Mararoa School

Mararoa School - 14/09/2016

1 Context

Mararoa is a small, rural Years 1 to 8 school. Most children travel by bus each day from surrounding farms and towns.

Children learn in multi-level classes. Physical activity, sustainable environmental practices and valuing the local context are prioritised in their learning. The board and parents fund a third teacher for the mornings. This way class sizes are kept small for literacy and mathematics.

The principal is also a classroom teacher in the school. She and two other teachers have worked in the school for many years.

The school is an important part of the community. It is very well supported by parents and community members who assist with out-of-school trips, sports and in-class learning.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to become confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners. The school wants its children to be positive and responsible learners, who care about others, themselves and the environment.

The school’s achievement information shows that most children achieve very well in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2015 over 85% of students achieved at or above the National Standards in these areas. These standards have been maintained over the last three years.

The school has made excellent progress against the recommendations in the 2013 ERO report. It is working with a cluster of schools to improve inter-school collaboration, share ideas and resources and improve access to professional learning.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • worked with children to better involve them in assessing their work and setting useful learning goals
  • sought professional learning linked to the annual targets
  • maintained regular review/evaluation of learning programmes and made ongoing improvements to these
  • adapted the inquiry approach to topic learning so that it focuses more on thinking skills
  • introduced new programmes for Years 7 and 8 children to engage and challenge them.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school responds immediately to any child whose learning needs extra support. Teachers know each child very well as a learner and as an individual. Any child at risk of not achieving or progressing sufficiently is quickly identified. These children benefit from intensive instruction. Their progress is closely monitored and shared with parents.

The school has set challenging and measurable targets to lift the achievement of some groups of children. Specific actions are taken to achieve these target. As a result, almost all of these children make accelerated progress. Professional learning strongly aligns to target areas and the learning needs of children.

Teachers work collaboratively with parents, particularly to help those children requiring extra support to achieve. Parents are well informed about their child’s progress and achievement against the National Standards. They are involved in regular discussions about their child’s learning goals and next steps, and how they can best help them.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum, systems and practices very effectively support children in their learning and realising the school's vision.

Teachers make frequent use of the local context and resources to enrich children's learning. Children benefit from a range of engaging experiences and targeted support to help them achieve in their learning and be prepared for 'their life's journey' beyond school. They enjoy many opportunities for hands-on learning in and out of the classroom.

Teachers closely monitor all children's learning. The learning programmes are adapted to meet children's interests, strengths and current needs. For example, the Year 7 and 8 programme was changed to have a stronger focus on leadership and preparation for high school. Children take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning as they progress through the school.

Children told ERO they feel safe and included at their school. Their views are regularly sought and responded to. Teachers ensure that the school's values are an integral part of all children's daily learning, in and beyond the classroom.

The board, principal and teachers have a strong focus on ongoing improvement. Teachers' individual strengths are well used and built on. They are well supported to build their professional practice and ensure effective teaching and learning. Teachers work collaboratively, sharing their expertise and information in the best interests of the children.

Effective systems and guidelines ensure theschool's smooth operation, with well-embedded processes for planning, assessing and evaluating children's progress. This helps teachers make well-informed judgements and decisions about teaching and learning.

The school is ably governed and led. Trustees have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. They are well informed and future focused. The experienced principal and senior teacher provide strong leadership for teaching and learning. Resources are well managed and decisions appropriately made with the best interests of staff, students and community in mind.

The principal and board of trustees agree on the need to strengthen how bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand is reflected and promoted. They need to review programmes, policies and practices to ensure more meaningful inclusion of te reo and tikanga Māori at all levels of the school.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Teachers develop very positive relationships for learning with the children and their parents. Children benefit from interesting and relevant learning in and out of the classroom and a strong foundation in literacy and mathematics. This is ensuring their success as learners and preparing them for life beyond school.

There is a strong commitment from the board, leadership and teachers to well-informed and ongoing improvement. Robust practices and systems support this. As a result, this is a high performing school.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance
  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

7 Recommendation

School leaders need to strengthen the way bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand values are reflected and promoted across the school.

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

14 September 2016 

About the school


Te Anau

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 25 Girls 19

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

July 2016

Date of this report

14 September 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2013

February 2010

November 2006

Mararoa School - 15/07/2013

1 Context

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

Mararoa School is a small rural school providing education for students in Years 1 to 8. All students travel to school by bus. They enjoy the school’s family atmosphere with students of all ages interacting positively with one another. Warm, supportive relationships between staff and students create a positive tone, build students’ self-esteem and help them enjoy their time at school.

