Arohanui Special School

Education institution number:
School type:
Special School
School gender:
School for pupils with intellectual impairments
Total roll:

Tirimoana Road, Te Atatu, Auckland

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Arohanui Special School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report 


This Profile Report was written within six months of the Education Review Office and ​Arohanui Special School​ working in Te Ara Huarau, an improvement evaluation approach used in English Medium State and State Integrated Schools. For more information about Te Ara Huarau see ERO’s website. 

This report is part of a nationally coordinated evaluation of 27-day specialist schools during the second half of 2023. This included the development of day specialist school evaluation indicators by ERO with significant input from principals, staff and the Special Education Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SEPAnz). 


Arohanui Special School is in Waitakere, Auckland. It provides education for ākonga eligible for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) with intellectual disabilities aged between the ages of five to 21 years. The school has a base school and 16 satellite classes situated in local host schools and a transition centre for students aged 18 years and over.  

The school employs a specialist therapy team that includes speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and behaviour specialists, who support the learning of students. A specialist teacher outreach service works with ORS funded students enrolled in local schools. 

The school continues to navigate and manage roll growth pressures along with the employment and property demands associated with this. 

The school’s whākatauki is 'Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tātou māhi - Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work’. The school’s vision is, ‘dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of their community in the spirit of aroha’. 

​​Arohanui Special School​’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for ākonga are:  

  • to grow students by empowering them to reach their full potential as agentic learners 
  • to grow staff by growing and developing our collective understanding of students’ personalised learning pathways 
  • to grow community by creating mutually beneficial partnerships. 
    You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on ​Arohanui Special School​’s website. 

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate how effectively literacy and communication tools, and the school’s teaching and learning approaches empower ākonga to have agency to be successful and reach their potential.  

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is to:  

  • increase ākonga capability in literacy and communication  
  • provide consistent schoolwide teaching and learning approaches in literacy and communication. 

The school expects to see ākonga confident in their communication skills and engaged in a range of relevant effective literacy programmes. 


The school can draw from the following strengths to support in its goal to evaluate how effectively literacy and communication tools, and the school’s teaching and learning approaches empower ākonga to have agency to be successful and reach their potential.  

  • Students have a strong sense of their culture and identity and work towards successfully achieving their individual goals. 
  • A well-established school culture that enhances engagement and wellbeing for ākonga, through bicultural and multi-cultural approaches.  
  • Ākonga success and potential are addressed through an adaptive and responsive curriculum that provides relevant learning opportunities to meet their individual and complex needs. 
  • A collaborative school leadership team that is reflective and strongly focused on promoting the school’s strategic direction for improvement and creating school conditions for innovation. 
  • Relational trust that is enhanced by distributed leadership opportunities across the school. 

Where to next? 

Moving forward, the school will prioritise continuing to:  

  • investigate and develop ways to enable ākonga to be agentic learners 
  • develop a shared understanding of literacy and communication across the school through targeted schoolwide professional development to ensure the sustainability of effective literacy and communication approaches.  

ERO’s role will be to support the school in its evaluation for improvement cycle to improve outcomes for all learners. ERO will support the school in reporting their progress to the community. The next public report on ERO’s website will be a Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report and is due within three years.  

Shelley Booysen
Director of Schools 

​​9 April 2024​   

About the School 

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

Arohanui Special School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2024 to ​2027​  

As of March 2024, the ​Arohanui Special School​ Board has attested to the following regulatory and legislative requirements: 

Board Administration 




Management of Health, Safety and Welfare 


Personnel Management 






Actions for Compliance 

​​ERO has​ identified the following areas of non-compliance during the board assurance process: 

  • regular undertaking of fire, earthquake and lockdown drills at the base school. 
    [Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017; Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures and Evacuation Schemes Regulations 2018] 

The school has addressed this issue and reinstated regular fire, earthquakes and lockdown drills as outlined in the school policy and procedures guidelines. 

Further Information 

For further information please contact Arohanui Special School​, School Board. 

The next School Board assurance that it is meeting regulatory and legislative requirements will be reported, along with the Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report, within three years. 

Information on ERO’s role and process in this review can be found on the Education Review Office website. 

​​Shelley Booysen​
​​Director of Schools​

​9 April 2024​   

About the School  

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

Arohanui Special School - 22/06/2016


Arohanui Special School provides high quality special education for students with high and very high needs learning needs. Students experience a well-developed curriculum delivered by caring, skilled staff. A culture of high expectations for all students’ progress and learning underpins the school’s philosophy. Leadership is highly effective in promoting ongoing partnerships with families.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Arohanui Special School is located in West Auckland and caters for students with high and very high needs from five years to twenty-one years old. Students come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. They are warmly welcomed by dedicated leaders and staff.

