Woodlands School (Opotiki) - 21/09/2016

1 Context

Woodlands School (Opotiki) caters for children in Years 1 to 8. It is located in a rural area close to the township of Opotiki in the eastern Bay of Plenty. There are currently 109 children enrolled and 74 identify as Māori.

Two multi-level te reo Māori bilingual classes were opened at the beginning of 2016. The school is well supported by an active parent and whānau group that contributes generous resourcing through fundraising efforts, and valued assistance and contributions to school programmes, events and activities.

The principal is on study leave for 2016 to extend her academic qualifications. The deputy principal is the acting principal. The school is a member of the recently established Opotiki Community of Learning (CoL). This initiative has brought local schools together to identify common achievement challenges and share effective practices and strategies for improving learner outcomes across the CoL.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are about care for self, others and the environment, and to know who we are, where we are from, and where we are going. The Woodlands School mission statement is 'A love of learning opens many doors, He aroha o ako puare nui ngā kuaha'.

The school’s achievement information shows that achievement levels of Māori children have improved from 2012 to 2015. The proportion of Māori children achieving National Standards compares favourably with national comparisons. While there are some Māori children (19 in reading, 21 in writing and 23 in mathematics) below the expected levels, most are achieving at or above.

Teachers moderate their judgements about children's progress and achievement in relation to National Standards using assessment information from a variety of sources.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has focused on the following key actions for those children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes: 

  • regularly reporting children's achievement to the board to strengthen strategic direction and priorities
  • communicating with, and involving parents, whānau and iwi in future school direction and initiatives
  • building teachers' knowledge of best practice for managing challenging behaviours through the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) initiative and Incredible Years Training (IYT). 

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school's response to Māori whose learning and achievement needs acceleration is positive and has made a considerable difference. School leaders and classroom teachers identify the individual strengths, learning and pastoral needs of Māori children. An ongoing challenge for the school is to accelerate the progress and achievement of Māori children achieving below National Standards.

As part of internal review processes, school leaders need to continue to closely monitor and report on the rates of progress made by priority learners. It is also important to analyse this information and identify teaching strategies that make the greatest difference for at risk children.

In some classrooms teachers plan and adapt programmes and teaching strategies to meet the needs of target children. They also provide appropriately challenging and differentiated learning experiences to motivate and engage children in the multi-level classroom settings. School leaders place priority on and have in place strategies for building the capability of all teachers to plan specifically and teach deliberately to accelerate the progress of priority learners.

Skilled and experienced learning assistants provide well-focused support for target children in classrooms. Specific programmes designed to raise achievement in aspects of literacy and mathematics were trialled in 2015. Data gathered from the trial showed that the children involved felt more confident and motivated to learn, and in most cases their progress was accelerated.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has strategies for identifying and responding to other children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. The small numbers of Pacific children in the school have similar learning successes and challenges to other children. The school's approach to accessing English language learning support for these children is contributing to better learning outcomes.

The school's achievement information shows that patterns of achievement for other children are similar year to year from 2012 to 2015 with most achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. At the end of 2015 National Standards data for other children showed that eight were below in reading, nine in writing and nine in mathematics. The proportion of boys achieving below National Standards in reading and writing continues to be greater than that for girls.

Trustees set targets in the charter focused on increasing the percentage of children achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics across year levels. As for Māori children, achievement targets are now being focused more specifically on children in the below categories of National Standards. Target action plans should be further refined to accelerate progress and achievement for these learners. In addition, school leaders and teachers are developing a shared understanding of expected rates of progress, and how these are identified, shared and reported over time.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The curriculum and other organisational processes and practices strongly reflect the school's shared vision, mission and valued outcomes. There is an emphasis on literacy, numeracy and environmental sustainability. An increasing response to tangata whenua provides opportunities for all children to learn about tikanga Māori, people and places of significance to te iwi ō Whākatohea.

The principal and acting principal successfully plan what they will do and how they will do it as they focus on supporting the wellbeing and best possible outcomes for all children. Their collective leadership of the school is pivotal to embedding a school culture of inclusion. Respect and value for the cultures, identities and diversity of the school community, its children, families and whānau are demonstrated and celebrated.

In addition, the redeveloped appraisal process and school-wide professional development is creating a professional learning culture that is consistently focused on promoting equitable outcomes for Māori and other children.

Under the leadership of the principal, teachers have strengthened processes for moderation of overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards. This process includes collaborative marking, sharing information and professional discussions.

Trustees and school leaders are committed to promoting equitable and excellent outcomes for Māori and other children. A te reo Māori bilingual education option has been introduced in response to whānau and iwi aspirations and the school's vision. There is a strong focus on growing the culturally responsive capability of teachers across the school. Responsive practices include regular and ongoing kanohi ki te kanohi, and dedicated times for parents and whānau to discuss children's learning. This is resulting in deepening of collaborative learning partnerships.

Priority is placed on providing well-considered support and intervention that responds to children's social, emotional and learning needs. A structured approach to interagency collaboration provides timely, wrap-around support for children, families and whānau. The consistent approach to behaviour management is making a significant contribution to the wellbeing and learning of all children.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers: 

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children. 

The school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it. Leaders should

give consideration to: 

  • developing clearer achievement targets to meet the specific learning needs of all children
  • continue evaluating the effectiveness of teaching practice and initiatives by identifying teaching strategies that make the greatest difference to children's achievement
  • developing a shared understanding of expected rates of progress and acceleration
  • continue sharing effective practice, and include it in future action plans for accelerating progress and achievement
  • further develop the te reo Māori bilingual initiative. 

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the school gives priority to addressing the next steps identified in this report through their planned action approach that includes focused professional learning and development.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

21 September 2016

About the school


Opotiki, Bay of Plenty

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition





Cook Island Māori








Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

21 September 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2015

November 2010

November 2007