Leigh School

Education institution number:
School type:
School gender:
Not Applicable
Total roll:

Hauraki Road, Leigh, Warkworth

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Leigh School - 31/05/2016

1 Context

Leigh School is a small rural school that serves a coastal community north of Warkworth. Children in Years 1 to 6 work in three age-related classes. Most children who attend the neighbouring preschool enrol at the school.

Over recent years teachers have engaged in professional learning aimed at accelerating children's progress in literacy and mathematics. In 2016 two new classrooms are to be built to offer more open, flexible spaces for innovative, responsive teaching. Teachers have begun to adapt their teaching approaches in preparation for the move into the new classrooms later this year.

2 Equity and excellence

The school's vision and valued outcomes focus on building children's emotional strength and ability to learn by connecting children's interests to their culture and local community. The school aims to support children to become independent learners and give them a sound foundation in reading, writing and mathematics. There is also a strong emphasis on promoting interactions that are respectful, compassionate and honest. The vision and valued outcomes are based on what the school community believes are essential for children to succeed.

The school’s achievement information over time shows that most children achieve at or above National Standards. Achievement in reading is higher than achievement in writing and mathematics. The challenge for the school is to meet the Ministry of Education target that 85 percent of all children will achieve at or above National Standards in writing and mathematics, and sustain their very good achievement in reading. Over recent years the achievement of Māori students has been at a slightly lower level than the overall school profile. The principal, board and staff are continuing to explore ways to reduce this discrepancy.

The principal and the board have used the 2013 ERO report recommendations well to guide school and curriculum developments. Teachers now make better use of achievement information to provide data on children's progress over time. Teachers are more deliberately evaluating how effectively their teaching programmes promote children's engagement and achievement.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The board, principal and teachers focus on the needs of the small number of children who need to make accelerated progress. There are clear links between the school's achievement targets and the deliberate actions taken to accelerate these children's progress.

Children are respected as capable learners who can make decisions about their learning. They demonstrate confidence as learners and engage well in class programmes. Teachers quickly identify children's learning needs and implement relevant strategies and programmes. School documentation shows evidence of children's accelerated and sustained progress.

Teachers support children's progress by giving them useful feedback about what they are doing well and how they could improve their learning. Learning progressions and exemplars are increasingly used by children to identify their achievement and next learning steps. These practices are helping children to have an increasing sense of control over their own learning and progress.

Teachers regularly monitor and evaluate children’s progress. They use a range of appropriate assessments to guide their overall judgements about each child's achievement. Programmes for children achieving below the standards include individual learning plans tailored for each child's specific learning needs.

Teachers provide parents with clear information about children's learning. Parents have regular opportunities to discuss their children’s achievement and to work with teachers to support their child's learning progress.

Teachers share a collective responsibility for promoting children's learning. They regularly meet together to develop and plan strategies to support children to achieve. Teachers are keen to increase their opportunities to work with others to improve the reliability of the decisions they make about children's achievement in relation to the National Standards.

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?

Good processes and practices are used to promote equity and excellence in children's outcomes. The school charter, learning programmes and teacher appraisals have a clear common focus on improving practices to ensure all children are successful learners. The principal, trustees, staff and children show a sense of pride and belonging in the school.

The school’s curriculum aligns well to the values, principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. Children are benefitting from a broad, meaningful and localised curriculum that connects the different learning areas and links children to their local community and environment. In particular, the local marine reserve is used well to offer children interesting, varied and enjoyable learning experiences.

Children are being encouraged to become increasingly self-directed, inquiring learners and problem-solvers. The school's 'Best You Can Be' programme guides the development of children's social and emotional competencies to ensure they have a sound foundation for their learning. Tuakana teina relationships are also supporting children's learning, particularly in reading.

The school continues to demonstrate its commitment to bicultural practice. A strategic action plan has been developed to guide further development to support Māori children's educational success and identity in the school. All children have opportunities to gain knowledge and confidence in Māori language and culture. Children confidently participate in and lead kapa haka which is a valued part of the school's curriculum and protocol.

The principal and trustees consult with local iwi and the school’s kaumatua to appropriately integrate te reo Māori me ōna tikanga in curriculum programmes. The board has employed tutors to teach and guide these programmes. The teacher appraisal and development process has been strengthened through links to Tataiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Maori Learners.

The school enjoys high levels of community engagement. The principal and trustees seek, value and include the perspectives of the school’s community in planning and decision-making. Strengthening and extending partnerships with parents/whānau to support their children's learning and progress has been identified as a priority.

The school is well led. There are clear shared expectations about what constitutes successful learning. The principal actively promotes leadership and collaboration. Consistent teaching approaches are supporting children's learning confidence as they transition through the school.

The principal and teachers take advantage of local school cluster initiatives. They integrate knowledge of current theories and best practice into their programmes.

The board focuses on promoting student learning, as well as meeting the school’s operational requirements. Trustees work well as a team, understand their responsibilities and are keenly interested in the reports they receive about student achievement. They use the reports to consider how the board can best support children's progress. Trustees acknowledge that they could usefully evaluate their governance work and stewardship and share this with the incoming board.

Internal evaluation is used effectively by the principal, trustees and teachers to sustain improvements and guide school development. They regularly evaluate progress towards the charter's strategic aims and annual objectives. Teachers regularly reflect on how effectively their teaching practices impact on student learning. As a result, children benefit from programmes and practices that are responsive to their learning strengths, needs and interests.

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.

Leigh School is well placed to make ongoing improvements that impact positively on children's learning. The board, principal, staff and community have a shared commitment to the school’s direction for curriculum development and student learning.

