Woodlands School (Opotiki) - 22/10/2019

School Context

Woodlands School is located in Opotiki and provides education for students in Years 1 to 8. The current roll of 119 includes 99 Māori students. The school includes two reo rua classes for 44 students.

Since the September 2016 ERO report, there has been roll growth, a new principal was appointed and there have been some changes to the teaching team.

The school’s mission statement is 'A love of learning opens many doors/He aroha ki te ako, kia tuwheratia ai ngā tatau ki te ao’. The school vision is ‘to develop in students the desire to become and remain, life-long learners - Ki te whakawhanake ki roto ngā ākonga, ngā hiahia kia noho hei ākonga mo ake tonu’. School core values are, ‘care for ourselves - Manaakitia ki a tātau, care for others - Manaakitia ki a rātau, and care for the environment - Manaakitia ki te taiao’. These are a stated priority of the school.

The school has identified the following as strategic goals:

  • to increase the number of students achieving at or above expected curriculum levels, with a focus on boys and Māori students’ achievement

  • to improve the hauora of students.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics
  • well-being.

Teachers have undertaken professional learning and development in mathematics, te reo Māori and restorative practice.

The school is a member of the Ōpōtiki Kāhui Ako.

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 achieving equity and excellence for all learners.

In 2018, the large majority of students achieved curriculum expectation levels in reading, writing and mathematics, including students working in the reo rua classes. This data also shows that Māori significantly outperform their Pākehā peers in literacy and mathematics. Information gathered for all students between 2016 and 2018, shows a decline in student achievement in writing and increased achievement levels in reading and mathematics. Girls achieve at significantly higher levels than boys in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement data for Pākehā children shows decline in all areas.

Information collected in a survey of students in Years 6 to 8 indicates that the school effectively supports student wellbeing.

Students with additional learning needs are monitored and make good progress against their individual learning and development goals.

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

The school is effectively accelerating achievement for most of those Māori and some other students who need this. Data for 2018, shows effective acceleration for at-risk Māori learners, and others in reading, writing and mathematics. 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 further information about accelerated learning during the ERO review.

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 has effective leadership for learning. School leaders have a strong focus on building teacher capability to respond to priority learners and at-risk students. Schoolwide tracking systems that closely monitor progress and achievement of individual at-risk students are well managed by leaders.

Leaders have developed a culture of high relational trust at all levels of the school. There is a positive and inclusive approach to promoting students’ social competencies and the school’s bicultural dimension. Leaders have established effective education networks, particularly within the local Kāhui Ako which is supporting equity and excellence for all students.

Strong learning partnerships between staff and whānau are evident. Parents feel welcome and well involved in school activities. Students have appropriate learning and social goals which are developed, progressed and reviewed by teachers, students and whānau. Regular communication from teachers ensures parents feel well informed and involved in their child’s progress and learning. The school values are well-embedded and highly visible, supporting a sense of belonging for students, teachers and whānau.

Students with additional learning needs are well supported. The school employs a specialist teacher for the special education needs coordinator (SENCO) role. The SENCO has well-established networks with external agencies. Effective systems for referral, monitoring and tracking of students with additional learning needs have been developed and implemented. A wide range of appropriate services is accessed for students with additional learning or behaviour needs. Useful information and strategies are readily available for teachers and parents to support at-risk learners.

Students learn in caring and inclusive environments. Teachers are positive and affirming in their interactions and provide cooperative learning opportunities for students. They make use of a range of effective assessment tools to identify, track and monitor individual students’ learning needs. There is a strong emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics in daily programmes and clear links between students identified learning needs and teacher planning. Teachers use effective strategies to promote student engagement and understanding of their next learning steps, particularly for priority learners.

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

Aspects of schoolwide internal evaluation need further strengthening to improve equity and excellence for all learners. ERO and leaders agree that priority now be given to:

  • establishing more inclusive targets for all identified groups of at-risk learners
  • the further development of the school’s local curriculum that continues to include whānau and student aspirations
  • developing effective systems for planning, assessment and evaluation of the recently introduced learning through play initiative.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

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

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership that builds a collaborative and positive school culture
  • provision of programmes and practices that support children with additional learning needs
  • partnerships for learning that promote equity and excellence for all students.

Next steps

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

  • schoolwide target setting and reporting that includes all at-risk learners
  • further curriculum review to more strongly include local contexts for learning
  • strengthening internal evaluation to show the impact of initiatives and programmes.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

22 October 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 53%, Male 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori 83%
NZ European/Pākehā 15%
Other ethnic groups 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Number of Māori medium classes


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


Number of students in Level 4b MLE


Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

22 October 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2016
Education Review September 2015
Education Review November 2010