Riverlands School - 18/11/2019

School Context

Riverlands School, Blenheim, provides education for students from years 1 to 8. Of the roll of 224 children, 25% identify as Māori.

The recently refreshed school’s vision is “Mā te whiritahi ka whakatutuki ai na pūmanawa a tangata, together weaving the realisation of potential”. Valued outcomes for students are manaakitanga, respect, whanaungatanga, relationships, kaitiakitanga, responsibility and manawaroa, resilience.

Since the 2015 ERO review, there have been personnel changes to the board and staff.

Teachers have participated in professional learning and development (PLD) in mathematics, writing, and cultural responsiveness.

The school is a member of Piritahi Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • reading recovery achievement
  • progress for children with additional needs.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

There is no clear picture of schoolwide achievement from 2018 or for mid-year 2019. The school is unable to show how well it achieves equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. The school does not track and monitor the progress and achievement of groups and cohorts across the school.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school has not demonstrated how well it responds to Māori and other students who are at risk of not achieving. There is extensive data collected on individual students. This is not analysed in terms of rates of progress for groups or cohorts.

School targets are not focused on those students whose progress needs acceleration.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Children are knowledgeable about the new vision, developed by the board in consultation with families and whānau, that reflects the aspirations and values of school’s community. These values promote a holistic approach, are highly visible in classrooms and included in teaching and learning programmes.

Classrooms generally are welcoming, settled environments. An external provider enhances the school’s focus on student wellbeing. Teachers and support staff know their students well. Teachers care about and promote students’ participation in learning.

Children with additional needs are well supported. External agencies are accessed as appropriate. Individual education plans are in place to support and scaffold children’s learning and development.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

School leaders should ensure that achievement information is dependable, consistent and well analysed to clearly show the progress and achievement of all students. Establishing a coherent picture of those students who require acceleration for teachers, leaders and trustees is a priority. Annual target setting and tracking of achievement needs improvement so that students whose progress needs acceleration across the school are more easily monitored and reported on during the year. This should ensure that a deliberate and responsive approach to achieve equity and excellence is taken.

The school has identified that it is timely to review the curriculum so that it better reflects school and community priorities, initiatives and practice. Developing an overarching document, informed by community consultation, that draws together the school’s vision, values, its whakapapa and history, and provides expectations and guidance for teaching practice and learning is a key next step.

The school is in the process of restructuring leadership and clarifying the associated roles and responsibilities. A more cohesive and collaborative leadership team should promote more consistent, quality teacher practice. Further alignment of systems and processes, and evidence-based decision making is needed to support equity and excellence, and acceleration for those learners at risk of not achieving.

A shared understanding of evidence-based internal evaluation should assist and enable trustees, leadership and teachers to determine the impact of strategies, initiatives focused on improving student learning outcomes.

3 Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board 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
  • finance
  • 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 and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Riverlands School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • the newly developed vision and values that reflect the aspirations and valued outcomes of the school community
  • welcoming, settled environments that promote student’s participation in learning
  • the programmes provided for children with additional needs that support their learning and development.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • establishing a schoolwide achievement picture to enable the tracking and monitoring of all students whose learning needs acceleration
  • reviewing the school’s curriculum so that it better reflects local context, strategic priorities, initiatives and expectations of teacher practice
  • strengthening leadership so there is clarity around roles and responsibilities, alignment of systems and processes, and evidence-based decision making for improvement
  • internal evaluation so that trustees, leaders and teachers are able to ascertain the impact of strategies and initiatives on student learning outcomes.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to evaluating and reporting student progress, health consultation, and consultation with the school’s Māori community.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • comply with the requirement to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community
    [Section 60B Education Act 1989]
  • ensure that good quality assessment information is analysed and to evaluate the progress and achievement of all students particularly those whose progress and achievement is at risk
    [National Administration Guidelines 1(b,c)]
  • in consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known to the school’s community, policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students.
    [National Administration Guideline 1(e)].

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • work towards offering students in years 7 and 8 opportunities for learning a second or subsequent languages
  • ensure that ‘in committee’ minutes appropriately record board discussions and decision making

  • strengthen the appraisal and endorsement process to align with the Teaching Council’s guidelines.
    [Part 31 Education Act 1989].

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education and New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in:

  • collation, analysis and use of school wide achievement information to support all students at risk of not achieving
  • strengthening the school’s curriculum to reflect local context, strategic priorities, initiatives and expectations of teacher practice
  • school wide structures, systems and processes, including leadership and internal evaluation, to promote greater clarity, alignment and the use of evidence to measure the impact of strategies on student learning outcomes.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

18 November 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 54%, Female 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori 25%

NZ European/Pākehā 64%

Other ethnic groups 11%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2019

Date of this report

18 November 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2015
Education Review May 2012