Limehills School

Limehills School - 19/02/2018

School Context

Limehills School has 185 Years 1 to 8 students, 35 of whom identify as Māori. The school is in Centre Bush, Central Southland. Since the last ERO review in 2013, new trustees have been elected to the board.

Leaders and teachers have been undertaking professional learning to deepen their ability to differentiate teaching and learning by better knowing students’ diverse learning needs. 

The school’s mission statement is that, ‘Limehills kids will take ownership of their learning and embrace challenges with a ‘can do’ attitude’. The mission is underpinned by the:

  • school’s RIPPERS values of, ‘respect, integrity, perseverance, participation, empathy, responsibility and sportsmanship’
  • vision for students to be confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners
  • enviro-school principles of Māori perspectives, respect for diversity, sustainable communities, learning for sustainability and empowered students.

The school strategic goals are that the school’s culture will continue to challenge and inspire, and sustainable finances will create future enhancement opportunities. The target is to accelerate progress in literacy achievement for targeted learners.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • engagement and wellbeing for success
  • achievement in relation to school targets
  • whole-school improvement trends
  • achievement of the school’s valued outcomes. 

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?

The school is very effectively achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students in literacy, mathematics and the New Zealand Curriculum key competencies.

Over the last three years most students have achieved very well in reading, writing and mathematics. Levels of achievement are well maintained through to Year 7 and 8, in particular, for reading and mathematics. Most Māori students achieve very well in these learning areas.

Reports from New Zealand standardised assessments show very good school-wide improvement over time in literacy and mathematics.

Almost all students are achieving the school’s valued outcomes, as expressed in the mission statement and school RIPPERS values.

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

The school is highly effective in its response to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

In 2017, all Māori learners identified as needing to make accelerated learning in literacy did so. Almost all other targeted students also made accelerated progress in literacy.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

The school continues to be a very high performing school, in particular in the following areas.

Limehills School is relentless in its focus on continuous improvement. Teachers and leaders demonstrate adaptive expertise to better meet the needs of students. They critically apply new knowledge to problems to develop useful approaches and solutions. Increased collaboration between teachers spreads effective teaching practices across the school. Teachers are well supported by deep and focused professional development, robust appraisals, on-going evidence-based inquiries and clear guidelines and expectations for teaching. Skilled teacher aides ably support teaching and learning programmes.

Students learn and work in an environment where their ideas and views are sought, valued and responded to. This culture contributes greatly to children having a strong sense of belonging to their school. The school RIPPERS values, whanaungatanga/relationships, manaakitanga/caring for others and learning, and tuakana-teina/older children guiding and supporting younger children are highly evident in all areas and levels of the school. Māori culture is valued. A child-centred focus and Māori perspectives are integral to all learning.

The school’s curriculum is very effective in enabling learning and is future focused. It successfully promotes students’ belief in themselves to achieve. The enviroschool principles are well embedded and provide a solid base and coherence for learning across all areas of the curriculum. The child is at the centre of the learning environment. Children are very actively engaged in their learning where they plan, carry out and reflect on self-initiated authentic projects within and beyond the school.

School leaders and trustees ensure the school’s vision is realised, and equity and excellence are strived for, for all students. Contributing to the success of these are:

  • cohesive and useful school-wide systems
  • well-managed change processes
  • the high expectations of teachers and students
  • that relationships within the school community are based on trust, integrity and openness
  • the value placed on the support of parents and the wider community that is central to students’ learning and development.

Self review/internal evaluation is integral to all school operations. Clarity of purpose and process lead to continuous improvement. There is well-planned alignment from the strategic goals through to classroom programmes and interventions.

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

School leaders need to report rates of progress to the board, for the board to be assured that students are making sufficient progress over time.

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:

  • inquiry and reflections on practice that continue to improve the curriculum and outcomes for students
  • having a highly-developed culture of collaboration among leaders, teachers, parents and students, that maintains high expectations for teaching and learning throughout the school.

Next step

For sustained improvement and future learner success, a development priority is in:

  • the use of learning data to show rates of progress and sufficiency of progress over time.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in four-to-five years.

Dr Lesley Paterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

19 February 2018

About the school 


Central Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys:     55%
Girls:      45%

Ethnic composition

Māori:   14%
Pākehā:                74%
Pacific:  2%
Asian:    3%
Other:   7%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

19 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Reviews          September 2013
                                                April 2010
                                                March 2007

Limehills School - 09/09/2013

1 Context

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

Limehills is a full-primary school in rural Central Southland with an increasing roll. An enrolment scheme is in place. Most students come from farming backgrounds.

An increasing number of students with different cultural backgrounds and languages attend the school. New students are welcomed and quickly integrate into the life of the school. Students for whom English is a second language, make very good progress in their English language learning through effective teaching and programmes. Students that ERO interviewed said that they feel very comfortable at this school and that "everyone has a place here”.

