Te Pahu School

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

671 Te Pahu Road, Te Pahu, Hamilton

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Te Pahu School - 26/08/2019

School Context

Te Pahu School is situated near the base of Mount Pirongia, in the rural location of Te Pahu, 30 kilometres west of Hamilton. The school caters for children in Years 1 to 8. The current roll of 116 students includes eight who identify as Māori. Since the previous ERO review in 2016 the school has undergone a number of staffing changes including the appointment of a new principal in Term 1, 2019 and a new deputy principal in Term 2 of the same year.

The school’s vision is, ‘Attitude determines Altitude’, which links to nearby Mount Pirongia. The school states ‘Te Pahu students will be characterised by excellence in their attitudes and actions.’ The school’s values are integrity, respect, responsibility and empathy.

The school’s strategic areas of focus include:

  • teaching and learning

  • environmental practices

  • e-learning

  • te ao Māori.

The 2019 annual plan goals are to grow teaching practices in literacy and numeracy so that students meet curriculum expectations for reading, writing and mathematics.

The teaching and leadership team has been involved in professional learning and development in writing, inquiry learning, teaching as inquiry, te reo and tikanga Māori and wellbeing.

The school is a member of the ‘Rural and Roses’ cluster of schools.

Leaders and teachers gather and report to the board school-wide information about outcomes for students in reading, writing and mathematics.

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 has achieved equitable outcomes for Māori students. However, there is continuing gender disparity with girls outperforming boys in reading, writing and mathematics.

2018 achievement information provided by the school shows that most students achieve at or above their curriculum level in reading and mathematics with a large majority achieving in writing. Data over time shows there has been a small decline in overall student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Students with additional needs are making progress against their individual learning goals.

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

The school is accelerating the learning of some Māori students and others who need it. From 2017 – 2018 almost one third of these students made accelerated progress in writing, and approximately one fifth in reading and mathematics. This data also shows that accelerated progress was made for just over half of the Māori students at-risk in reading and writing.

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?

The collaborative leadership team is effectively building an environment focused on student achievement. This newly formed team is working cohesively to provide clear direction for the school. The principal, together with senior leaders, is establishing a culture where professional learning and development is highly valued. Leaders are implementing useful internal evaluation processes which are contributing to a more responsive approach to the identification and provision for students with additional needs.

Students benefit from a rich and responsive curriculum. Inquiry-based themes provide relevant and authentic contexts for learning. The inclusion of local history is providing a meaningful context for tikanga and te reo Māori which is increasingly present in the daily life of the school. Parents contribute to and enrich the wider school curriculum.

The school culture supports students’ learning and wellbeing. Students learn in a respectful and a caring school environment and have a strong sense of ownership and pride in their school. A wide range of opportunities are provided for students to develop leadership skills. There are well resourced classroom and playground environments. There is a supportive and inclusive learning environment for students with diverse learning and social needs. Teachers know each learner well and use this knowledge to enhance their learning.

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

Leaders and trustees should implement a more targeted approach to accelerating the achievement of it’s at-risk students. Currently reports to the board provide useful information on school wide achievement. Regular, analysed data on the progress of students who are at-risk will provide useful information for next steps. Trustees should consider setting targets on the number of these at-risk learners.

Continuing to strengthen teacher capability is a priority for leaders. The school has developed agreed expectations for teaching and learning practices and have accessed appropriate professional development for teachers. ERO observed examples of effective teaching practices, including provision of regular feedback and feed forward to students and strategies that build students’ understandings of their learning and next steps. However, these are not yet consistently embedded across the school.

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 Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Te Pahu School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance 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:

  • collaborative leadership that is focused on school improvement
  • a curriculum that effectively enables high levels of student engagement in learning
  • an inclusive school culture that supports a strong sense of belonging.

Next steps

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

  • continue to strengthen and analysis of achievement information to inform decision making, particularly for students who are at-risk
  • a strategic approach to building teacher capability with an emphasis on the principle of learning to learn
  • practices that ensure the implementation of school-wide teaching and learning expectations.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure a statement is included in the annual report on the extent of the board’s reporting on the extent of its compliance with the personnel policy on being a good employer.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

26 August 2019

About the school


Te Pahu

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 56% Male 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori 7%
NZ European/Pākehā 89%
Other 4%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

26 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2016
Education Review February 2013

Te Pahu School - 07/06/2016

1 Context

Te Pahu School is situated on the northern slopes of Mount Pirongia. It serves a rural community, which has strong historical links to the school.

It caters for children in Years 1 to 8. The current roll is 120 and twelve of these children are Māori. In 2015 the school visited Ngāti Apakura at Pūrekireki Marae. This event affirmed Māori children’s sense of belonging and is increasing other children’s understanding of te ao Māori. Teacher capability in culturally responsive practices is increasing and Māori students and whānau are responding positively to the developing focus on te reo and tikanga Māori.

At the beginning of 2015 a new principal took up his position at the school. Trustees bring a range of skills and knowledge to their stewardship roles.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes for all students in this school is to promote the values of integrity, respect, responsibility and empathy in a culture underpinned by equity and excellence. Te Pahu Graduates are expected to become thinkers, self-managers, communicators, risk takers, team players, researchers and lifelong learners.

In 2015, out of 120 students 15 were achieving below national standards in reading, 26 were below expectations in writing and 20 were below in mathematics. A small number of these children are Māori. An ongoing challenge for the school is to continue to progress and accelerate achievement in writing.