Students who attend the school are funded through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). Their learning requirements and their social, physical and emotional wellbeing needs are supported by skilled teachers, therapists and teacher aides. The school is experiencing rapid roll growth.

The school now has 24 classrooms located on 12 sites across West Auckland. This includes primary and intermediate classes, and a new adult learning centre in Henderson. A new unit at Hobsonville Point Secondary School provides a much needed secondary choice within the school’s network.

The Base School has five senior classrooms and a large itinerant staff. This includes therapists and the school's Outreach service staff. The Outreach network has grown significantly and now caters for fifty-eight students at thirty-one schools across West Auckland.

The effective practices noted in the 2012 ERO review continue to be evident. Most notable are the quality of leadership and high expectations for students’ learning. Staff promote the school’s philosophy of ‘creating community’ through positive interactions with students and whānau.

Teaching staff, including teacher aides, reflect the cultural diversity of the school. This helps to support effective partnerships with families. There is a strong sense of whakawhanaungatanga and belonging. The school’s whakatauki and charter reflect its strong commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and bicultural partnership.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The school uses achievement information very effectively to make positive changes that increase students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

School leaders have well developed systems and processes for gathering, evaluating and using student achievement information to inform decision making and programme development. Achievement information is robust and reliable. Effective moderation practices operate within the school and in conjunction with other special schools.

Annual student achievement information gathered in the Performance Indicators for Value Added Target Setting (PIVATS) assessment is well used to set school-wide targets. Over time, students have made very good progress in literacy and good progress in numeracy. The school meets the reporting requirements for National Standards.

A high priority for school leaders and teachers is to continue to increase student engagement through high quality interactions with staff. Students receive thoughtful and targeted teaching to support their learning and development. Teachers work collaboratively with each other, support staff and whānau.

Individual student learning is regularly reviewed by classroom teachers. Useful information is shared with parents in notebooks. A new online portal has been introduced and whānau are able to see their child’s learning during the day though posts from their teachers. Families value the portal and how it assists them to support their child at home. Parents report that it helps whānau to see their children as capable learners. The portal has significantly increased interactions between the school and the home.

Students each have personalised learning plans (PLP) that target their specific learning goals, developed in partnership with whānau. Each term, school leaders and teachers evaluate information from PLP plans to review the progress students are making in literacy, numeracy, communication and other holistic goals. This achievement information is also being shared regularly with whānau.

School leaders are well placed to evaluate the significant progress students make with their physical development. They note they will continue to further document the evidence of student progress to evaluate student learning outcomes. Over time, teachers could work towards achieving more consistency in the way learning goals are made distinct from learning activities.

Māori and Pacific students have culturally relevant, individual PLP plans. School leaders set specific achievement targets to accelerate their success. Students receive very good support to help them learn and progress well, according to their special learning needs. Progress is well monitored. A senior group of Pacific students are achieving very well as are Māori students.

A skilled team of therapists provide speech language support, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. They work well with each other and are a key support group who have a positive impact on student learning. As the school develops a whole-class therapy approach to align with the PLP process, therapists recognise the need for ongoing reviews of this approach to ensure the benefits of individual therapy are also sustained.

Teacher aides work alongside teachers and under their guidance. They are highly valued for their work in promoting student learning. An ongoing challenge for the school, which they manage well, is to ensure high quality teacher aide professional development and induction.

The board of trustees is well informed about student progress and achievement by high quality reporting. Trustees set relevant student achievement goals and targets from their in depth discussion using school data. It could be useful to record more key points from these conversations to inform long-term reviews of school success.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is very well aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum vision, values and key competencies. The curriculum is also influenced by Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, in particular the social and emotional competence outcomes.

The school is developing a thoughtful and relevant adult learning curriculum working in partnership with other special schools. Staff are focused on increasing the confidence and independence of older students as they reach twenty-one and transition to the adult community. The wider community networks, including Special Olympics, serve students well and enable them to make friends and learn social skills. Evaluating how well students' transition to the adult community would be worthwhile to inform the development of this curriculum.

