Rakaia School - 02/03/2017

1 Context

Rakaia School is a rural school catering for children from Years 1 to 8.

Since the 2013 ERO review, there has been a roll increase which has resulted in a more diverse school population. A large number of these children are transient and have spent short periods of time in other schools. New classrooms have been built as a result of roll growth.

Changes to the leadership team include a new deputy principal and the senior teacher responsible for the junior school. New trustees have joined established board members and support the principal in meeting the school's objectives.

The school is a member of the local Community of Learning which includes early learning services and schools.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to learn and play together in partnership, strive for quality and be respectful of themselves, others and the environment.

The school’s achievement information shows that a number of children, including Māori and Pacific children, are not achieving at the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has programmes in place to support these children, including an experienced mathematics teacher and specific learning support for small groups or individual children. Evidence also shows that some Māori children have made steady progress over time in reading, and some Pacific children have made progress in writing and mathematics.

School leaders and teachers use achievement information to identify children's learning needs. Resourcing by the board enables learning support staff to assist children while the class teacher works closely with those whose learning needs are greatest. Teachers work in partnership with parents by sharing strategies, resources and ideas that will support children in their learning at home. The school has been involved in the Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) programme. A teacher with strengths in the teaching of mathematics has been working with children at risk of not achieving. Increased achievement levels are evident as a result of this intervention.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is being proactive in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Teachers know the children as individuals. They actively encourage positive and respectful relationships. These clearly reflect the school's values which are closely aligned to the Māori concepts of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. Māori children are able to regularly hear and use te reo Māori alongside their teachers and peers. Older children are encouraged to care for younger children. Able and knowledgeable children (tuakana) willingly support other children (teina) who need help with their learning.

Teachers use a range of ways to assess Māori children’s learning. They effectively use this assessment information and their knowledge of each child to identify those at risk of not achieving. Programmes to specifically meet the learning needs of individual children are well managed by the teacher responsible for these initiatives. Regular team discussions ensure all teachers are familiar with and can support the needs and progress of individual children.

Positive partnerships have been built with Māori parents. Teachers share effective strategies and resources to enhance learning for children at home. These initiatives have their greatest effect on those children who spend more time at this school. The board has also provided resourcing to support both children and staff to learn te reo and tikanga Māori from a Māori tutor. There is also a kapa haka group.

The next step is for senior leaders and teachers to develop a shared definition of what acceleration of learning means. They need to clearly identify and report what the school is successfully doing to accelerate the progress of Māori children.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Teachers use similar approaches to respond to other groups of children whose learning requires acceleration. Ongoing discussions and sharing of effective strategies are used to children who have had several changes of school over time.

Achievement information indicates that the 74% of children achieve at or above the National Standards in reading and 70% in mathematics. Achievement information also shows that with targeted learning support, 89% of Māori children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, 64% in writing and at the standard in mathematics.

56% percent of Pacific children are achieving at and above the standard in writing and mathematics. Senior leaders and teachers are actively supporting children who are not achieving at the standard in mathematics.

The achievement targets for 2015 were not met. The school targets should be strengthened so that children are better supported to make the necessary accelerated progress in order to reach the National Standards. Senior leaders need to track and report more regularly to the board on the progress and acceleration of individuals and groups over time.

Internal moderation of teacher judgements about children's levels of attainment are ongoing. Further confirmation of the accuracy of these judgements could be strengthened by working with teachers at a similar level in neighbouring schools. 

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's organisational processes and practices successfully develop and enact the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

The curriculum has been reviewed and is presently being updated to more effectively reflect the school's values and vision. The school strongly promotes a whānau-like environment that is clearly evident in the positive interactions between children and staff. Teachers effectively use the values to support the emphasis on respecting others. This approach is building a more responsive environment for children and families whose cultural background differs from that of others.

Teachers provide children with a wide range of learning opportunities and experiences in and beyond the school. The increasing use of e-learning specifically supports children's independence in learning and greater confidence in researching information for themselves. Children are becoming more responsible in managing themselves and their learning. Senior students confidently select their learning focus areas and plan how they will gather information to meet their goals.

School leaders and teachers have developed strong links within the community to provide additional learning opportunities for children. The school maintains useful, ongoing relationships with local early childhood services and secondary schools to support children's successful transitions into school and on to high school.

The principal effectively uses the strengths of the team to lead and make collective decisions. Targeted professional learning and development is well-aligned to the school goals. School leaders actively promote collaborative practices including professional discussion and reflection to improve teaching and learning across the school.

Senior leaders work well as a team and have begun working with the staff to update a number of processes and procedures including internal evaluation, developing a more robust appraisal system and the staff manual.

The school leadership have identified that they need to complete and embed the curriculum and other recent initiatives. Bicultural aspects should be more visible in all areas of the school's programme, documentation and planning.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years.

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the board and senior leaders make sure that:

  • robust appraisal is used to increase teacher capacity and capability
  • greater emphasis is placed on accelerating the progress of children at risk of not achieving at the National Standards
  • planned and regular internal processes are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the school's curriculum and of the board's stewardship role. 

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer - Southern/Te Waipounamu

2 March 2017

About the school 


Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 53%; Boys 47%

Ethnic composition




Cook Island



Other ethnicities








Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

2 March 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

August 2013

June 2010

February 2007