Waikaretu School - Striving for Excellence

Waikaretu School - 22/11/2016

1 Context

Waikaretu School is located in an isolated, rural Waikato setting, approximately 50 kilometres south west of Tuakau. Nine of the 20 children enrolled identify as Māori. There is one multi-level classroom that caters for children from Years 1 to 8. In 2016 the school has experienced significant roll growth, with only a small proportion of children remaining from previous years.

The 2016 board of trustee election resulted in several new members joining the board. Since 2013, the school has had three principals. The current, new and first-time principal started at the beginning of 2016 and there has been a complete turnover of teaching, administration and support staff this year.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are for them 'to be the best they can be'. Values of Respect (Manaakitanga), Responsibility (Pono) and Resilience (Rangatiratanga) are promoted.

The school’s achievement information shows that there has been a significant decline in the number of children achieving at or above National Standards in reading writing and mathematics. However, trends and patterns of achievement 2013 to 2015 are not comparative due to significant changes in the student population. In 2016 the roll has increased from 8 to 20 and approximately two thirds of these children are new to the school.

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

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has introduced the following initiatives designed to achieve equitable learning opportunities and outcomes for children. Under the guidance of the new principal there has been:

  • establishment of base-line data in reading, writing and mathematics
  • implementation of timely identification of learning strengths and needs of new children
  • establishment of effective multi-level classroom organisation, routines and practices that are fostering independent learning
  • an intentional response by the board and principal that has embraced and built on the existing school vision and values.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school has developed effective strategies and practices for responding to the individual learning needs of children whose progress needs acceleration. These strategies include opportunities for Māori and other children to experience success and to understand and take increasing responsibility for their learning. Children benefit from opportunities to learn from one another through tuakana-teina interactions. The principal is also working hard to ensure that children with high learning needs receive appropriate support and interventions from external agencies.

The principal and part-time teacher use an appropriate range of assessment information to identify children's learning strengths and needs of children. As children enter the school, teachers effectively develop positive and learning-centred relationships with children and their families. Information gathered enables teachers to understand children's learning needs, group them for instruction in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers discuss and share ways to progress and accelerate the achievement of Māori and other children, particularly those at risk of not achieving at expected levels. The school reports that during 2016 a large proportion of Māori and other children in below categories in relation to National Standards are making positive progress, particularly in writing and mathematics.

Teachers have developed systems to track and monitor the progress and achievement of all children, including those at risk of not achieving National Standards. They now need to consider ways to more specifically monitor, track, and report progress and achievement of children needing acceleration.

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?

School leadership is clearly focused on achieving equitable and excellent learning opportunities and outcomes for Māori and other children.

The curriculum is clearly underpinned by the values of responsibility, resilience and respect. The curriculum offers many opportunities for children to engage in 'hands-on' learning at school and in the wider community. Children benefit from opportunities to learn alongside their peers in a caring, cooperative, learner-focused and family-like setting. Parents are well informed about their children's learning and partnerships for learning are being developed through child-lead conferences. Children enjoy school and confidently discuss their learning success and challenges with teachers, their peers, parents and other adults.

The new principal has successfully established relational trust at all levels of the school. Effective change management is providing greater clarity for systems and practices that ensure a settled and effective classroom and smooth day-to-day operation of the school. The principal is dedicated to minimising barriers and challenges associated with the school's isolated location and access to support services and communication infrastructure. His effective leadership of change is resulting in a positive school culture that is evident in children's sense of belonging, pride in their school and motivation to learn.

Teachers know children well, and understand their learning strengths and needs in literacy and mathematics. They now need to build on this knowledge and what they know about the most effective teaching strategies to strengthen other areas of the curriculum.

The board of trustees is representative of the school and wider community. They are committed to the success and sustainability of Waikaretu School. Trustees are supportive of the principal and staff. They are working closely with New Zealand School Trustees Association support and training personnel to further develop their roles, responsibilities and knowledge of effective school governance. This professional development should assist the board to develop more specific targets for children at risk in their learning, and with internal-review processes to evaluate the effectiveness of the school in achieving valued outcomes for Māori and other 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
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

The principal, trustees and staff have been working hard to improve school organisation and levels of achievement. In order to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children, the school now needs to:

  • further develop trustee's understanding of strategic planning and internal evaluation
  • ensure ongoing support, guidance and mentoring for the new and first-time principal
  • continue to build teachers' practice, particularly in relation to assessment and tracking and monitoring children's progress and achievement, and making overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards
  • further develop the Waikaretu School curriculum
  • strengthen internal evaluation and inquiry into teacher's practice.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop more targeted planning that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement. 

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full 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 accesses appropriate support to assist the board and principal to respond to areas needing development. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

22 November 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 13 Girls 7

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

22 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

June 2010

June 2007