Sharing the mahi - ERO New Schools Operating Model Newsletter - July 2021 - Issue #5

Welcome from ERO

Kia ora koutou

In a previous newsletter, we introduced the five phases in the Evaluation for Improvement process. In last month’s edition, we took a closer look at Phases 1 and 2: Initiating; and Exploring and Focusing. In this edition, we take a deeper dive into Phases 3, 4 and 5: Designing; Evaluating for improvement; and Reporting and planning.

Phase 3 - Designing

We will work with you to design an evaluation that best fits the context, culture and needs of your school, your strengths and the evaluation focus. The design will include what questions we will ask, the activities and sources of information needed to answer the questions, the timeframes, and who will be involved. From here we will make an Evaluation Plan.

Phase 4 - Evaluating for improvement

We will work through the Evaluation Plan with you, using the evaluation indicators to support the process. Your Evaluation Plan will have identified the role your Evaluation Partner and others will play in carrying out the evaluation. Any evaluation findings will confirm strengths and help you to set priorities as you plan for any further improvements you may need to make.

Phase 5 - Reporting and planning

Using the evaluation findings, we will help you to decide and plan your improvement actions and timeframes. These should be core to your school’s strategic and annual implementation plans.

We will also: work with you to evaluate how well things are going in your school/kura, what has improved for learners/ākonga and what further actions you might need; support you in setting up a monitoring and evaluating approach to measure progress; and assist you to link this to your next three-year cycle for strategic planning and reporting, internal evaluation, and continuous improvement.

During the evaluation, we will collaborate with you to report the evaluation findings. At the end of your improvement timeframes, we will work with you to evaluate how well things are going.

You can find information on all 5 phases here. Also in this edition, over the page you will find a sample of the evaluation resources available on our website.

Ngā mihi

Jane Lee

Deputy Chief Executive

Review and Improvement

Photo of Jane Lee.

 Partnership profile

“It has been an approach that fits in with our school… collaborative, and one formed around relational trust and building a relationship with an evaluator. As a Board we’re looking for the value of the process and understanding … and looking to really improve our practice and the outcomes for our students.” Watch the video here

– David Cooling, Board Chair of Roseneath School


Evaluation resources for schools

School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success (2016): Brings together the evidence about what matters most in improving learner outcomes. The indicators and associated examples of effective practice are designed to be used by both schools and evaluators to promote improvement.

Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua: A series of 48 film clips that bring the evaluation indicators to life and illustrate how effective schools improve.

Effective School Evaluation: how to do and use evaluation for improvement (2016): Describes effective internal evaluation, what it involves and how to go about it in ways that will enhance educational outcomes for learners.

Internal Evaluation: Good Practice (2015): Unpacks the evaluation processes and school conditions that support effective evaluation. The case studies show the shifts in practice during schools’ improvement journeys as they developed their use of evaluation to improve learner outcomes.

Aotea College Case Study: Improving Māori student wellbeing and achievement (2018): Describes a secondary school’s improvement journey and the use of evaluation in that journey. The case is organised around the framework of evaluation processes and reasoning for improvement developed through ERO’s case studies of exemplary internal evaluation.

Wellbeing for Success: A Resource for Schools (2016):

A resource to help schools evaluate and improve student wellbeing. Highlights the importance of schools promoting the wellbeing of all students as well as the need for systems, people and initiatives to respond to wellbeing concerns for students who need additional support.

Communities of Learning/Kāhui Ako: What does the evidence tell us about what works? (2017): Brings together the international and national research findings about effective collaboration in education communities and building collective capacity for improvement. Provides indicators and examples of effective practice for use in the evaluation and improvement of networks/communities.

Collaboration in Practice: Insights into implementation (2019): Case studies of three Kāhui Ako. Describes the strategies and approaches used to create, build and strengthen collaboration between schools and early learning centres to improve outcomes for learners.


On our website


Your feedback matters

ERO’s approach will continue to be iterative as all schools are introduced to the new approach.
The feedback from your school and ERO evaluation partner will contribute to the development of the model. Please share your feedback directly with your Evaluation Partner.


New Evaluation Approach FAQs - July 2021

What is an Evaluation Partner?

An ERO Evaluation Partner is a designated evaluator who will be assigned to work with your school. They bring evaluation expertise and will work through the evaluation process collaboratively with you, responding to your school’s unique context. They will have an ongoing relationship and work with your school over time.

