Tolaga Bay Area School

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Not Applicable
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24 Resolution Street, Tolaga Bay

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Tolaga Bay Area School - 18/06/2020

School Context

Tolaga Bay Area School, located North of Gisborne, caters for students in Years 1 to 13. Of the 245 students enrolled approximately 95% are Māori and are of Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Uawa and Ngāti Porou descent.

School organisation includes English medium classes in Years 1 to 13 and Rumaki education in Years 1 to 10. Education and care for children with high additional needs is provided through the school’s Wairoro Class. A major refurbishment is underway including the construction of a new gym, music suite and new modern, innovative learning environments.

The principal is long serving. Since the December 2016 ERO report, there have been significant changes to leadership and staff including the appointment of a new deputy principal. Longstanding and recently elected members, including iwi appointed members, make up the board of trustees.

Enactment of the school’s mission statement, ‘UAWA - Unrelenting Achievement With Attitude’, guides school operation. The vision is for learners to be active and responsible citizens. Values of creativity, innovation, responsibility and kindness underpin school practices.

School strategic goals for improved student outcomes include:

  • transforming the learning environment with a focus on modern learning pedagogy and practice

  • strengthening learning relationships with students, parents, whānau, community and iwi

  • nurturing robust cultural identities through ‘Te Ahikaa, Dual heritage - Shared future - Hautitanga/Ngati Poroutanga’

  • creating an innovative learning environment that encourages the love of speaking ‘Te Reo ake o Hauiti, o Ngati Porou’.

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

  • participation in, and contribution to, Te Aitanga a Hauiti and the Uawa community

  • behaviour

  • health and wellbeing

  • those At Risk of Not Achieving (ARONA)

  • National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA)

  • attendance and retention rates

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in Years 1 to 10 including for Rumaki students.

Teachers are regularly involved in a range of professional learning and development aligned to school priorities. This includes external and internal initiatives to promote positive learner outcomes.

The school is a member of the Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako and Te Kāhui Ako o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Porou.

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 achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students in their identity, language and culture.

Ākonga demonstrate a strong understanding of their iwi, tīpuna, whakapapa, whenua and te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. They have engaged in an extensive range of school and iwi projects aligned to the Uawa community vision of ‘Te Ahikā – Our Story, Our Voice, Our Place’. This comprehensive approach to building a strong sense of identity that strongly reflects Hauititanga and Ngati Poroutanga, promotes achievement of the school’s valued outcome for all learners.

Implementation of the E Tipu, E Rea programme in 2019 promoted the engagement of Māori learners to pursue vocational training and educational pathways, leading to meaningful employment for Rangatahi Māori – Rangatira Mō Āpōpō. Most students in the programme achieved the identified indicators of success. The outcome of this programme was a significant increase in student retention, knowledge of, and access to, academic and vocational pathways, and improved Level 2 NCEA results and scholarship achievement.

The valued outcomes for students to develop themselves as good kaitiaki of the Uawa catchment and create a sustainable environment for the future are being realised. Learners have achieved this outcome through successful participation in the Uawanui Sustainability Project, in collaboration with iwi and university partners. The Eco Warriors senior class of ARONA students, exemplifies these outcomes as all students successfully achieved NCEA qualifications.

A sequential te reo Māori programme runs through Years 1 to 10 in both English medium and Rumaki classes. This becomes a subject option in Years 11 to 13. School data indicates increased understanding and use of te reo Māori as learners progress from Years 1 to 10 in English medium classes. Data for 2019 shows increased achievement results in Te Reo Māori NCEA Levels 1 and 3.

The school continues to work towards achieving equity and excellence for all students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Information reported by the school for 2019, indicates a small majority of students in Years 1 to 10 were at or above curriculum level expectations in writing and mathematics. Success in reading for these learners was slightly higher.

Data available for the students in Rumaki shows just over half are achieving successfully in reading, less than half in writing and a few in mathematics. Senior leaders recognise the need to significantly improve levels of achievement in these areas. Reducing disparity for boys in all areas is also a next step.

NCEA enrolment-based data shows a decline in NCEA Level 1 achievement since the previous ERO review. However, there was a significant rise in NCEA Level 2 achievement between 2017 and 2019. NCEA Level 3 data has fluctuated over time. Achievement results in NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance (UE) have been consistently low. In 2018, two students were awarded University Scholarships and seven students were endorsed with vocational pathways. In 2019, three students gained university scholarships and one student was endorsed with a vocational pathway.