The school is performing well. The new principal has led significant developments with respect to school-wide systems, processes and programmes within the last year. There has been considerable progress in the way digital technologies support teaching and learning, and the way the school communicates within and beyond its community.

Students enjoy and are appropriately challenged by the many opportunities they have to succeed. They excel in an environment that fosters their special abilities and interests. Caring for the environment is prominent in the daily life of the school and students’ learning. Their learning is enriched by the continued support of the school’s community. This positive school culture is strongly grounded in the respectful and supportive relationships that exist between students and adults. Tuakana teina relationships are fostered. Teachers, of which some are new to the school, and the principal work effectively to enhance students’ learning. Teachers are benefiting from an effective professional learning programme. Although most trustees are new to their role at this time, the school has an effective governance framework that is supporting their induction.

2 Learning

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

Students’ achievement information is used very well to make positive changes to their learning. Students are highly engaged in their learning. They work with their teachers to make decisions about their achievements and progress. Senior students manage aspects of their own learning well and feel empowered and well supported by teachers. Older students understand the ways in which they learn best and have many conversations about learning with their teachers.

Students benefit from the way teachers use learning information to:

  • identify priority learners
  • plan and implement intervention programmes that use specific strategies to improve student learning
  • measure progress and track their success over time
  • group students within and beyond their class for literacy and mathematics
  • report informally and formally to students and their parents.

The principal is very effectively using student achievement information to:

  • provide teachers with useful frameworks to process this information and plan for future learning
  • improve teaching practice
  • evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and identify what should be improved
  • analyse and report on school-wide achievement information.

The principal and teachers are making good use of digital technologies to process student achievement information.

The board uses regular student achievement reports to make effective resourcing decisions and develop and monitor the school’s charter targets.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning through a rich and exciting local curriculum. This can be seen in the way that the:

  • key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum drive the curriculum
  • students determine in the innovative ways, their level of success in demonstrating the key competencies
  • school’s RIPPER values (respect, integrity, perseverance, participation, empathy, responsibility and sportsmanship) are integrated into the school day
  • students experience meaningful learning activities within and beyond the school
  • students are actively involved in decisions about what and how well they learn.

The school’s curriculum design is comprehensive and well linked to key school documents. It has been revised and extended to specifically focus on existing programmes, student interests, the local environment and the school’s increased e-learning capacity. Some very useful school documents have been developed to support this and guide teachers in curriculum implementation.

Senior students’ programmes are strongly linked to the school’s focus on caring for the environment and community service. Year 8 students are very well prepared for their transition to secondary school. Students enjoy the many opportunities to lead and initiate their learning. Some very good examples of this include the:

  • management of the school farm
  • ongoing media reporting
  • student volunteer army
  • environmental interest groups.

Students’ business and problem-solving skills are extended through the many opportunities they have to work together and with adults.

Some of the highly effective teaching observed by ERO included where students:

  • were able to share what and how they had learned with their peers and the teacher
  • and teachers used e-learning to communicate and receive immediate feedback about the quality of the learning and next learning steps
  • were monitored frequently to ensure the learning goals they set were sufficiently challenging.

The board, through the principal, should ensure that the curriculum aims and objectives of each essential learning area are incorporated in students’ learning programmes.

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

Māori students are achieving as well as their non-Māori peers. There has been a significant increase in the approaches the school is using to include te ao Māori into whole-school and classroom programmes. This is being well led within the school. Students spoken to by ERO were proud of the way the school is embracing te ao Māori.

Further consultation with whānau of Māori students should enable the school to clarify what success as Māori will look like.

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.

A strongly reflective culture drives school improvement in teaching and learning as well as areas of governance. The board has an ongoing cycle of robust self review that promotes improvement. Through the principal, the board ensures that there is clear alignment from the strategic and annual plans to students' learning programmes.

The principal has ably led the development and implementation of new systems and processes throughout the school.

These are providing positive guidance for teachers and the strategic direction of the school. Teachers and trustees acknowledge the usefulness of these developments and have willingly been involved in the process.

In the last 12 months there has been a significant amount of self review. Many aspects of the school’s operations, documents and systems have been reviewed and revised. These reviews have been led by the principal and developed collaboratively with the teachers. A useful framework guides the review of policies, procedures and programmes.

The principal is providing highly effective leadership in his role through:

  • leading and facilitating targeted professional development
  • providing opportunities for teachers to take lead roles in the school
  • communicating in an open and collaborative manner
  • making excellent use of modern technologies.

The principal has high expectations of staff performance. This is evident in the redevelopment and implementation of the school’s appraisal processes and professional learning expectations. Staff are supportive and enthusiastic about this and show a preparedness to change.

The principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that school developments need to continue to be embedded and reviewed.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

9 September 2013

About the School


Central Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys: 52%

Girls: 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European








Review team on site

July 2013

Date of this report

9 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2010

March 2007

November 2003