Tirau Primary School - 10/08/2016

1 Context

Tirau Primary School is located in the rural township of Tirau. It caters for children in Years 1 to 6.  The school roll at the time of this ERO review was 118, including 36 children identified as Māori.

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation there has been changes to the staff, including the appointment of a new principal in Term 4, 2014. Teachers have engaged in a range of professional development, especially in the teaching of writing.

The school is well supported by the board of trustees and engages positively with the local community.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are that 'What is worth doing is worth doing well.' The school curriculum has recently been reviewed and now promotes the 'Tirau School LEARNerS' concepts. These concepts promote life-long learning, excellence, active involvement, respect, nurture and success.

Māori parents and whānau have recently contributed their own perspective - 'Tū te ihi, tū te wana, tū te wehi.  Kia maumahara ki tō Rangatiratanga hei whai koe ki te taumata teitei.  Ma te manaaki i te tangata e tū ai te mana wehi ai te tangata ki a koe. Be empowering through success, hold your beliefs and values to lead you to your highest achievement. Showing love and nurture to people is mana, which gains us respect.'

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2015, approximately one third of children were below or well below National Standards in reading and mathematics. In writing, slightly more were below or well below expected standards. The information shows that Māori children are not achieving as well as non-Māori, except in mathematics. This pattern has been consistent over at least the last three years.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has strengthened assessment and moderation practices. Leaders and teachers are now monitoring and tracking the progress of target children. They are developing and sharing innovative strategies to respond to children's needs.  Expectations for teachers have been clarified and strengthened, and learning progressions made more visible. Teachers have engaged in professional development to increase their knowledge, particularly in the teaching of writing.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school has recognised that it has not responded effectively to Māori children whose learning and achievement has not been accelerated and has recently taken a more targeted and focused approach.

The school has had problems identifying Māori children because, on enrolment, not all parents identify their children as Māori. With improved relationships with Māori parents, the principal is able to report that there is now clearer identification. All achievement data shared with parents, teachers and the board now differentiates between Māori and non-Māori so that their progress and achievement in comparison to others can be tracked and monitored more easily.

Reliable overall teacher judgements identify those children at risk of not achieving who are identified on enrolment as Māori by their parents and whānau.

In addition to the strategies reported above, the school is exploring ways to develop stronger relationships with Māori parents, whānau and the local Māori community. Also, teachers are beginning to increase their own knowledge of Māori preferred ways of teaching and learning, these new understandings are beginning to change classroom practice.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that some Māori children's progress is being accelerated. The school has only just begun to collect formal evidence of this. It is too early to tell whether the various strategies being used by the school are leading to accelerated achievement over time.

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

The school identifies children below and well below National Standards through robust assessment data, which includes a mix of both nationally normed and anecdotal information. Internal and external moderation ensure teacher judgements are reliable and robust. The school is embedding learning progressions and individual monitoring profiles, which track the progress of these children, help teachers to identify their next learning steps, and how to respond to these. Teachers are exploring ways to develop stronger partnerships for learning with parents and families through 'learning hui' where ideas like 'acceleration' and 'progressions' are explained. Goal setting meetings with parents clarify learning needs and child portfolios document individual children's progress and explain to parents how they can help at home.

There is strong, coordinated support for children with special needs and those at risk of underachieving. These strategies occur through a range of interventions, including specialist teachers for writing, the use of external agencies and expertise, and a range of targeted, school-wide professional learning and development.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that some children's progress is being accelerated. The school is in the process of developing more effective systems to record and track this accelerated progress. It is too early to tell whether the various strategies being used by the school are leading to accelerated achievement over time.

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 board of trustees, led by a capable chairperson, is committed to the well being of all children within the school community. Trustees receive and scrutinise student achievement data provided by the principal and effectively allocate appropriate resources to support the learning needs of children at risk in their learning. School-wide targets in relation to National Standards clearly identify children at risk of not achieving. These targets are shared with the board, staff and parents. Trustees are supportive of the school's efforts to strengthen relationships with Māori parents, whānau and community.

School leaders are strongly focussed on developing effective systems and processes to identify and accelerate the progress of those children, including Māori, who are at risk of not achieving. In addition, they are fostering an inquiry approach to improving the consistency and quality of teacher practice so that they are able to respond better to children's needs.

Children experience warm, positive, welcoming classroom environments where their work is celebrated. Respectful relationships are fostered with their teachers and each other. Teachers know the social and economic backgrounds of their children and use this information to deepen their understanding of children's needs, interests and strengths. Children's ability to take responsibility for their own learning is being strengthened. They are able to talk about how well they are learning and their next steps. There are opportunities for children to follow their interests in their learning through an 'inquiry learning' approach, and opportunities to provide feedback to their teacher about the quality of the programme they experience.

Teachers have engaged in ongoing professional development to enhance their understandings of current theory and best practice in teaching and learning. They have strengthened their cultural competence using the Ministry of Education resources, Tātaiako and Ka Hikitia. A strong, collaborative professional culture amongst teachers ensures that their individual strengths are valued and utilised. A culture of 'teaching as inquiry' is being embedded and strengthened through professional discussion at staff meetings, the use of monitoring profiles, and action research projects.

The Tirau LEARNerS valued outcomes underpin children's participation in a wide range of learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. A broad range of co-curricular and leadership opportunities allows all children the chance to experience success.

The principal, with the support of external advice and guidance, has undertaken a range of reviews of school systems and processes including teacher performance management, curriculum delivery and financial practices. All of these reviews have sharpened the focus on raising children's progress and achievement.

5 Going forward

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

In order to strengthen the schools' ability to accelerate children's achievement the board, leaders and staff of the school must:

  • strengthen a culture of continuous improvement where risk taking and change is seen as safe and positive
  • strengthen relationships between members of the newly formed senior leadership team
  • clarify and strengthen the consistency of anecdotal record keeping in order to ensure its validity and the consistency of its use in making overall teacher judgements of children's achievement
  • clarify and embed the consistent use of learning progressions to support the robust identification of learning needs in relation to National Standards, and facilitate the collaboration between teachers, children, parents and whānau in accelerating achievement
  • develop a systematic and sequential approach to the learning and teaching of te reo Māori and of the history of the local area and the local iwi
  • ensure that the language, culture and identity of Māori children is visible in classroom environments.
  • strengthen assessment of the other learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum such as Social Studies, Science, Health and Technology
  • complete the programme of policy review with particular emphasis on those policies which potentially have a high impact on student wellbeing.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop a Raising Achievement Plan to further develop processes and practices that respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement plan and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full 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 

7 Recommendation

The school should continue to embed the systems and processes already introduced and strengthen the way it responds to the language, culture and identity of Māori children. 

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

10 August 2016 

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 59

Boys: 59

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

10 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Supplementary Review
Education Review

April 2013
July 2007
September 2006