Te Aratika Academy

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Education institution number:
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Boys School)
Designated Character School
Total roll:

314 State Highway 2, Mangateretere

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1 Introduction

A New School Assurance Review is a review of particular areas of school performance and is undertaken to specific terms of reference.

New School Assurance Reviews are generally undertaken within the first year of the school’s opening.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of Te Aratika Academy. The terms of reference for the review are to provide assurance to the community:

  • that the school is well placed to provide for students
  • that the school is operating in accordance with the vision articulated by the board of trustees.

2 Context

Te Aratika Academy has been functioning as a designated character school since the beginning of 2019. It was previously a newly established partnership school.

The school focuses on the effective engagement in learning of Year 11 to 13 male students who previously may not have experienced success in a mainstream education setting. Since opening in 2019 the roll has been relatively stable. There are currently 29 taiohi, all of whom identify as Māori.

The school operates within the grounds of Te Kura o Mangateretere. Close links are maintained with mana whenua, Ngati Kahungunu.

3 Background

The key aspects of the designated character of the school (“The Right Path”) are identified as:

  • engaging and enriching young people in a culturally appropriate learning environment that emphasises Māori culture and values

  • developing lifelong learners who are confident in their Māori worldview.

Students are encouraged to identify and follow individualised pathways to success: personally, academically, technologically and vocationally.

The board of trustees is comprised mainly of those formerly associated with the initial partnership school. Te Aratika Charitable Trust continues to be involved in many aspects of the school. Trustees and staff are highly committed to ensuring positive outcomes for taiohi.

4 Findings

Practices and the curriculum are becoming more aligned to the valued outcomes linked to Māori concepts as described in the vision and graduate profile. As a result, taiohi are becoming more meaningfully engaged and better supported to make social, cultural and academic progress. Further analysis of destination information for school leavers will assist trustees, leaders and teachers to evaluate their impact on taiohi previously at risk of poor schooling outcomes.

The 2019 charter included development priorities for the new school. It is currently being reviewed to ensure it aligns more closely with te ao Māori beliefs. Specific targets linked to the priorities and having a greater focus on outcomes are being developed. Comprehensive policies and procedures are in place to guide school practices. They reflect the Te Aratika Academy context and good practice guidelines.

Establishing a partnership with whānau is prioritised as part of transition into the school. This is further promoted through ongoing contact and the development and review of individual learning plans. Pou Whenua (mentors) have a key role in supporting taiohi engagement and building positive relationships with whānau. They are responsive to the varying, ongoing and emerging needs of individual taiohi and whānau.

The principal is highly committed to the vision and kaupapa.Mentors and leadership networks are supporting to build knowledge of her role in a state school environment. Continuing to grow confidence to respond to the various aspects associated with leadership of a secondary school is a development priority for her.

Curriculum leadership roles and responsibilities in relation to the vision and kaupapa are still to be finalised. This needs to be addressed to allow aspects of teaching and learning to be progressed. The contribution, knowledge and understanding of the wider group of staff is increasingly part of curriculum development that will better reflect the context of the school.

Ongoing review and development of the curriculum is leading to a greater focus on Mātauranga Māori as part of school culture and learning. The school defines the key distinctive features of Māori learning preferences and behaviours as incorporating ako, whakapapa and whakawhanaungatanga. Maori culture and values are becoming more evident in the learning programme.

The learning programme emphasises an individualised approach. Personalised learning plans are developed collaboratively between taiohi, whānau, pou arahi (teachers) and pou whenua.

Field-based learning and physical activities, often within a Māori context and linked to Ngati Kahungunu, are an integral part of the programme. They include opportunities to widen experiences and build relationships aligned with the school kaupapa. A science and technology focus and work-related skills are integral features of each student’s learning programme. Specific links between education and future employment are emphasised. There are opportunities for success in NCEA Levels 1 to 3. Learning options available to students continue to be broadened, including through accessing short term courses using external expertise.

Observation of teaching and learning by ERO while on site indicated students being mainly well involved in learning. Generally positive, respectful adult and student relationships were evident. Explicit expectations of taiohi involvement and success support engagement.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) have granted consent to assess across a range of domains and standards. NZQA is yet to verify the processes in place to ensure internal assessment is valid, fair, accurate and consistent. The school should ensure:

  • documentation appropriately supports school practices and aligns with NZQA guidelines

  • assessment practice meets the needs of students

  • moderation processes promote valid and accurate assessment.

There is close tracking of students towards NCEA qualifications. Student progress is regularly shared with the board. Taiohi and whānau are very well informed by end of year reporting linked to the graduate profile, academic achievement and progress.

Relationships are built that support wellbeing and preparedness for learning. Regular surveys allow students to feedback on relationships within the school and aspects of learning. Staff are sensitive to the wider needs of students. Responsive and restorative circle time, based on te ao Māori concepts, supports personal development, positive social interaction and learning. The physical and mental health of students is supported through regular visits from a nurse provided through an external health service.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has continued to work with the board in relation to ongoing property issues and future property plans. The lack of growth in the student roll has created uncertainty and as a result some property and resourcing areas remain to be addressed.

The 2018 application to MoE to establish the designated character school included the intention for Year 9 and 10 enrolments from 2020. This remains an aspiration. The lack of suitable property provision and limited preparatory curriculum planning means possible enrolment of Year 9 and 10 students has made little progress since the school opened in 2019.

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:

  • school management and reporting
  • 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 students' 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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • ensure both hazard checks and emergency drills are regularly carried out
  • complete and file a checklist for each appointment that indicates safety checking has been carried out as is required for a children’s worker
  • regularly receive attendance information and analysis that focuses on reducing absence of some taiohi
  • review the board of trustees in-committee process.


Te Aratika Academy is effectively supporting taiohi social development, academic achievement and identity within a learning environment that emphasises Māori culture and values. Some practices continue to be developed in order to align with the expectations of being a designated character school in the state system. Uncertainty around future property and resourcing provision, including for personnel and financial areas, need to be addressed to enable continued improvement and sustainability.

ERO will return to the school by the end of 2021 as part of its normal review cycle.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

11 February 2021

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.