Tomarata School

Tomarata School - 05/08/2020

School Context

Tomarata School is a small rural full primary school near Wellsford. The school roll of 122 students includes 20 Māori students.

The school’s overarching vision and aims are focused on igniting students’ learning, developing success for all, promoting student wellbeing and building strong relationships with the school community. Tomarata School’s whakatauki is ‘Poipoia te kakano kia puawai. Nurture the seed and it will blossom’.

The school’s current achievement targets are for students to achieve expected curriculum levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

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

  • progress towards the school’s strategic goals
  • student engagement and wellbeing.

Since 2019, several personnel changes have occurred. Most trustees, the senior leadership team and many teachers are new. Teachers are participating in professional learning in mathematics.

During 2016 to 2019, the Ministry of Education appointed consecutive Limited Statutory Managers (LSMs) to improve stewardship, staff relationships and engagement with the school community.

Tomarata School has recently joined the Twin Coast Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL).

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?

Tomarata School is not able to provide reliable information to show how well the school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students. At the time of the review, there was a lack of valid and reliable achievement data to show how well all students and groups of students achieve over time.

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

School leaders are beginning to develop systems to identify, monitor and respond to those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Leaders are identifying groups of students and their specific learning strengths, needs and abilities. This approach is helping to determine relevant learning programmes to support those students, including Māori, who need to make accelerated progress.

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?

School leaders and teachers are beginning to develop processes that promote community engagement, and consultation to contribute to the school’s vision and strategic direction. Consultation with the school community shows they have expectations that students will develop values of respect with empathy and understanding, growth through learning from mistakes, ownership of actions and working together harmoniously.

New school leaders are focused on strategically managing change to improve positive outcomes for children. The principal is proactively improving relationships with the local community and whānau Māori. Some community members generously resource opportunities for students to learn in a localised curriculum. Students make use of local whenua, native bush and awa that local families have allowed access to the school.

School leaders are improving the school’s learning culture. They have established educationally powerful connections with wider networks, including local schools, external professional providers and the community. These professional relationships are supporting the school to become a focal point within the local area. Parents and whānau comment that the school has a renewed focus on promoting an inclusive culture. Students comment positively about the improved school culture. They appreciate the leadership opportunities where they can share the ideas and actively engage in decision making to enhance the school environment. These opportunities enable students to feel empowered and connected to the school.

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

School leaders should develop a schoolwide approach to improving assessment processes and teaching practice. Key priorities include:

  • developing systems and processes that improve the monitoring and tracking of students’ learning and targeting those students who are at risk of not achieving
  • improving teachers’ use of valid and reliable assessment information to guide responsive teaching programmes and practice
  • documenting effective teaching strategies to more deliberately support students to achieve and accelerate their learning.

The principal acknowledges that continuing to develop a responsive curriculum is needed. Further work includes:

  • extending opportunities for students to learn in a more challenging and interactive curriculum
  • learning experiences that enable students to be critical thinkers and take more ownership of their learning
  • ensuring sufficient and equitable opportunities for students to develop written and oral language skills.

Teachers and teacher aides work with students who require additional learning support. School leaders should provide evaluative reports to the board of trustees on the effectiveness of teaching strategies and teacher aide support to lift achievement. This would inform trustees to better understand and respond to students’ progress and achievement in learning.

School leaders and teachers should continue to build their collective capacity to do and use evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for ongoing improvement and innovation.

A priority for trustees is to continue governance training to increase capability to evaluate how well the school is progressing towards the strategic goals and improving outcomes for all students.

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 Tomarata School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

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 is focused on strategically managing change to ensure positive outcomes for children
  • an improved school culture where children feel empowered about contributing to school decision making
  • positive connections with the wider community and relationships that enrich opportunities for students to become lifelong learners.