Students with additional high and complex needs are achieving positive outcomes in relation to their personal developmental and social goals. These students are well catered for through a range of appropriate interventions. They are effectively supported through positive relationships with whānau, external agencies and providers.

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

The school effectively accelerates learning for some students. Data indicates that some children in Years 1 to 6 at risk of underachievement, experience acceleration through class programmes and interventions in literacy. The school reports that acceleration data for mathematics in 2019 was unreliable and has introduced a system in 2020 to address this.

The school reported significant acceleration in writing for those children who required this, in Years 7 to 10.

Secondary school data shows that 85% of Year 9 students, who entered the school at risk of underachieving, went on to gain NCEA Level 2 or above.

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?

Positive outcomes for learners are nurtured through highly collaborative partnerships between the school, whānau, iwi and hapū. These partnerships enable the implementation of an effective localised, culturally sustaining curriculum. Ākonga benefit from reciprocal relationships and contribute meaningfully to Uawa community and iwi projects.

Students demonstrate a positive sense of citizenship. They are encouraged to confidently participate in all aspects of school life. Learning environments are managed in ways that foster this engagement. A varied range of authentic and meaningful local, regional, national and international learning opportunities contributes to student success and achievement. Programmes make active use of all aspects of the local environment, including the marae, to promote students’ understanding of the connectedness to atua, tīpuna, whenua and moana.

Students are well supported to confidently connect to and stand proud in their cultural identity through active participation in significant events aligned to the community’s Te Ahikaa vision. Ākonga are well supported to attain leadership skills and attributes from the legacies of Te Kani-a-Takirau and Hinematioro through engagement in traditional practices and creating innovative ways of expressing and revisiting their histories through language and the arts.

Trustees, leaders and staff build and sustain relational trust across the community. Positive relationships between staff and students are evident. Student wellbeing is actively promoted and the school works collaboratively with whānau to provide appropriate support. Collaborative community relationships and specialist agencies support the provision of quality pastoral care. The school has successfully collaborated with the community health centre, iwi, whānau and students to provide an engaging and supportive health and wellbeing literacy programme for Māori male youths.

Students with high and complex needs are well supported to participate and engage in learning alongside their peers. A strong culture of inclusion and support promotes equity for all students. A collaborative approach to developing individualised education plans includes whānau, the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and external agencies when required. These plans are responsive and build on students’ current learning interests and needs.

Leaders provide suitable professional learning opportunities to increase teacher capability to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. There is a purposeful emphasis on establishing shared understanding and promotion of student self-management skills for learning.

Trustees generously fund a wide range of sporting, cultural and learning experiences to enable equitable opportunities for students to access the full breadth of the curriculum. They effectively represent and serve the school in their stewardship roles. Relevant training and support from the New Zealand School Trustees Association is building trustee capacity and understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers should refine school targets and align systems, practices and processes to specifically focus on accelerating the progress of learners at-risk of underachievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Building teacher capability and shared understanding of responsive strategies to accelerate the learning of at-risk students are needed. This includes better analysis and use of assessment information to effectively plan for individual student needs in literacy and mathematics.

Developing a shared understanding of evaluation across all levels of the school to better determine the effectiveness of actions and strategies is a next step. This is required to assist trustees, leaders and teachers to better measure the impact and success of teaching programmes, initiatives and resourcing on accelerating achievement and identify next steps for development.

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 Tolaga Bay Area School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

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:

  • partnerships with whānau, local marae, hapū, iwi, hapori whānui and ao whānui that enrich the school’s curriculum provision

  • learning opportunities in the school and wider community that are responsive to the needs of each student

  • learning environments that promote students’ culture, language and identity, learning and wellbeing.

Next steps

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

  • refining school targets to specifically focus on accelerating the progress of learners at risk of underachievement
  • building shared understanding of responsive strategies to accelerate learning for those students who need this
  • the understanding and use of internal evaluation to effectively inform ongoing strategic direction and decision making.

In order to improve practice, the board of trustees must ensure the newly developed policies and procedures are well understood and implemented for:

  • the physical restraint of students

  • the surrender and retention of property and searches of students.

