Tinopai School - 26/06/2013


1.  Context

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

Tinopai School is a small sole charge school located in Tinopai, a relatively isolated community on the shores of the Kaipara harbour. Fourteen of the 15 Years 1 to 8 students are Māori. The local iwi is Ngati Whātua and some students affiliate with the local hapu, Te Uri o Hau. A third of the school's current group of students enrolled in 2012, across a range of different year levels.

In the last six years the school has had many changes of principal, with three changes in 2012 alone. The current principal had been at the school for one week at the time of this review and is a first time principal. She is supported by a teacher who is employed for two days a week. This teacher has been employed at the school for a number of years, and has provided continuity for students through the changes to staff.

Issues relating to the governance of the school have led to the resignation of some trustees. In October 2012 a new board chairperson was elected and two new trustees joined the board. Currently the board is made up of two trustees from the community, a staff representative and a parent.

A knowledgeable community member provides guidance on governance matters. Other support for the school from the local community includes organising fundraising activities and providing reading support for students.

In spite of the many changes in the board and staff, the tone of the school has remained positive and students have a strong sense of whānau. Children support one another, the older students often helping the younger ones. They are proud of their school.

2. Learning

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

The relieving principal employed during 2012 and 2013 provided parents and the board with useful reports on student achievement in relation to the National Standards. These reports included information about how parents could support their child’s learning at home. They provide a good model for the current principal to follow and further develop.

Student achievement information collected in 2012 indicates that some students achieve well. However significant improvements need to be made to improve student engagement, progress and achievement to ensure that students leave primary school ready to succeed at high school. Improvements are needed in:

  • the ways in which student achievement information is collected, analysed and evaluated
  • systems to ensure that student achievement information is reliable and valid
  • support for students to understand their levels of achievement and identify clear goals to guide their learning
  • systems for gathering information to determine the impact of the parent-supported reading programme on improving student learning.

3. Curriculum

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

The school curriculum document was reworked by the relieving principal at some time during 2012 or 2013, but was not available at the time of this review. Teaching programmes are planned around the local area and based on children’s cultural backgrounds, experiences and interests. The recent focus has been on the environment and has included marine studies and the restoration of a local wetland.

In the past, the curriculum has included an ongoing interest around growing food. The school is well equipped with a propagation house, garden plots and an orchard. The teaching staff are interested in using these resources as part of the education programme.

Students are well supported to develop their knowledge of tikanga and te reo Māori. The board employs a tutor to teach waiata twice a week. The current principal has the skills and knowledge to promote learning in these areas throughout the day. She frequently uses simple te reo in the context of the general programme.

The principal and ERO identify the following as important next steps for curriculum development:

  • developing teaching programmes and approaches that provide appropriate levels of challenge and that enable students to learn at their own level and pace
  • integrating the junior literacy and numeracy programme into the regular classroom programme
  • working in partnership with whānau to review the school curriculum so that it aligns with the values, principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • ensuring that the teacher aide provides in-class support as appropriate, to meet the learning needs of the students.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

Although the many changes of principal over the last few years have compromised the school’s ability to sustain and improve its performance, recent school leadership changes provide a better foundation for ongoing improvement. The board is well led, and has improved the effectiveness of the ways in which it works to govern the school. Trustees have a clear goal of raising student achievement. They are positive about the school’s current position and optimistic about its future.

Trustees and the principal may find it useful to review the charter completed by the previous principal as they get to know more about the school. Members of the community have a role to play in making the new principal feel welcome and supported to do the best for the students.

After discussion with the Ministry of Education senior advisor and the board, ERO recommends that the board:

  • continue to focus on accelerating the progress of students who are at risk of not achieving their potential
  • strengthen partnerships with the whānau of students attending the school
  • continue with governance training to further understand board roles and responsibilities
  • develop action plans to support the achievement of the school’s strategic goals
  • employ an external appraiser to support the principal’s performance in her new role
  • review staff roles so that the benefit for students is maximised.

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.

The board chairperson acknowledges that a review of policies related to health and safety matters needs to be undertaken and that systems need to be strengthened to ensure that related procedures are followed.

During the ERO review policies and procedures that were identified as needing attention included those related to:

  • identifying and managing hazards
  • the regularity of fire and earthquake drills
  • the recording of meeting minutes relating to confidential matters
  • consulting with the community on the school’s health curriculum [National Administration Guidelines, and Section 60B Education Act 1989].

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the school to improve the collection, analysis and evaluation of student achievement information.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

26 June 2013

About the School


Tinopai, Matakohe

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 9 Boys 6

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

26 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Special Review

January 2009

February 2006

March 2005