South Featherston School - 10/07/2013

1 Context

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

South Featherston is a small rural school in South Wairarapa that caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The 63 students on the roll at the time of this ERO review learn in three multi-level classrooms. Most identify as New Zealand European and a tenth identifying as Māori. Staffing has been stable for several years and a change is signalled with the resignation of one teacher.

Since the 2010 ERO review, the principal has led development of a school curriculum and guidelines to support teaching and learning. She has promoted the establishment of shared understandings and expectations for a positive school culture, based on the school values and desired attitudes. In 2012, the school became part of the South Wairarapa Learning and Change Network. This cluster initiative is investigating reasons why some students do not make expected progress.

Students are supported to be self-managing learners. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are used effectively as learning tools.

2 Learning

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

Assessment practice and use of student achievement data have developed considerably since the 2010 ERO review. A suitable range of tools is used for informing teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. At the end of 2012, the school reported that the majority of students met or performed above the Standards in all three areas.

Analysis of data appropriately identifies subject areas for inquiry and patterns of achievement across the classes. Targets are set for improvement. In 2013, specific students are identified for additional assistance to accelerate learning and progress in writing and mathematics. While there is no significant pattern of ethnicity amongst these students, boys are targeted for writing.

The principal articulates the expectation that data will be used for responsive programme planning and delivery to promote positive outcomes for students. She is supporting teachers to look closely at the achievement of students whose learning has slowed and use specific strategies to meet their needs. Teachers use assessment information to plan for individual and small group learning. They monitor individual student progress well. As a result of focused teaching in 2012, a small group of Years 2 and 3 students made accelerated progress in mathematics. However, there is need for strengthening the consistency in the quality of these practices across the classrooms.

Students talk confidently about their progress and can identify their next learning steps. Initiatives have been introduced to promote student ownership of learning. These include students using their progress and achievement folders to lead discussion with their parents. Senior students have begun to write their own reports. The links between student-led learning and teacher planning should be strengthened to ensure that specific planning and teaching strategies consistently support each student’s next learning steps. This includes those students who have specific needs, require assistance or extension.

Reports to parents show their child's achievement in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, other learning areas and key competencies.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum reflects the local context and is based on The New Zealand Curriculum. Well documented guidelines support teaching and learning. Curriculum design promotes student learning through a school-wide commitment to structured inquiry. Teachers focus on supporting students to access, process, sort, validate and use information to answer questions and solve problems. Literacy and mathematics are well integrated with inquiry.

Students are respected as competent learners and independence is encouraged. They are able to engage in a variety of classroom activities. Teachers share the lesson purpose, link new ideas to prior learning and ask open-ended questions. Exemplars are effectively used to help students understand what high quality work looks like.

Transition into school at age five is well managed and sound foundations are laid for early learning. With the pending appointment of new staff and the need for greater consistency in delivery, it is timely that clear expectations of high quality teaching practice, that include specific strategies to support the learning of all students, be developed and documented.

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

Trustees and staff actively promote bicultural partnerships. A plan documents collaboratively developed staff actions to foster partnership with whānau. Learning about te ao Māori, the local area and its history are emphasised in programme contexts. Activities have included a marae visit and the introduction of a well supported kapa haka group. A Māori resource person has been appointed to teach te reo Māori. Teachers have recently been involved in professional development for implementing Ka Hikitia - Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy.

To build on to these worthwhile steps for recognising Māori students' culture, identity and language and promoting their success as Māori, the school should continue to develop:

  • teachers’ confidence and competence in the use of te reo Māori
  • relationships with whānau to further establish what success means at this school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The board is future-focused and prioritises students and their learning. Trustees work collaboratively and support the students and staff through resourcing, staffing and property initiatives. ICT is an area of ongoing focus and development.

The strategic plan was developed collaboratively, following extensive consultation and is based on the vision and values. Expected outcomes for each strategic goal are well documented and the principal regularly informs the board about progress towards meeting these goals. These reports are an integral part of trustee meetings.

The principal takes a systematic approach to improving outcomes for students and developing a team culture amongst staff. She leads development of teacher knowledge, strategies and skills through providing opportunities for reflection, educational reading and discussion. Formal professional development for teachers is well planned and linked to school priorities.

Trustees and teachers reflect on practice. This process would be more useful if it were evidencebased. A shared understanding and process of self review should be developed. The appraisal process is being strengthened to ensure all staff receive robust feedback that leads to setting specific, measurable goals. This is likely to support professional growth and critical reflection.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

10 July 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 38, Female 25

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Other ethnic groups






Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

10 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2010

June 2008

November 2005