Darcy Te Hau

Acting Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

18 June 2020

About the school

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

Tolaga Bay Area School - 02/12/2016


Tolaga Bay Area School provides an inclusive, supportive environment for learning. Community/school collaboration that includes teachers, whānau, students and iwi enrich opportunities for students to become actively involved lifelong learners. The localised curriculum provides authentic learning experiences and this nurtures and affirms students’ cultural identity as Hauiti, Uawa, and Ngāti Porou citizens.

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

1 Context

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

Tolaga Bay Area School is located in a coastal town approximately 55 km north of Gisborne. It provides education for students in Years 1 to 13 from the township and surrounding rural areas. The school roll has been stable since the last ERO review in 2013. The current roll is 259 students, of whom ninety five percent identify as Māori and are of Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Uawa and Ngāti Porou descent.

The school is organised into English medium classes in Years 1 to 13 and rumaki education in Years 1 to 8. Across the school there is strong emphasis placed on promoting te reo me nga tikanga o Te Aitanga a Hauiti and being an active part of the Uawa/Tolaga Bay community. This is to ensure students develop a strong sense of belonging, pride in their cultural identity, and are proud of the dual heritage and shared future in Aotearoa.

The school is guided by the Uawa/Tolaga Bay community vision and principles of ‘He manawa whenua, he oranga tangata – healthy environment, healthy people’. This vision is well embedded in the school and underpins the schools vision, values and direction for student learning. The well understood school motto is UAWA - ‘Unrelenting Achievement with Attitude’.

Since the 2013 ERO review, leaders and teachers have strengthened the focus on responding to students At Risk of Not Achieving (ARONA). A range of systems and approaches have been developed to support this focus. This includes early diagnosis of each students learning needs, targeted classroom planning for ARONA students, staff discussions, and professional learning and development focused on building teacher capability.

The school is currently involved with the Ngāti Porou East Coast Schools Community of Learning (CoL). The CoL is in the establishment phase.

The school has had a positive reporting history with the Education Review Office.

2 Learning

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

The school is effectively using assessment information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement and progress. In particular there are good examples of teachers using data to group students according to their identified learning needs and to track and monitor those who are at risk of not achieving. There are carefully planned interventions to support students who are below their expected level of achievement. The school can show that students involved in programmes such as Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL) make accelerated progress.

The special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) and the literacy leader play a pivotal role in coordinating, monitoring and reporting on students’ progress and achievement. They effectively collate and analyse this information to identify achievement patterns and trends for students at risk. This information is regularly reported to trustees, senior leaders and curriculum teams. Trustees use school-wide achievement data well to inform strategic and annual planning, and to make resourcing decisions that support student learning.

There is a clear expectation from leaders that teacher’s will use assessment information effectively to reflect on their practice, and plan responsive and personalised approaches to accelerate individual children’s learning. Achievement information is also used by leaders to regularly monitor and evaluate the consistency of teaching practice. This practice is used to inform professional development needs for individual teachers.

Building teacher capability in years 7 to 10 is a strong focus for senior leaders. Leaders have also identified that the next step for teachers is to develop a shared understanding of learner agency and develop strategies for students to take more ownership of learning.

Student assessment data is gathered from an appropriate range of nationally referenced and school- developed assessment tools. Primary and middle school team leaders and teachers use this information well to monitor the progress and achievement of students in relation to National Standards. A next step for leaders is to formalise external moderation processes to further strengthen teachers’ confidence in making overall teacher judgements (OTJ’s) in relation to National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori.

Charter targets are clearly focused on children at risk of not achieving. In addition, each curriculum area has established annual achievement targets and an annual report is presented to the board of trustees. The next step is for learning area leaders is to develop consistency in identifying deliberate and specific actions to meet these targets, and to regularly monitor and report the progress of target students to school leaders. This should strengthen leaders and teachers ability to effectively respond to the learning and progress of at risk learners.

School data in 2015 indicates that just over 60% of students in Years 1 to 8 achieved the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics with boys achieving at comparable rates to girls. Student achievement for 2015 from the rumaki classes shows that the majority of students achieved above Ngā Whanaketanga in pāngarau, tuhituhi, pānui and kōrero.