Students benefit from small class sizes and high levels of one-to-one support for their learning. A recent drop in the roll has meant the school has moved from having three classes to two. The board is committed to resourcing extra staffing so that all students are well supported in their learning in this new class structure.

The experienced principal and staff work as a cohesive team to make learning enjoyable and engaging for students.

There are strong links between home and school. The teachers have a focus on knowing the students well, responding to their interests and meeting their needs. They communicate regularly and effectively with parents. The school benefits from strong parent support, with other members of the community contributing to students’ learning in a variety of ways.

2 Learning

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

Very good use is made of achievement information across the school to make positive improvements for students.

Areas of strength

Students show high levels of active involvement in their learning. Students who spoke to ERO could talk confidently about their learning, their goals for improvement, and what they need to do to achieve these goals. They know how the school values independence and what teachers do to help students develop this quality in the way they learn. They benefit from classroom environments that are purposeful, well organised and settled.

Teachers have a very thorough understanding and knowledge of students and their learning needs so they can best plan for and support their learning.

Teachers make very good use of assessment information. They:

  • inform parents about how well their children are meeting their goals to achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics
  • identify students who would benefit from learning support to help them make accelerated progress
  • ensure learning support is well planned to benefit students as effectively as possible
  • provide useful feedback to students so they know what they need to do to improve
  • monitor students’ achievement levels and make changes to the programme as the need arises.

The principal and teachers collate and analyse the achievement information well. The board receives a wide range of information in a useful format about students’ learning.

The principal and trustees use learning information well to:

  • set annual achievement targets and allocate resources to achieve these targets
  • monitor and evaluate how well teachers’ actions are working to meet those targets
  • provide regular reports to the community about student achievement.
Area for review and development

Next steps for strengthening learning should include extending the ways students are involved in discussions about their progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports learning. Teachers ensure priority is given to literacy and numeracy. Students also have good opportunities to succeed in all other learning areas.

Teachers purposefully involve the school’s community to ensure that learning is not limited to the local setting and is relevant to students’ interests and abilities. Students enjoy a wide range of opportunities to learn in contexts beyond the school, such as trips and other sporting, cultural and social experiences. Students benefit from a strong, regular focus on being active, healthy and involved in a range of physical activities.

There is a strong emphasis on learning about the local environment, particularly the nearby national park. This encourages students to enjoy knowing more about and taking greater responsibility for the environment.

Students’ learning is further supported by:

  • the values of caring for self and others
  • a shared understanding of what success looks like through locally developed ‘keys for life’s learning journey’.

Students learn in an environment where high expectations for learning and behaviour ensure a positive learning focus. Students benefit from very good quality teaching. Teachers:

  • share the purpose of learning with students
  • revisit prior learning and make links to new learning
  • plan appropriate programmes to meet the needs, abilities, interests of students
  • place an appropriate focus on accelerating progress for those students at risk of not making sufficient progress.

The principal:

  • has developed agreed guidelines for all aspects of curriculum
  • regularly discusses with teachers how well they implement these guidelines
  • ensures teachers regularly reflect on and discuss how they might strengthen their practices
  • leads rigorous review of aspects of curriculum, such as literacy and mathematics.

Area for review and development

The principal identifies, and ERO agrees, that the next aspects of the curriculum that should be reviewed are:

  • mathematics
  • inquiry learning
  • how well learning approaches and programmes support students to become increasingly independent learners.
How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school is supporting strategies to promote success for Māori students.

Trustees and the principal:

  • know how well Māori students are achieving and progressing
  • set targets to accelerate progress for any students who need to make accelerated progress
  • continue to consult with their Māori families in a culturally appropriate way.

The principal and teachers:

  • are actively finding ways for Māori students to be more aware of their identity as Māori
  • have developed a te reo Māori programme so that all students receive regular learning in the language
  • plan for and include, where appropriate, a Māori perspective in learning programmes.

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. The board is governing the school well. Trustees appropriately focus their efforts on planning for the future and improving provision for students’ learning.

The board and principal have developed comprehensive guidelines and plans for school-wide self review of governance and the curriculum. These plans and guidelines ensure trustees:

  • maintain a focus on continuous improvement
  • gather information from a good variety of sources
  • explore what is so, why it is so, and what next
  • plan effectively for the current year and the years ahead.

The school provides resources and professional learning and development that link to the school’s goals and learning priorities. Trustees effectively monitor the use of resourcing to ensure there is a positive impact on improving outcomes for students. Trustees are well informed about how well students achieve and the effectiveness of strategies to increase students’ rates of progress.

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 three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

15 July 2013

About the School


The Key, Fiordland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Male: 24 Female: 18

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

15 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2010

November 2006

July 2003