Totara Grove School - 13/12/2017

School Context

Totara Grove School in Whangarei, caters for 324 children from Years 1 to 6. Māori children make up 71 percent of the roll, and 4 percent are Pacific.

The school’s vision and mission are expressed as ‘Tupu Tahi’, children growing together, standing strong, and reaching high. The school’s goal is for children leaving the school to be confident, resilient, intelligent leaders and contributors to society, and achieving their potential academically, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. These aspirations are underpinned by the school’s values and guiding principles of ngā mātāpono – whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, ako and tū rangatira. Parents, teachers, and children understand and support these values.

Since ERO’s 2014 evaluation, the board has appointed a new principal, and there have been other changes to the leadership team. Staff have participated in professional learning relating to the teaching of reading and mathematics, to increase their capability to make positive changes for children.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress in relation to the school’s targets
  • other valued outcomes in relation to ngā mātāpono, as defined by the school.

Totara Grove School is a member of the Ngā Kura mo te ako o Whangarei (Raki Whangarei) Kāhui Ako Group 3.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is making progress towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

School data show an upward trend in overall student achievement for reading, writing and mathematics. The school is working towards parity in achievement for Māori children and boys.

Students achieve very well in relation to other school valued outcomes. Most students:

  • demonstrate tū rangatira, confidence in themselves as learners

  • have a strong sense of turangawaewae in the school as their place of belonging

  • demonstrate the school values, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga and ako in their inclusion and acceptance of others, and in their everyday school life.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Totara Grove School is increasingly effective in responding to children whose learning progress needs acceleration. The board of trustees, leadership team, and staff prioritise equity and excellence for all children. They have a commitment to supporting Māori children to achieve success as Māori.

Senior leaders and teachers know the learners who are at risk of not achieving, and their learning strengths and needs. Targeted support is provided for these children. Teachers use a variety of assessment information to plan programmes that meet children’s needs, and to identify those who would benefit from additional support. Teachers, the special needs coordinator (SENCO), external experts, and parents are all involved in developing strategies, and evaluating their effectiveness, to accelerate priority learners’ progress.

Children’s progress and achievement is analysed, monitored, and regularly reported to the board. Schoolwide moderation helps teachers to make dependable judgements about children’s achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Leaders and teachers have been working together to build teaching expertise through the Accelerated Literacy Learning (ALL) and Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) programmes.They set timeframes with key benchmarks to closely monitor priority children’s progress. These interventions promote collaborative approaches, and have impacted positively on literacy and mathematics learning.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

The school has a strong emphasis on social skills, the school’s bicultural vision, and its values. These underpin the attributes and achievements sought for children. Children demonstrate a strong sense of ownership of the school’s vision and values. They show pride and confidence in their own cultural heritage, and the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Whānau and parents strongly support and believe in the school. Close connections with whānau through hui and events enable families to participate in their children’s learning. Teachers discuss acceleration plans with whānau of priority learners. They use culturally responsive practices to foster children’s engagement in their learning.

Children benefit from many opportunities to learn collaboratively. This approach has helped children to develop skills and competencies for successful learning. It has supported inclusive practices and relational trust across all levels of the school community.

The school has sound governance. Trustees make strategic decisions that support equitable outcomes for children. The board is well informed, and reviews school performance against charter goals, targets and governance responsibilities.

The board and school leaders work collaboratively, and have a focus on best outcomes for students. Their collective commitment to building capacity supports a curriculum that increases the achievement of equitable outcomes for children.

The school has good quality leadership. Leaders continue to focus on developing high quality teaching and learning practices that make a difference for children who are at risk of not achieving.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence?

The school has set relevant strategic goals for ongoing school development, including:

  • refining processes for monitoring and analysing target students’ progress

  • enhancing opportunities for students to make decisions about their learning

  • internal evaluation processes, to better identify strengths in the school’s performance and where improvements are needed.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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

  • finance

  • 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 and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • the vision and values, and culturally responsive approaches enacted in the school, that support children’s confidence as learners

  • a professional leadership team that is focused on best practice in leading the school forward

  • positive relationships and partnerships across the school community, and a collective responsibility to improving student outcomes.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, development priorities are in:

  • reporting about outcomes for target children, to support strategic decisions about their learning needs

  • increasing students’ agency in decision making so they become leaders of their own learning

  • critical inquiry and internal evaluation that supports ongoing improvement.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

13 December 2017

About the school


Kamo, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number


School type


School roll


Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

other ethnicities


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

13 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2015
October 2011
September 2007