The school curriculum is well developed and documentation provides good guidance for teachers and is regularly reviewed. There is a strong, appropriate focus on literacy, numeracy, physical activity and on the enrichment programme that includes dance, drama, music and visual art. Curriculum delivery is enhanced by a wide range of specialised communication strategies including the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Experience Sharing and Intensive Interaction.

The highly responsive curriculum is appropriate for the students. Opportunities to learn are very sensitive to individual difference and learning is increasingly challenging for each learner. Staff are highly attuned to learner’s motivation and the importance of emotions.

The adaptive expertise of leaders and teachers is very evident. Teaching is continually informed by ongoing and relevant professional development delivered in flexible ways to enable staff to participate, share and develop. Staff demonstrate a high level of professionalism and collegiality.

Leaders have effectively embedded processes to promote teachers’ reflection on the impact of their teaching. Robust performance management systems are in place.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school is very effective in promoting educational success for and as Māori. The kaupapa of the school, which is strongly bicultural, provides an environment for Māori students that enables them to develop their potential and remain connected to their identity and culture.

Māori students take pride in their kapa haka group. Kapa haka promotes a strong sense of Māori students’ identity, providing a ‘specialness’ here that transcends the students’ very special learning needs. Staff demonstrate ngakau Māori and are skilled at incorporating te ao Māori into learning.

The school values the perspectives and cultural strengths of Māori students and their families. Whānau are welcomed, encouraged and supported to contribute to their child’s education in many different ways. Whānau and kaumatua inform the tikanga and kawa at the school. There is an environment of mutual trust and respect promoting a feeling of wairua for families and students.

Well enacted manaakitanga and whanaungatanga are central to the success of the school’s approach. The school continues to develop and deepen its plans for Māori success through regular consultation and effective communication.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Internal evaluation systems are thorough and reflect a wide variety of perspectives and multiple sources of evidence.

There is a well-established friendly school culture based on high levels of relational trust and collaboration. Many staff are long serving and committed to developing positive relationships with families.

The school is very well led by highly effective and empathic leaders. Their focus on promoting learning and increasing success for their students is very evident. Leaders are influential advocates for children with special learning needs and they develop powerful educational networks to benefit their students.

School leaders strategically share leadership to grow leadership capability. Two new team leaders have been appointed for the junior and senior school respectively. Lead teachers also share their specific skills and expertise. The school is very well positioned for the future with high quality leadership across the organisation.

The school operates very effectively, managing the complexities of multiple sites well. School leaders successfully manage the pace of change to plan for the future. There are effective strategies in place to manage health and safety within the school’s special context.

The board is inclusive, skilled and representative of the school community. The school benefits from their links and networks with the wider community. Trustees have an effective policy framework that is regularly reviewed by staff. New trustees receive very good induction, ongoing support and regular access to training.

The board and school leaders are also managing a number of building projects to improve the provision of facilities for their students hosted by other schools. They are making strategic decisions to as part of their commitment to providing high quality special education.

The board has concerns about the range of secondary education options available for their students with the growth in West Auckland. The addition of the Hobsonville Point Secondary School unit has begun to address this concern and provides a valuable pathway for students at this level. A temporary secondary class has also been established at Bruce McLaren Intermediate School to manage growth. Leaders are working with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to develop another secondary satellite in response to the student numbers in the junior school.

The school continues to provide a valuable Outreach education service across the schools in north-west Auckland. This acts as a powerful network to share good practices between the special school and the mainstream. Strategic links with teacher training providers and social service providers are also well established to inform school improvement.

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:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.


Arohanui Special School provides high quality special education for students with high and very high needs learning needs. Students experience a well-developed curriculum delivered by caring, skilled staff. A culture of high expectations for all students’ progress and learning underpins the school’s philosophy. Leadership is highly effective in promoting ongoing partnerships with families.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

22 June 2016

About the School

LocationTe Atatu South
Ministry of Education profile number1209
School typeSpecial School
School roll161
Gender compositionBoys 76% Girls 24%
Ethnic composition







Cook Island Māori



other Pacific

other European












Special Features

Classes at:

Base School Te Atatu South (5) Edmonton Primary (1) Flanshaw Road School (2) Freyberg Community School (2) Glendene Primary (2) Holy Cross School (1) Rutherford Primary (3) Bruce McLaren Intermediate (3) Te Atatu Intermediate (2) Hobsonville Point Secondary (3) Pakeke Adult Learning Centre Henderson Outreach Special Services

Review team on siteMay 2016
Date of this report22 June 2016
Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2012

November 2008

November 2005