Strategic Plan


Turangawaewae Arohanui

Arohanui School and Specialist Outreach Service is a state co-educational area/composite school situated in West Auckland. Arohanui caters for the learning and care needs of students with intellectual disability from ages 5 to 21 years. The school’s 29 classrooms are located currently across fourteen sites comprising a base school, primary, intermediate and secondary satellite classes and an adult learning unit. The school also delivers a comprehensive Specialist Teacher Outreach service to mainstream schools in the West Auckland area. The school’s roll reflects the mix of cultures in West Auckland. Maori, European, Pacifica and Asian families account for the majority of cultures at the school.

To meet the unique needs of our students, the school requires a large paraprofessional and professional staff including teachers, therapists, specialists, teacher aides, and service and support staff. The school’s organisational structures are designed to meet the complex needs of a wide range of students, a large and diverse staff, a widespread geographical location and the challenge of delivering a curriculum that promotes and supports personalised learning. The school is governed by a Board of Trustees. The site (day–to–day) management structures include Te Ropu Pou Tangata (senior management) and Te Ropu Maru Tangata (middle management), and a variety of other organisational mechanisms including the grouping of staff into three schools (departments) and teams. School systems and procedures ensure that management, co-ordination, decision-making, communication and participation is effective across the school.

Arohanui is our Turangawaewae. We acknowledge and uphold the right to community for our students and families and our undertaking is to work collaboratively to create this community.


Student & Whanau Hauora
Arohanui provides a safe, caring and unique learning environment for enrolled students and families. We have a saying “When we enrol a student we enrol the family.”  Central to this work is how we see our trusting partnership with families/whanau and caregivers. We consider our families as experts on their children and as valuable partners in the learning relationship. We also understand that many of our families face multiple challenges and that we are both prepared and where able
provide them with support, guidance and advocacy.


The Three Touchstones of Effective Education
Arohanui provides specialised differentiated curriculum for a very wide range of student needs. Our teaching and curriculum must be flexible, relevant and individualised. To both reinforce and guide our work we ensure three fundamental elements of learning are working together. We call these the three touchstones of effective education:

1. Attitude (Whakaaro pai)
“Attitude is everything!” This is a very simple concept. A positive attitude towards our student community makes all the difference. A positive attitude creates the bedrock from which to build all else. Positivity builds bridges, opens doors, lights the dark and importantly creates a place for happiness and fun. Our attitude to student learning and behaviour is epitomised by our Positive Approaches pedagogy and underpins all our interactions with students.


2. Relationships
& Whanaungatanga
“It’s all about relationships!” Positive relationships are vital to the working of an effective school including students, families/whanau, each other and the many other professionals and services we encounter. The overabundance of research about this aside, it is surely pure common sense!

The relationships we have with our students is even more significant given the challenge many of our students have with customary communication. We have to have an intimate knowledge and understanding of how our students communicate, feel and think and ultimately learn. This takes time and the ability to form close and trusting relationships including of great significance, as previously mentioned, the relationships we grow and form with our families. Again trust is central.


3. Engagement (Hono ki te Wairua)
“Engagement is the medium in which learning occurs!” We need to take (within reason) a whatever works approach to our students. In our work we must take into account our need to support and implement:

  • sensory and environmental needs
  • use of adaptive language and communication
  • programme consistency
  • reflective practices
  • strategies for emotional regulation
  • social interaction
  • understanding the function of behaviour
  • student narrative
  • meaningful contexts

We need to find the keys to switching our students on (sometimes also off)! Every child has a unique set of keys. We are indeed educational locksmiths!



Nga Tangata Arohanui
Nga Tangata Arohanui are a committed multi-professional staff dedicated to supporting the learning journeys of all our students. Our school whakatauki is at the heart of our work.

Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tātou māhi
“Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work”

 All our staff are specialists in their own right. We value deeply the place of whanaungatanga, as mentioned and place families/whanau at the heart of expertise around the student. We work together closely within teams sharing challenges and successes. We consider ourselves as learners alongside our students and are purposeful in keeping professionally updated. We consider ourselves at the cutting edge of many of our pedagogical approaches and are always on the lookout to cherry-pick best practices and approaches. We are an outward looking hothouse of special education delivery. We provide national and regional leadership and advocacy in areas of learning support and disability issues. We provide ongoing support, training and development for our growing community. We are the avatars of our catch-phrase Creating Community.

Ako & Whare W

Every student is a unique learner. Our ability to differentiate the New Zealand curriculum and apply effective and specialised pedagogies responsive to need is essential. In this respect, our students drive our curriculum and pedagogical development. Equally every staff member is also a learner and our learning journeys often mirror those of our students. This is why we consider our school to be not just a Kura but also a Wānaga. We work hard at building cooperative learning and teaching relationships that help sharpen and develop school practices, programmes and pedagogies. 

We provide for whole of education pathways for students and support a community much wider than those enrolled. We believe very much staff too are on a learning journey and therefore need to be open to new learning and having existing ideas and thinking challenged. We grow the professionalism of our staff, link closely with other specialist schools, and relevant NGOs (Spectrum care, Autism NZ), as well as supporting learning for a much wider professional community, including students from other Wānaga such as students from, teaching, nursing, speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physio therapy, psychology, medical doctors as well as overseas institutions. We are definitely much more than a school.

Wider Community

The learning support landscape is changing and we are spear-heading much of this work in development and practice. Our role, as we develop into the future needs to extend our outward looking/working abilities as we help to co-construct a framework and the necessary infrastructure to strengthen the capability and capacity of our educational services to support a growing diversity of needs across the sector. We need to understand that essentially we are starting at the beginning as the misnomer of inclusion as perpetrated by our ministry essentially invested nothing in terms of supporting structured differentiation across the sector. For us this will include extending our outreach capabilities, working strategically alongside schools and their new Learning Support Coordinators in particular and connecting and growing with existing NGO’s and other educational organisations such as Alternative Education.  In addition, we also need to help bring about some change in post school opportunities for our community.  Traditional pathways are simply not enough and this concern needs to be raised and worked on collaboratively with NGOs and ministries.

Tika & Pono

Doing different things for different people is the right thing to do. We do not live in a one size fits all world. Our learning community requires staff to be able to communicate and understand, provide navigation through complexity, individualise support and provide advocacy to be part of a wider community. In providing these needs we are Creating Community.  In doing so we are more able to provide sector leadership in a changing paradigm and help forge the future changes that will benefit all in our community. This includes advocating for better national data to inform practises, creating more informed and specialised learning environments and importantly supporting infrastructural development to improve regional professional and para-professional support, skill development and resources to cater for an increasingly dynamic population.

Manaakitanga & Aroha
As a community the awareness and actions of the need to care, bind us. This helps to develop resilience, empathy, and a sense of purpose. We are also acutely aware that as much as we give of ourselves, this is reflected back in the authentic relationships with those we work with. What we do is important not just for the people we support but for society as a whole.

(Nga Korero)
Narrative defines the human condition. Everything we engage in is surrounded by multiple narratives. How we communicate with each other, share stories, receive news, decide on politics, entertain ourselves, relax, play work; all heavily reliant on sharing of narratives. Our community find connecting to these narratives often impossible or extremely difficult. Our work is to create and involve ourselves with the narratives of our students. These often look quite different from our own but play a vital role in the development of relationships and meaningful engagement.  

Collective Responsibility
(Kawenga Tohatoha)

We are all in this together. He waka eke noa! Our collective efforts make a positive difference to the lives of many. Through our positive approaches, we promote the need for a can do and constructive attitude. We all have the responsibility to uphold the values and practices of the school. If we see things we disagree with or are challenged by we have a duty to speak out and to advocate. The things we walk past are the things we condone. We value the place of authentic relationships with students and whanau and we work hard to ensure we create meaningful and engaging learning experiences. We are collectively responsible for creating community and culture around our students.

Arohanui School & Specialist Outreach Service

82 Tirimoana Road,Te Atatu South
Ph: 09 8386696, Fax: 09 8386693