Tauranga Waldorf School - 21/05/2012

1. Context

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

Tauranga Rudolf Steiner School is a state integrated primary school located in Welcome Bay, Tauranga. The school offers education for children from Class One (Year 2) to Class 7 (Year 8). Since the previous ERO review in 2009 the roll has increased to 181 students, 19% of whom identify as Māori.

The school is located on 14 acres of rural land that includes a farm, vegetable gardens, native bush, wilder land and wetlands. Students are learning practical skills and an appreciation of the natural environment as they work alongside teachers to care for, and actively explore in, different areas of the property. The school’s learning community is benefiting from significant upgrades and improvements to buildings that complement the environment and educational philosophy. There are currently three contributing, on-site kindergartens providing Rudolf Steiner early childhood education.

Since the ERO review in 2009 there have been several changes of staff and a second associate principal has been appointed. The experienced principal continues to provide effective, inclusive leadership. The principal has worked successfully, at a national level, in developing and implementing an initiative through which Rudolf Steiner schools can measure student progress and achievement against national norms, and in Class 7 (Year 8) report in relation to National Standards. Teachers have increased their understanding of assessment for learning and the range of tools used to gather this information. This is resulting in enhanced learning outcomes for students.

The school’s special character is founded on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and all subjects are taught from this perspective. The values of this philosophy feature prominently in the school’s holistic approach to learning, architecture, resources and the positive, inclusive culture.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

ERO observed high levels of engagement amongst students as they develop a love of learning through intrinsic motivation. Students have many opportunities to experience and share success with their families, peers and dedicated teachers. The school identifies that, in keeping with the Steiner philosophy and parents’ expectations, students begin the acquisition of academic skills at an unhurried pace in the early years.

The school was able to report Year 8 (Class 7) student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards for the first time in November 2011. Analysed results show that a very high proportion of students achieve at or above National Standards in reading and mathematics, and a high proportion achieve at or above National Standards in writing.

Teachers use a range of appropriate standardised assessment tools to gather achievement information about reading and mathematics and this data is moderated and used to inform overall teacher judgements and ongoing planning. This information is also used by the board of trustees and school leaders to report regularly to the community, decide on priorities for resource allocation and to set appropriate targets in the charter to raise student achievement. Results in mathematics and reading for Years 5, 6 and 7 in 2011 show that the great majority of students are achieving at or above national expectations.

Teachers generally remain with their own class for an extended period, and develop detailed knowledge of each student’s character, learning and development. Students are benefiting from appropriate and inclusive programmes that respond to their identified needs. These learning programmes are coordinated and monitored by the recently appointed Special Education Needs Coordinator, and delivered by specialist teachers and teacher aides.

3. Curriculum

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

Achievement information in mathematics and reading show that Māori students achieve at comparable levels to their non-Māori peers. Māori students respond positively to culturally appropriate learning strategies and contexts consistent with the Rudolf Steiner philosophy and reflected in the school’s whakatauki te ao turoa o te akoranga-where learning is natural. A particular strength of teachers is the strong emphasis on oral language and the use of narrative as a teaching tool.

School leaders and teachers have taken a planned approach to work in a positive partnership with whānau and local iwi. This has resulted in:

  • ongoing consultation with whānau
  • the implementation of a te reo Māori programme
  • kapahaka initiated from within the whānau group
  • many curriculum areas enriched with bicultural perspectives
  • the integration of the values inherent in Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners with the school’s own values.

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

The school’s learning community shares a strong commitment to the recently reviewed mission, vision and values that give a clear sense of purpose and direction to the design of the curriculum. Students participate in learning experiences that are purposeful, practical, set in meaningful and relevant contexts and which add complexity to their learning. Clear learning pathways and planned transitions foster interest and anticipation amongst students as they progress through the school. Teachers creatively integrate the curriculum through all learning areas, including literacy and numeracy, the visual and performing arts, the natural environment and the cultures of the world. Students are immersed in rich oral language in all classes. This is a particular strength of teachers and contributes to high levels of student achievement in reading in the senior classes.

There are many opportunities for families and whānau to contribute and be included as active partners in the learning process. A strong sense of belonging is evident amongst teachers, students and their families as they participate in familiar rhythms, routines, ceremonies and seasonal festivals. Student learning is enriched by trips and excursions, opportunities for senior students to practise leadership and mentor younger students.

School leaders have high expectations and clearly documented frameworks to guide programme planning, curriculum delivery and teachers’ formative practice.

ERO observed examples of teaching practices that engage students in their learning. These include:

  • skilful use of modelling by teachers
  • one-to-one conferencing with students
  • sharing examples of good work
  • programmes designed to meet the holistic developmental needs of the student clearly linked to the school’s philosophy.

Agreed priorities for school development are for school leaders and teachers to:

  • continue to develop a shared understanding of teaching as inquiry
  • further embed practices that support students to take increasing responsibility for their learning
  • find appropriate ways to make assessment and learning visible to students
  • strengthen the appraisal process by developing professional goals as measureable outcomes.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance through:

  • effective self review that provides useful information to guide decision making about school development and improvement
  • well informed and committed trustees who have a good understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities
  • effective professional leadership provided by the knowledgeable and experienced principal, who is well supported by collaborative and focused school leaders
  • an enthusiastic, collegial teaching team that works in the best interests of students
  • a growing community of learners that embraces teachers, students and their families.

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
  • 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.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

21 May 2012

About the School


Welcome Bay, Tauranga

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)



School roll


Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

NZ Māori

Other Asian

Other European







Review team on site

March 2012

Date of this report

21 May 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2009

June 2006

August 2002

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.