Wairau Valley School (Blenheim)

Wairau Valley School (Blenheim)

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within 18 months of the Education Review Office and Wairau Valley School (Blenheim) 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


Wairau Valley School is a rural full primary school located 40 km from Blenheim on State Highway 63. The school promotes a caring family orientated environment underpinned by the values of Respect, Responsibility, Resilience and a Love of learning. 

Wairau Valley School (Blenheim)’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are: 

  • to support every child to achieve success in their learning 
  • to inform and engage whānau so they can actively engage in and participate in their children’s learning
  • to nurture and promote wellbeing within the school community.

You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on Wairau Valley School (Blenheim)’s website.

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate the impact of strengthening teacher capability in culturally responsive teaching practices to improve student agency.  The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:

  • student voice indicates that learners need more purposeful and directed feedback from teachers 
  • diversity is valued at the school and culturally responsive teaching practices will strengthen outcomes for learners
  • teachers are being supported though Poutama Pounamu to engage in a deeper understanding of their obligations around Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The school expects to see:

  • learners having confidence in their own abilities as culturally located learners 
  • consistent formative and culturally responsive assessment practices in all learning areas across years 1 to 8
  • improved student agency to further support achievement across the curriculum
  • improved progress for learners in literacy and mathematics and across the broader curriculum.


The school can draw from the following strengths to support its goal to evaluate how strengthening teacher capability will enable students to have ownership of their learning pathways and improve student agency:

  • supportive parent community and board
  • learners who demonstrate high levels of care and support for each other
  • teachers that have a strengths-based approach towards all learners and understand that their efforts make a positive difference to learning outcomes 
  • an environment that provides a range of teaching and learning opportunities.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise: 

  • consistent teaching and learning practices across the school so that all learners are equipped with foundational skills to make progress in their learning 
  • challenging learners to grow their own capabilities through asking, thinking and exploring to improve ownership of their learning 
  • continuing to support teachers to upskill their knowledge of Te reo Māori and Tikanga Māori into the everyday life of the school so that Te ao Māori is evident across school structures and processes
  • for Wairau Valley school whānau and community to further engage with the school to improve outcomes for learners. 

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

Wairau Valley School (Blenheim)

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2023 to 2026

As of October 2023, the Wairau Valley School (Blenheim) Board of Trustees 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 Wairau Valley School (Blenheim) Board of Trustees.

The next Board of Trustees 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

Wairau Valley School (Blenheim) - 09/05/2018

School Context

Wairau Valley School is a small, rural school providing education for 37 children in Years 1 – 8. The roll, which has increased over the past three years, includes a growing number of children who move into and out of the school within a year.

The vision of the school is for children to manage successfully in a complex world. The school’s valued outcomes focus on excellence, innovation, active participation in the community and ecological sustainability. The aims are to improve rates of progress for children in writing and reading and support teachers to develop culturally inclusive practices.

Since the last ERO review the school has moved from working with a commissioner to having a board comprising two Ministry of Education appointees and elected parent representatives. The school has also had additional assistance with student achievement.

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

  • children’s achievement in reading, writing and mathematics 
  •  outcomes for children with additional learning needs.

The school is a member of the Piritahi Kāhui Ako/Community of Learning (CoL) and accesses targeted professional development through this involvement.

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 not yet achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its children.

The highest schoolwide achievement is in reading, especially for girls and Māori children. Almost all girls achieve well in writing and reading and most children are achieving well in mathematics. There is very low achievement for boys in writing. The school data does not clearly show children’s progress and achievement over time. The school effectively monitors children’s wellbeing.

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

It is unclear how well the school is accelerating the learning for all children who need to make additional progress. The school has not yet established reporting systems to clearly record the rates of progress of all children needing to make accelerated progress and to track this over time.

Identified targeted children are achieving significant acceleration in writing. Children with additional needs are very well supported to make progress.

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 school’s board and the staff have a strong child-centred focus and sense of purpose, which is aligned with the charter and values. They actively seek to promote home-school partnerships and engage parents in achieving positive outcomes for their children. Children and their families are known well and staff communicate regularly with families.

Leaders and teachers understand the importance of the reciprocal relationship between the school and the wider community to achieve positive outcomes for children. They have effectively built sound community connections and respectful relationships to enhance children’s wellbeing and increase learning opportunities. The school participates in local events and accesses a diverse range of community resources to support the delivery of a localised curriculum that builds on children’s interests.

There is an open, inclusive and welcoming school culture based on clear expectations and understandings. Children are well supported to develop key competencies such as self-management and are able to work alone or collaboratively. Comprehensive pastoral care is responsive to children’s needs and includes accessing a range of specialist support. Individual learning needs are identified and personal interests are utilised to increase engagement in learning. Teachers actively trial different strategies to improve progress and achievement. The strengths of all staff are recognised and fostered in order to build teaching and learning capacity.

The board of trustees ensures that the school is well resourced to meet children’s diverse needs, both in the classroom and in the outdoor environment. Children’s learning opportunities are enhanced by the provision of additional staffing. This allows targeted teaching and learning. The employment of a specialist teacher of te reo and tikanga Māori, has promoted the development of greater bicultural understandings.

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 need to develop a deeper understanding of, and strong systems to support, ongoing internal evaluation across school operations. This will enable them to understand the effectiveness of what they are doing and to use this knowledge for improvement-focused decision making.

The school gathers a considerable amount of data. Leaders have identified that a next step is to develop systems to manage, understand and use this in order to improve outcomes for students, especially with regard to progress and achievement. Teaching as inquiry should be further embedded in teaching practice.

The school needs to complete documentation of its localised curriculum to fully reflect school and community aspirations for learning. The curriculum should also include strategies that enable students to be more involved in, and take ownership of their learning, and enable greater personalisation of programmes for all students.

The board of trustees must ensure that there is a planned programme of ongoing training for board members, including induction processes for new trustees.

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:

  • a cohesive staff with a shared vision that focusses on positive outcomes for children
  • effective, reciprocal relationships with the community which enhance children’s learning opportunities
  • a positive learning culture where the learning and pastoral needs of children and their families are understood, and their individual strengths, interests and needs incorporated into programmes. 

Next steps

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

  • ensuring planning and decision-making at Board, school and learner levels is informed by strong internal evaluation and is outcomes-focused
  • managing learning information to more clearly report rates of progress 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

9 May 2018

About the school 

Ministry of Education profile number3062
School typeFull primary
School roll37
Gender composition

Female  17

Male      20

Ethnic composition

Pākehā   32

Māori  5

Review team on siteMarch 2018
Date of this report9 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)    


Education Review       February 2015

Education Review       June 2013

Education Review       December 2009