Te Wharau School (Gisborne) - 06/06/2013

1 Context

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

Te Wharau School, situated in Kaiti, Gisborne, has students from Years 1 to 6 and most are Māori. The senior leaders (Exec Team), board of trustees and staff are improvement focused and put their energies into giving learners the best possible education.

Engaging students in learning, and their parents and whānau in the life of the school, have been at the centre of initiatives in recent years. Observable outcomes of this focus are positive and supportive relationships between students and with teachers, and the sense of pride and belonging learners have in and to their school.

Several initiatives have focused on student engagement. The school’s physical environment is a key resource for learning through the 'ALIVE' teaching approach (active, liberated learning and lifelong, inquisitive, vibrant and energetic and enthusiastic). This way of delivering the curriculum has been a focus since the March 2006 ERO report. Students’ learning and interactions are guided by the community developed values system 'CHARM', based on cooperation, honesty, attitude, resilience and manners. All classes have regular, formal 'Circle-Time' discussions that encourage students to have a voice and think about their relationships with others.

Students enjoy and want to be at school. They are interested and keen to learn.

Te Wharau School has a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is used for making decisions that lead to positive changes for learners. Through evidence-based self review, that includes the use of student achievement information, key school developments take place. Two initiatives since the previous ERO report include lifting student engagement through ALIVE learning and improving the teaching of mathematics.

Through further training teachers more accurately gauge students’ progress and achievement in mathematics. Recognition of the significant number of students not yet achieving in relation to the National Standard directly results in schoolwide curriculum development in mathematics and linked assessment practices. This teacher development is challenging staff and raising expectations for the quality of teaching in this learning area.

Data is well used by staff, under the guidance of the Exec Team. The progress and achievement of all students, including learners with special and specific learning needs, Pacific and Māori, are carefully tracked using a variety of assessments in reading, writing and mathematics. Learners whose progress should be sped up are readily identified and specific support is put in place. This assistance is closely looked at and reported to the board. Information indicates that for many students, progress in reading is accelerated.

Reporting to the board on student progress and achievement against National Standards is regular and thorough. School reported data shows that the majority of students achieve at or above in relation to National Standards in reading and writing. Trustees expect to be well informed. They are highly interested in data to compare the progress and achievement of year groups over time and to make decisions. The board has high expectations of staff for students’ learning and achievement.

  • Consideration should be given to setting specific targets and reporting on the progress and achievement for those students most at risk of not achieving.

Student achievement information is the basis of regular, useful dialogue between teachers and with senior leaders to improve how well staff teach. Although assessment for learning is a developing practice, teacher use of immediate feedback to students and outlining what they have to do next, contributes to increased engagement.

  • Effective use of student achievement for responsive teaching is evident but not yet a consistent practice across the school, particularly in mathematics. Improving the use of student achievement information is a development for staff, recognised by the Exec Team. ERO affirms this need for more evidence-based inquiry into how well teaching practices are improving students’ learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum gives appropriate priority to reading, writing and mathematics. Teaching and learning reflects the values (CHARM) and the approach described and understood by the school’s community as ALIVE. Outcomes of this highly interactive practice include:

  • raising of students’ expectations of themselves
  • participatory learning for students and parents
  • increased involvement of the community in the learning taking place.

Student engagement through a curriculum that encourages positive attitudes to learning is evident. Ka Hikitia - Managing for Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012 was the reference point for staff in this development. Further curriculum development is needed so that students’ cultures, language and identities are integral to their learning.

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

Leaders, trustees and teachers recognise that a more culturally responsive curriculum and practice is desirable. A team of school staff is currently reviewing te reo Māori in the school’s curriculum. Teachers and parents have had an opportunity to say what they think is working well and how they think the inclusion of te reo Māori could be improved. Initial responses from whānau are used as part of this development.

Tautoko Te Wharau, a group of enthusiastic staff and teachers, has developed positive relationships with the school’s community. The group, through fundraising, has a strong focus on building a sense of community pride, and for whānau to have social and learning opportunities alongside their children.

  • ERO’s evaluation affirms the potential of these two groups to contribute to positive change. School leaders and trustees agree that the review of te reo Māori should be extended to include how well the school’s curriculum includes te ao Māori as part of students’ daily learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The board, principal, deputy principals and staff are improvement and learner focused. The school is well placed to sustain and improve performance for students. The board concentrates on improving student achievement and supporting teacher development to help this happen.

The board governs the school well. Trustees have a strong sense of service and view governance as a way of giving back to their school’s community. They are clear about roles and responsibilities. Board members have a constructive and mutually respectful relationship with the Exec Team and high regard for the staff. Sound self-review practices are evident and trustees evaluate their effectiveness as a board.

Trustees and the Exec Team are continually seeking ways to increase parental engagement with the school and support initiatives for this to happen.

The school is enthusiastically led by the Exec Team. Teacher development is well supported. Highly reflective practice is evident in the mentoring/coaching approach underway as part of teacher development. The Exec Team is actively sharpening staff awareness about the outcomes of teaching practice on learning, through regular meetings with and observation of teachers. The wellbeing of students is to the fore in staff practice.

  • Appraisal systems are designed to develop manager and teacher effectiveness. The Exec Team is aware that teacher and principal appraisal needs to have more measurable outcomes aligned to student learning. ERO affirms this as an area for development and suggests thatTātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, be used as a resource.

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.

At the time of ERO’s review of the school, the charter had been prepared and approved by the board, but not submitted to the Ministry of Education. The charter has since been submitted. In order to improve, the board must provide the Secretary of Education with a copy of the updated charter before March 1 each year.

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)

6 June 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 51%

Male 49%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā


Other ethnic groups





Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

6 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

March 2006

September 2002