Turua Primary School - 28/07/2016

1 Context

Turua School is a small rural primary school that provides education for students from Years one to eight. Located near Thames, on the Hauraki Plains, the school has a roll of 78 students and 20 are of Māori descent. The experienced principal and deputy principal are long serving leaders for the school. They are well supported by the board of trustees. Two new teachers have been appointed to the staff in the last year. The school is a member of the newly formed Hauraki Plains Community of Learning (CoL), a group of twelve schools who will work together to build leadership and teacher capability, raise the achievement of children who are underachieving, and improve outcomes for all learners.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to promote strong citizenship. Through its learner-centred curriculum, the school aims to develop children who are responsible, cooperative and confident self-managing learners.

The school’s achievement information shows that overall patterns of attainment in relation to National Standards, are similar from year to year (2013 to 2015). Data indicates that Māori children are not achieving as well as their non-Māori peers in reading and writing. However in mathematics, Māori children are well represented in at and above categories of the National Standards. The school's 2015 data for all children shows that in reading, the significant majority (57/63) are achieving at and above the standard, and most (51/63) in mathematics. In writing, while most (46/63) children are at the standard, there are several in the below category. Māori and boys are over represented in this group. Since the 2013 ERO review, the school has continued to develop moderation systems and practices to support teachers to make sound Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJs) for each child in response to National Standards.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • provided additional learning support for at risk learners
  • funded additional teacher time (.6) to maintain small class sizes
  • taken a strategic approach to professional learning and development for teachers
  • responded to lower levels of achievement in writing through targeted professional development for teachers
  • moved towards closer alignment of individual appraisal goals for teachers, professional development and the school's achievement targets for identified at risk learners.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school responds very positively to all children whose learning and achievement needs to be accelerated.

The principal and deputy principal carefully analyse school-wide data to notice trends and patterns of achievement for year, gender and ethnic groups. Achievement targets in the school's charter focus specifically on accelerating the progress of Māori and other groups below the expected National Standard. At risk children within these groups are identified and additional learning support is provided.

The principal works collaboratively with teachers to interpret achievement information, and to make decisions about appropriate learning/teaching interventions. However, there is now a need for the principal to build the capability of all teachers to interpret assessment information on a deeper level in order to identify the gaps in the learning of individual at risk children. This should then enable teachers to plan specifically, and teach more deliberately to accelerate the progress of these children.

In 2015, most of the children who were at risk of not achieving the expected National Standard by the end of the year in reading and mathematics, made accelerated progress. In writing, only five of the identified at risk students made accelerated progress. Despite programme intervention, several students were still working below expectation at the end of the year. There is now a need for the school to evaluate the effectiveness of these programmes in accelerating the progress of Māori and other at risk learners, particularly in writing.

The principal recognises the need for teachers to use more deliberate teaching strategies that target very specifically, the child's learning needs in writing. Ongoing professional learning and development for teachers about effective teaching practice in writing is necessary to strengthen and build capability in this aspect of literacy learning.

In addition, the principal and deputy principal must now strengthen and embed the process for teaching as inquiry for all teachers. Currently, there are many opportunities for them to share and reflect on their teaching practice. It is now important that through this process, all teachers increase their knowledge and understanding of best assessment and teaching practice, and that together, staff develop and agree on practice and strategies most likely to raise and accelerate achievement of all students, and in particular Māori and boys.

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 responsive to the needs, strengths and interests of children as learners. Leaders understand the importance of providing meaningful contexts for learning and teaching to engage all children, especially those who are achieving below expected levels. A strong focus on Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC), and use of local geographical features that have significance to local Māori, provides opportunities for teachers to integrate curriculum areas such as science and writing, to give real meaning and purpose to the learning. This approach, when fully and consistently implemented by all teachers, is likely to be highly motivating for boys and Māori especially, and lead to more positive attitudes and higher levels of success in literacy learning.

The principal and deputy principal work in close liaison to provide effective professional leadership for the staff. They use their sound curriculum and assessment knowledge and understanding to work collaboratively with teachers to build a reflective culture for learning and teaching. Teachers are well supported by the principal and deputy principal to make Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJs) for each student in relation to National Standards. The principal and board understand that they now need to strengthen moderation through more precise benchmarking and the use of the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT).

There is a strategic approach to professional learning and development in response to notable achievement trends. This is enabling a targeted approach to building the capability of teachers in the teaching of writing, and the use of digital technologies to enhance learning and teaching. It is important that this work is continued, giving greater consideration to teaching strategies that are most likely to enable Māori students and boys to successfully engage and make accelerated progress.

The principal is leading a review of the appraisal process for teachers to bring about closer alignment with the Professional Teaching Criteria (PTC), and to integrate cultural competencies for teachers. As part of this process, there is an expectation that teachers will inquire into their teaching practice for targeted/at risk students, and share reflections with colleagues. It is important that teachers consistently use the assessment information they gather to inform this inquiry. This inquiry approach should support the work of leaders and teachers to agree on and embed teaching practices/strategies that are most likely to make a significant difference to children's achievement and progress.

The principal and staff place priority on building strong relationships with parents and families/whānau, and the provision of a supportive and inclusive school culture. Parents are very appreciative of the additional learning support provided for their children. However, more specific individual planning for these children is now necessary, and parents and children need to be involved in this process. This more reciprocal approach should lead to higher levels of ownership and understanding for parents and children about the specific learning needs and what they can do to make a difference.

The school's current action plans for raising achievement clearly documents the assistance and interventions to be provided. Under the leadership of the principal, the school will now modify these plans, to include more information about the teaching practice/strategies, programme design that are most likely to lift and accelerate achievement, in particular for Māori and all other students who are at risk of not achieving the expected standard for their year level.

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.

Strengths are:

  • a well-resourced and supportive environment for learning and teaching
  • well-informed professional leadership for teaching staff
  • the board's strategic approach to the provision of professional development for staff
  • high level of parental support for the school
  • a shared commitment to a broad and responsive curriculum for students. 

The school will continue to:

  • build the capability of teachers to interpret and use achievement information diagnostically. This should enable teachers to plan specifically and use deliberate acts of teaching to accelerate the achievement and progress of at risk/target children
  • strengthen moderation practices to ensure that judgements are consistently valid and reliable
  • develop and document Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for all identified at risk children
  • involve parents/whānau as active partners in their children's learning, making this a deliberate strategy
  • formalise and embed the Teaching As Inquiry process as an integral component of the review and refinement of effective teaching strategies to accelerate achievement
  • strengthen aspects of school self review, using outcomes data to inform the review of teaching and programme interventions for identified, at risk students
  • continue to develop agreed pedagogy for learning and achievement to achieve consistent, coherent practice across the school
  • consistently and fully implement the revised appraisal process for teachers that includes cultural competencies for teachers, Tātaiako.

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 principal will seek relevant external support to inform and enrich the work of the teaching team to fulfil the intent of the Raising Achievement Plan. The school's pending involvement in the CoL is most likely to provide this support and assist the principal to effectively build the capacity of the teaching team to provide high quality educational outcomes for all children. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

28 July 2016

About the school


Hauraki Plains

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 42 Girls 36

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

28 July 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

October 2010

November 2007