The Terrace School's new principal Andrew Chesswas says he is delighted with the informal feedback he received after a visit to the Waipukurau school by the Education Review Office this month.
"They commented on the significant progress in establishing positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students," Chesswas says.
"They noticed the settled tone within classrooms and the school environment. ERO observed that in all classrooms students were well engaged in learning, and that classrooms had a purposeful working tone and were settled and orderly. They stated that leaders have established an orderly and supportive environment conductive to student learning and wellbeing."
Chesswas - Matua Anaru to his staff, students and their whanau - says the school he stepped into just seven months ago "has a good feel to it".
"While we know there are still many areas to grow and further develop, this is very encouraging feedback on the changes at Terrace this year."
Chesswas says he knew when he took the role that there would be challenges ahead. The school's Board of Trustees had resigned and a commissioner had been appointed in February last year, after an ERO report identified concerns about student achievement levels and monitoring.
"The commissioner was very up-front. But I feel I walked into a very privileged position, bringing a new team in and now seeing the changes.
"We had five new teachers at the beginning of the year and it's become a really good team. The teachers are here for the right reasons. We care about our kids, our kids are gorgeous.
"The school has a good feel to it. A lot of people have Terrace in their hearts, and the ERO felt that as soon as they walked in. There's a settled tone, the children are engaged in learning.
"Maintaining the bilingual unit was in doubt, but we have confirmed that it will be maintained. That is a special part of the character of the school.
"We are bringing the school together as one - Matariki last month was a whole-school celebration and it was really special," Chesswas says.
"The school has had a lot of intervention and support and now we are in a period of transition. We hope to appoint a Board of Trustees in the beginning of next year and before long to be self governing again."
Having taught in Kotemaori and South Auckland, then been principal of three rural schools in Waikato, Chesswas says he's enjoying his move to Central Hawke's Bay.
"The weather here is so good. In the winter in the Waikato there are endless weeks of dampness. Here, when it's cold it's really cold - and then there is sunshine."