Riverton School

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

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Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

School Context

Riverton Primary is a Year 1 to 6 school near Invercargill with a roll of 189 students. There is a bilingual unit for students in Year 3 to 6.

The school’s vision is for their children to be the best they can be in their learning, attitude and behaviour. Valued outcomes for learners are that all children succeed and are, “Well-rounded as people in sport, culture, socially and academically.”

The schools’ strategic direction focuses on students attaining high achievement in literacy and numeracy, actively participating in the community and resourcing appropriately to meet students’ needs. This includes enhancing the use of te reo Māori and bicultural practices across the school.

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

  • achievement of students in the bilingual unit in relation to Te Waharoa Araru (Māori language)

  • achievement in reading writing, and mathematics for all students

  • achievement in reading and writing for targeted students

  • the breadth of school programmes and the opportunities that these provide for learning.

The school appointed a new principal in 2015. A new deputy principal and board chair have also been appointed. There is a mix of new and experienced teachers and trustees on the board.

Riverton Primary is part of a cluster of Western Southland schools. The cluster has a shared focus on professional learning and development (PLD) for teachers in writing. This school has also engaged in Ministry of Education supported PLD in building te reo Māori and more culturally responsive practices across the school.

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 effective in achieving positive outcomes for most children.

Most Māori, and other students, are achieving at school expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Less than 5 percent of all students are achieving above expectations. There is a small level of disparity (up to 10 percent) for Māori and girls in mathematics and boys in writing. Leaders and teachers are aware that these areas need further improvement.

The majority of students in the bilingual unit in 2017 achieved well in raising their level of te reo Māori (Māori language).

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

The school has some good practices in place to respond to the needs of Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. While there is good information on individual children this is not always aligned well with specific actions to meet the board’s annual achievement targets. The school is in the early stages of developing systems to enable them to report how well children are making accelerated progress over time.

Reporting progress occurs for some small groups of students. Senior school achievement results show acceleration in progress for a group of children who were receiving additional support in writing.

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 has some useful processes and practices that are supporting the achievement of equity and excellence.

The school proactively identifies and draws on community resources to enhance student learning. These connections support the provision of a wide, varied curriculum and provide students with purposeful experiences and activities in a range of contexts. The school has effective systems to ease the transition for young children starting school. Learning outcomes for children at the end of one year of schooling are very good.

Professional learning and development for teachers is well-aligned to the board’s strategic priorities to raise student achievement in writing. External expertise and collaboration with local schools is strongly contributing to teachers’ knowledge and positively influencing classroom practice. Teachers are developing shared understandings about effective strategies to further improve learning outcomes for children.

Teachers have effective processes to identify and monitor children within their classes who need additional support. They have an in depth knowledge of each child and their learning and achievement. Teachers’ planning to meet needs is detailed. Practice is inclusive with teacher aides working in classes alongside teachers. This is increasing teachers’ ability to give increased attention to where it is most needed.

Achievement information is used well to inform regular professional discussion, at all levels of the school, to address children’s learning needs. This is a strong feature of the school’s approach to lifting achievement. The board engages with data and confidently requests further information to gain a better picture of progress and achievement trends and patterns.

There is a very strong commitment towards providing a specific bilingual education option for children. School leaders are proactive and fully support students to have many opportunities to participate in experiences that contribute to their success as Māori. Leaders and teachers are equally committed to building knowledge and use of te reo and tikanga Māori across the school for all students. Strategic planning, resourcing and curriculum development are effectively building teachers’ and students’ capacity to use and appreciate Māori language and culture.

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

Some school processes need to be further strengthened to better enable the achievement of equity and excellence.

Leaders and teachers need to better use their knowledge of individual students, their learning and achievement to:

  • develop processes to measure students’ progress and report this more regularly to the board

  • deepen the level of analysis to inform evaluation and guide decision-making

  • personalise learning opportunities and continue to build children’s ownership of their own learning so that they are sufficiently challenged and engaged in their learning.

Leaders and teachers need to ensure there is a more focused, cohesive and better aligned approach so that all children who need to accelerate their learning have equitable access to support.

The board, leaders and teachers have a focus on continuous improvement. The next step is to use internal evaluation as a process to further support effective and sustainable improvements at all levels of the school.

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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to the Vulnerable Children’s Act

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. Ensure compliance with the requirements of the Vulnerable Children’s Act by incorporating it into board policies such as the appointments policy.
    [State Sector Act 1998, section 77A.]

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • a shared culture of seeking continuous improvement

  • its strong commitment to Māori success as Māori and use of te reo and tikanga Māori across the school

  • identification, monitoring and regular professional dialogue to raise outcomes for children whose learning needs accelerating.

Next steps

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

  • equitable access to learning support

  • processes to measure and report students’ progress

  • internal evaluation processes and practices.

ERO recommends that the New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in:

  • the use of effective internal evaluation across the school and at board level.

  • reviewing achievement information to set and monitor appropriate annual achievement targets.

