Te Awamutu Primary School

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

401 Teasdale Street, Te Awamutu

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School Context

Te Awamutu Primary School is located in the Waikato, catering for students in Years 1 to 6. It has a roll of 496 students, approximately a third whom identify as Māori.

The school’s vision is ‘Together achieving personal success|Ma te mahi tahi ka eke panuku’. The recently reviewed school values are responsibility, respect, positive relationships and resilience.

Te Awamutu Primary School’s strategic goals for 2020 include improving teacher pedagogy with a focus on formative assessment, developing culturally responsive practices, and improving the wellbeing of students and staff.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the previous December 2016 ERO report, the roll has grown significantly, and the school is undertaking major building works. There have been several personnel changes in key positions, including the appointment of a new principal and two new deputy principals. Most of the board trustees were newly-elected in 2019.

The school is a member of the Rural and Roses school support and development cluster.

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?

The school is yet to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

The school’s achievement data from 2017 to 2019 shows that most students achieved at or above national curriculum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics, including a large majority of Māori students.

Data over time shows that disparity of achievement for Māori students compared to their Pākehā peers remains in writing and mathematics and is increasing in reading. Significant disparity remains in reading for boys compared to girls. Disparity for boys is reducing in writing. Boys and girls have comparable achievement levels in mathematics.

Information provided by the school shows that students with additional needs who have individual education plans are making good progress towards their goals.

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

The school is not yet collating and analysing data schoolwide to show rates of progress and acceleration for all at-risk students.

The school is able to show acceleration for a small number of targeted students, including Māori, through some literacy interventions. This data was collated during the ERO review process.

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?

Students learn in an orderly and supportive environment. Classrooms are settled and well resourced. Students benefit from respectful relationships with teachers. Students with additional needs are well supported by the special education needs coordinator (SENCO) and their team. The SENCO uses a range of data to prioritise programmes for at-risk students and to provide learning opportunities for gifted and talented (GATE) students and English language learners (ELL).

Trustees and leaders have a strong focus on improving opportunities for Māori students succeeding as Māori. The recent implementation of the Kura Kotahi Rā (one-day school) is supporting a number of students, most of whom are Māori, to participate in a localised curriculum underpinned by the school’s mātauranga Māori. Te Kura Kotahi Rā is conducted in a mix of te reo Māori and English, and students are supported to grow their confidence through scaffolded teaching and affirming relationships. Whānau are strongly encouraged to participate and share their expertise.

Leaders collaboratively working towards achieving the school’s vision and goals. Since the previous ERO review, a number of school systems and processes have been reviewed and useful frameworks have been developed to support consistent schoolwide practices. There is a strategic approach to developing middle leadership capability and to create shared understanding of best practice. Student wellbeing is prioritised through a team approach to pastoral care and by using leadership’s community networks. Clearly documented procedures and expectations guide the management and support of positive behaviour for learning.

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

Trustees and leaders need to develop achievement targets that include all students whose progress requires acceleration. Teachers and leaders should use data to track, monitor and regularly report on the progress of these students. Trustees must also scrutinise this data to inform resourcing and strategic decision-making.

Undertaking internal evaluation at all levels of the school should enable trustees, leaders and teachers to understand the impact and effectiveness of programmes and interventions on outcomes for students, particularly at-risk learners.

Leaders have identified, and ERO agree, that there is a need to develop teacher capability to effectively use formative assessment practices. This should:

  • strengthen the consistency of differentiated planning, particularly in response to the specific needs of at-risk learners
  • support students to know their individual learning goals and next steps.

Leaders have developed a coherent localised curriculum document that includes a sequential framework for te ao Māori. There is now a need to develop teachers’ capacity and confidence to fully enact this documented bi-cultural curriculum schoolwide.

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 Te Awamutu Primary School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

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:

  • a culture and environment that is conducive to learning
  • leadership that provides strategic direction and focuses on schoolwide improvement.

Next steps

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

  • effective use of achievement data to support accelerated progress for learners who are at-risk of underachieving
  • internal evaluation for targeted planning and action
  • building professional capability and collective capacity to improve equitable and excellent outcomes for students.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • fully implement the school’s documented appraisal process
  • formalise induction processes for all staff.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

3 July 2020

About the school

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

1 Context

Te Awamutu Primary School, located in the Waikato, provides education for children in Years 1 to 6. The school roll is currently 428. Māori children comprise one third of the roll and most whakapapa to Ngāti Maniapoto. There were changes in the senior leadership team during 2015 and a new principal was appointed in mid-2016.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are that together we achieve personal success. Mā mahi tahi te eke panuku a tētahi. Children will leave Te Awamutu Primary School proud of themselves and their efforts, positive about themselves and able to manage their own learning. They will be able to contribute and thrive as outstanding citizens and life-long learners. Children will be able to identify with their culture, where they come from, their whānau and their history.

