Fresh ERO take praises Opua School

By Peter de Graaf

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.

Opua School has received a positive ERO report after complaints about an inspector's visit prompted the initial findings to be thrown out.

A visit to Opua School by Education Review Office staff in December 2014 sparked a flurry of complaints from staff, board members and parents. The ERO called a halt to the review, binned the initial findings, and started a new review in term 3 last year.

The Advocate asked to see the complaints under the Official Information Act but was refused. It is understood the complaints alleged bullying and an unprofessional manner. At least two other schools raised similar concerns but only one lodged an official complaint.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, a former principal, believed the reviewer had spoken to a "disgruntled" board member and gone to the school with preconceived ideas.

A three-strong ERO team returned to the school to carry out a fresh review in September last year.

Their report found a significant majority of students, including Maori, were achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and maths.

Students had many opportunities to develop creativity in music, visual arts and dance, and classrooms were attractive and well resourced. The involvement of a respected kaumatua helped promote Maori students' sense of culture and identity.

However, the school needed more robust processes to help teachers make reliable judgments around National Standards.

Principal Simon McGowan said he was pleased by the significant number of positive comments in the review.

"This review is a true indication of the positive nature of teaching and learning at Opua School - a very safe, happy, thriving school."

The Advocate's official information request was declined, among other grounds, to protect individual privacy, to avoid prejudicing the supply of information in future, and to "maintain effective public affairs through free and frank expressions of opinions to officers and employees of a department".

- Northern Advocate

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