Ruakaka School - 11/12/2019

School Context

Ruakaka School caters for students from Years 1 to 6. The roll of 273 includes 54 percent Māori and smaller groups of children from a variety of other ethnic backgrounds. Over 28 percent of the children enrolled have additional learning needs.

The school’s strategic goals prioritise people, community, environment and culture. Ka aroha tātou ki te ako tahi, we love to learn together, is at the heart of Ruakaka School. Students are invited to live the acronym SHINE; a student Shows respect, is Helpful, Inclusive, Never gives up, and is an Environmental guardian.

The school has had significant building and redevelopment since the last review and more is imminent as the roll continues to grow. Development includes the school’s te reo bilingual unit Te Whānau Harakeke. This unit currently has four classes, one of which is a full immersion class. Its curriculum is guided by the principles of Te Marautanga. All students are assessed against the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics in relation to NZC levels
  • progress and achievement of children in Te Whānau Harakeke
  • progress in relation to the schoolwide goal for te reo Māori
  • outcomes for children with additional learning needs
  • attendance, student engagement and wellbeing.

Teachers continue to engage in whole school professional development. This includes PB4L (positive behaviour for learning) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) with the Bream Bay Kāhui Ako.

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?

The school is making very good progress in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students.

School information shows most students achieve at or above expected NZC levels in reading, a large majority in mathematics, and a small majority in writing. Māori students and students with Pacific heritage achieve at the same level as their peers. School data show that students in Te Whānau Harakeke also make significant progress during their time at the school and most achieve well.

As a result of the school’s commitment to bicultural education, and leadership from Te Whānau Harakeke, all students are familiar and are developing capability with te reo o Ngāpuhi Patuharakeke. They know about tikanga for Takahiwai marae.

Students achieve very well in relation to other valued outcomes, consistently demonstrating the five key competencies identified in the NZC. They also demonstrate school values that support positive interactions with others. Children have fun, are caring and friendly, show pride in their school, and are well supported and cared for by staff.

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

There is good evidence that the school is successfully accelerating Māori students’ progress, and that of the substantial number of students with additional needs who attend the school.

Leaders and teachers identify students who need accelerated learning in reading, writing and mathematics. These children’s progress is carefully tracked and monitored. Strategies for promoting and accelerating learning are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are responsive to individual students’ needs. As a result, data show that learning is accelerated for the majority of these students.

The school’s belief is that inclusivity and children’s wellbeing are an essential focus for all decision making. Goals for the large group of students with additional learning needs are regularly reviewed and new plans are developed. For many of these learners, social and familial outcomes are paramount. Responsibility for their learning is shared across the school community and all students benefit from this engagement.

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?

The board of trustees has developed a sound strategic plan. Trustees consult widely, identify areas of community importance, and initiate changes in their policy framework to refresh school practices. The board is unified in its approach to representing and serving the school and community. The school’s annual plan identifies milestones, initiatives, resourcing and areas of responsibility. The board receives very good information from the principal about student progress and achievement that informs their strategic resourcing decisions and ensures that the school meets the diverse needs of all learners.

The school has capable, professional leadership, characterised by collaborative decision making that exemplifies a high trust model. There is collective responsibility for learners with additional learning needs and learners who need to make accelerated progress. Parents are well informed about their children’s learning and how to support their progress. The school’s individualised teacher appraisal and mentoring approaches are effective. They help to maintain curriculum expectations and grow teachers’ capability.

Teachers know children well as individuals and as learners, and have high levels of awareness of their capabilities and needs. Children experience an extensive and innovative curriculum that engages them and contributes to their success and achievement. Teachers create interesting opportunities for physical challenge and problem solving that foster creative thinking and a love of learning. Children make links in their learning to real world contexts through inquiry and experience-based learning.

Deliberate leadership ensures that bicultural practices are embedded and integrated into the life of the school. Tikanga Māori is part of regular school operations. All students and staff engage in bicultural practices as part of an inclusive school community. Māori children experience success as Māori and all children learn about the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. The school’s longstanding relationship with Takahiwai marae gives it a wide range of resources to support a broad curriculum, including environmental education and te reo Māori for all students.

The school has active relationships with parents, whānau and the community. Communications support reciprocal learning-centred relationships effectively. Leaders’ and teachers’ engagement with parents results in high levels of community involvement in children’s learning programmes and the life of the school.

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

Leaders recognise that more explicitly identifying expected outcomes for each strategic goal and reporting evaluatively against these would be helpful for the board in evaluating the effectiveness of its governance practices.

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 Ruakaka School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Strong.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance 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:

  • steadfast leadership that guides and supports rich and varied learning experiences for all children
  • commitment from teachers and support staff to improving their practices and learning outcomes for all children
  • learning partnerships with parents that promote children’s enthusiasm for life-long learning.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to strengthen the effective processes already in place including the board’s evaluation of its overall effectiveness.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

11 December 2019

About the school


Ruakaka, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number


School type


School roll


Gender composition

Girls 55% Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori 54%
NZ European/Pākehā 39%
other ethnic groups 7%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Number of Māori medium classes


Total number of students in Māori medium (MME)


Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)


Number of students in Level 1 MME


Number of students in Level 2 MME


Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

11 December 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2016
Education Review June 2013
Education Review August 2010