Waiotahe Valley School - 03/06/2014

1 Context

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

Waiotahe Valley School was established in 1916 and continues to benefit from strong community partnerships. Some families have long generational links to the school and new families are made to feel welcome. The school is near the beach and located in an attractive rural setting 12 kilometres from Opotiki. Students come from the local community and surrounding districts. Since the 2011 ERO review the school roll has increased to 96. Most students are of Māori descent with a significant proportion affiliated to Ngāti Whakatohea, Tuhoe and Upokorehe.

The school’s mission statement ‘whaka ko tahi ia tatou’ documents commitment to working in partnership with whānau. School culture is underpinned by a well-embedded vision ‘Ngā moemoea mo nga Tamariki Kia Kaha’ and set of shared values, ‘We care (Ka poipoia), We share (Ka toha) and We dare (Ka maia)’. These values are clearly articulated and expressed in every day actions and interactions among students, teachers, parents and whānau.

Students have a strong sense of belonging and take pride in the school. They benefit from an extensive range of authentic and meaningful learning experiences within the school and wider community. Parents and whānau work in partnership with teachers and staff to support the holistic development of their children.

The experienced principal provides professional leadership for the direction and development of the school. Two new teachers have been appointed, who complement the strengths of current staff. School trustees are supportive, work collaboratively with staff, and are focused on positive outcomes for students.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history and has been proactive in addressing the areas identified for development from the last ERO report. Teachers have undertaken relevant professional development about te ao Māori, literacy, mathematics and inquiry teaching, which encourages teachers to reflect on their practice to improve outcomes for students’ progress and achievement.

2 Learning

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

The school uses its achievement information well to make positive changes to students’ learning, engagement, progress and achievement.

Teachers use high-quality assessment and planning practices to develop relevant programmes for individuals and groups of students. Examples of these practices are:

  • individual education plans based on students' strengths, interests and abilities, key competencies from The New Zealand Curriculum, and learning goals for literacy, mathematics and parent input
  • robust assessment practices to make reliable judgements about student achievement and progress
  • documented observations of students’ learning that are used to plan teaching strategies and individual programmes effectively
  • additional assistance for students requiring extra support to accelerate their learning.

There is high-quality teaching across the school. Students have a good understanding about what they are learning and why. They have many opportunities to discuss their learning and ideas with one another. Students enjoy learning and challenging themselves physically, socially and academically.

The school has identified an area for review and development to strengthen processes in teaching as inquiry to raise student achievement. In addition this would include increased opportunities for students to self assess and monitor their own progress and achievement.

The principal analyses and evaluates school-wide student achievement information. He uses this information to identify groups of students who require additional support in their learning and relevant professional development for teachers. This information informs school goals and targets, and is aligned to school culture and student wellbeing.

School achievement information in relation to National Standards shows that a significant number of students are below national expectations. However, the school can show that many students who have been at the school for either one or more years make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics. This information is similar for Māori students.

Trustees are well informed by the principal and have a clear understanding of priorities for raising achievement. As a result they are able to make appropriate resourcing decisions, oversee strategic direction and monitor school targets.

3 Curriculum

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

Students benefit from a curriculum well designed to promote their wellbeing and learning. They enjoy learning experiences that build on their interests, and extend their knowledge and understanding, in both the classroom and outdoor environments. Students are experiencing success and are highly engaged in learning.

A feature of the school is the respectful and trusting relationships at all levels. A collaborative process involving parents, whānau and the school has resulted in a curriculum which celebrates diversity, embraces local history, has shared values, and promotes an inclusive culture. A strong emphasis is placed on buddy relationships (tuakana-teina). Teachers know students and families well, and have established open communication opportunities that support students' learning.

Teachers use a wide range of highly effective strategies that motivate students. These include:

  • responding to teachable moments to extending students’ learning
  • promoting conversations that encourage students to solve problems, revisit prior learning and extend their knowledge
  • providing a range of activities for students to choose from and catering for their interests
  • sharing the purpose of learning and how to be successful
  • providing ongoing positive feedback about students’ contributions and possible next steps for learning.

Good use is made of the local community environments to extend student learning opportunities. A strength of the school is the way students are encouraged to take responsibility to sustain environmental projects such as school gardens, sand-dune and wet-land care. Camps, marae trips, involvement in sports, outings to the local beach and use of the rural environment enrich learning experiences for students. People in the local community also regularly contribute to the educational programmes.

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

Māori students express pride in their school and are confident in their cultural identity. All students are encouraged to articulate their pepeha. Regular visits to Maromahue Marae and the sharing of local tangata whenua traditions support Māori student’s cultural identity to be valued. This also promotes meaningful contexts for students’ learning. Respectful, trusting relationships among teachers, students and their families contribute to Māori student wellbeing.

Since the last ERO review, the school has accessed professional development through the Tuhoe Education Authority to support the school in promoting and implementing te reo and tikanga Māori.

The principal and teachers are committed to ongoing professional development and have identified a need to continue a school-wide focus to increase teacher capability and confidence in implementing te reo and tikanga Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance. Factors that contribute to this include:

  • high-quality professional leadership of the principal who is well supported by a collegial, professional teaching team
  • strong community and family partnerships and involvement
  • dedicated trustees who are committed to and bring valuable knowledge and experiences to their roles to provide sound governance
  • well-documented frameworks that provide clear guidelines for school practices
  • comprehensive, robust and reliable self-review processes to sustain and improve the school’s performance.

The school continues to build a community of learners, where student achievement is valued.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

3 June 2014

About the School


Waiotahe Valley, near Opotiki

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 49

Boys 47

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Review team on site

April 2014

Date of this report

3 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

March 2008

June 2005