongoing school improvement.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Pakaraka School is a small rural school in Northland. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8, most of whom are Māori. Many children come to school by bus.

The school has an inclusive culture with many families having longstanding relationships with the school. Whānau are welcome in the school and are involved in a variety of ways.

Ongoing professional development focuses on the values of kindness, honesty and being sensible. Teachers and students are using these values to guide their expectations of each other and their interactions. This has contributed to settled classroom environments.

The 2012 ERO report identified a number of areas for development. These included curriculum development, careers education for Years 7 and 8 and complying with Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) legislation. Policy review, student ownership of learning, relationships between the board and teachers and self review were also identified as needing improvement. While good progress has been made in establishing effective working relationships between the board and teachers, and in policy review, the other areas require further improvement.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

Priorities for development identified in March 2013 included developing:

  • teaching and learning programmes that reflect the breadth of The New Zealand Curriculum, including career guidance for students in Years 7 and 8
  • compliance with legislation that relates to EOTC processes and promotes student safety
  • robust self-review processes
  • effective professional relationships between staff and the board.

There has been recent progress in addressing some of these areas of concern. However, during the course of the Paetawhiti review, educational leadership and student achievement were identified as additional priorities.


All classes have a settled, purposeful tone. Students comment that they are now more involved in learning activities.

The principal reported low student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for 2013. The board and teachers are beginning to focus on accelerating the progress of students where lifts in achievement were needed. Recently, groups of students have been identified for targeted teaching. As a result there has been an improved focus on purposeful teaching to support learners’ needs.

The principal knows that engaging with whānau is critical to improving learning outcomes for students. Teachers have improved their knowledge of National Standards. This will help them more accurately report student achievement to whānau. Students share their learning with parents at three-way conferences and on other occasions. Teachers are encouraging students to talk more confidently about their learning. This is an ongoing process.

Teachers now work well together and plan collaboratively. They improve their knowledge through more frequent, planned, professional conversations. These sharing opportunities are beginning to impact positively on teacher practice.

The board is aware of its responsibilities for students when they are involved in EOTC activities. Trustees are now more cautious when approving trips beyond the school grounds. Teachers follow processes to gain approval when students are taken on trips outside the school.

Student achievement continues to be an area of concern. The board of trustees and principal are aware that a relentless focus is necessary to improve outcomes for students. This focus should be supported by:

  • the board establishing realistic targets for student achievement that will help them to make effective decisions about support and interventions
  • teachers and students identifying specific gaps in student learning
  • teachers planning for purposeful teaching that addresses the learning gaps for individual students
  • refining formats for reporting student progress and achievement to parents in relation to National Standards
  • evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and interventions in accelerating students’ progress
  • robust appraisal processes that critique teaching and leadership practices and contribute to positive outcomes for students.

The principal and school leaders have yet to develop a strong school curriculum that encompasses the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum. Effective educational leadership is necessary to:

  • develop shared understandings about teaching and learning
  • establish high expectations of teachers and students
  • promote greater student understanding of their progress and achievement so they can set appropriate goals and plan for their learning
  • provide careers education for students in Years 7 and 8.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not yet well placed to improve its performance. Some progress has been made. However, greater urgency and accountability are necessary to embed good practices that will promote better outcomes for students. The board has engaged external support to develop its capacity to address the areas of concern and to govern the school effectively. This training is about to start.

The board and teachers have established effective working relationships. The principal has good relationships with the community. As a result a positive tone is evident within the school.

During 2013 teachers participated in several professional development programmes to support curriculum development and to improve their knowledge. While teachers speak positively of this learning, the impact on teaching and learning has been minimal. The appointment of a teacher for the start of the 2015 school year who can establish positive relationships and strengthen the teaching team will be a crucial decision.

It is now essential that the principal and board provide effective educational leadership and governance to guide the school’s improvement. The board, principal and teachers must build their capacity for critical reflection to support robust self review at all levels of school operations.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the principal and trustees use Ministry of Education and the New Zealand School Trustees Association support to build their capability in leadership and governance.


Pakaraka School has a positive school tone and culture. Low student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics is an area of concern. The principal and the board plan to work with external support to establish leadership and governance strategies that will promote ongoing school improvement.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

23 October 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 30 Boys 29

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

23 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

October 2009

November 2006