Tolaga Bay Area School - 02/12/2016


Tolaga Bay Area School provides an inclusive, supportive environment for learning. Community/school collaboration that includes teachers, whānau, students and iwi enrich opportunities for students to become actively involved lifelong learners. The localised curriculum provides authentic learning experiences and this nurtures and affirms students’ cultural identity as Hauiti, Uawa, and Ngāti Porou citizens.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Context

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

Tolaga Bay Area School is located in a coastal town approximately 55 km north of Gisborne. It provides education for students in Years 1 to 13 from the township and surrounding rural areas. The school roll has been stable since the last ERO review in 2013. The current roll is 259 students, of whom ninety five percent identify as Māori and are of Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Uawa and Ngāti Porou descent.

The school is organised into English medium classes in Years 1 to 13 and rumaki education in Years 1 to 8. Across the school there is strong emphasis placed on promoting te reo me nga tikanga o Te Aitanga a Hauiti and being an active part of the Uawa/Tolaga Bay community. This is to ensure students develop a strong sense of belonging, pride in their cultural identity, and are proud of the dual heritage and shared future in Aotearoa.

The school is guided by the Uawa/Tolaga Bay community vision and principles of ‘He manawa whenua, he oranga tangata – healthy environment, healthy people’. This vision is well embedded in the school and underpins the schools vision, values and direction for student learning. The well understood school motto is UAWA - ‘Unrelenting Achievement with Attitude’.

Since the 2013 ERO review, leaders and teachers have strengthened the focus on responding to students At Risk of Not Achieving (ARONA). A range of systems and approaches have been developed to support this focus. This includes early diagnosis of each students learning needs, targeted classroom planning for ARONA students, staff discussions, and professional learning and development focused on building teacher capability.

The school is currently involved with the Ngāti Porou East Coast Schools Community of Learning (CoL). The CoL is in the establishment phase.

The school has had a positive reporting history with the Education Review Office.

2 Learning

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

The school is effectively using assessment information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement and progress. In particular there are good examples of teachers using data to group students according to their identified learning needs and to track and monitor those who are at risk of not achieving. There are carefully planned interventions to support students who are below their expected level of achievement. The school can show that students involved in programmes such as Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL) make accelerated progress.

The special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) and the literacy leader play a pivotal role in coordinating, monitoring and reporting on students’ progress and achievement. They effectively collate and analyse this information to identify achievement patterns and trends for students at risk. This information is regularly reported to trustees, senior leaders and curriculum teams. Trustees use school-wide achievement data well to inform strategic and annual planning, and to make resourcing decisions that support student learning.

There is a clear expectation from leaders that teacher’s will use assessment information effectively to reflect on their practice, and plan responsive and personalised approaches to accelerate individual children’s learning. Achievement information is also used by leaders to regularly monitor and evaluate the consistency of teaching practice. This practice is used to inform professional development needs for individual teachers.

Building teacher capability in years 7 to 10 is a strong focus for senior leaders. Leaders have also identified that the next step for teachers is to develop a shared understanding of learner agency and develop strategies for students to take more ownership of learning.

Student assessment data is gathered from an appropriate range of nationally referenced and school- developed assessment tools. Primary and middle school team leaders and teachers use this information well to monitor the progress and achievement of students in relation to National Standards. A next step for leaders is to formalise external moderation processes to further strengthen teachers’ confidence in making overall teacher judgements (OTJ’s) in relation to National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori.

Charter targets are clearly focused on children at risk of not achieving. In addition, each curriculum area has established annual achievement targets and an annual report is presented to the board of trustees. The next step is for learning area leaders is to develop consistency in identifying deliberate and specific actions to meet these targets, and to regularly monitor and report the progress of target students to school leaders. This should strengthen leaders and teachers ability to effectively respond to the learning and progress of at risk learners.

School data in 2015 indicates that just over 60% of students in Years 1 to 8 achieved the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics with boys achieving at comparable rates to girls. Student achievement for 2015 from the rumaki classes shows that the majority of students achieved above Ngā Whanaketanga in pāngarau, tuhituhi, pānui and kōrero.

