Waihopai School - 10/11/2014


Students enjoy rich learning experiences, including in the local environment and in a wide range of sports, music and other cultural activities. They achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students achieve very well. Students with very high needs receive high-quality care and education. Stronger professional leadership is needed to support continued improvement.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Waihopai School is one of the oldest schools in Invercargill. It provides education to an increased roll of 369 students in Years 1 to 6. An enrolment zone is in place. Over recent years students come from an increasingly multi-cultural background. The school benefits from the support provided by the Friends of the School group and the wider community.

A special feature of the school is the Park Syndicate, an attached facility providing high-quality care and education for very-high-needs students.

The school has stable staffing with a balance of experienced and new or beginning teachers.

The school responded to the 2011 ERO report by developing assessment practices around National Standards, surveying students and parents about a range of topics, and strengthening the focus on student achievement. Other significant aspects identified in the previous ERO report need further work and are included below as areas for review and development.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The school makes effective use of learning information at each level of the school.

Students use information to have learning conversations with their teachers about how well they are learning and what they need to do next. Students use learning information to help set their own goals for improvement, assess themselves and peers, and monitor their own achievement.

Teachers use assessment information to identify students’ current levels of achievement, those students at risk of not making sufficient progress, those requiring extension, and next steps to meet students’ learning needs. Senior leaders process this information and use it to set improvement targets with the board.

The principal and syndicate leaders report to trustees regularly about overall achievement. They focus on those students not yet reaching the National Standards to consider the effectiveness of strategies to meet school-wide student achievement targets.

Trustees use information about achievement and progress to know how well students are achieving in relation to the National Standards, and to be assured that those students needing extra help have been identified.

The board works with senior leaders to set annual targets for students to make accelerated progress.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Positive features of the curriculum include:

  • rich learning experiences, in and beyond the classroom
  • purposeful use of local contexts and authentic experiences in the community.

Students enjoy the wide range of opportunities in sports, music and other cultural activities.

Students learn in high-quality classroom environments where their work is valued, well displayed, and celebrated in a range of ways across the school.

The quality of teaching ERO observed ranged from good to high-quality.

Students needing extra help with their learning are well supported. A good example is the numeracy-support programme that targets students who need to make extra progress in mathematics. Parents spoken to are appreciative of the positive impact this programme is having on their child’s achievement and attitude towards mathematics.

Teachers in Park Syndicate see their students as capable, confident learners. Students are well supported in their learning and wellbeing. Teachers and teacher aides take care to be highly respectful of the abilities and potential the students have. Teachers know about the students’ needs and plan how to meet these needs on an individual basis. Students benefit from the visits into the wider community to support their development.

Areas for review and development

The principal and other school leaders need to develop and document a shared, agreed understanding of the key attributes, skills, and knowledge the school expects learners to develop during their time at this school. At the time of the review there were a number of different statements about what a good learner will be. Greater clarity about expectations for the learner would provide a sound basis for monitoring and evaluation.

The principal and other curriculum leaders should document clear expectations for high-quality teaching practices. This will provide a basis for the expected teaching practices to be monitored, supported and evaluated in terms of their impact on students’ learning.

The roles and job descriptions for all senior professional leaders should include:

  • giving effective professional leadership
  • supporting, monitoring and guiding classroom practice effectively
  • using purposeful observations of classroom practice to drive up high-quality practice.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

There are 54 students who identify as Māori on the school roll. Māori students are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics.

Māori students are well engaged in their learning and in the life of the school. Students who spoke with ERO:

  • knew about goal setting and what they need to do to achieve goals
  • knew how well they were achieving and their next steps for learning
  • talked knowledgeably about their culture and identity.

Students appreciate that their teachers value their culture. They enjoy the opportunities to participate in kapa haka, learn about their culture and hear some teachers use te reo Māori. Students told ERO that they would like their views and opinions used to ensure that the school’s environment better reflects a Māori dimension.

The school will be better placed to sustain the success of their Māori students, as Māori, when they strategically address the areas identified for review and development.

Area for review and development

Promoting success for Māori students, and success as Māori, are identified in the strategic plan as priorities. These priorities now need to be clearly reflected in the annual plan and in other planning. This will ensure there is a continued focus on Māori success. Other key next steps are to:

  • ensure that the school’s curriculum is more reflective of te ao Māori
  • strengthen self review to support success for Māori students as Māori, so that senior leaders can identify what is going well and aspects to be improved.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school will be better placed to improve and sustain its performance when trustees and senior leaders effectively address the areas for review and development identified in this report. Trustees plan to use future board training to improve some aspects of their work. ERO agrees that this will be an appropriate way to begin to address areas for improvement.

Areas for development

Trustees need to strengthen:

  • the links made from the strategic plan into annual planning, the principal’s appraisal, and the professional learning and development programme
  • annual planning to include clearly defined expected outcomes and indicators of success so that the attainment of goals can be monitored and evaluated
  • the quality of reporting by the principal to trustees about progress against the success indicators for the annual plan.

The principal and senior leaders need to strengthen the quality of the professional leadership they give to the school. The principal should ensure that all curriculum reporting to the board evaluates the impact of programmes and initiatives in terms of how well students’ learning is supported.

A new performance-management system is now in place for teachers. Students are likely to benefit if this is sustained and developed. The deputy principal has acknowledged, and ERO agrees, that appraisal and teaching-as-inquiry should be strengthened and made more consistent and useful across the school.

The school’s self-review practices do not yet have a sufficient focus on evaluating the factors that have a positive impact on teaching and learning. The school needs to:

  • establish an agreed, widely-understood process for review
  • gather information from a wide range of sources
  • strengthen the analysis to show what is going well and what aspects to change.

During the review, ERO discussed with trustees the following aspects of their work that need careful consideration to promote positive outcomes for students.

The school should clarify how it uses the Special Education Grant (SEG) and what, if any, of this funding is used for the Gifted and Talented programme.

The school should review the policy of excluding students from non-curricular activities when the activity fee has not been paid. Since the on-site stage of this review the board has addressed these issues.

The school has discussed the effectiveness of its complaints process and how best to respond to any future complaints.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. The school would benefit from a stronger evidence base and better documentation to show that it has reviewed how well its practices meet the requirements of the Code.

At the time of this review there were 4 international students attending the school. From time to time the school hosts small groups of short-stay students. The international students receive pastoral support and support for their learning. Trustees could be better assured about how well these students are supported and how well they are learning and progressing.

ERO is aware that the Office for Code Compliance has approved the enrolment of groups of young international students. This includes approval for home-staying of young (age 10 or over) international students for short stays, but not in school hostels attached to another school.

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:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

During the review, ERO identified an area of non-compliance.

The principal’s appraisal does not meet legislative requirements. Some required aspects are not evident or have not been included in documentation provided to ERO. In order to address this issue, the board must ensure that it complies with the Ministry of Education requirements for the appraisal of principals. [s77C State Sector Act 1988]

Following the review visit the board took immediate steps to comply with documentation requirements.


Students enjoy rich learning experiences, including in the local environment and in a wide range of sports, music and other cultural activities. They achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students achieve very well. Students with very high needs receive high-quality care and education. Stronger professional leadership is needed to support continued improvement.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

10 November 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female: 51% Male: 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā










Special Features

Park Syndicate for very high needs students

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

10 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2011

June 2008

June 2006