Western Heights Primary School (Rotorua) - 26/03/2019

School Context

Western Heights Primary School is located in Rotorua and caters for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this review there were 424 students enrolled of whom 88% identified as Māori.

The school’s vision is ‘E tu hei maunga – stand tall like the mountain’ is underpinned by the values of whanaungatanga, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga and kotahitanga. ‘The Whakaahu Way’ is the framework for positive behaviour. The framework is a combination of the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum and the designated ‘eight habits for happy kids’ which are:

  • be proactive
  • begin with the end in mind
  • put things first
  • think win-win
  • seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • synergize
  • sharpen the saw
  • find your voice.

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

  • achievement, progress and acceleration in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement in the integrated curriculum including science, social science, art, technology, health and physical education
  • outcomes related to engagement and wellbeing of children and their whānau through the hauora initiatives
  • value added for children in relation to the eight habits
  • outcomes for students with special and additional learning needs.

The school roll is highly transient with over 50% turnover in a year. Over half the roll is on the Ministry of Social Development vulnerable children list.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, the principal and the board chair continue in their roles, there has been a new appointment to the leadership team, and new appointments to the teaching and support staff.

The school has been involved in a range of professional learning and development focussed on improving teacher practice. These include the eight habit refresher course, literacy and numeracy, te reo, teaching through integration, and cultural responsiveness and relational pedagogy.

The school is part of Te Maru o Ngongotaha 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 effectively working toward achieving equity and excellence for all students.

In 2018 most students were achieving at or above expected curriculum levels in reading writing and mathematics. Māori and Pākehā are achieving at comparable rates in writing and mathematics. Māori outperform Pākehā in reading. Boys are achieving comparably to girls in mathematics but not as well in reading and writing. These high levels of achievement are consistent over time.

The school tracks cohort data and the value added over time. This information shows high levels of achievement by the end of Year 6 with almost all achieving at expected levels in reading and mathematics and most in writing. This level of achievement has been consistently high over time.

The school closely monitors children with special and additional learning needs and reports that they are progressing well towards their personal development and achievement goals.

The school reports positive achievement results for the integrated curriculum. Leaders show the positive impact of hauora initiatives on at-risk students’ progress and achievement.

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

The school is highly effective in accelerating learning for those Maori and other students who need this.

The positive acceleration outcomes for Māori and other learners are the result of the school’s systematic approach to the identification, tracking, monitoring and response to at-risk learners.Senior leaders can show collated, analysed and reported acceleration information for students at risk in their learning in reading, writing and mathematics.

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?

Leaders are highly effective in enacting the vision and values of achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Trustees and leaders work collaboratively to advocate for children and whānau and focus on the positive potential for all children to thrive and succeed. Trustees set overall achievement and acceleration targets. Leaders identify and regularly track and monitor the progress of all at-risk learners and report this to the board. The board responds to trends and patterns in data and generously funds initiatives to provide equitable opportunities to learn and build teacher capability. Leaders and teachers meet weekly to discuss priority learners. This approach ensures leaders are fully informed of all aspects of children’s lives that impact on learning and enables them to provide timely pastoral support to students and their whānau. Leaders’ commitment to equity and excellence is supporting high levels of progress and achievement across the curriculum.

Teachers are highly responsive to all children and whānau, actively promoting a strong sense of aroha and turangawaewae. Teachers model and foster the school values and the principles of love and belonging and high expectations. E tu hei maunga is regularly used by teachers to affirm positive behaviour for learning and is clearly understood and articulated by students and whānau. ERO observed high levels of engagement and enjoyment of learning and respectful relationships between teachers, students and whānau. Structured well-planned lessons provide security, clear expectations for students and creates calm settled classrooms conducive for learning. Highly skilled teacher aides provide in-class support and facilitate pathways for learning programmes in literacy, numeracy and oral language. Classroom teachers implement effective systems to track and monitor progress of at-risk learners. This enables them to plan responsive teaching and support programmes that contribute to high levels of success and accelerated progress.

A highly supportive, caring and inclusive culture and school curriculum provides equitable opportunities for learning. The shared understanding among staff, students and whānau of the eight habits of a happy kid underpin the positive school culture. These habits are clearly integrated throughout the school to reinforce positive behaviour and are further supported by a strong restorative and behaviour management process that sets clear expectations for a consistent approach for staff and students. A key feature of the school is the specific focus on hauora and the multiple initiatives that effectively support children to have their needs met physically, socially, emotionally so they are ready to learn. The school provides weekly opportunities for inter-agency collaboration to provide wrap-around support for children and whānau. The school continues to strengthen its integrated curriculum which offers relevant and authentic contexts for learning. High-quality curriculum documents are clear, comprehensive and promote high levels of consistency across the school. The school has a purposeful approach to transient students and prioritises the need to provide highly responsive programmes to support learning for these students. For children with high additional learning needs, teachers and the special education needs coordinators develop individualised education plans and work collaboratively with external specialist agencies to support these children and their families. There is a strong sense of belonging and inclusion for all children and whānau in the school.

Whānau and iwi are empowered to be productive partners in their children’s learning and wellbeing. Leaders and teachers work proactively to build learning partnerships with whānau. The school provides resources to support whānau with building on children’s learning at home to further support accelerated progress. The school provides a range of parent education courses including habits in the home, budgeting, health and wellbeing. Ngāti Whakaue are active partners in the school supporting staff to grow their knowledge and understanding of tikanga and te reo Māori. The Ngāti Whakaue Endowment Trust funds several initiatives to support students needing acceleration. Whānau who spoke to ERO appreciate the love and support provided for their children in all aspects of their pastoral care needs so they are ready to learn.

There is well-sustained high performance and consistent improvement over time, informed by rigorous internal evaluation. The school is strongly improvement and future focused. Robust quality assurance processes are in place to support all areas of the curriculum, pastoral care and wellbeing, progress and achievement. All initiatives are effectively evaluated and are consistently focused on improving outcomes for children. Teachers are highly reflective practitioners and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programmes. There is a robust system for teacher appraisal which contributes to continual improvements to teaching practice. There is a highly effective coaching and mentoring process that is informed by achievement information and focuses on building teacher capability to accelerate progress for those students who need it.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers need to ensure annual targets are specific and align with all students who require acceleration.

Leaders and teachers need to continue to strengthen a more sequential and integrated approach to developing te ao and te reo Māori across the school.

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 Western Heights Primary School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Strong.

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 culture of collaboration between trustees, leaders and teachers that builds collective capacity to improve educational outcomes for all learners
  • an holistic approach to student wellbeing that actively creates an inclusive environment for learning
  • productive partnerships for learning with trustees, parents, whānau and community that provide equitable opportunities for all children to learn
  • highly effective internal evaluation that underpins ongoing improvement.

Next steps

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

  • setting annual targets that are specific, measureable and aligned with all students requiring acceleration
  • strengthening the localised curriculum to further support students understanding of Ngāti Whakauetanga.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

26 March 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing Years 1 to 6

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 49% Boys 51%

Ethnic composition

Māori 88%
Pākehā 10%
Other 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)


Number of students in Level 5 MLE


Review team on site

February 2019

Date of this report

26 March 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review May 2010
Education Review May 2007