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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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

1 Context

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

Otatara School has a strong culture of ongoing improvement and high expectations. Teachers are very focused on the students and their learning. Students, teachers, senior leaders and trustees strive for excellence, in line with the school’s vision.

The senior leadership team effectively directs the delivery of the school’s curriculum. Since the last ERO review in 2009, there has been significant growth in teacher knowledge and skills, and improved levels of student achievement. The teachers benefit from targeted professional development.

The principal, board and teachers continue to build very good relationships within the school and parent community. There are:

  • high levels of staff collegiality
  • caring and respectful relationships between students and teachers, and among the students.

There is a strong working partnership between the principal and trustees.

The school roll is increasing. A new classroom is under construction to accommodate another class. An enrolment scheme has recently been introduced. The staffing is stable.

There is a growing number of students identifying as Māori. The teachers are making considerable efforts to increase their knowledge and understanding of te ao Māori.

Senior students talk confidently and enthusiastically about their school, including how they carry out their various leadership roles and responsibilities.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are learning well at this school. Achievement reports to the board show that most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading and mathematics. Just above three quarters of students are achieving at or above the writing National Standards. Māori and Pacific student achievement is similar to the wider school achievement levels in mathematics and slightly lower in reading and writing.

Reports to the board over the last three years indicate that student achievement levels are increasing in mathematics, reading and writing.

Areas of strength

Student engagement. Most students are motivated and interested in their learning. They are developing the necessary skills and attitudes to be life-long learners. They can talk about how well they are learning and what they need to do to improve. Students make good use of the helpful feedback teachers give them. Teachers value what students have to say. Students regularly contribute to programme planning and curriculum reviews.

Use of assessment information. The school purposefully uses student achievement data to improve teaching and learning.

Students use what they know about how well they are learning to set their next learning goals.

Teachers effectively analyse the achievement data to identify their next teaching points and to make judgements against the National Standards.

School leaders and trustees identify appropriate school-wide targets and areas in need of further development.

Learning environment. Students are well supported to develop confidence as learners and to take an active part in their school. Teachers work closely with the students to create a positive tone in and beyond the classroom. Students benefit from the strong learning partnerships with their teachers and other students. Teachers are continually developing programmes and practices to challenge and extend the students.

Learning support. Students at risk of not achieving are well supported to make accelerated progress. The board is committed to supporting the diverse needs of students. There is a comprehensive range of support programmes in place. These involve the use of internal and external expertise. The principal and teachers have developed effective systems for identifying students in need of extra help and for monitoring their progress over time.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

The school is implementing several well-considered initiatives to further promote Māori student success. These include:

  • the current emphasis in the teachers’ professional learning programme on the development of their understanding of Māori values
  • actively seeking the opinions, ideas and aspirations of Māori parents and students
  • an increased focus on understanding the Treaty of Waitangi principles through classroom programmes.

The school has recently introduced class awards for students who display particular Māori values. Māori students have opportunities to develop their leadership skills in a variety of contexts, including kapahaka. Parents of Māori students told ERO that the school values their opinions and culture. They believe that in recent years the school has had an increased focus on te ao Māori.

The principal stated that the school will continue to explore ways of communicating with the parents of Māori students. Students told ERO that they feel privileged to be Māori at this school.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum supports the school’s vision that students will be confident, connected and actively involved learners.

Areas of strength

Curriculum design. The school’s curriculum is very responsive to students’ needs and interests. Teachers have clear guidelines for delivering appropriate programmes. They have developed a useful series of school-wide learning progressions for most curriculum areas. The key competencies are well integrated into daily practice. Teachers have developed a more flexible framework to guide the delivery of the inquiry approach to learning. This provides students with well-structured opportunities for research in relevant contexts.

Teaching practice. Students benefit from good to high quality teaching. Teachers know their students well and provide targeted teaching for individuals and small groups. They closely monitor students’ progress and achievement. Teachers work collaboratively to plan units of work, moderate student achievement and share teaching ideas. They regularly reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching.

Areas for development

The principal and teachers acknowledge the need to:

  • complete the development of the Arts curriculum in line with the New Zealand Curriculum
  • further develop the progressions and expectations for the delivery of the te reo and tikanga Māori programmes
  • clarify the way the school reports student achievement in reading against the National Standards at Years 4 to 6.

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 and principal have developed useful systems to guide and review the school’s policies, procedures, programmes and practices to bring about ongoing improvement.

Areas of strength

Culture of improvement. Trustees, senior leaders and teachers are very committed to ongoing improvement. The self-review process is robust and covers all aspects of governance and management. Self review is well used to:

  • show how well programmes and teaching practices are meeting the needs and interests of students
  • evaluate the effectiveness of school operations and to identify areas for further development.

School leaders and teachers participate in a rigorous appraisal and professional development programme that supports school-wide priorities. The board generously funds professional learning opportunities for teachers.

Leadership. The school is well led. The principal is a high quality professional leader who works in a collegial way with the board and staff to give effect to the school’s vision and strategic direction. She is very accessible to students, teachers and parents and responds positively to requests and suggestions. The senior leadership team supports teachers well and participates with them in formal and informal professional learning. Teachers are encouraged to take leadership roles in the school.

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
  • 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

11 June 2012

About the School


Otatara, Invercargill

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)



School roll


Gender composition

Boys 167 Girls 142

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

March 2012

Date of this report

11 June 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2009

May 2006

September 2000