Otatara School

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

146 Dunns Road, Otatara, Invercargill

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Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within 14 months of the Education Review Office and Otatara 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


Otatara School is a Years 1 to 6 contributing primary school situated within an area of environmental significance in semi-rural Otatara. The school uses the local natural environment and expertise to support student learning. The school shares its site with the Otatara Kindergarten and works closely with their staff and the Otatara Preschool.  Some senior leaders are new to their positions.

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

  • continue to foster curiosity and inquiry through local curriculum promoting kaitiakitanga | sustainable practices

  • encourage the development and achievement of each learner, giving priority to literacy and numeracy – within a safe and secure learning environment.

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

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate how well its local curriculum is supporting learners to achieve the school's graduate profile.

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:

The local curriculum strongly reflects place-based learning and extending Mātauranga Māori. The school has identified that increasingly reflecting learners’ language, cultural and identity in the local curriculum learning is likely to enhance all learners achieving equitable and excellent outcomes. The school wants to develop tools for teachers and learners to use to evaluate progress towards meeting the components of the graduate profile.

In relation to the graduate profile the school expects to see:

  • greater ownership so that learners are more actively involved in monitoring their own progress towards the components of this profile

  • staff and learners evaluating progress towards meeting the components of the profile

  • the impact of the local curriculum in supporting students to progress.


The school can draw from the following strengths to support the school in its goal to achieve equity and excellence for all learners.

  • Effective teaching and learning programmes that are responsive to the well-known needs of learners and accelerate the progress of learners who need this.

  • Overall student achievement is consistently high over time with the large majority of learners achieving at or above the school’s expectations for reading, writing and mathematics with statistics.

  • The school has a well-developed graduate profile describing its vision for students to be connected, self-managing learners striving for excellence.

  • There are sound internal evaluation processes used to inform school direction, effective resourcing, and planning.

  • Leadership that is collaborative, improvement and future focused.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise:

  • continuing to strengthen its mātauranga Māori teaching and learning

  • developing further tools for teachers and learners to use to monitor progress within the graduate profile.

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.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)
Southern Region | Te Tai Tini

16 June 2022 

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

1 Context

This is a large semi-rural school at the heart of the Otatara community. An enrolment scheme is in place. Children's construction projects and art are valued and evident around the school grounds. The high quality outdoor environment provides children with a variety of challenging physical experiences.

The school is led by an experienced principal and leadership team, and there is a stable, collegial teaching team. Following recent elections there is a mix of new and experienced trustees on the school board.

Since the last ERO review (2012), there has been whole school professional development (PLD) in the teaching of writing and learning with digital technology. The school has participated in the Ministry of Education Accelerating Literacy Learning programme.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision for all children is that they will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners striving for excellence. The school has adopted the Māori values of manaakitanga (caring), whanaungatanga (belonging) and ako (learning from each other). These encompass the school PRIDE values of positive attitude, respect and responsibility, inquiry and imagination, diversity and excellence.

The school’s achievement information shows that over the past three years 90% of children achieve at or above National Standards in mathematics, 88% in reading and 82% in writing. In this school, Māori student achievement reflects these levels in reading and mathematics, and is slightly lower in writing. School achievement information shows differences in how boys are achieving in relation to girls. Boys achieve at a slightly lower level than girls in writing and reading.

There are very robust processes in place to ensure accurate, reliable judgements are being made about children's progress and achievement. These are well supported by a specialist assessment leader, use of the progress and consistency tool (PaCT) and ongoing moderation within the school and with other schools.

Since the last ERO evaluation, the school has successfully addressed the areas identified for development. This has included significant work on the integration of the arts curriculum across all learning areas, the meaningful integration of te reo and tikanga Māori in everyday programmes and practices, and reviewed and improved reporting to parents.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

This school very effectively responds to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Teachers and leaders respond quickly to learners at risk of not achieving well by:

  • early identification of children who are not making the expected progress
  • immediate provision of extra, appropriate learning support
  • closely monitoring children's progress and achievement and making changes to their support as necessary
  • personalising learning programmes and interventions in the classroom
  • using assistive technology and e-learning tools to support children's learning
  • working closely with families and whānau to identify learning goals and appropriate strategies.

Learning support is enhanced by good use of specialist teachers and community volunteers. Older students work with younger students to help them practise the skills they are learning.

Trustees and leaders are strongly focused on ensuring all children succeed. They are committed to exploring and implementing well-researched and innovative strategies and approaches to lifting student achievement and accelerating the progress of children who struggle with learning. Teachers are very well supported to build their knowledge and skills in delivering these approaches.

A well-constructed, coherent curriculum enables children to make connections across all learning areas and reinforce their learning. It is based on providing authentic and relevant contexts for learning which strongly reflect children's interests, strengths and experiences.

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 and other organisational processes and practices very effectively develop and enact the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

Children are valued partners in the development of the rich curriculum. They have many opportunities to share their opinions and ideas with teachers and leaders about what works well for their learning. Children are well supported to make informed decisions about their learning and to reflect on and understand themselves as learners.

Teachers give specific, useful feedback to children about the skills they are developing and help them to use this information to assess their own work and progress. Children play an active role in sharing their progress and achievement with their parents. Older students contribute to the life of the school in a range of leadership roles.

All children hear and learn about te reo and tikanga Māori. Aspects of te ao Māori are well integrated across all learning areas. Meaningful traditions and practices that demonstrate the value of Māori culture have been developed within the school. The knowledge and expertise of Māori whānau is welcomed and used to enhance bicultural practices.

The school has made key appointments to support the development of te reo and tikanga Māori and acknowledges this is an area for ongoing growth.

Teachers benefit from the collaborative, collegial learning culture. They have very strong shared understandings about what effective teaching practice looks like. Together they continually evaluate and add to these understandings. There are well-established processes that support teachers to reflect on and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching.

Comprehensive approach to strengthening teacher capability also includes:

  • high quality appraisal
  • structured peer learning
  • professional development
  • effective coaching and mentoring practices.

The school is very well managed by a capable professional leadership team. The team plans for improvement through:

  • leading the development of current, effective teaching practices
  • innovative curriculum design
  • a sustained focus on accelerating the progress of children who are at risk of not succeeding in their learning
  • well-considered leadership development, recruitment and succession planning
  • ongoing evaluation of all aspects of teaching and learning and school operations.

There is a strong focus on internal evaluation to inform improvement. Trustees, leaders, teachers, children and families all have a say about what is working well and what might be changed to make things better for children. Well-analysed progress and achievement information is supplied to the board and this is used to make well-considered, strategic decisions.

5 Going forward

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

This school is very well placed 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.

The strength of this school and what happens for children is underpinned by high quality teaching and learning based on current research, intentional curriculum design, robust evaluation and strong professional leadership. All aspects of the school are clearly aligned with the school vision and valued outcomes for children.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three 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

ERO recommends the school continues with its high quality practices. The school has identified its next step is to continue to build its culturally responsive practices. ERO agrees with this.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu Southern

3 November 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys: 52%

Girls: 48%

Ethnic composition





Eastern Other






Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

3 November 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2012

January 2009

May 2006