Te Karaka Area School - 21/11/2019


On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Te Karaka Area School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Te Karaka Area School is a rural school north of Gisborne that caters for students from Years 1 to 13. The school opened as an area school in 2011 and moved to the purpose-built complex in 2014. This provides space for a range of innovative learning environments and specialist classrooms.

The school is located in Te Taiwhenua o Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki iwi. The school’s stated values are whanaungatanga, angitu, manaakitanga, whakaute and rangatiratanga.

Since the previous ERO external review in 2016, there have been a number of issues that have contributed to the school’s capability and capacity to raise student achievement. Student roll numbers have decreased by more than half due to losing community support. This has resulted in a loss of several staff through the Curriculum and Pastoral Needs Analysis (CAPNA) process.

A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) was appointed by the Ministry of Education (MoE) at the beginning of 2019 to support the board of trustees with ongoing issues with governance. The LSM has statutory powers to support the board to address the areas of finance, employment, student achievement and health and safety. At the 2019 June elections the board chair was re-elected and most of the other trustees are new to their role. The principal had been on extended leave and resigned in Term 4 2019. The deputy principal was in the acting principal role at the time of the review.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The December 2016 ERO report identified the following priorities for review and development.

A clear plan was needed to establish the strategic direction for the school and to guide implementation for ongoing improvement. Improving the performance of the school required significant action to:

  • accelerate student progress and achievement
  • appraise all staff annually and effectively
  • survey students confidentially to gather information about their wellbeing
  • develop a shared understanding of assessment of national expectations and NCEA, including community understanding
  • use internal evaluation to systematically enquire into the quality and effectiveness of how the school operates and provide for evidence-based decision making
  • implement a localised school curriculum that fully addresses all learning areas and requirements of the NZC.

Areas of non-compliance were identified. To meet its legislative obligations, the board of trustees must:

  • through professional leadership ensure that staff develop and implement teaching and learning programmes, providing all students with opportunities to achieve success, in all learning areas of the NZC (this includes arts, science, social science and technology).
  • attest that all teaching staff are appraised by the professional leader of the school.
    [Teaching Council Requirements, Part 31 Education Act]


A lack of effective professional leadership in the school has impacted on the ability of leaders, trustees and teachers to respond to the areas identified in the 2016 ERO report.

The principal had developed an overall plan to guide strategic direction and school improvement. However, this document was not clearly communicated to staff or understood by the leadership team or trustees. This plan was not implemented. Therefore, there has been little progress overall except for the following areas:

  • the previous board and LSM undertook extensive consultation seeking whānau aspirations and ideas for the future direction for the school with the wider community
  • the new board has further strengthened relationships with whānau and the wider community
  • the newly appointed LSM is providing useful support and guidance for the board chair and new trustees
  • teachers have engaged with externally provided professional learning and development in mathematics. This is supporting them to provide more targeted learning programmes for students.

Concerns and Key next steps

1. Overall the achievement for students in Years 1 to 13 continues to be low. Leaders and ERO agree the 2018 achievement data reported to the board was not reliable. There is no clear plan to address this.

2. The school has developed some systems for assessing student learning in Years 1 to 10. However, there is a need to build teacher capability to effectively use assessment information to plan programmes that meet the individual learning needs and accelerate learning, particularly for at-risk students. The data also needs to be more reliable through better moderation practices. There is an immediate need for leaders to provide support to all teaching staff to build their assessment capabilities and collective capacity. Better systems for regularly tracking, monitoring and reporting student progress and achievement need to be implemented.

3. The school has developed a system for assessment and moderation in Years 11 to 13 that meets NZQA requirements. However, leaders and teachers must analyse and use National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data throughout the year to monitor student progress and adapt learning programmes to meet student needs and ensure success.

4. There is an ongoing need to develop a shared understanding of NCEA in the school community. Students should be better supported to track and monitor their own progress in meaningful educational pathways. Strategies require development to connect with whānau and involve them in their child’s learning.

5. The appraisal process for staff is not sufficiently robust. ERO and leaders agree that the documented policy and process is not fully implemented to ensure it meets the requirements of the Teaching Council. It is not sufficient to build teacher capability and promote effective teaching. Appraisal is also not sufficient in building leadership capacity and school improvement.

6. An urgent priority for trustees, leaders and staff is to provide a safe environment for learning and wellbeing of students. Developing up-to-date policies and procedures that reflect current legislation is crucial. The board must be assured that these policies and procedures are implemented appropriately. In particular to provide guidance in how the school is:

  • dealing with smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • implementing the internet safety policy
  • providing an anti-bullying and harassment programme
  • following and documenting the correct procedure for physical restraint
  • implementing a documented child protection policy
  • regularly reporting on its compliance with the Health and Safety Work Act.

7. There is an urgent need to develop and implement a documented curriculum that sets specific expectations for teaching and learning at Te Karaka Area School. The school has begun to develop a localised curriculum with the support of the Iwi Community Engagement (ICE) advisory committee. There has been community hui to gather whānau aspirations for their tamariki. Some teachers have integrated te reo me ngā tikanga into their learning programmes. Significant external support and professional leadership is required to continue to design and then implement an inclusive and comprehensive curriculum.

