Threatened with closure just a few years ago, Kakanui School has made a remarkable turnaround.
While a recently published Education Review Office report on the 47-pupil, decile one school identified areas for improvement, it was praised for its environment, culture and values system.
“Students [at Kakanui School] benefit from the caring, inclusive school culture consistently promoted by the principal and staff,” the report said.
“The school’s commitment to the wellbeing of students means that all students have a strong sense of belonging in their school.”
Principal Ann Roughan said she felt the report was a fair reflection on the school’s performance, particularly in terms of its commitment to a positive education environment for pupils.
“We were really pleased with how it showed us as a caring, community-inclusive environment that’s safe .. that’s what we do foster here.”
A “small downward trend” was noted in academic achievement in reading, writing and maths over the past three years, and the school also needed to work on its accelerated learning programme.
However, Mrs Roughan said numbers related to those were misleading.
“Our achievement data had gone down in their eyes, but what was said was we included every single child because the data is for us to use.
“They suggested that we break it down so some of our ongoing resource-funding children, or priority learners, are grouped differently. When we did group them for them [ERO] like that, it actually showed we’d gone up.
“We treat every child as an individual, so our data might not show we have accelerated, but in our minds and our goals for these children, we have.”
In other areas, the school was praised for its use of the outdoor environment and how it incorporated into the school curriculum.
Mrs Roughan said that included the school’s ski programme, outdoor pursuits club, and initiatives such as tree plantings and teaching pupils how to fish for whitebait on the nearby Kakanui River.
“They said we’re doing fantastic things here at the school and making progress.”