Waiwera South School

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School Context

Waiwera South School is a Years 1 to 8 school in rural South Otago. It has a roll of 39 children. A small number of children are learning English as a second language.

Since the last ERO review, a new principal led the school for two years. Following this, an acting principal was appointed for the final term of 2017, and a permanent principal began at the start of 2018. During this time there has been a complete change in teaching staff, and little change within the board of trustees.

The school states that its vision is for ‘Learning for Life’ and that Waiwera South School will be a safe, secure and stimulating environment that values individuals. The school’s values are that children will develop and show respect, responsibility and honesty.

The school’s stated goals are:

  • learning for life

  • to have ongoing engagement with its community

  • for children to be connected to their world

  • to maximise the learning opportunities provided by the environment.

Professional development priorities relate to strengthening student agency and building best practice to lift writing achievement.

The school is part of the Big River Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

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

  • achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics

  • learning needs.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Waiwera South School is effective in achieving good outcomes for most children. Over the last three years, close to 80% of students have achieved at or above expected levels in reading and writing. Mathematics was at a similar level but dropped in 2017 to 68%.

The end-of-year 2017 school information shows there is disparity for boys in reading and writing.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has had varied success in accelerating learning for those children who need extra support to succeed in their learning.

Children who need support are closely tracked and monitored in terms of achievement and progress at a class and school-wide level.

In 2017 the school had a target to accelerate the achievement of a group of children in mathematics. School data shows that all of the targeted students made progress, with only 20% making sufficient progress to enable them to reach expected levels.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

A significant focus on community involvement and engagement supports children to feel safe, valued and have a strong sense of belonging. Children’s wellbeing is supported by the positive relationships and the strong sense of family that is evident throughout the school. The principal and staff proactively identify and draw on community resources to enhance students’ opportunities to learn.

Children benefit from a broad, localised and integrated curriculum that is responsive to their needs, strengths and interests. Teachers collaborate to effectively plan and implement a curriculum that enacts the school vision for learning for life. The school’s curriculum is strongly connected to its local environment.

Children are given many positive ways to make connections with the school’s values of respect, responsibility and honesty. The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies have been usefully aligned with the school’s focus on children taking more responsibility for their own learning. Recent developments and significant resourcing in classroom environments and technology have given children more opportunity to make choices in their learning.

The new principal values collaboration and has a clear vision to ensure ongoing improvement and positive outcomes for children. Trustees have recently worked with the school community to redevelop the school’s vision and values. They have the progress, achievement and wellbeing of children at the centre of their decision making. Trustees work effectively together and regularly review board processes.

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

School targets to lift achievement need to be improved. These targets should have a stronger focus on children who are below expected levels. Refining targets, and reporting that is focused on rates of accelerated progress of target students, should enable trustees to better evaluate what works and what needs to change.

Curriculum areas, and new initiatives and strategies to raise achievement for all and accelerate the progress of target students, need to be more effectively evaluated. This should support teachers to better respond to the needs of these learners and to know what is making the most difference for their progress and achievement.

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 its:

  • positive and inclusive culture

  • broad and localised curriculum

  • strong commitment to community and parent engagement

  • cohesive and future-focused board of trustees.

Next steps

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

  • refining target setting so that targets focus more on children below expected levels

  • analysing more deeply the sufficiency of rates of progress for groups of children, especially target children
  • strengthening teachers’, leaders’ and trustees’ understanding and use of internal evaluation.

[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.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

14 June 2018

About the school


South Otago

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1-8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female: 24

Male: 15

Ethnic composition

Pākehā: 37

Other: 2

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

14 June 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: March 2015

Education Review: November 2011

1 Context

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

Waiwera South School is a small rural school providing education for students in Years 1-8. Students show a strong sense of belonging to Waiwera School. Many children travel by bus from the surrounding area. Since the last ERO review in 2011, a greater number of students have enrolled from different family backgrounds and nationalities.

Students learn and play in spacious school grounds that are used to extend their learning beyond the classroom. For example, students enjoy the opportunity to tend a school vegetable garden and use community facilities located on the school grounds for cultural and physical activities. Students told ERO they enjoy small class sizes ‘where everyone is like a big family’.

