Te Ara Huarau: a new approach for school evaluations: Slide Pack Presentation


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Te Ara Huarau

ERO has been gifted the name Te Ara Huarau for our new approach to school evaluation in English-medium state and state-integrated schools. Below is an overview of the narrative that captures the concept of Te Ara Huarau

Hāpaitia te ara tika kia pumau ai te rangatiratanga mō ngā uri whakatipu  ​

Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence and growth for future generations ​

Māori cultivation is part of the rich cultural legacy that stretches back to the beginnings of time. Māori gardening is underpinned by ancient values, concepts and knowledge.   ​

The cultivation of the kūmara is the metaphor for Te Ara Huarau. This metaphor enriches and deepens our understanding of the optimal conditions needed for the growth of the child in education.   ​

Kūmara cultivation was a highly cooperative undertaking, calling all whānau together, to understand, grow and practise the culture in this work. Whānau are integral to tending the garden. The wisdom of the kaumatua advises on the conditions for cultivation and the tikanga to be followed. Tamariki are engaged and empowered in the process and learning the ways to a fruitful harvest that will benefit all. ​

Mā tini, mā mano, ka rapa te whai.  Many hands make light work, there is strength in unity 

Kohikohia ngā kākano, whakaritea te pārekereke, kia puāwai ngā hua  ​

Gather the seeds, prepare the seedbed carefully, and you will be gifted with abundance of food ​

The word “hua” in the whakatauki literally means “fruit” and is also commonly used to mean “outcomes” and can be a description of success for our children.  ​

A pārekereke is a traditional seedbed for growing kūmara seedlings. It is an analogy for the learning environment of children. This environment must be carefully prepared so that it provides well for the growth and development of the child. The importance of planning and preparing this environment cannot be underestimated.​

Te Ara Huarau recognises the need to understand the local context and the conditions required for a successful and fruitful “harvest” – and working together for the good of the people.​

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi –With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

Te Tari Arotake Matauranga (ERO) is the education sector’s evaluation agency

  • The role of ERO in evaluation: sector performance for accountability, educational improvement and knowledge improvement.
  • Our commitment to our whakataukī: "Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa.
    The child is at the heart of the matter"
  • ERO’s focus on equity and excellence for all learners, particularly Māori learners.



Te Tiriti o Waitangi | The Treaty of Waitangi

ERO’s vision is grounded in our ambition for equity and excellence for Māori learners. We strive to influence and support the education system to create inclusive environments where Māori enjoy education success as Māori.

We aim to support whānau, hapū and iwi in achieving their aspirations for their tamariki.


Improving how we work with schools

  • In 2020, feedback from a range of sources identified how ERO could improve its approach
  • Feedback received included these types of comments

“Schools are complex. Respond to our individual context”

“Periodic school reviews have limitations. Align your school evaluation with our improvement cycles”

“Give us more opportunity to participate and collaborate in our evaluation”

“Support us to translate evaluation into action”

“Share best practice and insights from your work across the sector”

 Te Ara Huarau | School evaluation for improvement

  • Incorporating this feedback and further research, ERO developed a new
    evaluation approach called Te Ara Huarau
  • Te Ara Huarau is a move away from event-based review.
  • Working alongside schools Te Ara Huarau focuses on: The use of evaluation to support schools in their ongoing improvement journey and equity and excellent outcomes
    for all learners

How we work

A Partnership Approach for Evaluation and Improvement:

  • A tailored, collaborative approach focusing on each school’s improvement journey
  • An evaluation partner who works alongside your school 
  • A phased approach aligned to schools planning and reporting cycles
  • Using evaluation expertise to support your school’s internal evaluation capacity
  • Identifying resources to assist your school’s improvement journey

A three-phase cyclical approach

Evaluating for improvement: Supporting your school’s evaluation activity to focus on the things that matter most for equity and excellence for all learners.  

Making decisions about how ERO can best support your school.

For schools coming into Te Ara Huarau your evaluation partner will work with you to understand (explore and confirm) your school’s context and priorities.

Planning for improvement: Supporting your schools planning to achieve your priority goals.

Implementing for improvement: Supporting your school to monitor progress towards achieving your priority goals.

ERO Evaluation Resources

School Improvement Framework

ERO is trialing this framework. The framework draws together ERO’s Schools Evaluation Indicators, expectations for schools in terms of outcomes for learners in the Education and Training Act, and over time, the NELP will also be incorporated. Our aim is to provide one tool for use throughout a school’s evaluation cycle. The framework is designed to identify and sharpen the focus for improvement and support monitoring of progress. ERO is seeking feedback on the framework throughout 2022.


School Evaluation Indicators

The School Evaluation Indicators help provide direction for an evaluation to support your school improvement process. They focus on what matters most for learners based on education research. The indicators are useful to those involved in the evaluation to help make sense of the information gathered and reach sound conclusions.


Education Now

Education Now provides schools with tools to gather the perspectives of leaders, teachers, students and whanau. The tailored surveys have questions aligned to the School Evaluation Indicators (2016) and each school will receive a report summarising information across the surveys. Completing Education Now can contribute to a school’s evaluation programme and schools can choose to share their Education Now report with their Evaluation Partner. In completing the surveys, schools will also be helping ERO build a national picture.  Anonymised national findings be used to highlight trends and influence sector improvements.

Leadership Partners 

The leadership Partners programme is a joint initiative between ERO and the sector - supported by: SPANZ, NZPF, NZSTA, NZAIMS​

A leadership partner is a school leader who is part of our year-long professional development programme.​

The partner has had ERO training and is designated as a review officer.​

The programme aims to: ​

  • extend leaders’ understanding of external evaluation practice / grow evaluative capacity in sector. ​

  • create the potential for leaders to develop insights into their own school through the opportunity of contributing to review of others. ​

  • build strong enduring partnerships and networks / build trust and confidence.​

  • have school leaders share their expertise across the sector, in ways that further enhance the review process for both schools and ERO.

What happens next?

ERO expects to have introduced all schools to Te Ara Huarau by early 2023. 

Your school will be notified when ERO plans to introduce you to Te Ara Huarau. Your board and senior leaders will be invited to an information meeting.

Following the meeting your evaluation partner will be in touch to arrange to meet with you and your leaders to begin working together.