The principal and the board have identified appropriate development priorities that include further:

  • growing children's ownership of their learning
  • extending higher achieving students' learning
  • developing children's e-learning opportunities and skills
  • building partnerships with parents/whānau to accelerate their children's progress.

The principal and teachers are developing useful ways to document evidence of how teachers meet the Practising Teacher Criteria in line with Education Council requirements.

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 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the school continues to consolidate and build upon the improvements made in curriculum and teaching practices. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

31 May 2016

About the school


Leigh, Warkworth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 29 Boys 22

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

31 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

November 2011

August 2008


Leigh School - 27/06/2013

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s Arotake Paetawhiti review?

Leigh School is a small Years 1 to 6 primary school located in Leigh, Northland. The school has meaningful connections with the wider community, including the local marae and preschool. Local resources are used well to offer students a broad and interesting curriculum.

The November 2011 ERO report noted the positive tone of the school and the respectful relationships between teachers and students. However, ERO found that the board of trustees and the principal faced some significant challenges and recommended external assistance. ERO has monitored the school’s progress closely since the 2011 review.

The school had a history of fluctuating levels of school performance. Relatively frequent changes of principal, four principals in eleven years, made it difficult for staff to sustain and embed changes or initiatives.

A new principal, appointed in 2010, agreed that improvements were needed in data management, assessment and reporting and that teachers would benefit from professional development to implement more effective approaches to teaching and learning.

The board of trustees required additional support to improve their governance processes and to manage their legal obligations better. Improving the quality of reporting to trustees, and focussing on evidence-based decision making and self review, were key next steps.

Over the past 18 months, a significant change has occurred in board processes. School leaders and staff have worked closely with a Ministry of Education student achievement facilitator (SAF) and professional development providers. New teaching and learning approaches are now in place to better support students to learn, make progress and achieve well. The current Ministry of Education contract will conclude at the end of 2013.

2 Review and Development

ERO and the school agreed on the following priorities for this ongoing review:

  • improve school systems for collating and using student achievement information
  • develop teaching practices that further promote effective student learning
  • continue to promote Māori success
  • develop, document and use self review to support ongoing improvement.

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

The school has addressed the areas for review and development identified in the 2011 ERO report. School leaders have made very good use of the external support from the Ministry of Education.

The school now has a detailed strategic plan and annual plan with systematic review processes to determine future direction. The positive and shared response of school leaders, trustees and teachers has resulted in a shift towards a more collaborative school culture. Effective decision making is improving student outcomes, including levels of achievement.

Very good progress has been made in collecting and using student achievement information. Specific targets for improving student achievement are being well used to respond to learners’ needs. School leaders are now in a better position to respond to changes in patterns and trends of achievement.

Student achievement information is well managed by leaders and teachers. Students’ progress and achievement is analysed carefully. Student progress is monitored and measured more consistently. The school has robust assessment and moderation processes. Reporting to parents is more useful and valid. A more reflective school culture is evident.

Teachers have made good progress in responding to individual student learning needs to help them make accelerated progress. Effective systems are in place for evaluating student achievement. Teachers share their expertise and are keen to make informed changes in their approaches to student assessment.

Targeted professional development has significantly improved teaching and learning. Ongoing review is now being used to give students more opportunities to participate in decision making about their learning. Improved teaching practice is better linked with performance management and is monitored closely by the principal.

School leaders consult regularly with Māori whānau and use their perspectives to improve school policies and plans. Good planning is in place to sustain the whānau group. Māori students are achieving, progressing well, and succeeding as Māori. This is most evident in Years 5 and 6.

Teachers are increasing their capacity to deliver a te reo Māori programme that advances students’ language skills and strengthens school tikanga. This whole-school programme remains a key area for the staff to continue to progress. Kapa haka is a strength of the school. School leaders could continue to improve the visibility of the school’s bicultural commitment in authentic and meaningful ways.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain its current good practices and to continue to improve its performance. School leaders have significantly improved their capacity to reflect, plan, act and report to their community, using evidence that includes student achievement.

The board of trustees is well led. Trustees have planned ongoing improvements and have a clear focus on continuing to raise student achievement. Relevant work plans and improved operating processes are evident. Policies and procedures are current, and succession planning is well in place. The board is continuing to refine its governance policies.

Resourcing is now critically reviewed and is allocated appropriately to school goals and student needs. Robust review questions guide decision making. The board is committed to ensuring that teachers continue to receive relevant, ongoing professional development.

The principal’s reports provide good quality information to inform the board about student achievement and progress towards school goals. Trustees are better managing their delegations to the principal and their quality assurance of systems to meet legal obligations. They have useful tools to guide self review. A more inquiring culture is clearly evident at all levels of school operations.

The principal has benefited from external leadership support. She has very good working relationships with teachers and students. Staff meetings are now more focussed on teaching and learning to support student learning. The board should continue to support the principal to maintain a range of external professional relationships.

Effective planning is evident to sustain the positive changes that have been made. Leaders have identified a number of future developments, including a review of the school’s vision so that it better aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum. Further consultation with the community could be a key part of this review as the school develops an effective learner profile.

ERO and school leaders agree that next steps should focus on:

  • designing a more student-led curriculum to further promote students’ ownership of their learning
  • using explicit learning intentions and success criteria to help students evaluate their learning
  • continuing to use Tātaiako: cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners and Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education Māori education strategy, to inform teacher and school review.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

27 June 2013

About the School


Leigh, Warkworth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 30

Boys 27

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

27 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

November 2011

August 2008

November 2005