Urenui School - 04/03/2020

School Context

Urenui School is located in the small rural community of Urenui, 30km north of New Plymouth. It caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The current roll of 101 includes 33 students who identify as Māori. A number of these whakapapa to the local iwi, Ngāti Mutunga.

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are ‘to develop them into curious, motivated learners who will succeed in whatever they strive to do’. The school continues to promote the URENUI values of ‘uniqueness, respect, empowerment, nurturing, understanding and involvement’. A current key focus of the board is to respond appropriately to the increasing school roll.

The school continues to be led by an experienced principal and board chair. The board contains a mixture of new and experienced trustees. Most of the teaching staff is new since the February 2017 ERO report.

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

  • 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?

The school is achieving equity and excellence for nearly all its students in reading but is yet to achieve equity in writing and mathematics.

Almost all students were achieving at or above expectations in reading in 2019. A large majority were achieving at or above expectations in writing and mathematics. Achievement has improved significantly in reading since 2016, particularly for boys and Māori. There has been a small decline in achievement in both writing and mathematics between 2016 and 2019. Boys’ achievement is equivalent to that of girls in reading, but there is significant disparity for boys in writing and mathematics. Māori students are underachieving in relation to their New Zealand European peers in reading and writing. Māori students are achieving better than their New Zealand European peers in mathematics.

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

The school is accelerating learning for a large majority of Māori and other students who need this in reading but not yet in writing or mathematics.

The school can show that three quarters of those who were at risk of underachieving at the beginning of the year in reading made accelerated progress in 2019. Less than half made accelerated progress in mathematics and only a few made accelerated progress in writing.

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?

Leadership builds relational trust and strong relationships with all stakeholders. Leaders have established clear and consistent guidelines and expectations to guide teaching practice. There is a clear focus on equity and excellence across school systems and processes. A collaborative school culture empowers teachers to share and improve their practice. Leaders actively involve the community in the life of the school. Professional development is aligned to student needs and strategic priorities.

Students participate and learn in a caring, respectful and inclusive environment. Relationships between teachers and students are genuine and caring. Students have fun in class, leading to higher levels of engagement and motivation. There is a positive approach to behaviour management and school values are well-promoted which facilitates settled classrooms and a positive school tone. Students are regularly surveyed about their wellbeing and identified trends are addressed. Serious behaviour incidents are effectively managed by focusing on restoring relationships. Tikanga and te reo Māori are valued by teachers. This promotes a positive attitude to things Māori and pride in being Māori. Students with special needs are identified and their progress tracked. The school coordinates well with outside agencies to ensure their needs are responded to.

Teaching strategies aligned to current research about best practice is evident in the high levels of progress and achievement in reading.

The school draws on community resources to enhance student learning opportunities, achievement and wellbeing. Features include: collaborative partnerships with the local iwi to care for the estuary; the annual pet day; and the use of parent experts to enrich classroom programmes. Regular surveys ensure that parent and community aspirations are meaningfully included in strategic planning.

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

A priority area for further development for leaders and teachers is to strengthen the analysis, monitoring and reporting of rates of acceleration for groups of students, particularly in writing. Teaching practices that fully engage students in the learning process such as goal setting and strategies to help students identify and track their next steps in learning is also a key next step. Engaging parents in this process should also strengthen their role as partners in their children’s progress and development. The use of a consistent set of learning progressions should mean everyone shares a common language of learning.

Reviewing the current school curriculum documentation and developing a coherent local curriculum, that includes a sequential approach to the teaching of the history and traditions of Ngāti Mutunga and other local iwi, would support The New Zealand Curriculum, principles of The Treaty of Waitangi and cultural diversity.

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 Urenui School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

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:

  • leadership which sets high expectations for teachers and students
  • high-quality teaching of reading that is having a positive impact on learning
  • a highly engaged local community that enriches the curriculum for students.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening assessment and planning processes and practices to accelerate learning in writing and mathematics
  • a local curriculum to respond to the aspirations of iwi and hapū in the local community.

Darcy Te Hau

Acting Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

4 March 2020

About the school


North Taranaki

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing Primary School (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 50% Female 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 33%
NZ European/Pākehā 67%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Number of Māori medium classes


Total number of students in Māori medium (MME)


Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)


Number of students in Level 1 MME


Number of students in Level 2 MME


Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

4 March 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review February 2017
Education Review May 2014
Education Review June 2012