For Schools

The Education Review Office

The Education Review Office (ERO) is the New Zealand government department that reviews and reports on the performance of early learning services, kura and schools.

ERO’s reports are accessed by parents, teachers, early childhood education managers, school principals and trustees, and by government policy makers.

ERO focuses on equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners, and our approach is driven by our whakataukī Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa | The Child – the Heart of the Matter.

We believe that quality education is a right for every New Zealand child and young person.

How we are changing

ERO maintains a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

Under our new Operating Model, ERO will shift from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

This more differentiated approach will use a developmental evaluation that reflects individual schools’ context, culture and needs. It aims to strengthen the capability of all schools through embedding a continuous improvement approach, strengthening schools’ own engagement with and accountability to whānau.

ERO will become an evaluation partner alongside each school, to support every school to be a great school and every child a success.

What doesn’t change is our commitment to putting the child at the heart of everything we do.

The new Operating Model

ERO is shifting to a more developmental approach to evaluation, supporting your school’s improvement over time – rather than the reviews being a ‘one-off’ event.

An ERO evaluation partner will work alongside your school. The evaluation partner will build a professional relationship with your school over time.

ERO’s evaluation role will become critical to and will connect with your school’s strategic planning and reporting cycle as part of an ongoing improvement journey. Your school’s planning will inform ERO’s evaluation focus and direction, and in turn will be informed by the insights captured through ERO’s facilitated evaluation approach.

Consideration of a school within its wider network and community is woven throughout the individual school assessment. The new operating model will also identify an opportunity to undertake evaluations at a community level.

Our test and learn approach

Starting in Term 4, we have been piloting our new model with 75 schools from across New Zealand.

We are including schools of varying sizes and types, to achieve a cross-section of the New Zealand school system. This is allowing us to learn as we go and gain real-time feedback from schools and our evaluators. The detail will be key, and we will use our collective insights to get this right.

ERO’s approach to the development of the model is iterative – if issues arise, adjustments can be made along the way for the implementation phase. Key sector stakeholder groups will be working with us to provide feedback loops.

Engaging with your school

Our approach is to build trust and confidence in the new Operating Model and in ERO by engaging the sector in working out how best to be make the model work in practice.

Your school will understand:

  • The advantages the new model will deliver
  • The main features, and how they differ from what ERO has done previously

We will work with your school to refine and operationalise the new model, so that it can be introduced with the least disruption.

Your new evaluation partner

An ERO Evaluation Partner will be assigned to work with a school’s Board, Principal and Leadership Team.

Evaluators will have an ongoing relationship and work with a school over time.

The evaluation process will be collaborative and respond to the school context.

At the completion of an evaluation for improvement phase, your school and ERO will work together to report and plan key actions and next steps in your school’s improvement journey.

What we are aiming for

  • A collaborative approach: we will work with your school to strengthen its systems, plans and practices through evaluation.
  • A tailored approach: understanding your school’s individual contexts, culture, strengths and needs.
  • A flexible approach: we will work with your school to ensure the way the model works is practical and can be refined and improved over time.
  • A targeted approach: to allow ERO to direct more resource into working with the schools that will benefit most and to focus more on system evaluation and improvement.
  • An evidence-informed approach: that focuses on the things that we know from research and practice make the biggest difference, and that ensure schools are better supported to monitor and assess the impacts.

What we have heard

ERO staff continue to work hard around the country to engage with the sector on our new approach, to listen and to act on the feedback received.

We’re continuing to develop and evolve our model based on that feedback and this will continue throughout the piloting phase.

We are hopeful that sector leaders see the opportunity, value and the potential that changing our approach will deliver.

Some comments from those we have engaged with include:

“A promising start and a good concept. Finally, I will be able to tell my school’s story in full.”

“Collaboration, differentiation and linking everything to our strategic goals is pure genius.”

“New approach to evaluation and building relationships over time and school-led will prove beneficial in improving outcomes.”

“Really like the idea of having a reviewer to work with over time.”

“A positive move.”

Our commitment to your school

In partnership with your school, ERO is working to promote improvement in your school and in the system as a whole.

We want to ensure that the intent and main features of the new operating model are widely understood.

We’d like to earn broad support for the new model and an enthusiasm for its implementation.

We’re keen to understand sticking points or concerns so they can be addressed early and efficiently.

We’ve ensured that key sector stakeholder groups are working with us to provide feedback loops to ensure successful implementation.

We are listening

Schools have told us that our previous approach hasn’t worked well: we have heard, listened, and have developed the new operating model as a result.

We are moving from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach with reviews that are a point in time to an approach based on your school’s individual needs.

This approach is built on a relationship focused on helping your school make improvements in the areas that deliver the greatest improvements to learner success.

We are beginning in the same spirit of co-operation that underpins the new model: by working with schools to refine the model and develop the best ways of implementing it through a prototype process.

Our commitment to equity and excellence

ERO is committed to supporting improved outcomes and achieving equity for all learners, particularly Māori and priority learners. The principles that underpin the new model give priority to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi through a focus on partnerships to achieve desired outcomes.

The model has a focus on understanding the cultural context of each school in order to best serve its needs.
By building differentiation into the model, we have given ourselves the flexibility to work with the wider community where it is desired and appropriate.

We’re committed to continuing to work with the sector. This will require goodwill and professionalism from all.

Your feedback matters

The pilot for the new Operating Model began in Term 4 last year, with these 75 schools taking part: Operating Model Pilot Schools | Education Review Office ( We have been careful to include schools of varying sizes and types, to achieve a cross-section of the New Zealand school system.

The pilot began as a research and development model. Its feedback is now informing the nationwide introduction through 2021 of the new Operating Model. ERO’s approach will continue to be iterative as all schools are introduced to the new Operating Model, allowing us to additionally gain wider and real-time feedback from all schools and our evaluators.

The feedback from your school and ERO evaluation partner will contribute to the development of the model.

Thank you for your support

At ERO, we know what great schools do – and we will support you to be a great school.

We hope that you see the opportunity, value and the potential that ERO’s new operating model will deliver.

We look forward to partnering with you on your improvement journey.

Every school a great school, every child a success
Kia angitū ia tamaiti, kia angitū ia kura