Waitotara School - 20/05/2014

1 Context

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

Waitotara School is situated in rural hinterland, north-west of Whanganui. The school caters for 15 children in Years 1 to 8. Two thirds of the roll is Māori. Students are mostly from the local area, with some commuting from Whanganui.

At the time of this review, the principal teaches a senior class of students from Year 4 to 8, and the part time teacher a junior class from Year 1 to 3 for three mornings a week. This will change in Term 2. Positive peer and student-staff relationships are evident. The school roll fluctuates yearly. The board and leaders are responsive to these changes.

The mission statement, ‘Waitotara School will provide a safe, positive learning environment where students achieve independence and develop essential academic and social skills’ and the idea of ‘Achieving together’ are intentionally woven through the teaching of the school values.

Community consultation occurs informally and formally. Information gathered generates a direction for the school curriculum. The spacious outdoor environment is used for sports and physical recreation, and supports a school garden. Established partnerships between families, whānau, community and Ngaa Rauru are integral to the school’s community-learning approach.

2 Learning

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

The school purposefully uses student assessments in reading, writing and mathematics to make positive changes to learners' engagement, progress and achievement. The information is useful for setting relevant annual targets and reporting to trustees. In 2013, students mostly achieved at or above in relation to the National Standards for mathematics, reading and writing.  Teachers use student achievement information to:

  • identify where students are at in relation to National Standards
  • determine which students are at risk of not achieving against National Standards 
  • inform teacher professional development decisions
  • identify strategies to improve student learning.

Ongoing formal and informal discussions and reflection on the progress and achievement of target students in writing is carried out within a school cluster. Moderation of overall teacher judgements in writing takes place through collegial dialogue.

Reporting to parents on progress in relation to National Standards takes place at an interview and through written reports twice yearly. Learning portfolios provide constructive information for teachers and parents and show student progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

Effective teaching practice identified in the May 2011 ERO report remains a positive feature of the school. Students experience learning that is responsive to the local setting and reflects school values. Students' wellbeing is supported by a focus on building positive relationships.

The school has identified relevant goals to support student wellbeing and continues to use a range of effective strategies to promote learners' motivation and engagement. There is a focus on helping students to understand and display key competencies, including positive social skills. The principal, staff and community know the students well as individuals. A teacher aide further assists students who have been identified with high learning needs

  • The school's curriculum should be reviewed to explicitly state expectations for teachers and learners and so promote consistently high expectations. The previous ERO report identified that documented expectations for teaching were needed. The principal and staff should further develop sequential learning programmes and teacher guidelines for Years 1 to 8.

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

Māori students experience educational success. Their National Standards achievements are either comparable to, or better than other students. Teachers are focused on lifting Māori achievement.

Teachers demonstrate positive relationships with families and whānau. Te reo Māori is implemented in the school and directly informed through consultation with Ngaa Rauru. The school facilitates learning about te reo me ngā tikanga appropriate to Ngaa Rauru. Māori students have opportunities to understand and increase their te reo me ngā tikanga and lead in te ao Māori ways of knowing, doing and being.

Engagement with iwi is supporting staff understanding of Ngaa Rauru cultural standards. Developing curriculum expectations for how teachers will enact these cultural standards is a valuable next step in supporting Māori learners' success as Māori. This should include consideration of Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The continuity of board memberships and principal leadership supports a shared direction for the school. Strong positive relationships with parents, whānau, iwi and the wider community are sustained strengths, supported by a focus on communication through a variety of approaches.

Self review is used to identify goals for student achievement and these are reflected in the strategic plan. The annual plan includes actions that support the development of the curriculum and school. Appraisal is suitably linked to the Registered Teacher Criteria and provides for teacher reflection against the professional standards.

  • The board and school leaders should strengthen self-review practices by having clear outcomes as part of their annual planning. This should include how the school will measure the impact of actions in the annual plan.

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 three years.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)20 May 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 9, Female 6

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

20 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

May 2011

June 2008

May 2007