Portobello School

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

30 Harington Point Road, Portobello, Dunedin

View on map

Portobello School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within six months of the Education Review Office and ​Portobello 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 


Located on the Otago peninsula, Portobello School is a semi-rural school for learners from Years 1 to 8. The school’s Kai Tahu cultural narrative recognises the detailed historical relationship between the area, its mana whenua and the kura.  

​Portobello School​’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are to: 

  • maintain and further strengthen schoolwide teaching of writing in order to raise achievement and accelerate progress in writing 
  • develop and implement a schoolwide approach to building learner agency.  

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

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate the impact of a schoolwide approach to building learner agency to improve progress and achievement in writing.  

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is that, over time:  

  • analysis of writing data has indicated that a focus area for the school is to ensure that all learners are making progress in writing curriculum levels 
  • teacher observations have identified that greater engagement and motivation can be achieved through children developing their learning-to-learn capabilities.  

The school expects to see: 

  • growing awareness of next learning steps so that children are empowered to achieve them and make choices in their writing 
  • the development of learner-selected goals that show improvements in writing 
  • learner agency developments in writing transferred into other curriculum areas. 


The school can draw from the following strengths to support its goal to evaluate the impact of a schoolwide approach to building learner agency to improve progress and achievement in writing: 

  • staff know all children across the school and contribute to progressing each individual’s learning 
  • strong community interest and involvement in the school 
  • close connections with local runaka enrich the local curriculum through a long-term bicultural partnership. 

Where to next? 

Moving forward, the school will prioritise: 

  • Developing success indicators to show growth in learner agency and to clarify consistent expectations. 
  • Using a range of achievement information to evaluate improvements over time in fluency and confidence in writing as learners progress through the curriculum.  

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 ​  

​18 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 

Portobello School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report ​2023​ to ​2026​

As of ​June 2023​, the ​Portobello 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 ​Portobello School​, 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 ​  

​18 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 

Portobello School - 19/02/2020

School Context

Portobello School is located in the rural, coastal community of Portobello. It has very close, historical connections to the Otākou Marae. It provides education from Years 1 to 8 for 53 students, 18 of whom identify as Māori. Students learn in four multilevel classes. The board of trustees funds an extra teacher to keep class sizes low in the junior school.

The school’s vision is ‘learning for living in our unique environment’. The values are for students to be respectful, caring, responsible and achieving success. Each term a relevant whakataukī is chosen to underpin the value being focused on.

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

  • achievement across the New Zealand Curriculum, particularly in literacy and mathematics, and
  • including te reo Māori
  • progress of students who need extra support to succeed
  • attendance and engagement, and the possible impact of these on achievement.

Since the 2016 ERO review, a new principal has led the school. All other staffing has been stable. Nearly all trustees are new.

The following programmes are funded by the Ministry of Education: Accelerated Learning in Mathematics; Mathematics Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for teachers; Positive Behaviour for Learning; and Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori for staff.

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 effectively working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students.

Over the last three years most students have achieved very well against curriculum expectations in reading and mathematics. Achievement in writing has consistently been a little lower, with girls performing better than boys. In mathematics boys have achieved more highly than girls. Nearly all Māori students achieve very well in reading and mathematics, however their achievement in writing is not as strong.

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

The school has provided effective support for students who need to make accelerated progress, in reading and writing and particularly for Māori students. Accelerating the progress of students who need this in mathematics has been less successful for Pākehā students but effective for Māori students.

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 and teachers experience positive and caring relationships at all levels. The school is welcoming and inclusive, and students enjoy a supportive learning environment. Older students play with and support the learning of younger students (tuakana-teina). Students ERO spoke with said they feel safe, listened to and valued by the adults. They voiced their appreciation of the rich environment, supportive staff and many opportunities they are given to broaden their learning.

Students benefit from a very rich localised curriculum. Teachers make good use of the local environment and expertise to enhance students’ learning. Students learn to give back to their local community through a range of services and support. The close partnership the school has with the local marae provides a foundation for te ao Māori to be integrated across the curriculum and in all learning areas. Māori students are encouraged to succeed as Māori and to stand proud in their identity.

The school is an Enviroschool with silver status. The focus on students being kaitiaki (protectors of this unique environment), including the native bush reserve, provides students with authentic contexts for learning and is aligned to the vision of the school.

Teachers take collective responsibility for the success of all students. They know all children and their families well. They work collaboratively with the principal and board to determine the school focus areas, and decide on achievement targets and how to respond to identified needs. Teachers attend PLD together so that a shared understanding and approach to practice is developed.

Teachers are well supported to grow their professional capability, including competence in te reo Māori. Curriculum guidelines are detailed and provide clear expectations for good quality teaching. Teachers are involved in sustained PLD. They carry out purposeful enquiries into the effectiveness of their practice and have regular professional conversations together. Over time, all curriculum areas are reviewed to inform ongoing improvement in programmes and practices.

The leadership ensures an orderly environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. The principal has built close links with local early childhood services to support smooth transitions into the school.

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

Currently the strategic plan contains day-to-day management information. The board, principal and teachers need to ensure the strategic goals focus on the current priorities and future direction of the school.

There is potential for students to know more about their learning and to develop learning-to-learn capabilities. Teachers need to further develop and consistently implement strategies to promote this.

The principal and teachers need to broaden the scope of internal evaluation to include key aspects of teaching and learning to improve outcomes for students. This could include: how well supported students are to take responsibility for their own learning; and how well supported they are to use te reo Māori.

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 Portobello 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:

  • the rich curriculum that supports the school’s vision for students to learn to live in the unique environment
  • positive, caring relationships at all levels
  • the strong professional leadership.

Next steps

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

  • focusing the strategic goals on the priorities of most importance to the current and future direction of the school
  • teachers providing students with relevant tools to better know and make decisions about their learning
  • extending the scope of internal evaluation and ensuring the process is evaluative.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services 

Southern Region

19 February 2020

About the school


Portobello, Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full primary (Years 1-8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 29

Girls 24

Ethnic composition

Māori 18

NZ European/Pākehā 28

Other groups 7

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2019

Date of this report

19 February 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2016

Education Review May 2012

Education Review June 2009