Whitikahu School - 28/02/2019

School Context

Whitikahu School, located in northeast Hamilton provides education for Years 1 to 8 students. The current roll of 90 includes 12 Māori students and a small number of students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Since the previous review in 2015 the principal and deputy principal have continued in their roles and the teaching team has remained mostly the same. During 2017 and 2018 the key school-wide focus in professional development has been in teaching science. The school is a member of the Morrinsville Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

The school’s mission statement is for children to be lifelong learners ready to face challenges, explore opportunities and make informed decisions about their future. The vision states that children will learn the Whitikahu way in a happy caring environment, getting the basics right and doing their best.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics

  • science

  • wellbeing.

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 making good progress towards achieving equity and excellence for all students.

In 2018 most students achieved national curriculum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori student achievement is comparable to Pākehā. School data also indicates that girls achieved at similar levels to boys in mathematics and at significantly higher levels in reading and writing. This pattern has been consistent over the past four years. In 2018 the school has begun to gather student achievement information in science. The data for Years 4 to 8 students shows improved outcomes in understanding and applying the nature of science and its capabilities. Information collected in a survey of students in Years 4 to 8 indicates that the school effectively supports student wellbeing.

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

The school is able to show accelerated learning and progress for some Māori and other students who need this. Achievement data shows effective acceleration for at-risk learners, including Māori in writing, mathematics and to a lesser extent in reading. This includes some students who have not yet reached expected levels but have made more than a year’s progress within a year. Leaders collated information about accelerated learning during the ERO review.

Students with additional learning needs are closely monitored and are making progress against their personal learning and development goals.

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 have high expectations for teaching and learning. Teachers are well supported by leaders to improve their practice and strong collaborative relationships are evident amongst staff. Leaders strategically align resourcing to support improvement goals and encourage teachers to trial new initiatives. They are well supported by the board of trustees to provide well-resourced learning environments for all students. School leaders are contributing to positive learning outcomes for children.

Students experience a positive culture for learning. The school values, including respect and trust are well known and enacted by students and the school community. Parents value the range of communication strategies that enable them to understand and support their children’s learning. Partnerships with parents are highly inclusive and focused on improving learning outcomes for all priority learners. Students benefit from close learning partnerships between the school and families.

Learning environments are well managed. Teachers use a range of effective strategies and provide programmes where cooperative learning and critical thinking are encouraged. Students participate in group-based learning activities where they can draw on individual strengths to complete tasks. There are high levels of student engagement. Teachers closely track and monitor student achievement and progress using appropriate assessment tools and strategies. Programmes are differentiated to meet learner needs and progress learning for all students.

Students with additional learning needs are well supported. Systems for the monitoring and tracking of students are effective. A knowledgeable special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) works cooperatively with staff to provide a range of effective interventions to respond to at-risk students’ needs. The SENCO accesses specialist services for children with additional learning and/or behavioural needs. Parents are well engaged as partners in their children’s learning. The recently developed digital platform to centrally store student information allows collaboration and information sharing amongst staff to improve outcomes for all identified at-risk students.

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

To further strengthen aspects of internal evaluation there is a need for leaders to develop more specific and measurable targets for all identified groups of at-risk learners, and to report regularly to the board about how effectively their progress is being accelerated.

There is a need to strengthen student ownership of learning, particularly for students whose learning needs acceleration. This includes a more consistent school-wide approach that supports students to understand their progress and specific next learning steps.

Further development is needed to strengthen the bicultural dimension. This should include a more systematic school-wide approach to the integration of te ao Māori into the curriculum to support Māori students’ language, culture and identity.

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:

  • effective leadership that builds a positive culture for teaching and learning

  • positive initiatives and practices that are responsive to student needs and promote wellbeing and learner success

  • cooperative learning environments that support achievement and acceleration for students, including at risk learners.

Next steps

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

  • school-wide target setting and reporting that includes all at-risk learners

  • strengthening the school-wide approach to the integration of te ao Māori into the curriculum

  • practices that enable all students to monitor and make decisions about their learning pathways.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in three years.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

28 February 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 45 Girls 45

Ethnic composition

Māori 12
Pākehā 69
Other 9

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

28 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

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