Waikowhai School - 12/12/2011

1. Context

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

Waikowhai School in Hillsborough is a multicultural school that caters for students from Years 1 to 6. The school roll has remained stable since the January 2009 ERO report, with some increase in ethnic diversity, including an increase from nine percent to thirteen percent in the proportion of students indentifying as Māori.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history and a culture of respect and high expectations for students that continues to permeate the school community. The school’s experienced principal continues to lead a cohesive staff and, together with the board and senior leaders, to prioritise the interests of children in all school developments. The well-maintained environment supports students’ wellbeing, safety and learning. Staff and the community take pride in their school and the opportunities that it provides for children.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are highly engaged in learning. They are confident, respectful and enthusiastic learners who benefit from an extensive range of curriculum, leadership, cultural and co-curricular learning opportunities. Children’s engagement in learning is supported by an inclusive school culture.

Good quality achievement information in literacy and mathematics is collated and analysed using a range of nationally normed assessment tools. Several initiatives have been developed to monitor progress and achievement for individual students, year levels and for groups of students.

Teachers use achievement data effectively as a basis for planning, grouping, and supporting student learning. Well resourced programmes support students with identified learning needs. Senior leaders have plans to review the effectiveness of these programmes and their impact on student progress and achievement.

Student progress and achievement is celebrated and shared regularly with the board of trustees and whānau/parents. Portfolios provide a positive record of learning for children over their time at school. Senior leaders report student achievement against the National Standards and have developed an effective system to help teachers to track student achievement over time.

The majority of students make good progress with their learning at Waikowhai School. Increasing numbers of students are working towards meeting National Standards in writing, reading and mathematics. Senior leaders have identified, however, that the achievement of some students is not yet at expected levels and are accessing external providers to support staff in their efforts to raise achievement.

The school’s current achievement targets for literacy and mathematics are mostly general and outline learning goals for year level and/or whole school groups. Senior leaders indicate that this broad-based approach is under review. It would be useful to consider more focused achievement targets for specific groups of learners so that targets are more closely matched to the strengths and needs of students.

Thirty five percent of the school roll is Pacific with a majority of these students identifying as Tongan. Their progress is monitored alongside all cohorts for literacy and mathematics. Senior leaders should continue to ensure that students’ cultural strengths, interests and aspirations are reflected in classroom learning programmes. This would support the school’s vision of valuing all students as members of the school and local community.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Māori students are engaged in their learning and achieve at similar levels to their peers. The school’s inclusive practices provide Māori students with opportunities to succeed.

There has been a considered approach to the provision of a te reo Māori programme across the school. Senior leaders acknowledge the importance of continuing to strengthen ways to promote Māori potential. They have included the principles of the Ministry of Education Māori Education Strategy, Ka Hikitia Managing for Success, in strategic planning and are aware of the need to continue exploring opportunities for discussion with board, parents, teachers and children.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum provides educational opportunities that promote student engagement, progress and achievement for all. There is a thematical approach to curriculum design with a strong focus on literacy, mathematics, inquiry learning and information communication technologies.

Senior leaders have used a range of review processes and student achievement data as the basis for designing a curriculum that reflects The New Zealand Curriculum and demonstrates a commitment to supporting children as lifelong learners. They have worked collaboratively with teachers to set high expectations and to develop robust systems for promoting effective teaching and learning.

Teachers are student focused, hardworking and dedicated. They provide high quality feedback and guidance about next learning steps, together with creative and stimulating class environments, to support children’s engagement in learning.

Senior leaders have identified sustaining effective teaching and learning practices as an area to develop and review. Internal and external professional development initiatives are being used to promote ongoing improvement in the teaching of literacy and numeracy. The school is also participating in an external pilot programme that identifies specific teaching and learning strategies to raise student achievement. These strategies include individual targeted support through meaningful cultural contexts.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance through its good selfreview practices. The board, principal and senior leaders have initiated self review in strategic planning, curriculum development and literacy teaching and learning.

The senior leadership team consists of professional leaders who are reflective and work strategically to improve student outcomes. They have developed distributive leadership opportunities and identified the importance of building a cohesive community of learners. The principal has good links to professional learning groups and keeps informed about current educational research.

The senior leadership team have complementary expertise and skills and are supporting teachers to reflect on and inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching. Clear and well documented systems for managing the school are in place. A robust performance management system supports teacher professional learning through a classroom modelling approach.

Senior leaders use a range of initiatives to regularly share student success and school activities with the school community. Reciprocal learning relationships have been developed with local schools and early childhood centres.

The longstanding board provides good strategic governance and is well informed about student learning, achievement and progress. Trustees continue to be supportive of school leaders. They appropriately resource the physical environment and fund staff professional development needs to reflect the child-centred focus of the school.

There are strong inter-generational links between the school and the community and the board have co-opted trustees to reflect the diverse school community. The board of trustees has identified, and ERO agrees, that it should continue to develop approaches to consult with Māori and Pacific parents/whānau and to respond to the aspirations they have for their children.

To sustain effective governance trustees should continue to strengthen self-review practices. The board should receive improvement-focused reports on school operations which would allow trustees to further support resourcing decisions. Trustees should also access training opportunities on current education trends.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

12 December 2011

About the School


Hillsborough, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)



School roll


Gender composition

Girls 56%, Boys 44%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European

New Zealand Māori



Other Pacific



Middle Eastern











Review team on site

September 2011

Date of this report

12 December 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2009

February 2006

September 2002