The school’s achievement information shows that from 2013 to 2015 there has been minimal change in overall achievement. The number of Māori children underachieving is significantly higher than that of other groups. Boys are not achieving as well as girls. In 2015, 75% of children were achieving at or above National Standards in mathematics and 87% in reading. However, the proportion of children achieving the expected standard in writing is lower than national comparisons.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has taken the following key actions to accelerate the progress of at risk children:

  • Increased the availability and use of digital technologies by children.
  • Established classes where children can choose to learn in rooms aligned to a particular interest, for example, sports, media, or science and technology.
  • Continued to lift teacher capability, particularly in the areas of writing and mathematics.
  • Improved the way subjects such as science and technology are taught by strengthening learning through inquiry.

Teachers are continuing to develop internal and external systems for moderating overall teacher judgements (OTJ's), particularly in writing.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school's response to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration needs to be strengthened.

Māori children achieving below national expectations are well identified by teachers through a range of assessment practices including observation. Achievement data is well analysed by leaders to clearly differentiate between Māori children and others. This enables the board to track progress and achievement of this at risk group.

The school has begun to develop a more coherent response to the under achievement of Māori children. Recently, leaders have strengthened a number of initiatives already in place and established a Student Achievement Team (SAT) to trial new ones. Working closely with parents and whānau to provide targeted assistance at home is central to this response.

The school has begun to formally monitor and use children's rates of progress as a means for evaluating the effectiveness of its programmes. At this early stage, data is indicating that at risk Māori learners are yet to make accelerated progress in writing.

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

The school response to other children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration is beginning to make a difference. Achievement data for 2015 shows that of the 20 other children achieving below national expectations in writing, 6 have made accelerated progress.

The school has well-developed systems for identifying other children not achieving at expected National Standards.

School leaders have clarified the way they define accelerated progress in writing. In addition, children are able to identify their achievement levels in literacy and mathematics by using learning walls in their classroom. However, leaders now need to work with teachers to document clear expectations for making OTJ's, using a range of assessments and tools, including nationally referenced tests.

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 targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum and other organisational processes and practices are developing, and more deliberately enacting the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

Positive features of the curriculum include:

  • strong physical activities and sports programmes that challenge boys and other active learners
  • well-embedded education programmes about sustaining the environment
  • many opportunities for education outside the classroom (EOTC) that make classroom learning more meaningful and real
  • a well-considered range of opportunities for children to experience leadership.

Children benefit from positive, caring relationships with teachers who know them and their family circumstances well. Attractive classroom environments support literacy and mathematics learning and celebrate children's work and progress.

In addition, there is a comprehensive range of both in-class and withdrawal programmes available for children with special learning needs. Parents and whānau are able to be part of the learning journey for their special needs children through creating and regularly monitoring individual education plans, (IEPs).

School leaders have established and continue to maintain a positive school culture characterised by high levels of relational trust amongst staff. They are developing a strong focus on improving outcomes for Māori and other children at risk of not achieving. A programme of internal professional development through professional learning groups (PLGs) and syndicate meetings complements the input from externally sourced providers. It is important that the school continues to monitor the effectiveness of this professional development.

Teachers now need to:

  • more consistently identify the learning needs of at risk learners and respond to these with deliberate acts of teaching in all learning areas
  • build on the current review of literacy learning by including a wider range of current best practice research
  • use learning progressions for self and peer assessment to help children identify and own their next steps in learning
  • utilise student feedback more as a part of ongoing internal evaluation.

There are many opportunities for parents and whānau to be involved in the life of the school. There is a strong ethos of pastoral care. Relationships with the local high school, other local primary schools and early childhood centres promote smooth transitions for children into and out of the school. The whānau group are providing multiple opportunities for parents and whānau to be involved at school in more uniquely Māori ways.

School leaders now need to:

  • increase the amount of Māori knowledge and perspectives in daily programmes
  • continue to strengthen the weekly Māori language programme and integrate it across other learning areas.

The school continues to develop stronger partnerships for learning with parents and whānau. Curriculum evenings give parents a deeper understanding of what their children are learning in subjects such as mathematics and writing. Student-led conferences and written reports inform parents about children's learning and progress, and how they can help at home. These practices, once embedded, are likely to increase equity and excellence of educational outcomes for Māori and other children who are at risk with their learning.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it. 

Leaders and teachers now need to strengthen:

  • appraisal process and teaching as inquiry to ensure that appraisal goals are aligned with the achievement targets in the charter and focus on at risk children
  • internal evaluation by establishing formal processes that is informed by student achievement information, and has unrelenting focus on accelerating progress of at risk learners, particularly Māori.

In order to sharpen the focus on Māori and other children whose progress needs acceleration, trustees need to ensure a close alignment between the annual plan, principal and staff appraisal goals and the analysis of variance reported to the Ministry of Education.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop more targeted planning that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full 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 board and school leaders take a more deliberate approach to targeting the achievement of Māori and other at risk learners. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato / Bay of Plenty

8 December 2016

About the school 


Te Awamutu

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition







Other European

Other Pacific









Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

8 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

May 2010

May 2007