Pamapuria School - 30/06/2014

1 Background and Context

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

ERO began this review at Pamapuria School in September 2013 following postponements in 2012 as a result of discussions with the Ministry of Education and the school’s commissioner.

During 2012 evidence came to light which showed that students at Pamapuria School had been at significant physical and emotional risk for some time. The profound impact of offences against students over a number of years has since, resulted in changes at school leadership, staffing and governance levels. The deputy principal was arrested in mid-2012. The then principal was suspended and subsequently dismissed.

A commissioner was appointed by the Ministry of Education in August 2012 after the resignation of the board of trustees. The commissioner provided significant governance and leadership in the school through a difficult and challenging time.

From August 2012 to the end of 2013, the school has had two acting principals. With the commissioner, each has provided important leadership for staff and students at critical stages in the school’s recovery and development. Teachers have worked hard to support children and to provide a safe and stable school environment for teaching and learning.

In late 2013, a new, first-time principal was appointed to start at the beginning of the 2014 school year.

The school is settled and students appear confident and happy. Staff morale is now very much improved. Staffing changes have been well managed. Students and staff have responded positively to the collegial and inclusive approach taken by the new principal. Members of the community also express new-found confidence in the school and its provision for their children.

The new principal, along with teaching staff, is receiving targeted, relevant professional guidance in leadership, curriculum and assessment to support teaching and learning in the school. The school has introduced a positive behaviour programme to support students. The focus on building affirming relationships and using restorative practices to encourage positive behaviour has had good outcomes for both students and teaching staff.

In April 2014 ERO returned to Pamapuria School to evaluate school progress under the leadership of the new principal. The commissioner was still in place at this time. The new board was yet to be established.

This report summarises EROs findings from the September 2013 and April 2014 reviews and reports on the progress that has been made since the events of 2012.

2 Learning

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

Teachers are beginning to use achievement information with confidence to make positive decisions about students engagement, progress and achievement. Teachers have received support and targeted professional development from the acting principals in 2012 and 13 and through the Ministry of Education this year. Professional development is providing important support for the new principal and staff this year.

In September 2013, ERO found that the lack of monitoring and accountability within the school prior to 2012 had resulted in the community believing the school was performing better than it actually was. Teachers had received very little in the way of external professional development to support their practice and had struggled to keep pace with changes in learning and assessment processes. As a result teachers had limited experience collating, analysing, moderating or using achievement data to improve learning for students. 

In 2014 the new principal and staff are working hard together to develop a professional teaching and learning culture in the school. Reliable achievement information is allowing teachers to monitor the progress and achievement of students with special needs and abilities and students who may be at risk of not achieving to their potential.

Student achievement information indicates that the majority are achieving well. Students can talk confidently about their learning and are aware of the next steps for their learning.

With ongoing support, the new principal and board should:

  • continue to develop reliable processes for moderating student achievement data against National Standards, including clear processes for reaching overall teacher judgements
  • implement and embed effective teaching and learning processes to help students understand their progress and achievement
  • update assessment and reporting policies and procedures to more clearly reflect the requirements of the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The new principal is beginning to work with teachers to build a culture of action and reflection. Teachers are using data to inquire into the quality of their own teaching and its impact on student learning. Teachers are also beginning to work more collaboratively to develop effective classroom teaching practices and to help students understand their progress and achievement.

There are examples of very good teaching and learning in the school. Students are active and enthusiastic and respond well to the positive learning relationships they have with their teachers and other students. 

Students are benefitting from:

  • teachers’ more consistent expectations of their learning
  • positive, solutions-focused approaches to managing learning and behaviour
  • teachers’ use of reliable achievement information to plan appropriate learning programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

The review and development of a Pamapuria School curriculum that reflects The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) is an important next step for the board, new principal and teaching staff.

Improved curriculum coverage, and more school wide consistency in planning and implementing the NZC, are important developments for 2014. Professional development is already guiding progress in this area.

