Totara Park School - 12/02/2019


Leaders and teachers have improved conditions and practices to promote increased student achievement. Teachers have a clearer picture of students' achievement and progress and are well supported to improve their practice. Some acceleration is occurring. Further strengthening appraisal, teacher inquiry and internal evaluation are key next steps.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Totara Park School is a contributing school in Upper Hutt for students in Years 1 to 6. Of the 307 students enrolled, 11% identify as Māori and 3% as Pacific heritage.

The redeveloped values of 'PARK: Porihanga - I join in, Aroha - I show love, Rangatiratanga - I have pride and Kaitiakitanga - I look after', represent what is important in the way everyone lives and learns at Totara Park School. These contribute to ‘The TP Kid’, representative of students attending the school.

The October 2016 ERO report outlined concerns in a number of areas of school practice, capability and performance. The principal, teachers and trustees have taken a planned approach to addressing the areas identified for development. Significant external support and professional learning and development (PLD) has been undertaken to strengthen the areas identified for development.  

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The October 2016 ERO report outlined areas for improvement associated with the need to boost student achievement. To support improved achievement outcomes leaders and teachers needed to:

  • review tracking and monitoring of achievement, especially for students whose achievement needs acceleration; and regularly report to trustees progress and impact of actions taken to support ongoing decision making
  • develop clear, shared schoolwide understandings of acceleration and specific strategies to improve Māori achievement and reduce disparity through increased curriculum cultural responsiveness
  • build stronger community and parent learning partnerships, particularly for the whānau of Māori students; this included involving students and whānau in setting goals
  • improve the process for reviewing and implementing school policies and procedures to meet legal requirements
  • improve the use and understanding of internal evaluation for school improvement; this included the strategic plan, curriculum developments and governance practices
  • redevelop and implement appraisal to meet Education Council requirements, and strengthen teachers’ inquiry into their professional practices.


The school has accessed Ministry of Education support through a Student Achievement Function Practitioner (SAF). A change team was established and a change and improvement plan for raising student achievement generated. Plans were developed for both 2017 and 2018. The school is continuing with the change team through to 2019, to maintain their focus on raising student achievement outcomes, because of the resulting positive benefits from this process.

A useful range of systems, processes and strategies is in place to identify, track and monitor the needs of students at risk of not achieving at expected curriculum levels. Individualised documents show how teachers are involving parents and whānau in fostering their children’s progress. Successes are readily shared at parent evenings, informal meetings and digitally. Tracking and monitoring of target students occurs both at class level and schoolwide. Progress is regularly reported to trustees.

End-of-year data in writing in 2017 showed disparity of outcomes for Māori students and for boys. In response, the key focus area for improvement is writing. There is evidence of acceleration in writing for some targeted students during the first three terms of 2018.

Staff continue to revise assessment practices to explore ways to show rates of progress and acceleration. Leaders support teachers to work collaboratively to promote teaching practice that is responsive to students needs and consistent across the school. Embedding the positive changes made is a key next step. 

Since the previous ERO report, strategies used have increased community participation in school activities and events. Parents and whānau are welcome in the school and their increased presence has contributed to higher levels of involvement in consultation processes. They are encouraged to be part of goal setting for their children. A next step is to continue developing reciprocal parent and whānau partnerships.

Te ao Māori within the curriculum has strengthened. Children have increased opportunities for learning about te reo me ngā tikanga Māori through external expertise and classroom programmes. It is timely, as part of ongoing curriculum review, to ensure that expectations for culturally responsive practices are clearly articulated.

Whānau and learner voice is valued and sought. Robust analysis of this information is required to inform decision making to better meet the needs of the students and their families. The school recognises the need to further engage with Māori whānau to enhance decision making and strategic direction for their children. The planned formation of the Whānau advisory group should support this next step.

The appraisal framework provides the opportunity for leaders and teachers to engage in an appropriate process aligned to strategic priorities. A next step is to establish
time-framed guidelines to ensure robust implementation of the new process. This should include goal setting, regular observations of staff and feedback about the meeting of Teaching Standards.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain introduced improvements. A key next step is to further build internal capability to achieve equity and excellence for students. This includes refining and continuing to embed tracking and monitoring processes of student achievement.

The planned continuation of professional development through Accelerated Literacy Learning should further increase teachers’ ability to inquire into their practices to improve outcomes for students.

Building evaluative capability has been one of the key aims of the change team working with the SAF. School trustees and leaders are using their increased evaluative capability to review and evaluate their successes and undertake annual planning for 2019. An important next step is continuing to build understandings of effective evaluation across all levels of the school, to know the effectiveness of programmes and initiatives to inform decision making.

Trustees are reviewing policies regularly with the support of an external system, to ensure that all policies are fit for purpose, and meet legislative requirements.

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.


Leaders and teachers have improved conditions and practices to promote increased student achievement. Teachers have a clearer picture of students' achievement and progress and are well supported to improve their practice. Some acceleration is occurring. Further strengthening appraisal, teacher inquiry and internal evaluation are key next steps.

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

Alan Wynyard
Director Review and Improvement Services
Southern Region

12 February 2019

About the School 


Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Year 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 51%, Female 49%

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

12 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2016
November 2013
March 2010