Parakai School - 05/11/2012

1 Context

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

Parakai School is a small primary school catering for students from Years 1-8 in the Kaipara district. The school roll comprises almost equal numbers of Māori and New Zealand Pākehā students and includes a small number of Pacific students.

The school has retained a strong sense of its semi-rural, community-based background. Its setting enables staff to know all students and their families, and promotes tuakana/teina relationships between older and young students. The warm, inclusive school environment facilitates good provision for the high number of students with diverse educational needs. Positive relationships at all levels of the school promote home/school partnerships and support student learning.

The board of trustees, through the principal, is working effectively with the Ministry of Education’s Student Achievement Function (SAF). The SAF leader provides valuable advice and guidance that includes the important next steps identified in the school’s 2009 ERO report. The principal and staff are making good use of the professional development they receive to help support ongoing school improvement.

2 Learning

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

Students are very willing learners. Classrooms are mostly settled and focused places in which students apply themselves to set tasks. Where they are well motivated and challenged, students rise to meet teacher expectations. In these classrooms, students know about what they are learning and engage actively in setting their own learning goals.

Students in the school who have special educational needs receive high levels of support from teachers and teacher aides. These students make good progress against well specified individual education plans.

The school has a good deal of increasingly reliable information about how well each student is progressing and achieving in reading, writing and mathematics. The achievement data is also broken down by ethnic and gender groups. The information shows that most students achieve at levels that are at or above National Standards. Girls generally outperform boys and Māori students achieve at rates similar to those of their New Zealand Pākehā peers. The senior teachers are aware that, although some Pacific students are achieving at levels that are at or above National Standards, others need further support.

August 2012 school data on reading shows some accelerated learning in all the Year 3 to 8 classes, and data covering the past three years shows that students make steady progress over their time in the school. School leaders use data to set annual achievement targets. Teachers review the data to identify students on whom they should place a stronger focus in their classroom work. School leaders recognise that continuing this targeted use of achievement data should help teachers to further accelerate student learning.

Teachers provide parents with relevant information about what their children can do and about their next learning steps. Parents report that they value the teacher/child/parent conferences now in place. A next step is to provide parents with more relevant information about the progress of their children in science, social studies and technology, and in the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum.

3 Curriculum

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

Many aspects of the school’s curriculum effectively promote and support student learning. Strong pastoral care helps prepare students for learning and promotes a positive and affirming learning climate. A new and interesting library learning space, and improved information and communication technologies, provide students with increased opportunities for independent learning.

Students’ academic learning is celebrated in the school, as are their sporting and cultural successes. The school’s curriculum incorporates social skills and empathy programmes, as well as character building and values education, thus supporting the development of the whole child. Students have recently had increased and valuable opportunities to learn about and participate in the Māori component of New Zealand’s cultural heritage.

The school’s expectations and class timetable allocations promote student learning in the important core subjects of literacy and numeracy. Improving integrated teaching approaches is a next step for teachers. In some classrooms, more consistent links should be forged between literacy and other subject areas, and with the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. Stronger links would help provide more meaningful contexts for learning and, in some classrooms, would make programmes more relevant for students.

In 2012, school leaders introduced a new, concept-based approach to students’ inquiry-based integrated learning. The new approach is soundly based and provides high levels of support for teachers in their programme planning. In classrooms where inquiry-based studies are implemented as intended, teachers have the foundation for improved programmes and greater coverage of the The New Zealand Curriculum.

During the review, senior leaders and ERO discussed the advantages of senior staff:

  • continuing to update and document the school curriculum so that expectations for programmes are specific and their implementation can be more rigorously monitored
  • using the high quality teaching models within the school to help ensure that good practices of formative teaching and learning are implemented more consistently
  • providing more focused and ongoing in-class support, coaching and mentoring for teachers who would benefit from this
  • continuing to strengthen curriculum accountability and teacher performance management processes.

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

The bilingual unit, Te Whare Kākano, is the school’s major contribution towards the goal of promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori. Besides teaching her own class, the new teacher in Te Whare Kākano takes lessons in all classrooms, and promotes biculturalism and kapa haka throughout the school. This approach enables Māori students in all classes to experience their language and culture as part of their school lives and learning programmes.

The board of trustees’ goal for 2012 is to raise Māori achievement, and to foster students’ pride in their progress and achievement. School leaders have used recent Ministry of Education publications and external support to introduce new ideas and initiatives. Māori parents have responded positively to improvements in the board’s processes for consultation with them. These important steps help promote educational success for Māori, as Māori, throughout the school.

Students in the bilingual class benefit from rich opportunities to hear te reo and experience tikanga Māori in meaningful contexts. They work with students from Māori-medium classes in other schools in the community, thus enabling them to extend their links and their learning pathways in the local educational community.

The Whare Kākāno teacher is adapting to new national expectations for Māori-medium teaching and assessment. Further external and internal support should help establish planning, implementation and assessment expectations within the unit.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

With ongoing external support, the school is likely to sustain and improve its performance.

The board comprises committed and capable trustees who bring a wealth of talent and experience to their governance role. Trustees provide the school with high levels of support. They plan well for board continuity. Trustees know the community well and are pivotal in maintaining positive working relationships within the school and with the community.

School self-review processes are being strengthened. The board has a planned programme to update policies. Trustees receive regular reports from the principal about actions that are being taken to implement strategic and annual goals. Trustees are informed about the outcomes of a growing number of relevant surveys and consultation undertaken with families and students.

A next step for the board is to seek increasingly purposeful and evaluative reports about how self-review has impacted on decisions made and on provisions made for students. The board should also ensure that its most important self-review process, that of appraising the principal’s performance, is undertaken annually, and within time-frames that enable the appraiser and appraisee to engage in constructive professional discussion.

In 2009 ERO recommended that the principal share the responsibility for leadership tasks more directly with staff. This has been achieved and senior leaders now have a more direct role in leading school improvements. Senior managers have responded very well to the external support they have received and are intent on making positive changes within the school. As part of this change, the principal has begun to provide teachers with more focused feedback on their professional work.

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. No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

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 improve current practice, the school should determine how it will report to parents on their children’s achievement in relation to the National Standards, for each of the first three years after their children begin school.

ERO identified one area of non-compliance. The board must ensure that the principal engages in a performance appraisal at least every 12 months [s77C State Sector Act 1988].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Violet Tu'uga

Stevenson National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

5 November 2012

About the School


Parakai, Helensville

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 53%

Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā








Special Features

Bilingual unit

Host school for Resource Teacher: Literacy and Special Learning Support Teacher

Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

5 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2009

February 2007

June 2004