Whananaki School - 03/04/2019

School Context

Whananaki School is on Northland’s east coast, alongside the Whananaki estuary. The school caters for students from Years 1 to 8 in three multi-level classrooms. The school continues to be an important part of the community with many families having long-standing and inter-generational connections. Approximately 39 students identify as Māori and whakapapa to the local hapū, Ngātiwai.

In 2016 a new classroom was completed in response to an increase in the school’s roll. The school has been proactive in responding to ERO’s 2015 evaluation report to improve outcomes for students.

The school’s vision is that “children are able to progress with confidence” and to be confident, connected, actively involved and lifelong learners. The board’s strategic goals are to increase the number of students achieving curriculum levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

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

  • overall achievement in reading, writing and mathematics and in relation to gender, ethnicity and year levels

  • student engagement, attendance and wellbeing

  • the whakapapa and specific needs of individual students

  • students’ knowledge of tūpuna and the local area, Te Whana o te Nanakia - Whananaki.

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 continues to explore ways to show its effectiveness in achieving equitable outcomes for all its students. School data show most children achieve at or above curriculum levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers know the names, numbers and needs of these students and those who need to make greater progress. Trends and patterns of student achievement over time are variable and influenced by the small percentage of students who remain at Whananaki from Year 1 to Year 8.

Teachers’ professional learning and development (PLD) and resourcing in digital devices and programmes, are having a positive impact on children’s engagement, motivation and confidence in learning.

Students achieve very well in relation to other school valued outcomes. Students:

  • are strong in their sense of identity and belonging in the school and community

  • demonstrate high levels of social competence and engage in tuakana/teina roles

  • relate respectfully with each other and staff

  • have pride in and speak confidently about their school

  • take on leadership roles and responsibilities in the school and community.

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

The school is responding increasingly well to those Māori and other students whose learning progress needs to be accelerated.

Staff continue to engage and build respectful relationships with whānau. They know the students as individuals and use strategies to develop the whole child while supporting their progress and achievement. Staff share information about how to further support students’ learning.

Teacher aide support is an integral part of teaching programmes. Teacher aides give students who need extra support, guidance and confidence to work at their own pace. Digital programmes are tailored to individual students’ needs. These programmes are contributing to accelerated student learning progress.

The school should now find more effective ways to monitor, track and record students’ progress in order to gather more explicit information on acceleration. This would help to identify effective teaching strategies to accelerate individual students’ learning.

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?

The school’s curriculum is inclusive and responsive, and strongly reflects the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) in the Whananaki context. It prioritises literacy and mathematics as foundations for learning. Technology is integrated into the programme through digital learning. Students are well engaged in authentic learning experiences in the local environment. Each week, the school celebrates students’ enactment of the key competencies and values of the NZC through the life of the school.

Students are confident and proud of their cultural heritage and the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. A specialist teacher provides programmes for te reo me onā tikanga Māori in all classes. Teachers are immersed in this context to help build their capability. Students participate in pōwhiri, kapa haka and other events and activities. They are taken to significant local landmarks, and experience meaningful connections to Māori place names within Te Whana o te Nanakia - Whananaki. Ngātiwai Education assists the school with resources and local hapū knowledge.

Students engage well in their learning in settled classrooms and school environment. Respectful relationships and connections between students, teachers and whānau, support students’ confidence and progress towards their achievement. Purposeful parent help and teacher aide support assist students when required. Teaching approaches include differentiated learning and mixed-ability grouping.

Senior students have additional learning opportunities through outdoor education, local sporting facilities, and engagement with local business and technology at a nearby school. Close connections with secondary schools ease transitions for senior students.

The principal builds strong leadership within the concepts of whanaungatanga and manaakitanga. This approach leads to high relational trust and respect between whānau, parents and the school community. The principal is clearly focused on wellbeing, equity and positive outcomes for children’s learning. He involves students in the development of the local environment, particularly the estuary, which supports their learning and sense of belonging.

The board actively represents and serves the school. Trustees seek support and advice from external agencies, including the New Zealand School Trustees’ Association (NZSTA). They have undertaken training and are highly supportive of the school’s leadership. Trustees are collaborative and respectful of each other in their roles and responsibilities. They develop networks to enrich the curriculum and pathways for Years 7 and 8 students. Good succession planning is in place for the 2019 board election.

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

The principal and trustees acknowledge that priorities include further development of a framework to guide and deepen internal evaluation. Using focused evaluative questions would help to build schoolwide evaluation capability. Next steps to support developments in the school include:

  • implementing the new strategic plan, with measurable indicators to show how effectively goals are being met

  • revising the school’s curriculum and assessment practices to align these more closely with the new strategic plan

  • monitoring and recording the effective teaching strategies that make a significant impact on accelerating student progress.

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 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • strong relationships and connections with local and wider communities

  • a responsive and local curriculum

  • an innovative strategic plan that supports the future direction of the school.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening practices to guide robust internal evaluation

  • implementing the strategic plan, and evaluating the progress of annual and strategic goals

  • revising the school curriculum and assessment practices

  • identifying the teaching strategies that are most effective in accelerating student progress.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

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

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

3 April 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Year 1 – 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 36 Girls 25

Ethnic composition

Māori 39

Pākehā 19

other ethnic groups 3

Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

3 April 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2015
Education Review December 2012 
Education Review November 2009