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 is an Evaluation Focus?

The focus for an evaluation is based on what the school knows about itself, its learners/akonga and its understanding of what matters most. ERO and the school will work together to use the evaluation focus to shape the subsequent evaluation plan. Primary consideration when developing an evaluation focus should be given to equity and excellence in outcomes for all learners, in particular those who are at risk of not achieving or experiencing success.

What is an Evaluation Plan?

This is a bespoke plan designed to address the Evaluation Focus. It includes:

→ a clear rationale for the purpose and scope of the evaluation

→ how the plan will be actioned, the questions posed and evidence gathered
→ how stakeholders will be engaged in the process

→ what ERO‘s involvement in the evaluation will be

What will reporting look like?

ERO‘s view is that all children and young people should have access to high-quality, effective education provision. Parents, caregivers, whānau and the community should have access to evaluation information about the quality and effectiveness of that education provision. Schools are encouraged to update their communities as they progress through the new evaluation process and inform them about evaluation findings. In addition, there will be a publicly available online report, on average every three years.

How often will I see my Evaluation Partner, and for how long?

Every evaluation is a bespoke process that responds to a school‘s individual context. A responsive approach allows ERO to direct more resource into working with schools who would benefit the most. This means the Evaluation Partners will spend varying amounts of time in different schools depending on identified needs.

Can I continue with my school’s evaluation process without my Evaluation Partner being present?

Yes. ERO‘s new approach is designed to facilitate a process that supports a school to strengthen its internal evaluation for improvement of its performance. The frequency and depth of ERO‘s involvement in the evaluation will be specified in the Evaluation Plan. In some cases, ERO will be more of an evaluation consultant and in others, an integral part of the evaluation team carrying out more in-depth focused evaluations.

What is the biggest difference that schools will notice going into Phase 1 (Initiating) of the new approach?

The school will have the opportunity to develop an ongoing evaluation relationship with ERO. During phase 1, initial organisational arrangements are established and doors opened to engaging with key stakeholders and other participants who may be involved in the evaluation. This phase will lead quite quickly into Phase 2 (Exploring and Focusing).

How and when are schools onboarded?

Schools are being brought into the new approach progressively, starting at the beginning of each Term throughout 2021 and 2022. Each school will receive a letter from ERO during the previous term advising when it is due to join the new approach. Decisions on when each school is brought into the approach are systematically planned within each ERO region and include factors such as the timing of a school’s most recent review and ERO’s internal resourcing.

How is ERO gathering feedback?

ERO is working to support improvement in each school and in the system as a whole. We want to ensure that the intent and main features of the new approach are widely understood and our staff are working hard around the country to listen and act on feedback received. We have engaged with more than 1500 principals and senior leaders on this new approach. We have ensured that key sector stakeholder groups are working with us to deliver successful implementation. Our approach will continue to be iterative as all schools are progressively introduced to the new model throughout 2021 and 2022.

Some feedback so far includes:

“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.”

The feedback from your school and ERO’s evaluation partners will contribute to the development of the model

What is ERO’s commitment to the sector?

ERO is committed to supporting improved outcomes and achieving equity for all learners, particularly Māori, Pacific and priority learners. The principles that underpin the new approach give priority to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi through a focus on partnerships to achieve desired outcomes. The approach has a focus on understanding the cultural context of each school in order to best serve its needs. By building differentiation into the approach, there is more flexibility in how we work with you. In partnership with each school, ERO is working to support improvement in schools and in the system as a whole. We’re keen to understand sticking points or concerns so they can be addressed early and efficiently. We are committed to continuing to work with the sector and hopeful that it sees the opportunity, value and the potential that the new model will deliver.


Information on our website

An overview of the new approach

A handy reference guide (PDF 268.6 KB)

Schools that have joined the model

Newsletter updates

Videos of participating principal


Sharing the mahi: A partnership model

At ERO, we look forward to working with you. We want to ensure that we are effective partners, adding value to each school’s improvement journey.
We share an obligation to put the learner at the centre, to equity and excellence in outcomes for all learners, and an understanding that quality education is a right for every New Zealand learner.
We welcome this opportunity to collaborate with you so that together, we can make a positive difference for all learners. We thank you for your commitment to supporting the successful implementation of this new approach.