Students benefit from the high levels of community support and involvement in the school. Teachers make purposeful use of local expertise and parent help in learning programmes.

The school has an open-door policy where parents and visitors are welcomed and are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning.

The school’s vision is to provide children with a broad foundation of skills that allows for and promotes learning for life. This was highly evident in classroom programmes across the school.

The school has made good progress in addressing the recommendations of the previous ERO report, including improving self-review practices and ensuring that the board placed a greater focus on student learning.

At the time of this review the board was in the process of appointing a principal. An acting principal has been in the role since February 2014.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to improve students’ learning. Teachers work well together and demonstrate a shared responsibility for all students to make progress and achieve. Teachers know students well as people and as learners.

School achievement information shows that most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Those students who need extra help with their learning are well supported through individual programmes.

Students, with their teachers, make very good use of learning information to:

  • know about their achievement and learning and what they need to do to improve
  • assess their learning and decide where they are achieving in relation to expectations
  • lead learning conferences with their parents and teachers.

Teachers use learning information effectively to:

  • set next learning steps with students
  • ensure consistency of decisions about students’ achievement
  • evaluate the impact of their teaching on students’ progress and achievement
  • provide parents with regular and detailed information about progress towards achieving the National Standards.

The acting principal uses learning information well to:

  • identify students who need to make accelerated progress
  • report regularly to the board about achievement and progress across the school.

The board makes very good use of achievement information to make strategic decisions about resourcing programmes to accelerate students’ learning.

Next steps

The board and acting principal have identified, and ERO agrees, that they need to:

  • simplify and refine the amount of achievement information produced and received
  • ensure that reports are more evaluative and show the impact that teaching and learning are having on student progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. Students benefit from a broad curriculum based on the local environment that makes learning authentic and relevant. Students enjoy the many opportunities for cultural, sporting and other activities outside the classroom.

There are detailed guidelines to support teachers in promoting the school vision and parents’ wishes for their children’s learning. There is a growing commitment to ensure all children know about Māori language and culture. Purposeful ongoing review of the curriculum ensures it meets students’ needs.

A key feature and strength of the curriculum is the way students are encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning. This approach strongly supports the school’s vision of students becoming lifelong learners and is motivating them to learn.

ERO found very good teaching practices across the school. Teachers work collaboratively with parents to support children’s learning. They reflect on their teaching practice and seek innovative ways to meet the needs of all students.

Next step

The principal and teachers should make more explicit links to the school values in planning and daily programmes.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

At the time of the review there were no Māori students enrolled. The school has developed a useful plan to support Māori students in their learning should they be enrolled.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. There are systems for governing and managing the school. These include a schedule and framework for self review of curriculum and school operations. Trustees are knowledgeable about their roles and regularly attend training. They have a growing awareness of their responsibility to improve student outcomes and ensure that the school is sustainable in the future.

The acting principal is providing effective leadership while the board appoints a principal. She has continued to improve school-wide operations and practices. She has high expectations of herself and the teachers.

There are robust processes for the appraisal of the principal and teachers that lead to continuous improvement in teaching.

Next steps

The board needs to refine the charter to better reflect the strategic priorities for the school. At present the strategic plan is lengthy and is overly detailed with business-as-usual information. Trustees said this amount of detail has not been useful to guide them. As the board more clearly identifies its strategic priorities it will be in a better position to ask for further achievement information and reporting that is relevant and useful.

Annual achievement targets need to be reviewed to ensure that the focus is on all students who are at risk of not achieving the National Standards.

Self review could be further strengthened by being more evaluative and better aligned to the charter objectives. The principal needs to ensure that the self-review schedule and timeframes are manageable.

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.


Students learn in a family-like environment. They benefit from a broad curriculum that makes learning authentic and relevant. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for managing their own learning. ERO found very good teaching practices. Teachers work collaboratively with parents to support children’s learning. The school is well governed and led.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern Select Region

12 March 2015

About the School


Waiwera South

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 31 Boys: 20

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

12 March 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2011

August 2008

June 2005