Waitaki Valley School - 17/02/2017

1 Context

Children from Years 1 to 8 attend Waitaki Valley School, located in the rural town of Kurow. The school is an integral part of the wider community. The school facilities include the adjacent community library, swimming pool and sports centre. The local early childhood centre is also located on the same site.

Children learn in five multi-age classes. This includes a large shared area adjoining the classrooms. The classes form two ‘hubs’, the tuakana hub for older children and teina hub for younger children. The school roll is becoming increasingly diverse.

The principal and most of the school trustees are new to their role. Staffing is currently stable.

The school has participated in the Ministry of Education's Accelerated Literacy Learning professional development programme and has received regular support from a facilitator in relation to curriculum development.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are for them to 'belong, learn, and achieve in their place'. The school has redefined its values as 'GREAT - good friends, respectful, engaged, aiming high and team work'.

The school's achievement information from 2013 to 2015 shows 66% to 72% of all children achieved at or above the National Standard in reading. The overall achievement in writing over the same period decreased from 70% to 55% achieving at or above. Achievement in mathematics over the same period was over 70%. End of 2016 information shows greater proportions of all children achieving at or above the National Standards.

Overall boys were not achieving as well as girls in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics between 2013 and 2015.

The school's 2013 to 2015 achievement information for Māori children shows that approximately 65% are achieving at or above the standard in reading. Over the same time period, over 50% of Māori children were achieving at, or above this level in writing. The proportion of children achieving at or above the National Standards in mathematics had decreased. End of 2016 information indicates increased proportions of Māori children are achieving at or above the National Standards, particularly in writing.

Since the last ERO evaluation, the school has focused on improving teaching and learning in reading and writing. Children whose progress needs to be accelerated have participated in targeted learning programmes in literacy. There has also been a deliberate focus on increasing children's collaborative learning opportunities. 

In response to ERO's last report in 2013:

  • there are increased opportunities for children to learn about New Zealand's bicultural heritage, including te reo Māori
  • guidelines and a process for curriculum reporting have been developed and are beginning to be used
  • parents' and children's views have been sought and used in recent curriculum developments.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is effectively accelerating the achievement and learning of its Māori learners who need to make extra progress. There is good evidence that almost all these children made accelerated progress in relation to the National Standards in either literacy or mathematics in 2016.

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

The school has some evidence to show accelerated progress for other learners whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The progress of all of these learners has been a deliberate focus for school staff.

Leaders, teachers and the board have increased and deepened their analysis of children's achievement and progress with their learning. This has been done through:

  • greater use and wider knowledge of the school's achievement targets for learners
  • a deliberate and targeted approach to accelerating children's achievement
  • teachers inquiring deeply into what works and what does not work for learners
  • useful systems, including guidelines and frameworks, to support teachers
  • improved use of the school's system to manage children's learning information.

The school has made a very good start in its deliberate focus to accelerate children's achievement. Leaders, teachers and the board are well aware of the need to continue this and fully evaluate the impact of their actions. This should include:

  • ongoing curriculum development, including teaching and acceleration guidelines
  • planning for a curriculum reflecting New Zealand's bicultural heritage, as learning builds through the school
  • extending the analysis and reporting of accelerated progress for groups of children, particularly where this has been identified as a priority.

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?

School leadership is building professional capability and collective capacity to strengthen teaching, learning and acceleration for learners. The principal has used a considered, consultative and collaborative approach to school development.

This approach has made good use of current educational research findings and other professional learning. Greater use is being made of ICT for teaching, learning, information sharing and communication.

Leaders and teachers have deliberately strengthened the home-school partnership focused around children's learning. This has included consultation with Māori whānau.

The school's charter is being redeveloped, after appropriate consultation. This should provide a useful basis for ongoing annual planning, monitoring and evaluation of progress towards meeting goals. Bicultural perspectives should be included in this planning.

Trustees have worked effectively together to build their collective capacity and knowledge of school governance. They have made a good start in reviewing the school's policies and procedures.

The school's internal-evaluation practices are improvement focused. A next step is to develop a framework to guide evaluations.

Staff have been focusing on increasing children's engagement with their learning. As a result, teachers know their learners and their needs well. To extend this, teachers should ensure that all children clearly understand how well they are learning, their learning goals and what they need to do to achieve these.

Teachers are working effectively together to moderate assessment judgements in relation to the National Standards. Provision for moderation of these beyond the school has been set up for 2017. ERO has identified and the principal agrees, it would also be useful for the school to have written guidelines and expectations for making overall-teacher judgements in reading, writing and mathematics.

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 effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Strong leadership, a committed board, focused professional learning and a collective desire to do the best for children are supporting improvement at Waitaki Valley School. Teachers acknowledge they have changed some of their teaching approaches that have improved learning outcomes for the children.

More systematic evaluation practices, and a continued focus on targeted teaching and learning, data analysis, charter and curriculum development will help progress the school to achieve its vision for its learners.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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. 

ERO discussed with the board the need for the school to strengthen its behaviour-management guidelines and procedures for staff appointments and appraisal attestation.

7 Recommendation

The school should continue to focus on the areas for development described in this report.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

17 February 2017

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 51%, Boys: 49%

Ethnic composition











Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

17 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

November 2013

October 2010

June 2007