The school has made a positive start in aligning assessment tasks to curriculum levels in Years 9 and 10. Data for these students shows that a high proportion are progressing and achieving well in relation to curriculum levels. However, leaders acknowledge the need to significantly improve the progress and achievement of a large proportion of students in Years 7 to 10, and in pāngarau in the immersion classes.

The school demonstrates a strong commitment to raising levels of student achievement. A strong achievement focus is to increase the proportion of students including transient and high needs students who achieve success in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and to complete NCEA Level 2 before they leave school. School data shows particular success in 2014 where 85% of school leavers achieved NCEA Level 2, half gained Level 3 and a third gained University Entrance. In 2015, 66% of school leavers gained NCEA Level 2. Transient and students with high learning needs are well supported to achieve at their appropriate level and contributed to the 91% of school leavers achieving (NCEA) Level 1.

A notable feature of the school is that 100% of boys are achieving NCEA Levels 1 and 2, and this was a consistent trend in 2014 and 2015.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ wellbeing and engagement.

The Uawanui project is a significant feature of the curriculum involving the school, community and iwi working collaboratively to achieve the vison of ‘he manawa whenua, he oranga tangata’. This project focuses on the environmental, social, cultural, historical and economic sustainability. It has provided the impetus and focus for the localised school curriculum. Through this project, students are exposed to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They have hands on experiences in fishing, forestry, farming, archaeology, environmental science, and marine biology. Students are able to research, inquire and engage in authentic, practical experiences. The well-designed school curriculum, developed in partnership with the iwi and community, provides meaningful pathways for students to pursue their aspirations, strengths and interests.

An innovative approach to curriculum design has been developed based on the concept of ‘wānanga’ This approach uses kapa haka, noho marae and Māori traditional ways of learning where students learn for short intensive blocks of time. This approach has shown significant improvement in the motivation and engagement of at risk learners. The school has adapted this model and is trialling it with children in the junior school.

The curriculum effectively extends and supports gifted and talented students with many students going on to receive local and national success and recognition. Senior students’ learning is enriched through overseas visits. Students have a strong sense of self in relation to cultural, local, national and global contexts.

Students participate and learn in a caring and supportive learning environment. The school works effectively with support services and outside agencies to provide wrap-around support for students with high needs. Iwi and school mentors work alongside students to provide emotional and social support with the intention of increasing their engagement and achievement. These students are fully integrated into classroom programmes. A responsive and inclusive curriculum effectively supports students with high learning, social and emotional needs.

The experienced and long standing principal continues to effectively lead the school and its community. She continues to promote a vision for teaching and learning that is based on authentic learning in a local context, and current research for education in the 21st century. The principal is well supported by a cohesive senior leadership team that works collaboratively to provide school-wide professional leadership for staff. A next step for senior leaders is to ensure teachers gather consistent and sufficient evidence in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTCs). This should include ensuring that there is more explicit links between the PTCs, classroom observations and Teaching as Inquiry.

The experienced chairperson and trustees bring a range of expertise and skills to their stewardship roles. Parents, whānau, iwi and community groups play an active part in the life of the school and contribute to a range of learning opportunities, which enhance the school’s curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve performance because:

  • internal evaluation is focused on improving outcomes for students and supports ongoing improvement
  • trustees actively represent and serve the school and community
  • informed leadership effectively builds relational trust and collaboration at all levels of the school and wider community
  • the school is highly connected to the community and iwi and has established strong productive partnerships for learning
  • students are confident in their language, culture and identity as Uawa citizens and Te Aitanga a Hauiti
  • trustees and leaders proactively develop networks that enable the school to extend and enrich the curriculum and increase the learning opportunities and pathways for students
  • leaders are strongly focused on raising teacher capability and levels of performance and accountability.

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.


Tolaga Bay Area School provides an inclusive, supportive environment for learning. Community/school collaboration that includes teachers, whānau, students and iwi enrich opportunities for students to become actively involved lifelong learners. The localised curriculum provides authentic learning experiences and this nurtures and affirms students’ cultural identity as Hauiti, Uawa, and Ngāti Porou citizens.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

2 December 2016

About the School


Tolaga Bay

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition







Special Features

Māori immersion classes (Year 1 to 8)

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

2 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2013

June 2010

June 2006