Upokongaro School - 16/12/2019

School Context

Upokongaro School is a full primary with 135 students and 73% attending are Māori.

Several changes have occurred to personnel and trustees since the March 2017 ERO report.

The vision for children is 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.

Trustees’ strategic goals to 2021 are focused on: student learning engagement and progress; effective teaching; leading and managing; governance; a safe and inclusive school culture; and engaging parents, whānau and the community.

In 2019, classroom achievement targets have been set to accelerate the achievement of target students in mathematics.

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

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

Further development to school processes and practices are required to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

School reported achievement outcomes at the end 2018, show a low majority of students achieved at or above expectations for their year level in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori learners achieved similar outcomes to Pākehā students in reading and mathematics and lower in writing. Girls achieved higher outcomes than boys in literacy and lower in mathematics.

Achievement trends from 2016 show a noticeable increase for Pākehā students in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement over the same period, has reduced slightly for Māori students and boys in all three areas.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

School reported outcomes in 2019, show some students accelerated their progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

Further development to assessment practice and collaborative learning partnerships are required to strengthen the school’s response to Māori and other students whose learning and progress need acceleration.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

A wide range of curriculum experiences purposefully support the positive engagement of students at school. Literacy and numeracy are suitably prioritised. Staff make useful connections to learners’ lives, local contexts and promote their involvement in community events. Teachers, students and whānau contribute to the meaningful inclusion of te ao Māori across the curriculum. The programme for young leaders promotes student development of attributes and attitudes, aligned to the school’s vision and valued outcomes.

Staff, students, parents and whānau contribute meaningfully in creating an inclusive school environment. Classroom environments are productive where students engage purposefully in learning. Students develop a strong sense of belonging. Interactions between staff, students and their peers reflect their shared values of ako, manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, tangata whenuatanga and wānanga. Leaders foster positive community engagement with parents, families and whānau and iwi.

Internal evaluation is well used to identify practices and process requiring further development to strengthen the school’s strategic priorities. Senior leaders are strategically managing improvements based on information from achievement outcomes and community engagement. Collaborative practice between teachers provides relevant opportunities to share strategies used in the classroom and reflect on student outcomes. Professional learning and development for staff is appropriately aligned to curriculum and achievement priorities.

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

Leaders and teachers have collaboratively reviewed assessment practice. Further developments are required to:

  • ensure assessment tools and moderation of data robustly informs reporting of achievement

  • build teachers’ use and understanding of learning progressions in literacy and mathematics to inform teaching and learning and differentiate to student needs

  • develop schoolwide achievement targets aligned to all students requiring their learning and progress accelerated

  • provide commentary in relation to student achievement outcomes for learners involved in additional learning programmes.

Inclusive practices encourage the purposeful inclusion of parents, whānau and students at school. However, current practices require improvement to ensure reciprocal learning partnerships are established. Further developing processes to share the specific learning goals of students should enable parents, families and whānau to contribute to their child’s learning.

Trustees need to increase their understanding of effective governance practice. They should collectively build their knowledge of their roles and responsibilities. Establishing and documenting shared expectations should provide a basis to evaluate how well they undertake their roles and ensure they are able to develop relevant actions to strengthen their collective capability.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Upokongaro School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • an inclusive school culture that fosters the purposeful engagement of students, parents and whānau in the school
  • the breadth of curriculum experiences that support student participation, engagement and responds well to Māori learners’ culture, language and identity
  • senior leaders who manage relevant improvements that are incrementally strengthening practices and processes to build equitable and excellent outcomes for students.

Next steps

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

  • building assessment practice to better respond to student needs
  • improving the capability of trustees to ensure effective governance and meet their legislative requirements
  • strengthening collaborative partnerships with students, parents and whānau to increase their involvement in meaningfully contributing to learning.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to key policies and procedures.

A cycle of policy review needs to be established to ensure:

  • alignment to current legislation
  • that actual practice, that is up-to-date, is in the documented policy.

Aspects of policies and procedures that require strengthening include:

  • risk analysis and management for learning experiences outside the classroom
  • clear complaints process for parents
  • and aspects of the appointments process.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must ensure that it:

  • complies in full with any legislation currently in force or that may be developed to ensure the safety of students and employees
    [National Administration Guideline 5]
  • develops and implements personnel and industrial policies, within policy and procedural frameworks set by the Government from time to time, which promote high levels of staff performance, use educational resources effectively and recognise the needs of students.
    [National Administration Guideline 3]

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

16 December 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 52%, Female 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 73%
NZ European/Pākehā 27%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

16 December 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review March 2017
Education Review May 2014
Education Review February 2012