The curriculum is providing students with increased opportunities to participate in outdoor activities, team sports and fitness programmes. Student leadership opportunities are provided in these contexts. Education outside the classroom, Whānau days and class trips to areas of local and historic significance are being integrated into school programmes.

The recently introduced VIP programme gives students opportunities to consider their own goals and aspirations and to be motivated by models of success.

To support the development of a curriculum designed for and relevant to Pamapuria School students, the new board of trustees and principal should work together to:

  • consult with whānau and the immediate and wider school community about the development of the school curriculum
  • ensure that curriculum policies and plans reflect the requirements of the NZC and meet the learning needs of Pamapuria School students
  • develop a strategic direction that reflects the aspirations of the school community
  • link the school’s curriculum to the values, vision and principles of the NZC.

ERO’s 2010 report identified the need to develop self-review processes that would allow the quality and sustainability of teaching and learning practices to be evaluated. The principal’s reports to the board should provide trustees with clear information about student learning through the curriculum. This practice should allow the board to make good resourcing decisions to support student learning.

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

The school is beginning to promote more authentic opportunities for students to experience educational success as Māori.

In 2010 ERO recommended a review of school practices against Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education’s strategy for Māori success. This review is yet to take place. 

Sixty-six percent of students at Pamapuria School identify as Māori. Although the school has a strong Māori community and the local marae is located nearby, in 2013 kapa haka was the only identified cultural activity in which students participated on a regular basis. 

In 2014 ERO found that the school curriculum was beginning to provide increased opportunities for students, whānau and staff to connect with the local hapū and iwi, Ngāti Kahu. School excursions are providing opportunities for students and teachers to better understand the significance of Muriwhenua and its history, to the identity of Māori in the school. 

The school and local marae have begun to make stronger and more positive connections. There are good indications that the school is valuing its links with the marae and that the community is committed to being involved more regularly in the life of the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school and its community have made good progress establishing a culture of partnership, learning and trust. Since 2012, the commissioner, acting principals and members of the school community have laid the foundations for a new Pamapuria School direction.

Since 2013 a governance reference group, formed by the commissioner, has provided strategic input into decisions affecting the future of the school. The findings and recommendations of an external review instigated by the commissioner in 2012 have resulted in significant changes to school procedures and practices, particularly in the areas of employment and health and safety.

The newly constituted board includes four ministerial appointments, two elected parent trustees and a staff trustee. The board replaces the commissioner, who completes his tenure in the school at the end of May 2014.

Good employment processes have been implemented. The new board should now ensure that an appropriate performance agreement is negotiated with the new principal and a sound appraisal policy and process is implemented to guide and support him. The new principal should continue to access and receive good quality leadership and curriculum support. Appraisal and performance management processes for teaching and non-teaching staff should also be strengthened.

Challenges for the new board of trustees include:

  • ongoing and robust consultation with whānau and the school community about policies, goals, programmes and targets for school development
  • continued property development and review
  • the review of school policies and procedures and the development of a regular programme of board self review.

ERO affirms the commitment of new board members and the expertise and wisdom of appointed and elected trustees. Trustees’ skills and knowledge should serve the school well. Where necessary, trustees should seek robust external advice to support them in their governance and leadership role.

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.

To ensure they meet legal requirements the board of trustees, with the principal, must:

  • develop and agree the terms of a performance agreement to guide the appraisal of the principal, to support his role and ensure he is responsive to the legislative accountabilities entrusted to him by the board and the crown
    [The National Administration Guidelines 3b] 
  • undertake a curriculum review to ensure that the school’s curriculum, its values and goals, are aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum
    [The National Administration Guidelines 1, b ii, c, e, f] 
  • ensure that written reports to parents are in plain language and clearly show students’ progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics
    [The National Administration Guidelines 2A, a, b, c] 
  • undertake a regular and robust programme of self review
    [The National Administration Guidelines 2, b].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey
National Manager Review Services
Northern Region

30 June 2014

About the School 


Pamapuria, Kaitaia

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls       54
Boys      48

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Review team on site

September 2013 and April 2014

Date of this report

30 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2010
September 2006
June 2003