Waiotahe Valley School - 24/06/2019

School Context

Waiotahe Valley School is located in a rural setting 12 kilometres from Ōpotiki. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8. Approximately two thirds of the current roll are Māori, most whakapapa to the four local iwi – Kahungūnū, Whakatōhea, Tūhoe and Ūpokorehe.

The school’s vision is to promote ‘caring, sharing and daring|ka poipoia, ka toha, ka maia’ through ‘effort and achievement in partnership|whakakotahi i a tātou.’

The school continues to be led by a long serving principal, many staff are also long serving. The principal is the lead principal for the local Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako. The board of trustees contains a mix of experienced and new trustees. Recent, ongoing school-wide professional learning and development has had a strong focus on mathematics, science and te reo Māori.

  • reading, writing and mathematics
  • science
  • participation in sporting and cultural events.

The school is a member of the Ōpotiki Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

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 working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

Data provided by the school at the time of the review shows that the most students are at or above expectations in reading and the large majority are achieving at or above expectations in writing and mathematics. There is significant disparity for Māori in reading and mathematics and boys in writing. These patterns have remained relatively stable over the last five years.

The school is able to show that students who require additional support are progressing appropriately in relation to their individual learning goals.

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

The school is accelerating learning for many Māori and other students who need this.

The school uses national assessment tools to collect progress data for students from Years 4 to 8 in reading and mathematics. This data shows the following trends:

  • the majority of students tested have made accelerated progress
  • Māori students have generally made more accelerated progress than non-Māori.

This has led to a narrowing of the disparity gap for Māori boys in Years 4 and 5.

The school now needs to extend the collation of this data to all students and to 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?

There is a positive school culture which promotes wellbeing and learning. The school vision and the Waiotahe Way are well embedded and actively modelled by staff. Relationships between teachers and students are positive and caring. The school-wide use of restorative principles supports strong relationships for behaviour and learning. A focus on the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum, (NZC) throughout the school promotes the skills and dispositions students need to be effective learners. A welcoming and calm atmosphere encourages student engagement in their learning.

A broad curriculum ensures that students have a range of opportunities to learn and experience success. Local contexts are used to support authentic learning particularly in the area of environmental education. Effective integration of oral language and science into literacy and mathematics facilitates more effective learning in meaningful contexts. A reflective approach by teachers deepens their understanding and response to students’ learning needs. Effective, school-wide professional learning and development is enriching and extending opportunities for learning. Teachers are extending the use of learning progressions with students in order to empower them to lead their own learning.

Parents, whānau and the wider community are welcomed and involved in school activities as respected and valued partners in learning. A range of appropriate and effective communication strategies is used to engage with the wider community. Community members and groups work alongside students and teachers to enrich the curriculum. Annual events such as the school gala enhance school resources and also build community relationships. Purposeful collaboration with the wider education community of Ōpotiki helps to improve teacher practice and increases the range of services available to students.

Students requiring additional support are well served. Teachers know the students well and are proactive in identifying support. There is a range of school interventions to respond to their needs and effective coordination of services across external agencies. Student progress is well tracked and monitored. Parents are confident to share and seek support. Teacher aides are well supported and the programmes they run are effectively evaluated.

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

The use of school-wide progress and achievement targets needs to be strengthened so that it is a more effective strategy for accelerating the progress of learners who need this.

  • The targets should be written in a way that they focus on acceleration for all at-risk learners.
  • The principal’s reports to the board need to directly address the targets.
  • There should be greater alignment and cohesion of school-wide tracking and monitoring to the targets.
  • Trustees need training in how to effectively scrutinise progress and achievement data.

More regular and consistent tracking and monitoring of individual student progress with a focus on acceleration will enable teachers to be more responsive to individual student needs. This can be enhanced further by more explicit and regular teacher professional discussion about strategies that work for individuals and groups.

There is a need to continue to increase and strengthen the teaching and learning about te ao Māori throughout the school. This could include:

  • developing and formalising a sequential approach to local iwi history
  • higher visibility of tikanga Māori throughout the school
  • greater representation of Māori on the board of trustees.

While there are examples of the effective use of acceleration data to evaluate teaching programmes and initiatives there needs to be a sharper focus on evaluation in all areas of school operation.

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 Waiotahe Valley School performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance 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:

  • a positive school culture that promotes student well-being and a supportive environment for learning
  • a responsive curriculum that provides a range of opportunities for students to learn and experience success
  • school/community relationships that are reciprocal and learning-centred.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening board targets to promote acceleration for all students who need this
  • more regular and consistent tracking and monitoring to ensure that programmes of learning are more responsive to individual needs
  • increased teaching and learning about te ao Māori to facilitate greater belonging, engagement and identity development for all students.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • develop more robust procedures for the monitoring and renewal of police vets
  • ensure the robust implementation of school policies and procedures.

ERO recommends that the school seek support from New Zealand School Trustees Association in order to refresh and strengthen trustees’ understandings of their roles and responsibilities alongside new membership in the upcoming election.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

24 June 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 45 Male 52

Ethnic composition

Māori 67
NZ European/Pākehā 30

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

March 2019

Date of this report

24 June 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review May 2011
Education Review March 2008