Upokongaro School - 10/03/2017

1 Context

Upokongaro School is a full primary school (Years 1 to 8) located on the banks of the Whanganui River. At the time of the review, the roll was 93 students and 89% identify as Māori. The school continues to have positive roll growth. Spaces have been redeveloped and resources purchased for two additional classrooms.

The school actively promotes health and wellbeing for learning and life. Participation in a wide range of initiatives supports children to be ready and able to learn. Manaakitanga from and within the school community is highly evident.

The school has responded well to areas identified for improvement in the May 2014 ERO report.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school, for all children, are that learning is lifelong, where all students can achieve their potential in a socialised environment. The principles he tangata (the people), angitu (achievement), and akoranga (learning) underpin the school's vision. The core values of manaakitanga, tika, aroha, whanaungatanga, and pono are encouraged and modelled by all.

The school’s achievement information shows that most students achieve in relation to National Standards. However, boys' achievement remains below that of girls in writing and reading.

Teachers regularly discuss students and the progress they are making. They know all the learners well. Using this individual knowledge of each child and the evidence from in-class testing, judgements about student achievement are developed. Teachers have identified the need to enhance moderation practices to ensure these judgements are dependable and consistent across all year levels.

Since the previous ERO evaluation the school has: 

  • strongly focused on building effective learning relationships with the community
  • built consistency and understanding of the teaching and learning of literacy and mathematics
  • improved the understanding and effective use of student achievement data
  • empowered students to be confident to learn and take risks
  • established a positive school culture
  • raised student achievement.  

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school responds well to students whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. A holistic wellbeing approach to support and nurture learners is highly evident.

Deliberate learning-focused relationships are given priority and fostered with learners, their whānau and hapū. This promotes purposeful connections to support students' learning, progress and achievement.

A well-considered and personalised approach for students and whānau to transitions into, through and beyond the school informs what best fits the learning needs of the child. Teachers continue to enhance learning-centred partnerships with parents, whānau and students.

Students' language, culture and identity are highly visible, nurtured and celebrated schoolwide. Student leadership opportunities are actively promoted and learners have a genuine sense of pride in supporting and teaching adults, and other students, through te ao Māori contexts.

Learners with additional needs are supported through a collaborative approach. Success is celebrated and meaningful goals are developed. Students are empowered to take responsibility and have an active role in decision making about their wellbeing and learning programmes.

It is timely for school leaders to formalise the approach for knowing what works well, why, who for and what needs to change, so that learning programmes best meet the needs of those whose learning and achievement require acceleration. This should include monitoring student progress and achievement overtime to better inform appropriate target setting.

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?

Trustees bring a wide range of experience, expertise and local knowledge to their roles and responsibilities. The board actively responded to the areas for development identified in the previous ERO evaluation. A clear understanding of the distinction between governance and management roles is highly evident. Trustees are improvement focused and highly supportive of initiatives that improve outcomes for learners. The policies and procedures that guide school operation need to be reviewed and revised to support ongoing practice and sustainability. This is a prioirity.

The principal has a clear vision for, and a strong commitment to, a community that supports and promotes wellbeing and achievement for students and their whānau. Collaborative responsibility and leadership contributes to change for improvement. School leaders recognise and use the strengths of the team for improved outcomes for learners. Students enthusiastically share and celebrate their stories, learning and progress. 

A collaborative and collegial approach to teaching and learning is highly evident. Teachers focus on enhancing students' wellbeing and enjoyment of learning. Progress and achievement are celebrated amongst all learners. A whānau culture is highly evident in the classrooms, fostering and empowering student's confidence, participation and leadership in learning.

The appraisal process has been reviewed to better support teachers to explore and build on their capabilities. Strengthening the gathering of evidence of effective practice in line with the Practising Teacher Criteria should recognise ongoing improvement.

Learning programmes are well planned by teachers to build on students' needs and strengths. Positive interactions support a tuakana teina approach to progress and collaboration. Students are engaged in their learning, they know the learning expectations and strive to improve and achieve. Classrooms have a calm and positive learning tone. Students' work is proudly displayed and represents who they are as young people and as learners.

The recent curriculum review has appropriately focused on reading, writing and mathematics. It is timely to deepen the review to identify what strategies are having the most impact on improving student outcomes. This should support the documenting the 'Upokongaro Way' for effective learning and teaching across all areas of The New Zealand Curriculum.

To better enable the school to sustain and identify appropriate improvements, internal evaluation should be further developed. This should include monitoring and evaluating programmes, teaching and initiatives, to determine the impact on learning and achievement for all learners.

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
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it. 

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop more targeted planning that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

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.

To improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • update and align school policies and procedures to meet current legislative requirements including: health and safety, surrender and retention, the process for appointing staff and police vetting identified in the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

Leaders, teachers and learners at Upokongaro School have been on a significant journey of improvement to raise and support positive outcomes for students. To sustain ongoing improvements, they now need to:

  • deepen the curriculum review to recognise and document the Upokongaro Way for effective learning and teaching across all areas of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • enhance moderation practices to ensure these judgements are dependable and consistent across all year levels
  • build internal evaluation to inform future direction
  • revise and update the policies and procedures that guide school operation. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 March 2017

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 52, Female 41

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

10 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2014

February 2012

May 2010