Tairua School - 07/04/2017

1 Context

Tairua School is located in the seaside community of Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula. It caters for children in Years 1 to 8. The current roll is 167 of whom 38 identify as Māori. The school has experienced significant roll growth over recent years. New classrooms will be built to accommodate increased numbers in 2017. The school is led by an experienced principal and staffing is mostly unchanged. The school has responded well to the areas of review and development identified in the 2012 ERO report related to cumulative tracking of children's progress over time and strengthening the place of te ao Māori.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to develop as Tairua School citizens who are:

  • connected to the local, global and national environment
  • independent self managers
  • trustworthy and reliable
  • innovative and creative thinkers
  • they will be engaged in others' welfare and understand that it is not all about me.

The school’s achievement information shows that between 2013 and 2016, in the context of significant roll growth, the disparity between Māori and other children has significantly reduced. During this time achievement has improved for all students, particularly in reading and mathematics. At the end of 2015 school data shows that approximately 88% of children were performing at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school uses an appropriate range and balance of assessment tools, and regular sharing and discussion of student work samples to make judgements about each child's achievement in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers are yet to undertake moderation of these judgements with teachers from other schools.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has undertaken school-wide and ongoing professional development in strengthening teaching and learning practices. New understandings have led to a number of changes in practice including:

  • a greater commitment to equity for all learners
  • more effective use of student success teachers (teacher aides)
  • the employment of specialist teachers in mathematics and literacy which has meant the release of class teachers to work with priority learners
  • the refinement of the school timetable to place a higher priority on core subjects. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

School data shows the school is effectively accelerating the achievement of Māori children whose learning needs acceleration. This data shows that in 2016 in reading, 7 of the 11 Māori children below National Standards made accelerated progress. In writing 6 of the 14 children made accelerated progress and in mathematics 5 of 9 children. School data shows there are no Māori children working below National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics in Years 6 to 8. School leaders acknowledge the need to continue to further strengthen the visibility of Māori language and culture to promote success for Māori as Māori.

The school effectively identifies Māori children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. The numbers, names and needs of Māori children whose progress requires acceleration are identified and their progress is closely monitored. Priority learners are clearly identified by classroom teachers and school leaders in reporting to the board of trustees. This information enables trustees to make informed decisions about ongoing resourcing to accelerate the achievement of Māori learners.

The school has strengthened the way it responds to the learning needs of children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. An experienced and qualified kaiako/pukenga has been employed. He has strengthened te reo Māori tuition throughout the school, and implemented tikanga practices that are now more visible. Regular reports and valuable feedback provided to the principal is put to good use to inform the strategic direction of the school.

School leaders have recently re-established positive relationships with local iwi. They have increased their understanding of the importance of further developing and implementing culturally responsive practices, designing a local, place-based curriculum to enhance student identity, and further improve learning outcomes for Māori children.

It is now necessary to develop, document and implement a clear shared philosophy of teaching and expectations to ensure that te reo and tikanga Māori are integrated through all aspects of school operations and learning programmes.

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

The school is effectively accelerating the achievement of other children whose learning needs acceleration. The school uses the same effective systems for identifying other children whose learning needs acceleration as it does for Māori children.

Children with identified special needs are learning in a supportive, affirming and inclusive environment. For these children the school has established positive working relationships with outside agencies. There is an effective process for developing and monitoring individual education plans, which involves teachers, support workers, outside agencies, and parents and whānau. Other children are meaningfully involved in supporting children with special needs through a buddy system, and the board resourcing is generous.

It is necessary to ensure that the targeted, specific and differentiated teaching in reading and mathematics is transferred to writing. There is also a need to strengthen the understanding that families, whānau and children have about each child's progress and next steps in learning. Reviewing and refining assessment practices, including the use of school-wide learning progressions, will contribute to this improvement.

School leaders acknowledge the need to continue to further implement strategies that make the learning process more visible for children and their families. This provides opportunities for children to take more responsibility for their own learning.

