Waituna Creek School - 24/06/2019

School Context

Waituna Creek School is a rural school for students in Years 1 to 8.

The school vision is for a nurturing and positive learning environment that includes valuing of te ao and te reo Māori, with success for all students. It aims for students to have their individual needs met, be confident, willing learners, and use their knowledge to make a difference.

The school values include respect, responsibility, resilience and relationships.

Key goals are for excellent achievement in literacy and numeracy, supported by strengthening of community partnerships, and development of a nurturing environment for all learners.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the 2015 ERO review, there has been a change in school trustees, principal and some other staff. The school has three multi-level classes. The board and community raise significant funds to employ an extra teacher and keep class numbers low.

The school is part of the Waimate Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

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 equity and excellence for all its students.

Since 2016, schoolwide achievement information for reading, writing and mathematics shows that there has been improvement in achievement levels since 2016, particularly in mathematics. There is reduced but ongoing disparity for boys in writing, and reduced disparity for boys in reading.

At the end of 2018, schoolwide information for reading, writing and mathematics showed that over two thirds of students were at or above the school’s expected levels. Achievement for Māori students was better than school-wide achievement overall.

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

The school has had limited success in accelerating the progress for students who need this.

In 2018, small numbers of children below expected levels in reading and mathematics made accelerated progress towards reaching the school’s expected levels. Approximately half made expected progress. No children below expected levels in writing made accelerated progress. About a quarter made expected progress.

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?

Waituna Creek students learn in an inclusive, caring and supportive environment. There is a strong focus on children’s holistic wellbeing. Restorative approaches are used to grow positive behaviours and caring relationships. Students transferring from other schools quickly settle and feel welcome.

Strengthened partnerships with parents and local schools are supporting children’s learning and wellbeing. The principal has introduced specific initiatives to better inform parents about and involve them in their children’s learning. Involvement in the local Kāhui Ako is providing relevant professional learning for staff, support for the principal, and social and sports opportunities for children.

Aspects of curriculum are particularly responsive to students’ abilities, needs and interests. Examples included, responsiveness to students’ emergent interests and hands-on learning, leadership opportunities for older students and intentional integration of different learning areas. Transitions into school are well supported, with intentional adaptation of assessment and teaching practices. Teachers have focused on involving children more in assessing their work and building their understanding of their progress, achievement and next learning steps.

The principal has established a collaborative staff culture. She is ensuring teachers participate in relevant professional learning and encouraging professional conversations as to how children at risk with their learning can be better supported.

A well-considered school charter and other school documents clearly set out the school direction and guidelines for school operation. There has been significant work to review and improve the school’s curriculum. The charter has clear annual and strategic priorities that align well with Kāhui Ako goals. A sound policy and procedure framework gives clarity to what should happen in the school.

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

Internal evaluation needs strengthening. The board regularly receives curriculum reports, updates about the implementation of annual goals and some achievement information. These need to be more evaluative. The principal and teachers need to better use progress and achievement information to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching strategies in accelerating children’s learning.

The board is largely new and trustees would benefit from professional learning about their governance roles.

School targets need to specifically focus on accelerating the achievement of children below expected levels and address the disparity for boys in writing. To know about the effectiveness of teaching, resourcing and interventions, the board needs well-analysed information that more clearly shows levels of achievement, rates and sufficiency of progress for target and other students. This should assist the staff and trustees when making decisions as to how to best support learners.

The principal has identified and ERO’s evaluation confirms, that to enable meaningful assessment in areas beyond literacy and mathematics, a next step is develop relevant skill progressions. There also need to be clear guidelines about expectations for effective teaching practice in core learning areas.

The school has well-considered and useful guidelines about how it will value Māori language and culture. However, further work is needed to better integrate te ao and te reo Māori into day-to-day learning. This includes regularly consulting with parents of Māori children.

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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Waituna Creek School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

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 and caring environment that helps children be ready to learn
  • partnerships with parents that have an increased focus on children’s learning
  • constructive partnership with the Kāhui Ako that is benefitting staff and children
  • useful strategic priorities and policy and procedure framework
  • a flexible curriculum that provides opportunities for leadership and hands-on learning.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening internal evaluation so that leaders and teachers better know what is and what is not effective in making a difference for children’s learning
  • supporting new trustees to be confident in their governance role
  • setting more useful targets to lift achievement with clearer reporting about the sufficiency of children’s progress
  • establishing skill progressions and clear expectations about effective teaching practice to give clarity for teaching and learning
  • continuing to strengthen how the school values te reo and te ao Māori.

The school has forwarded to ERO an action plan that shows how the school will address these next steps.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

24 June 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 21, Boys 23

Ethnic composition

Māori 6
NZ European/Pākehā 35
Other ethnicities 3

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

May 2019

Date of this report

24 June 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review July 2015
Education Review April 2013