Waitaha School

Education institution number:
School type:
Special School
School gender:
School for pupils with intellectual impairments
Total roll:

12 Lemonwood Drive, Rolleston

View on map

Waitaha School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report  


This Profile Report was written within 6 months of ERO and Waitaha 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 

This report is part of a nationally coordinated evaluation of 27-day specialist schools during the second half of 2023. This included the development of day specialist school evaluation indicators by ERO with significant input from principals, staff and the Special Education Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SEPAnz). 


Waitaha School is a day specialist school that caters for students aged between 5 to 21 years that are eligible for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding. The base school is in Rolleston, Christchurch with additional satellite classrooms at 3 local schools and a separate community tertiary hub.  

A specialist outreach teacher service team also supports ORS funded students enrolled at schools in the Selwyn District and other South Island locations.  

The school continues to navigate and manage roll growth pressures along with the employment and property demands associated with this. 

The school’s vision is for all to grow, thrive and succeed in learning and in life. The school’s culture, programmes and relationships are underpinned by its values of aroha, mana and mahi tahi

Waitaha School’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners focus on developing: 

  • curriculum 
  • community 
  • environment. 

You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on Waitaha School’s website. 

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate leadership of reciprocal whānau and community engagement, fostering educationally effective partnerships that support learners to grow, thrive and succeed.  

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:  

  • leaders recognise, through research and experience, that effective home-school relationships can strengthen a holistic, wraparound support for learners’ wellbeing and success 
  • the school’s current strategic plan prioritises reviewing and refining existing community engagement approaches to further enrich educationally powerful connections with whānau and families 
  • partnership with whānau Māori will be purposefully fostered, aligned with the board, leaders and staff commitment to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi 
  • leaders also want to investigate the effectiveness of the school’s partnership and supports for families from diverse cultures. 

The school expects to see that: 

  • all learners experience the school’s vision, to grow, thrive and succeed in their learning so that when they transition out of the school as young adults, they are well placed to achieve happiness, employability and success in life 
  • whānau and families will experience a strengthened sense of belonging to the school, embrace a targeted range of opportunities to engage in reciprocal learning and knowledge sharing including engaging in decision making with leaders about future curriculum and school developments 
  • leaders and teaching teams will actively foster educationally powerful connections and relationships that benefit learner success and wellbeing through carefully considered adaptation and innovation of the curriculum and teaching practices 
  • opportunities for staff to influence and enable specialist supports for learners enrolled in other school settings by enhancing teachers understanding of diverse learners, challenging perceptions and nurturing inclusive community practices. 


The school can draw from the following strengths to support the school in its goal to evaluate leadership of reciprocal whānau and community engagement, fostering educationally effective partnerships that support learners to grow, thrive and succeed: 

  • School systems that enable students to progress and achieve in relation their individual learning goals, including communication and self-management. 
  • Collaborative and supportive relationships foster whanaungatanga, and underpin a strong culture of inclusion, demonstrated by: 
  • building on each learner’s preferences, prior experiences, and aspirations and incorporating whānau views in Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and Good Life Plans (GLPs) 
  • valuing diverse cultures and languages, and supporting learners to recognise and celebrate their identity 
  • supportive school board funding for communication devices and virtual reality hardware that enables tailored approaches that foster student choice and agency  
  • preparing seamless, well-considered transition plans and processes for students and their family.  

School leaders model and influence ongoing school improvements by: 

  • a distributive leadership approach that expects all staff to improve and promote staff collaboration, innovation and adaptive practice  
  • effective communication and of practice expectations that promote regulated and engaged student behaviours 
  • supporting the specialist knowledge of the therapy team to enact a collaborative and creative transdisciplinary approach for students 
  • an innovative and inclusive specialist teacher outreach service that provides targeted professional support for students and teachers in local schools  
  • taking a lead role in building the wider local community understandings of inclusive practices, including advocating for students and their families with external agencies and organisations. 

Where to next? 

Moving forward, the school will prioritise: 

  • building on existing positive connections with whānau and families, to further develop strategic and curriculum conversations, and partnership in decision making to support ongoing improvement for students 
  • continuing to explore and develop a whānau Māori hui as a reference group for the board and leaders’ decision making, and other meeting opportunities that embrace the school’s diverse communities. 

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 

​20 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 

This school has a base school site, three satellites located within host schools, a transition centre and an Outreach Service that supports learners with high and complex needs who are enrolled in mainstream schools. 

