Waiharara School - 16/02/2017

1 Context

Waiharara School is a small, rural school located on the Aupouri Peninsula in the Far North. It continues to be an important part of the community. Staff and whānau have longstanding and inter-generational connections with the school. All children whakapapa to the local iwi, Ngai Takoto. Since ERO's 2013 review there has been a change in school leadership, with a new principal appointed in May, 2016.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are captured in the school's whakataukī, Whakakotahi e te Pūtahitanga o te Mātauranga: Learning together for a better future. The school's vision and values are currently being reviewed and revised in consultation with children, staff and whānau, to set a new, future direction for the school. Valued outcomes for all learners in this community focus on learners being:

  • motivated lifelong learners
  • well prepared for secondary school
  • capable of contributing to a better future for our people, place and environment.

The school’s achievement information shows that, in relation to National Standards, the majority of children achieved the standard in reading, writing and mathematics in 2015. Over the past three years the percentage of children at or above the standards has increased. Girls achieve very well in literacy. Boys achieve well in mathematics. The school's current focus is on accelerating the progress and achievement of boys' writing.

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation the school has implemented a range of new initiatives focused on accelerating the achievement of all children. These initiatives include:

  • using a Treaty-based, kaupapa Māori model, Te Pikinga ki Runga, Realising Possibilities, as a framework to guide culturally-responsive programme planning for acceleration
  • participating in the Health Promoting Schools project to further develop learning partnerships with whānau
  • improving systems to track the achievement of children who need to make accelerated progress
  • strengthening moderation processes to increase the reliability of achievement information and to support teacher judgements.

These initiatives are at the early stages of implementation.  

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is responding increasingly well to children whose learning needs accelerating. Trends and patterns in achievement are clearly identified, and analysed in the principal's detailed reports to the board. These reports include children's specific learning strengths and needs and the level of support, intervention and resourcing required. Achievement information shows that the school has had some success in accelerating the progress of these children in reading.

There has been a deliberate planned approach to improving student outcomes and whānau engagement at the school. The principal has focused on building trusting relationships with the school community and quality learning relationships with children.

Whānau who spoke with ERO appreciate the increased positive learning-centred relationships with the school. They are more confident to use specific strategies to help their children learn at home. Children spoken to during the review report that they value learning in an environment that increasingly promotes and celebrates their language, culture and identity as Māori. Tuākana/tēina relationships bring older and younger children together, building a stronger sense of whanaungatanga and belonging.

The school belongs to the Far North Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL), which has a number of local schools working together to improve educational opportunities for children in the Far North.

The principal could further progress achievement by extending the newly developed acceleration plans to include:

  • the specific roles and responsibilities of trustees, whānau and staff
  • how achievement challenges are going to be met
  • indicators of successful acceleration
  • regular evaluation of whether decisions are making a difference to student outcomes.

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, processes and practices are becoming more effective in promoting equity and excellence for children. The school's increased promotion of and support for te reo Māori me ōna tikanga impacts positively on children's engagement and learning. Trustees, staff and whānau have high expectations for all children to experience and celebrate success.

Children benefit from a settled and positive school tone. They are confident, capable learners who engage and experience success in a broad range of sporting, cultural and outdoor activities. Increased use of digital technologies are extending students' understanding of learning and strengthening learning partnerships with whānau.

The principal is beginning to build collective staff responsibility for accelerating student progress and achievement with a deliberate emphasis on promoting strategies that accelerate progress. Key strategies include providing senior children with more choices in their learning and strengthening teachers' understanding and use of achievement information.

The principal and trustees recognise that it is now timely to review the school curriculum. To support this review it would be useful to:

  • use The New Zealand Curriculum principles to develop and document a more connected, culturally responsive curriculum that reflects the Waiharara community
  • document and embed a set of agreed expectations for teaching practices that further promotes children's ownership of learning.

The board is comprised of new and experienced trustees. They bring enthusiasm and complementary skills to their roles. Trustees have participated in board training to increase their understanding of their roles and responsibilities. They recognise that they need further training, particularly for refining and reviewing board policies, and developing a new strategic plan.

The teachers’ performance appraisals are linked to the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC). The principal could now align the appraisal evidence more closely to the PTC to help build a more robust appraisal system. Increasing teachers' evaluative thinking could further develop effective practice for accelerating learning.

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.

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The principal, in consultation with children, staff, trustees and whānau, is beginning to set a new educational direction for the school focused on improving outcomes for children. This deliberate approach promotes a strong sense of whanaungatanga and tino rangatiratanga for the school community.

Trustees and the principal agree that the next steps in school development include:

  • documenting the school-wide approach to embed and help sustain the new initiatives to enhance equity and excellence for all children
  • continuing to focus on building teachers' capability to use achievement information to accelerate progress
  • increasing opportunities for children to take a greater role in their learning.

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 more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will 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 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 develop policies, practices and procedures about the surrender and retention of property and searches of students by the principal.

7 Recommendation

To ensure that the new educational direction is consolidated, the principal and trustees should focus on evaluating the effectiveness of new developments and the impact they have on accelerating student progress and teaching practices.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

16 February 2017

About the school 


Waiharaha, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 11 Boys 6

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

16 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2013

August 2012

April 2009