The school has made a positive start in aligning assessment tasks to curriculum levels in Years 9 and 10. Data for these students shows that a high proportion are progressing and achieving well in relation to curriculum levels. However, leaders acknowledge the need to significantly improve the progress and achievement of a large proportion of students in Years 7 to 10, and in pāngarau in the immersion classes.

The school demonstrates a strong commitment to raising levels of student achievement. A strong achievement focus is to increase the proportion of students including transient and high needs students who achieve success in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and to complete NCEA Level 2 before they leave school. School data shows particular success in 2014 where 85% of school leavers achieved NCEA Level 2, half gained Level 3 and a third gained University Entrance. In 2015, 66% of school leavers gained NCEA Level 2. Transient and students with high learning needs are well supported to achieve at their appropriate level and contributed to the 91% of school leavers achieving (NCEA) Level 1.

A notable feature of the school is that 100% of boys are achieving NCEA Levels 1 and 2, and this was a consistent trend in 2014 and 2015.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ wellbeing and engagement.

The Uawanui project is a significant feature of the curriculum involving the school, community and iwi working collaboratively to achieve the vison of ‘he manawa whenua, he oranga tangata’. This project focuses on the environmental, social, cultural, historical and economic sustainability. It has provided the impetus and focus for the localised school curriculum. Through this project, students are exposed to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They have hands on experiences in fishing, forestry, farming, archaeology, environmental science, and marine biology. Students are able to research, inquire and engage in authentic, practical experiences. The well-designed school curriculum, developed in partnership with the iwi and community, provides meaningful pathways for students to pursue their aspirations, strengths and interests.

An innovative approach to curriculum design has been developed based on the concept of ‘wānanga’ This approach uses kapa haka, noho marae and Māori traditional ways of learning where students learn for short intensive blocks of time. This approach has shown significant improvement in the motivation and engagement of at risk learners. The school has adapted this model and is trialling it with children in the junior school.

The curriculum effectively extends and supports gifted and talented students with many students going on to receive local and national success and recognition. Senior students’ learning is enriched through overseas visits. Students have a strong sense of self in relation to cultural, local, national and global contexts.

Students participate and learn in a caring and supportive learning environment. The school works effectively with support services and outside agencies to provide wrap-around support for students with high needs. Iwi and school mentors work alongside students to provide emotional and social support with the intention of increasing their engagement and achievement. These students are fully integrated into classroom programmes. A responsive and inclusive curriculum effectively supports students with high learning, social and emotional needs.

The experienced and long standing principal continues to effectively lead the school and its community. She continues to promote a vision for teaching and learning that is based on authentic learning in a local context, and current research for education in the 21st century. The principal is well supported by a cohesive senior leadership team that works collaboratively to provide school-wide professional leadership for staff. A next step for senior leaders is to ensure teachers gather consistent and sufficient evidence in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTCs). This should include ensuring that there is more explicit links between the PTCs, classroom observations and Teaching as Inquiry.

The experienced chairperson and trustees bring a range of expertise and skills to their stewardship roles. Parents, whānau, iwi and community groups play an active part in the life of the school and contribute to a range of learning opportunities, which enhance the school’s curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve performance because:

  • internal evaluation is focused on improving outcomes for students and supports ongoing improvement
  • trustees actively represent and serve the school and community
  • informed leadership effectively builds relational trust and collaboration at all levels of the school and wider community
  • the school is highly connected to the community and iwi and has established strong productive partnerships for learning
  • students are confident in their language, culture and identity as Uawa citizens and Te Aitanga a Hauiti
  • trustees and leaders proactively develop networks that enable the school to extend and enrich the curriculum and increase the learning opportunities and pathways for students
  • leaders are strongly focused on raising teacher capability and levels of performance and accountability.

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.


Tolaga Bay Area School provides an inclusive, supportive environment for learning. Community/school collaboration that includes teachers, whānau, students and iwi enrich opportunities for students to become actively involved lifelong learners. The localised curriculum provides authentic learning experiences and this nurtures and affirms students’ cultural identity as Hauiti, Uawa, and Ngāti Porou citizens.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

2 December 2016

About the School


Tolaga Bay

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition







Special Features

Māori immersion classes (Year 1 to 8)

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

2 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2013

June 2010

June 2006