Next steps

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

  • providing effective, sufficient and equitable opportunities for students to learn
  • ensuring effective leadership continues to plan, coordinate and evaluate the school’s curriculum and teaching
  • professional learning for teachers to build capability for curriculum improvement and innovation
  • increasing the board’s scrutiny of work done to achieve the school’s valued student outcomes
  • developing coherent organisational conditions that promote evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to curriculum, personnel and governance.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must ensure:

  • the school analyses and reports student progress in relevant assessment information in literacy and numeracy achievement, and provides breadth and depth of learning related to students’ needs, abilities and interests as expressed in the New Zealand Curriculum 2007
    [National Administration Guidelines 1(b)]
  • an ongoing programme of self review in relation to the board’s policy framework is enacted
    [National Administration Guidelines 2 (b)]
  • an accessible child protection policy is documented and reviewed every three years
    [Children’s Act 2014]
  • the school’s appointments policy states clear procedures for safety checks
    [77A State Sector Act], [Children’s Act 2014]
  • the police vetting policy that states all non-registered staff are police vetted every three years, is documented
    [77A State Sector Act]
  • risk management procedures for school trips/education outside the classroom are documented
    [National Administration Guidelines 5]
  • in consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known to the school’s community, policies and procedures, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students
    [National Administration Guidelines 1(e)]
  • consult with the community and adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum
    [Education Act 1989, Section 60B].

ERO recommends that the school seeks support from the Ministry of Education in order to bring about improvements in:

  • curriculum design, implementation and review
  • establishing effective assessment systems and processes
  • effective teaching and learning to improve students’ learning outcomes
  • governance.

Recommendations to other agencies:

ERO recommends that the New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the board to help it effectively meet its statutory legislative requirements.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services (Northern)

Northern Region - Te Tai Raki

5 August 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Tomarata School - 23/05/2016

1 Context

Tomarata School is a rural primary school that caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The majority of children travel to school by bus from a wide geographical area. Over the past six years there has been considerable roll growth and Māori children now represent 22 percent of the school roll.

The school's recent involvement with the Ministry of Education's Learning Change Network (LCN) has resulted in the formation of Ara Tuhono, a local cluster of eight schools. The cluster is designed to support consistency in teaching practices, as well as provide opportunities for networking between leaders.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are "to grow and nurture each student's potential through authentic and engaging learning programmes that foster a lifelong love of learning". Equity and respect feature strongly in the school's values.

The school's motto of Learning Smarter, Tomarata, introduced in 2014 after extensive student, community and teacher consultation underpins professional practice at the school. Children speak of having a sense of fairness, wellbeing and belonging in the school.

The school has responded to ERO's 2013 recommendation to improve outcomes for Māori learners by developing a plan for accelerating their progress. It is too early to evaluate the overall effectiveness of these plans and strategies however school leaders and teachers are aware of each individual child's progress.

In the past three years school achievement information shows that overall, three quarters of nonMāori children have consistently achieved at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. For the proportion who are not achieving the National Standards there is evidence of progressive acceleration.

Key actions the school has taken to accelerate progress for those children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes include:

  • continued investigation into ways to accelerate student progress
  • deepening the analysis of student achievement data and further increasing teacher accountability through the performance management system
  • identifying strategies and possible actions to improve outcomes for Māori, and thereby all, learners.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

School leaders and teachers are vigilant in identifying Māori children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. They are also aware that overall Māori student achievement in National Standards for reading and writing is below that of their non-Māori peers. However, the school's data also shows that there is a greater and increasing acceleration of progress for the school's Māori learners.

Leaders and teachers continue to review and analyse data about Māori children's achievement to inform future teaching programmes and practices. The setting of specific targets in reading for Māori children in 2016, together with the action plan to lift Māori achievement, is likely to have a positive impact on outcomes for these children.

Since 2013, school leaders and teachers have, with input from an iwi advisor, redefined the strengths of Māori learners and developed Mana Tamariki a strategy to support success for Māori, as Māori. This acknowledgement of Māori learner strengths is being used to identify effective strategies to engage all Māori children in learning. The school has also introduced a waiata club in 2016 and a weekly programme of te reo and tikanga Māori to strengthen Māori children's confidence in their identity, language and culture as citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The school is continuing to develop its home-school partnership, extending its previous focus on reading to also include mathematics. This initiative aims to further strengthen the school's targeted approach to teaching and learning. Children's "learning maps" provide good information for teachers and parents, and promote a personalised response to each child's interests, learning preferences, challenges and next steps.