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 curriculum and other organisational processes and practices effectively develop and enact the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

There is a clearly documented framework containing descriptions of the school's valued outcomes for children. There is a rich range of opportunities for children to experience success in academic, sporting and cultural areas. Some of these experiences intentionally make use of the area's unique bush and coastal environment. Children are actively involved in acts of service to local and international community as global citizens. They are developing competence and confidence in leadership.

The whole school community is in the process of reviewing the curriculum. This review needs to include:

  • clear, well-understood and consistently implemented expectations for teaching linked to current educational theory and best practice
  • a stronger reflection of local history, environment and identity, that is the tūrangawaewae of the school.

There are models of effective teaching in the school that include many of the following strategies;

  • real-life contexts for learning
  • accessing children's prior knowledge and linking learning to children's life experiences
  • cooperative learning groups
  • good use of digital technologies to consolidate, extend learning, and increasingly to encourage collaborative learning.

Teachers are sharing skills that enable children to manage and direct their own learning. ERO observed:

  • teachers and leaders collating and responding to children's feedback in all areas of school operations to improve programmes of learning
  • children's interests and questions being used to inform planning and learning programmes
  • some teachers piloting programmes whereby children design and manage their own timetables.

Children are highly motivated, work well together, and share learning experiences with one another and their teachers.

School connections and relationships with parents, whānau and the wider community have led to increased engagement, an enhanced curriculum and accelerated progress for children. There is a comprehensive range of communication strategies used to inform parents of happenings within the school. They participate in and contribute to the life of the school.

Teachers have worked in collaborative partnerships with the parents of at-risk children to accelerate their progress. Reports to parents are informative, and regularly reviewed to ensure they are useful records of each child's progress and achievement. School leaders need to continue to explore ways to ensure effective dialogue with all groups within the school to further promote positive outcomes for all children.

School leaders and teachers are effective in many aspects of evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building, which leads to ongoing school improvement. There is a well-established culture of learning and inquiry where staff, community and children's perspectives and aspirations are valued and included in school decision making.

Leaders can strengthen the school's appraisal systems and processes leaders by:

  • integrating the dimensions and criteria of Tātaiako
  • providing rigorous feedback to teachers against agreed, measureable criteria
  • including the achievement of target students as the basis of teacher appraisal goals and teaching as inquiry.

Evaluating the effectiveness of innovations and interventions should include evidence of accelerated student achievement as one of the main measures.

Trustees understand that their primary focus is accelerating the progress of children who are underachieving. Achievement targets are set and progress towards achieving them is monitored regularly. The board has a positive relationship with the community and an effective working relationship with the principal. Trustees bring a useful range of experiences to their roles and responsibilities. They are effectively managing a growing roll.

In order to strengthen their practice trustees need to consider:

  • ensuring Māori perspectives are part of board discussions and decision making
  • strengthening the way achievement targets are expressed
  • implementing systems to ensure that the board keeps up to date with changing legislative requirements, and Ministry of Education expectations and guidelines
  • a more strategic approach to training.

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 effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children. 

To continue to improve learning outcomes for children includes:

  • the whole school community contributing to the curriculum review
  • teachers continuing to strengthen their practice
  • leaders and teachers ensuring that children and parents are more able to take responsibility for their own and their children's learning
  • leaders and the board ensuring that rate of progress data is the central focus of evaluation and inquiry.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should:

prioritise the review of policies and procedures that potentially have a high impact on children's wellbeing. This includes:

  1. the behaviour management policy

  2. the staff appointment policy

  3. other policies pertaining to children's emotional health and safety 

7 Recommendation

Tairua School is developing a modern, innovative and culturally responsive curriculum. Continuing to strengthen this, by increasing the visibility of Māori language, culture, student agency, and specific and targeted teaching, can contribute significantly to maintaining equity of outcomes for all children, and their development as local and global citizens. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

7 April 2017

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 56% Girls 44%

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

7 April 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2012

February 2010

April 2007