Pongaroa School

Pongaroa School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within 12 months of the Education Review Office and Pongaroa School working in Te Ara Huarau, an improvement evaluation approach used in most English Medium State and State Integrated Schools. For more information about Te Ara Huarau see ERO’s website. www.ero.govt.nz


Pongaroa School is situated in the Tararua District, near the eastern coast and educates learners in Years 1 to 8. The adjacent beaches and the local farming area provides additional contexts for learning.

Pongaroa School’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are to experience a rich and responsive curriculum that:

  • empowers students through an integrated approach while focused on reading, writing and mathematics 
  • promotes and supports hauora (well-being) in a positive learning environment
  • Is rich in cultural experiences that further develop te reo me ono tikanga Māori
  • develops a sense of kaitiakitanga - caring for the local environment and developing a sense of guardianship for this.

You can obtain a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan from the school office. School families can log on to Pongaroa School’s website to obtain a copy.

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate how effectively revised and new strategies are in strengthening the teaching of literacy. This should raise student achievement in reading and writing and enable students to better access the curriculum.

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is a need to: 

  • improve student outcomes in reading and writing
  • raise achievement across the school
  • enhance the ability of all students to access and succeed across the wider curriculum.

The school expects to see increased engagement and achievement in reading and writing. It also expects improved reading capability to allow students to better access all areas of the local curriculum. 


The school can draw from the following strengths to support its goal to improve student outcomes in reading:

  • a wide range of curriculum opportunities that offer students a variety of avenues to engage in learning and to succeed.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise: 

  • improving teacher practice in the teaching of reading and writing to better enable students to engage in the school’s local curriculum
  • revise and refine the school’s assessment practices to increase its accuracy and to better identify the next steps for student learning. This should also support a rise in student engagement and result in improved opportunities for learning.

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

7 March 2024 

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.  educationcounts.govt.nz/home


Pongaroa School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2022 to 2025

As of November 2022, the Pongaroa School Board has attested to the following regulatory and legislative requirements:

Board Administration




Management of Health, Safety and Welfare


Personnel Management






Further Information

For further information please contact Pongaroa 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

7 March 2024 

About the School 

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement. educationcounts.govt.nz/home

Pongaroa School - 06/11/2018

School Context

Pongaroa School, catering for children in Years 1 to 8, is a rural school located sixty kilometres from Dannevirke, in the Tararua district. Of the 58 learners enrolled, 23 identify as Māori.

The school mission statement of ‘The Best I Can Be - Kei te kaharawa ahau’ is supported by the school’s vision to prepare confident learners for an every-changing world.

The school’s strategic aims are focused on strengthening and improving learning, teaching practices, community engagement and connecting to the local environment.

The school has established annual learning targets for 2018, focusing on increasing the number of students, particularly Māori and boys, achieving at their expected level in literacy and mathematics.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress in targeted programmes
  • progress and achievement for all learners at risk, and those who are identified as gifted and talented.

Since the December 2015 ERO report, there have been a significant number of changes to leadership and staff. A new principal was appointed in 2018. The board is made up of both long-standing and recently elected trustees.

The school is a member of the Tararua Kāhui Ako.

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 yet to achieve equity and excellence for all its students.

Achievement data from the end of 2017 shows that most students were achieving well in writing. The large majority of students achieved at expected curriculum levels in reading and mathematics.

There is however, significant disparity for Māori, who achieved below their peers in mathematics and literacy. The achievement of boys was below that of girls in literacy. This is well known by trustees, leaders and teachers and strategies are in place to address this.

Learners with additional needs are appropriately identified, their needs recognised and programmes of support are put in place. External expertise supports this provision.

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

2018 school data shows a significant number of students, including Māori, have made better than expected progress in reading and mathematics, as a result of targeted teaching and classroom programmes.

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?

During 2018, the new leadership team is working strategically and collaboratively to develop schoolwide practices and processes to promote equity and excellence for all students. A well-considered approach to developing shared understanding of the school’s vision for successful learners is evident. This contributes to ongoing curriculum design. There is a measured approach to establishing clear expectations for consistent practice, and improved quality of teaching.

A suitable range of systems, processes and strategies have been introduced to identify, track and monitor individual students at risk of not achieving at expected curriculum levels. Teachers have revised assessment practices and continue to explore ways to show rates of progress and acceleration. Opportunities are used to purposefully discuss effective teaching and share strategies for promoting learning.

The current leadership team is improvement-focused. They provide a range of purposeful professional learning opportunities to increase teacher capability and support learner success. The appraisal system has been strengthened to align with the school’s goals and targets for improved student outcomes. There is an ongoing focus on further building the evaluative capacity of staff to understand the impact of their teaching programmes on achievement through a process of inquiry. Support staff are highly valued and supported to build their capability to positively contribute to learner outcomes.

School staff establish positive relationships with students and families. Parents, whānau and the community are welcomed and involved in a range of school activities. Recent school initiatives to strengthen parents’ knowledge of their children’s learning are supporting the development of learning partnerships.

The board actively represents and serves the school and community in its stewardship role. Trustees bring a range of skills to the board. An increased focus on accelerating student achievement for those children who require this is evident. Trustees demonstrate a strong commitment to the ongoing promotion of the school and the long-term success of learners.

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

In response to a period of significant staffing and leadership changes, leaders, trustees and staff are working towards establishing effective systems and processes for sustainable, improvement-focused school operation.

Trustees and leaders have plans to consult the community to inform the school’s strategic direction. Robust analysis of responses should support the clear identification of valued outcomes for all groups of students to better meet their needs.

Deeper analysis of achievement data and improved reporting of progress and acceleration for all groups of students at risk of not achieving, is a next step. This should better support the appropriate provision of a responsive curriculum for all learners.

School leaders have identified the importance of an ongoing focus on growing capability and capacity to support a culturally responsive curriculum for Māori learners. A key next step is to develop a shared vision of success for Māori, informed by whānau and iwi aspirations.

As a new leader to the school, the principal is actively gathering a range of information to inform decisions for improvement. Further developing a shared understanding and use of internal evaluation is an ongoing focus. This should better inform trustees, leaders and teachers’ knowledge of what has the most significant impact on raising achievement, and support continued 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 Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • the appropriate vision of trustees and leaders that focuses on raising levels of achievement and school performance
  • a leadership team that is focused on building consistent teaching and learning practices to promote positive outcomes for students
  • a culture of collaboration among trustees and staff that supports a collective response to the needs of all learners.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening inquiry and analysis of achievement information, by trustees, leaders and teachers, to systematically address in-school disparities
  • knowing the valued outcomes for Māori learners, as determined by parents and whānau, to better provide a culturally responsive curriculum
  • building schoolwide inquiry and internal evaluation to better determine the effectiveness of programmes and actions on student outcomes.
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard
Director Review and Improvement Services
Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

6 November 2018

About the school

Ministry of Education profile number2962
School typeFull Primary (Year 1 to 8)
School roll58
Gender compositionBoys 34, Girls 24
Ethnic compositionMāori 23 
Pākehā 34 
Other ethnic groups 1
Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)Yes
Provision of Māori medium educationNo
Review team on siteSeptember 2018
Date of this report6 November 2018
Most recent ERO report(s)Education Review December 2015 
Education Review February 2013 
Education Review February 2010