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

9 March 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Primary, Year 1 to 6

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50%, Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 30%

Pākehā 64%

Pacific 3%

Other 3%

Provision of Māori medium education


Number of Māori medium classes

1 bilingual class

Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)


Number of students in Level 3 MLE


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

9 March 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education ReviewAugust 2013

Education Review July 2010

Education Review March 2007

1 Context

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

Riverton Primary School is situated on the coast of Southland. The teachers make effective use of the local environment and resources to ensure that programmes are interesting and relevant for students. Students have the opportunity to participate in bilingual education with a focus on te reo Māori in Years 3 to 6.

Since the last ERO review, the school has undertaken developments in information and communication technologies (ICT), music resourcing, upgrading the library and installing a large adventure playground.

The board is responsive to the needs of the community and regularly consults with parents about matters that affect the school. The school’s long-serving principal is well known to the community.

Teachers are collegial and demonstrate a shared responsibility for all children’s learning and wellbeing.

The school’s culture of ‘We Open our Doors with Aroha’ is very evident throughout the school. There is a strong emphasis on establishing and maintaining positive relationships with students, and amongst students and teachers. Positive behaviour is actively promoted throughout the school through a pastoral care approach. Success is encouraged and celebrated.

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 learning information to ensure that the focus remains on raising and maintaining student achievement, and developing teaching practices.

The school places a strong emphasis on immediately identifying students’ learning needs and giving them the ‘boost’ they need to meet the National Standards. This is a well-managed and successful approach involving:

  • strategic resourcing from the board
  • information gathering by the principal and teachers
  • effective home/school partnerships
  • skilled teacher aides.

The school can show that students have made accelerated progress as a result of the implementation of targeted programmes.

There are good systems for tracking student achievement and progress. The principal and teachers examine student achievement information to ensure that students’ specific needs are targeted and teaching strategies are appropriate. Achievement information at the end of 2012 shows that most students achieved at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers are effectively applying successful approaches in literacy to a current school focus in mathematics.

Students are very aware of how well they are achieving, progressing and their next learning steps. Senior students are effectively using assessments to plan and monitor aspects of their own learning.

The next step is for teachers to explore further ways of:

  • involving students in reporting to parents
  • involving students in the decision making about their achievement in relation to the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

Students enjoy the many different learning experiences they participate in. Of particular note are the:

  • specialist programmes, such as music and physical education
  • enhancement programmes, such as the arts, te reo Māori, technology and science
  • high interest programmes, such as ROX (an outdoor education programme) and an exchange programme with a school in Australia.

These programmes have been specifically planned to develop self-management and practical skills.

A special feature of the curriculum is the leadership opportunities for all Year 6 students. The leadership roles are authentic and contribute to the smooth day-to-day running of the school.

There are well-developed systems for supporting teachers and ensuring school-wide consistency in planning and implementing programmes. Guidelines and expectations for teaching are comprehensive. These explicitly outline what and how teachers are expected to teach in this school.

ERO observed some high-quality teaching practice. Examples include the ways in which teachers:

  • use engaging activities to extend students’ learning
  • get students to explain their thought processes that contribute to learning
  • use equipment to teach concepts that are difficult to understand.

Areas for development

The principal and senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees that:

  • curriculum reviews could be extended to consistently evaluate the impact of teaching and include next steps for future development
  • the school’s provision for talented students should be reviewed.

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

School achievement information for 2012, shows that Māori students achieved well in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Māori students are well engaged in their learning and enjoy the many opportunities they have to learn about their culture.

Students told ERO that they feel safe and that teachers care about them and their learning.

The principal has developed plans to improve consultation with the school’s Māori whānau.

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 principal is a strong professional leader. She is building leadership within and beyond the school. She models and encourages reflective practice. The principal has high expectations for teaching and learning, and places students’ interests at the centre of any decision making.

Teachers regularly share teaching strategies and practices both formally and informally.

The board is well supported by sound governance policies and procedures. Trustees manage school finances well. There is very clear alignment between the strategic plan, annual plan, student achievement targets and professional learning and development for teachers.

The board receives useful information about:

  • progress towards its strategic goals
  • classroom programmes
  • how well the school is providing a safe environment for students.

The principal and teachers have reviewed and redeveloped the teachers’ appraisal process. It is comprehensive and robust. It effectively integrates teachers’ professional standards, the registered teacher criteria and the Ministry of Education publication Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies.

Key features of the appraisal system are the ways:

  • evidence is gathered continually
  • staff implement it rigorously
  • it is empowering teachers to improve their practice.

There is a school-wide culture of reflection and self review that is contributing to ongoing improvements. The principal and senior leaders have a very good understanding of what contributes to robust self review within 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
  • 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

30 September 2013

About the School


Riverton, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 51% Boys: 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā








Special Features

Bilingual class Host school to resource teacher for learning and behaviour

Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

30 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2010

March 2007

February 2004