8. More transparent processes for evidence-based decision-making are required. Decisions should be more clearly communicated with the community and stakeholders including external agencies and whānau. The school needs to build trust and more positive working relationships between trustees, leaders, staff, students and the community. The board chair and new trustees acknowledge the need for ongoing external support to learn their roles and responsibilities to guide ongoing school improvement and the scrutiny of student outcomes.

9. Understanding the use of internal evaluation is an ongoing area for development, at all levels of the school. This is required to make evidence-based decisions to improve outcomes for students. The school requires significant external support to strengthen internal evaluation.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Te Karaka Area School is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance. ERO has increased concerns regarding the effectiveness of school leadership, stewardship, teaching and learning and student wellbeing.

The key contributing factors include:

  • a lack of effective professional leadership which has impacted on the ability of other leaders, trustees and teachers to respond to the areas identified in the previous ERO report
  • the school has not developed its capacity to develop and implement a plan that responds effectively to critical issues facing the school
  • trustees and leaders have not developed a clear understanding of their roles to drive ongoing school improvement
  • teachers have yet to have sufficient opportunity to build their capability to accelerate the learning of at-risk students to improve levels of achievement
  • students are yet to experience an engaging, responsive curriculum that caters to their needs.

The school requires an intensive evaluation process, with termly visits to support more rapid school improvement. Close monitoring is also required to inform external agencies and inform the specialist support that is required. Student outcomes are at risk and have been for some time.

Key next steps

Professional leadership needs to be significantly and rapidly strengthened to promote a strategic and effective collaborative approach to advance and increase outcomes for students. Priority should be given to:

  • accessing school-wide professional learning and development for teachers in reading, writing and oral language
  • implementing effective assessment practices to support targeted learning programmes and accelerated progress for at-risk learners
  • implementing effective processes for tracking and monitoring the progress of students learning in Years 1 to 13
  • leading the development and implementation of a local curriculum that includes clear expectations for teaching and learning at Te Karaka Area School
  • implementing transparent processes for decision making that is evidence based and clearly communicated to stakeholders.

Trustees and leaders should work collaboratively to build productive partnerships with teaching staff and whānau to enact the school’s vision and values. This should include involving whānau and the wider community as important partners in the school and students learning.

The LSM, trustees, senior leaders and teachers should work together to ensure that areas for further progress identified in this ERO review are incorporated into the school’s 2019 - 2020 strategic and annual plans and appraisal goals. These plans should be sent to ERO by the end of Term 4, 2019. ERO will begin an intensive evaluation and monitoring process to support school improvement and evaluation.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

The board of trustees has acknowledged that it is not meeting several aspects of its legal requirements in the following areas:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • health, safety and welfare
  • personnel.

[NAG 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8]

It is critical the board of trustees develops a plan of how it will address all the areas of non-compliance and meet its legislative obligations.

The board of trustees must urgently prioritise:

  • Having in place all policies and procedures that facilitate the provision of a healthy and safe environment for students and staff that protects their welfare.
    [NAG 5, 139AB to 139AE Education Act 1989, Education (Physical Restraint) Rules 2017, Health and Safety Work Act 2015]
  • Meeting all the requirements for planning and reporting on the basis of good quality assessment information.
    [School Charter 61 Education Act 1989, NAG2 (b), NAG 1 (c) (e), NAG 2 (d)]
  • Ensuring its primary objective in governing that every student at the school is able to attain to his or her highest possible standard in educational achievement and is providing a physically and emotionally safe place for all students and staff.
    [NAG 1 Clause 5 (2)(a), Part 2, Schedule 6 Education Act 1989]
  • Ensuring the principal and staff develop and implement teaching and learning programmes that reflect the principles of the NZC.
    [NAG 1]
  • Undertaking a rigorous appraisal of teachers to support building teacher capability.
    [State Sector Act S77c]

In order to improve practice, the principal should ensure:

  • MoE guidelines are followed for the suspension and stand downs of students
  • accurate records are maintained of student enrolment to enable accurate reporting to the MoE.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education continue the statutory intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the following improvements in:

  • school financial management
  • employment and personnel management issues including performance management and teacher registration
  • student achievement including the schoolwide use of assessment information
  • health and safety including the areas of non-compliance.

ERO also recommends that the Ministry of Education provide specialist support for:

  • the incoming principal to target and address areas for development identified in this report
  • professional learning and development in effective teaching and assessment practices
  • an effective appraisal process and performance management system
  • curriculum development and design.

ERO recommends that New Zealand Schools’ Trustees Association (NZSTA) provides an individually tailored training package to the board of trustees to develop their capability and understanding of their role as stewards of the school and to make ongoing improvement.


On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Te Karaka Area School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

21 November 2019

About the School


north of Gisborne

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 41 Female 32

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

21 November 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review

December 2016
September 2013