Waitaha School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report ​2024​ to ​2027​

As of ​March 2024​, the ​Waitaha 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 ​Waitaha 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​ 

​20 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 

Waitaha School - 23/01/2019

School Context

Waitaha School is a special school in Christchurch. It has a roll of 81 students. The school caters for students from the ages of 5 years to 21 years. Waitaha base school moved to a new site in Rolleston at the beginning of 2018. The base school is a new purpose built school which is co-located with Lemonwood Grove primary school. Waitaha base school caters for up to 50 students on site, and currently supports two satellite classes. Each satellite class caters for up to 16 students. Current satellite classes provide for secondary education at Rolleston College and primary education at Rolleston West School. A third primary satellite will start at Knights Stream School at the beginning of 2019.

Waitaha School’s vision ‘Developing Excellence in Special Education’ underpins the school’s strategic priorities. These priorities are:

  • to focus on continuous improvement in teaching and learning

  • to continue developing an engaged, innovative and inclusive community

  • to realise the potential of the newly built learning environments.

The board and staff provide a safe, inclusive and positive environment where students benefit from the Waitaha School values of hiranga (excellence), ngā kau/tapa taha (integrity), rereketanga (diversity), and manaaki/awhi (respect). The school supports students to become more self-managing and independent and to participate in their own learning. The school has a strong focus on enabling students to be active participants in the school and in the wider community.

The school is well supported by its community and is an active participant in the Rolleston Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL).

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

  • progress and achievement in relation to individual student’s goals

  • progress and achievement in relation to communication and literacy

  • outcomes related to student engagement, wellbeing and safety

  • transitions into, within and out of the school.

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?

All students are effectively supported to achieve personal equity. Almost all students are achieving the school’s valued outcomes.

School information for 2017 shows that almost all student groups met or exceeded targets in communication. All students met the school’s expectations in literacy.

School information from Individual Learning Plans (ILPs), in relation to valued learning and wellbeing outcomes, shows that almost all students make expected progress over time.

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

The school is effectively accelerating learning for almost all students. School information from 2017 to 2018 shows that higher numbers of students show an increased path of accelerated progress in relation to their individual goals.

For those students whose learning, progress and achievement require extra support, the school provides:

  • extensive collaborative planning which includes parents/whānau and specialist /therapist services input

  • increased resourcing and specifically designed environments

  • flexible and fluid transitions within the base and satellite schools.

This support enables almost all students to engage meaningfully in their personalised learning in order to make accelerated 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?

Students benefit from teaching, learning environments and practices that are highly responsive to their needs and interests. Planning is student centred with well-informed goals and teaching progressions that ensure students experience success. The school’s physical environments and practices allow the daily needs of students to be met. Transitions between rooms in the base school and/or satellites are carefully monitored and tailored to provide the most appropriate learning place for individual students. Students have frequent and regular support from school staff and on-site therapists.

The school’s ongoing focus on improvement is well guided by its pedagogical leadership. School leaders effectively use internal evaluation processes to make improvements. This process is firmly based on using learning information to identify areas that need to be further developed to improve outcomes for students. School leaders have high expectations of their teachers and that all students will have success.

Teachers are involved in useful professional learning and development that is building effective teaching practices across all teaching staff. A consistent teaching approach has been established to maximise students’ opportunities to learn. The robust appraisal process is developing teachers’ ability to reflect on the impact they have had on students’ outcomes and where their practice could improve. Overall the teaching and learning throughout the school has improved.

School leaders and teachers work closely with students’ whānau and caregivers. Parents/caregivers have input into the decisions being made about their children’s education. They are well informed about their children’s progress and achievement, and what the next learning steps are.

The school is using the base school and its satellite classes well. Students are carefully supported to participate in wider learning contexts appropriate to their interests and social and learning goals.

The board of trustees is very committed to supporting all students to experience an excellent education. Trustees:

  • are guided by a useful strategic plan

  • know about the progress and achievement of the students

  • make resourcing available that supports the systems in place to manage growing numbers of students and staff on multiple sites

  • resource relevant professional learning for teaching and support staff.

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

The school’s next steps are to ensure recently developed systems and practices are consistently embedded across all school sites to a high standard. This should include:

  • documenting clear expectations and guidelines for teaching

  • deeper scrutiny and analysis of a wider range of data to know about the impact of practices and systems.

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 highly responsive specialised curriculum

  • a focus on continuous improvement in teaching and learning

  • the focus on students’ wellbeing, inclusion and engagement in learning

  • its positive, inclusive and collaborative culture

  • the positive relationships that exist between the school and whānau and community.

Next steps

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

  • deeper scrutiny and analysis of a wider range of data to know about the impact of practices and systems

  • consolidating and embedding new systems , processes and practices to support effective teaching.

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 Southern

Southern Region

23 January 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Specialist School

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 30%

Boys: 70%

Ethnic composition

Māori 12

Pākehā 57

Pacific 5

Other ethnicities 10

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

23 January 2019

Most recent ERO reports

February 2014

September 2010

August 2007