Stirling School - 16/10/2018

School Context

Stirling School provides education for students from Years 1 to 8. It is a rural school located in Stirling, Otago. There are 28 students on the roll.

Students learn in a multilevel class with two teachers. Staffing is stable, with a long-serving principal.

The school’s vision is that ‘self-belief and courage build success.’ Its values are for students to demonstrate respect for self, community and environment, and show honesty and care.  The school’s current strategic goals are to support student achievement and progress in the breadth of the New Zealand curriculum (NZC). The principal regularly reports to the board the school’s performance against these goals and the school vision.

Schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas is also reported to the board:

  • programmes and contexts for learning
  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • accelerated progress for those students who have not reached curriculum expectations.

The school is part of the South Otago Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL). 

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 working steadily towards achieving equitable outcomes for its students. Over the last three years achievement in reading, writing and mathematics has trended upwards. Achievement in mathematics is considerably higher than for reading and writing. Historically, boys and Māori students have not achieved as well as girls or their non-Māori peers, except in mathematics.

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

The school has effectively accelerated the progress of most students who needed extra support. The school data shows that since 2016, five of the six students who needed extra support to succeed have accelerated their progress and are now working at the expected levels for their ages.

Nearly all Māori students who needed extra support to succeed have made accelerated progress. These students are now achieving at expectations.

The board currently receives reports on the progress made by students targeted to have their learning accelerated. These reports need to identify groups of students who have not yet achieved at expected levels, so that informed decisions can be made to address this.

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?

Respectful caring relationships between teachers and students and among students, have developed and sustained the friendly, inclusive environment for students to learn. Students said to ERO that they like their school with its family-like atmosphere and that they feel safe. Teachers know students well and encourage caring relationships. Tuakana-teina relationships are evident in class and the playground, as is ako (where the learner is the teacher and the teacher is the learner).

Students learn through a broad curriculum. They experience a wide range of learning opportunities within and beyond the school. Students’ ideas are sought, valued and responded to. They are beginning to take an increasing level of responsibility for their learning. Students say it is safe to take risks in their learning and mistakes are regarded as opportunities for learning.

Since the 2015 ERO review the school has developed and documented all the learning areas from the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The principal and teacher have identified, and ERO agrees, that it is timely to review these and further develop the social sciences.

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

Some of the recommendations from the previous two reviews remain areas for improvement, particularly internal evaluation/self review.

Students would benefit from having more information about expectations of achievement. This would support them to have greater control of their learning and be more self-managing and independent.

Internal evaluation needs to be better understood and implemented at all levels. The board, principal and teacher need to develop:

  • their knowledge and understanding of internal evaluation
  • a schedule to ensure all areas of school operations and students’ learning are reviewed over time
  • a robust framework to guide the evaluation process and ensure it is consistently implemented
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

The current strategic plan contains business as usual rather than priorities for future direction. The board, principal and teacher need to identify the school’s priorities and include these in the strategic and annual plans.

Teachers’ planning needs strengthening. It is currently context and activity based. Teachers need to more explicitly show how they will provide age-appropriate learning opportunities, especially for targeted students. They need to focus on skill development to ensure all students are learning at their point of challenge.

Some processes and practices have not been well sustained over time. Some policies need to include more detail and be implemented more consistently, such as appraisal, cybersafety, teaching guidelines and others.

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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

Appraisal audit

ERO found that while the principal appraisal process is well implemented and documented, aspects of appraisal for the teacher needed to be formalised and better documented.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure policies/procedures contain enough detail to cover the requirements
  • ensure that agreed school procedures are implemented consistently.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • caring, respectful relationships between teachers and students
  • the provision of a broad curriculum
  • its response to students’ voice.

Next steps

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

  • implementing rigorous internal evaluation
  • ensuring the strategic plan reflects the school’s priorities
  • targeted planning to accelerate learning
  • supporting students to know more about their learning and take increasing responsibility for it.

ERO requests that the board, principal and teacher develop an action plan to show how they will manage to address the recommendations from this report.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard
Director Review & Improvement Services Southern

16 October 2018

About the school 


South Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full primary (Years 1-8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys:  16

Girls:  12

Ethnic composition

Māori                         9

Pākehā                    16

Other ethnicities     3

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

16 October 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education review:         September 2014

Education review:         May 2011

Education review:         February 2008