Children have equitable opportunities to learn and to participate in a range of activities. Since the previous ERO review a number of initiatives have been implemented to increase equity and excellence for both Māori children and their peers: These include:

  • strengthening classroom teacher practice in order to improve student achievement
  • ongoing professional development in writing to improve teacher knowledge of best teaching practice
  • aligning teacher inquiry to children who are at risk of not achieving positive learning outcomes and the school’s strategic goals
  • including all teachers in a coaching and mentoring programme, and using student feedback to inform changes in teacher practice
  • improving the quality of professional discussions amongst teachers about student progress and achievement
  • developing relevant local learning contexts, which integrate writing and reading into other curriculum areas to make literacy learning more purposeful and meaningful for children.

Over time, these initiatives are contributing to the acceleration of achievement for all children.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

Sound systems are developed for identifying students at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. This is achieved through using previous achievement information, a wide range of assessment tools, teacher observation and discussion with parents/whānau and students.

In classrooms, teachers use assessment information effectively to inform planning, learning programmes, and placement and grouping of children. School leaders promote collaborative enquiry and professional learning to lift staff capability, understandings about priority learners, and the intent of new school initiatives.

School targets, professional goals and appraisal systems are aligned to the needs and aspirations of priority learners. Target students are expected to be the focus of teacher inquiries.

Useful and purposeful achievement information is used to identify those children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. At risk learners, which includes a small number of Māori students, show accelerated improvement in reading. School data in mathematics and writing shows some accelerated progress.

Effective assessment for learning activities are inclusive and relevant for children's participation in the school programme. All children have effective opportunities to learn, make progress and experience success.

Well-considered management of learning environments enables inclusive participation and learning for children with identified special needs. The school has a comprehensive approach to responding to the learning and behavioural needs of these children. A wide range of internal and external support contributes to their learning success. Effective alignment of these interventions strengthens each child's learning, participation and transition back into classroom programmes.

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?

Children have many opportunities to engage in meaningful learning through a well-balanced curriculum that responds to parent, whānau and community aspirations. High expectations and clear direction for learning pathways are expressed in the 'Te Pahu Graduate' profile.

The Te Pahu School Curriculum provides many opportunities for children to experience success. Respectful relationships in classrooms are characterised by high expectations, humour and a friendly and firm manner. The Te Pahu School Challenge provides age-appropriate physical, personal, environmental and cultural challenges for children. The board and parent teacher association, (PTA), have funded music education to ensure that children receive high quality opportunities in this area. Further integration of Māori knowledge, history and places of significance would enrich the curriculum, and children's knowledge and understanding about the history and place in which they live.

Trustees have a high level of understanding of their stewardship roles. They have a strategic understanding of resourcing initiatives to raise student achievement. They receive regular and clear reports on student achievement in relation to National Standards to rigorously scrutinise information and make informed decisions about identified priorities for raising student achievement.

The principal's collaborative approach to leadership contributes to a positive school culture. He seeks the perspectives and aspirations of all stakeholders to develop and guide the strategic direction of the school. He is building on positive connections to the wider community and recently established links to the local Pūrekireki Marae community. The principal is accessible, welcoming and has a clear focus on raising student achievement.

Parents, whānau and the wider community are valued and welcomed into the school. Many parents contribute to children's success in sporting and other interests. They receive written reports twice a year about their children’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards and other valued student outcomes. Parents appreciate the clarity of these reports.

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 to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • do not always or systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • have a plan in place but have not yet built teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children.

Teachers need to continue to promote student responsibility for their own learning and achievement in a variety of ways. The school's inquiry approach to social sciences and science encourages children to research, work with each other and explore their interests. Displays and learning journals allow children to track their own progress and identify their next steps in learning. The co-construction of learning intentions with children, and how they determine ways that they might succeed, would assist them to manage their learning.

In order to enhance all children's identity and wellbeing, a sequential approach to the teaching of the Māori language and local history should give them a strong sense of belonging as tangata whenua. A first step in developing these programmes is to strengthen relationships with the local iwi. There is also a need for teachers to learn about Māori preferred ways of teaching and learning, such as cooperative learning and reciprocal teaching. These best practice approaches will contribute to raising the achievement of Māori children and others.

It is also necessary to strengthen the way that subjects such as social science, science and the arts are assessed. This is so that teachers, parents and whānau can be assured that children are making appropriate progress through the levels of The New Zealand Curriculum in these areas.

An appraisal process guides the development of teacher capability and collective capacity. This needs strengthening by ensuring that all teachers are appraised against all Practising Teacher Criteria annually. In addition, there needs to be formal observations of teaching practice, which provide both feedback and feedforward.

The school also needs to strengthen the ways in which parents and whānau are collaboratively involved in responding to their children’s learning needs for children at risk of not achieving.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop a Raising Achievement Plan to further develop processes and practices that respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement Plan 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.

In order to meet its statutory requirements the board of trustees must:

  • provide appropriate career education and guidance for all children in Years 7 and 8.
    [National Administration Guidelines 1 vi - National Education Guidelines]

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the school continues to:

  • promote student responsibility for their own learning and achievement
  • support children's identity and wellbeing through the provision of a sequential approach to the teaching of the Māori language and local Māori history
  • strengthen aspects of the teacher appraisal process in order to continue to lift teacher capability
  • work collaboratively to include parents in their child's learning pathway to further support and lift student achievement at all levels. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

7 June 2016 

About the school


West of Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

7 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2013

January 2010

March 2007