Teachers are building a kete of effective strategies to engage Māori children in learning. Teachers' class profiles are an important part of this kete. These profiles identify the needs of each child and the strategies being used to address their identified needs and accelerate their progress. Teachers also have a specific performance management goal that documents their responsibility for accelerating Māori student progress.

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

School leaders have been deepening their analysis of data about accelerated student progress to further inform their response to findings about children's achievement. This is likely to support increasingly effective responses to all children whose learning needs acceleration. Student progress and achievement is collated and analysed at various levels in the school and reported to the board.

Leaders and trustees agree that they continue to progressively lift the school's achievement targets in relation to National Standards in order to ensure that they are well placed to meet the government's achievement targets for 2017. Leaders and teachers are in the process of enhancing the rigor of the school's assessment practices relating to National Standards by moderating their assessments with other schools.

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 priorities for equity and excellence?

The Tomarata School curriculum, organisational processes and systems provide a good foundation from which to develop excellence and equity for all children.

Children demonstrate pride in their school. The purposeful and respectful school tone promotes a strong sense of care and responsibility for self and others. Children with special learning needs are supported through teaching and learning programmes.

The school curriculum reflects The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) within the Tomarata context. The school's inquiry-based approach is responsive to children's interests. The curriculum prioritises reading, writing and mathematics as foundations for learning, while being broad enough to incorporate all learning areas of the NZC. Most children are well engaged in the school's learnercentred curriculum that provides many opportunities for children's input and for student leadership. Classroom displays demonstrate a valuing of children's cultures, as well as their progress and achievement.

The school's te reo and tikanga Māori programme is building teacher confidence in participating in, and leading, this initiative. Leaders agree that a more scaffolded programme, starting at Year 1, could provide Māori children with greater leadership opportunities and better enable teachers to respond to their abilities and prior knowledge.

Children are able to talk about their levels of achievement and next learning steps. Their confidence continues to grow as the school further refines their approach to student agency. Purposeful transitions into and across year levels are also contributing to children's confidence. School leaders now agree it would be beneficial to have a progressive structure of expectations for children's skills and attributes as they progress through the years, and onto secondary schooling.

Self-review for improvement underpins the school's vision for its learners. Policies, processes and practices are strongly aligned with the school vision, values and strategic direction. The school values community input and consults with their community in numerous ways to gain their perspective.

School leaders promote a working environment that values the strengths, talents, interests and contributions of all staff members. The professional capacity of the staff continues to develop through staff collaboration, professional development initiatives, and opportunities for teachers to take on leadership roles.

The board and principal actively contribute to the growth and development of their educational community through the LCN, shared board training and cluster-based teacher aide training. Trustees value the principal's leadership and are very aware of the importance of supporting her professional growth through effective performance appraisal.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school is well placed to make ongoing improvements that impact positively on all children's learning. School leaders and teachers are vigilant in identifying children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. They are systematically strengthening their capacity to assess, teach and evaluate the impact of their strategies to accelerate children's progress.

Leaders have identified relevant priorities for further development. These include:

  • progressively refining achievement targets in the school's charter
  • using moderation with other schools to enhance the reliability of assessment information
  • continuing to strengthen evaluative capability and capacity at all levels of the school
  • developing and documenting a progressive set of expectations regarding children's skills and attributes as they move through the year levels of the school
  • taking a more scaffolded approach to the teaching of te reo Māori in order to build on children's knowledge and strengths

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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 Recommendations

ERO recommends that leaders and teachers continue building strategies that successfully accelerate children's learning and progress and grow evaluative capability and capacity at all levels of the school. Evidence-based evaluation should focus on the effectiveness of practices and the impact they have on children's progress in order to inform the school's ongoing development. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

23 May 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition







Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

23 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

May 2010

June 2007