Tirohia School - 21/12/2016

1 Context

Tirohia School is a rural full primary school on a large well-wooded site. The school has had two changes of professional leadership in the past four years and in addition a short period of time under a relief Principal. The present principal has resigned with effect from the end of this school year.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to provide an environment in which they can develop to their full potential as confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners, and where all children are to have equal access to learning opportunities inclusive of ability, gender, ethnicity and personal circumstances.

The school’s achievement information shows that Māori children, who make up the majority of the roll, achieve at comparable levels to their non-Māori peers in reading, writing and mathematics. Overall school achievement levels and progress in writing are comparable to national averages, but reading levels are below expected levels. Overall achievement levels and progress in mathematics remain an area of concern and are significantly below expected levels. Girls are achieving at higher levels than boys in literacy and mathematics.

Teachers are supported to make overall teacher judgements (OTJs) about children's achievement in relation to National Standards through well-developed guidelines, professional development and regular staff meetings. In addition, the school has productive partnerships with other schools in a local cluster that has allowed some cross school moderation of OTJs to occur.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has undertaken professional development related to teaching and learning in mathematics in response to low achievement levels in this curriculum area. Other professional developments have been related to re-building the links with the local Māori community and marae, and the Incredible Years programme to focus on positive guidance behaviour strategies. The role of the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) has been strengthened to include the identification, planning for and monitoring of children at risk of not achieving their potential. Reporting to parents has been reviewed and improved to show achievement and progress during the year against expected levels.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school has made deliberate and successful progress in identifying and initiating support for Māori children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Accelerated progress for these Māori students is not yet consistent or sustained.

Teachers gather a broad range of academic and background information at enrolment and make effective use of achievement information to identify Māori children at risk. Support for these children is often highly practical and effective, as the school will ensure support and assistance for equitable access to educational opportunities. The SENCO works closely with classroom teachers to identify priority children in each class, and agree strategies and interventions to accelerate their learning. These strategies are incorporated in individual learning plans, which have the potential to strengthen partnerships with parents, and enhance the evaluation of effectiveness of interventions.

The SENCO and principal report on the progress of priority children to the board at least twice a year. These reports indicate that rates of progress are variable, with a minority being accelerated, some progressing at expected age-appropriate rates, and a few falling further behind. Analysis by school leaders and SENCO suggests that a number of the Māori children whose progress is not yet being accelerated had recently experienced a transition into or within the school.

The school clearly reports achievement levels and progress against expected levels to parents. Trustees work with school leaders to set appropriate and well-defined progress targets for children at risk of not achieving their potential.

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

School leaders and trustees recognise that overall achievements levels and rates of progress, especially in mathematics and for boys, remain areas for improvement.

All the identification and response processes outlined in the section above, apply to other children at risk. Teachers have had support from the Resource Teacher of Literacy to review and improve engagement and progress of boys in reading. Library resources for older children need reviewing and extending.

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 school's curriculum is yet to be fully effective in enacting the vision for promoting equity and excellence.

The current principal has strengthened the focus on raising the achievement and progress of all children, and especially those at risk of not achieving their potential. She sets high expectations for professional practice and development, supported by well-presented guidelines for curriculum planning. The principal has strengthened performance management processes and fostered reflective practice by teachers in relation to aspects of the Education Council of New Zealand requirements. The remaining challenge for the principal is to bring more coherence to assessment and teaching approaches so that children, especially those at risk, experience a more seamless learning journey through the school.

Children experience affirming and respectful relationships with their teachers. Classroom programmes reflect a strong priority on literacy and mathematics, and are well supported by a team of experienced teacher aides. Children are benefitting from the recent upgrades to two of the teaching rooms, but the senior room requires urgent action to become a stimulating learning environment. The use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning is at an early but positive stage of development. Aspects of culturally responsive practice and place-based learning are evident, but not consistent through the school. An important next step is to further develop children's ability and confidence to lead their own learning. 

Teachers are increasingly reflecting on their own practice and strengthening their focus on positive educational outcomes for children. However self-review processes are not yet being effective in ensuring sustained improvements in overall achievement levels and consistent accelerated progress for children at risk.

Trustees receive regular reports from the principal about children's achievement levels and rates of progress in reading, writing and mathematics. They are able to scrutinise the school's effectiveness in achieving valued educational outcomes for children, and allocate resources to support equitable outcomes for children. The chairperson brings considerable educational knowledge and experience to his role, and trustees have participated in significant training in their governance roles. There is now a need to review and update a number of policies and reporting procedures to ensure that current legislative requirements in areas of personnel management, and health and safety are being met. The annual goals in the principal's performance agreement are closely aligned to the charter targets for the progress of target children. The board recognises that the number of changes to leadership since the last ERO review has been a challenge to realising the school's vision and goals.

The school is seeking to further develop its partnerships with the iwi trust board and the local school cluster, in order to enhance opportunities for all children, and especially those at risk. A te reo and tikanga Māori programme has been well planned and implemented this year. As a small rural community, parents/whānau are in frequent formal and informal contact with the school regarding their children and progress. A challenge for the school is to strengthen partnerships for learning with the significant proportion of parents who live in the town and not close to the school itself. Children are well prepared and supported for transition on to high school.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

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.

Teachers are aware of the achievement challenges that remain, especially for boys, and are open to professional development and implementing strategies to accelerate the progress of children at risk. Trustees are focused on continual school improvement, and to effectively manage resources to support equitable outcomes for all children. Partnerships with parents, local iwi and the wider educational community are developing positively, and have the potential to enhance equity and excellence for all children. The school is family orientated and promotes a safe physical and emotional environment.

Continuity of leadership is now needed to bring a sustained sense of direction and shared purpose to the school community. The effectiveness of teaching and learning programmes, especially for children most at risk, need to be regularly evaluated and reported to the board. 

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 more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will 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 planning 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 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the board give priority to establishing continuity of leadership, which is likely to enhance the consistency and coherence of teaching and learning in the school.

In addition, the principal and teachers continue to strengthen their learning and teaching practices as outlined in this report.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato / Bay of Plenty

21 December 2016

About the school 


Tirohia, near Paeroa

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 27 Boys 26

Ethnic composition




Other European







Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

21 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2013

August 2012

June 2009