Birkdale North School - 15/12/2014

Findings

How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

The school provides an inclusive learning environment where children engage through trusting and respectful relationships with each other and with teachers. Student wellbeing, progress and achievement are at the centre of all school decision-making. The school’s strong connection to its community enriches school processes and systems.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1. Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Birkdale North School is located on the North Shore of Auckland city. It is a small primary school catering for students from Years 1 to 6. Since the 2011 ERO report a new principal has been appointed and the school charter has been revised.

A culturally diverse range of students attend the school. The roll is growing, particularly at junior level, and in the French immersion classes. The French unit offers an innovative learning approach for students whose families opt for this choice. For two days a week the learning is in English, the other three days in French. The unit’s curriculum is aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum document. Students travel from other parts of Auckland to take part in this programme.

The school has an inclusive culture where children and teachers collaboratively work and learn together. Involvement of families in students’ learning processes is a key priority, actively promoted by the school leadership and the board of trustees. There are two satellite classes of Wairau Valley School. These classes cater for special needs children. The school acts as a community hub and parents report high levels of confidence in teachers’ commitment to their children’s learning.

Positive features highlighted in ERO’s 2011 report have been sustained and school leaders have addressed priorities for development identified in that report. Self-review practices have been strengthened to promote positive outcomes for learners.

2. Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Birkdale North School leaders and teachers use school achievement information very well to track students’ learning progress. A high proportion of children are achieving at or above the National Standard in writing and mathematics. Currently students experiencing difficulties in reading receive intensive focus to help them to accelerate their progress.

Teachers analyse assessment information carefully to identify children’s learning gaps. This process ensures that individuals and groups of students receive targeted learning support where needed. Teachers regularly share strategies that could influence students’ success. This ongoing professional discussion adds to the quality of overall teaching practice in the school.

Students can talk about some aspects of their learning and teachers should continue to explain to children the significance of taking more responsibility for their learning goals and pathways. Students learn and achieve in a range of curricular opportunities outside the classroom where authentic learning experiences add to their understanding of the locality and region.

3. Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

Birkdale North School’s curriculum is well aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). It is a values-based curriculum that encourages positive social development in children. Students have opportunities to contribute to curriculum planning and to follow their learning interests.

The curriculum emphasises the importance of key competencies such as thinking, participating and contributing. The school’s focus on positive relationships underpins all learning experiences. Cooperative and collaborative learning helps to promote children’s well being and their sense of belonging in their class and in the school.

Literacy and mathematics are appropriately prioritised in the curriculum as foundation learning areas. Other NZC learning areas are integrated in inquiry-based programmes which allow students to enjoy choice and ownership of their learning.

High quality professional learning initiatives are a valued and essential part of strategic planning for the school’s development of teaching and learning. The school’s planned e-learning vision is at the implementation stage. This initiative offers students opportunities to use digital technologies to support their learning.

During the course of the review school leaders and ERO discussed the following considerations for the school’s curriculum development:

  • integrating literacy and mathematics programmes more purposefully into the curriculum concept plans
  • reviewing how well learning environments are influencing students’ learning.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori students as Māori, who are the largest ethnic group within the school. The principal models te reo me ōna tikanga Māori and seeks appropriate advice from whānau and iwi. Perspectives and aspirations from the Māori community are formally documented by both the board of trustees and school leaders.

Whānaungatanga, manaakitanga and tuakana teina are examples of embedded Māori values that enhance school processes and strengthen Māori students’ sense of identity in the school. The visible presence of Māori language and culture in the school is affirming Māori students and developing an understanding of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage for all students.

School leaders are committed to developing the use of te reo Māori in class programmes. There is an increasing dimension of Te Ao Māori in the curriculum’s concept plans. Teachers also wish to incorporate an historical understanding of the local area in curriculum programmes.

Māori students are making good progress with their learning. They continue to achieve at a slightly lower level than other students in the school in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. However, this same data set indicates that Māori students at Birkdale North School are achieving at higher levels than other Māori students in the Auckland region and nationally.

4. Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain the evident good features and practices and to continue to develop its capability. A purposeful and clear strategic plan is in place to guide the board’s direction for the next three years.

The board of trustees is supportive of school leaders and they work productively together. Trustees bring varied community and business expertise to the governance role. Board resourcing decisions are based on benefitting student learning.

The principal is a strong and effective leader. She is a learner herself who models akonga and works alongside her teachers using a coaching approach. The principal is highly respected by students and the school community.

Working partnerships with parents are developing strongly and help to support their children’s progress. Examples of these are the Mutukaroa initiative, the Pacific Reading Together programme and parents’ involvement in the French unit.

ERO discussed with school leaders and trustees about how progress being made against the school’s strategic and annual planning goals could be documented more clearly.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there was one international student. The board receives regular information about the progress and achievement of international students. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self review processes for international students were satisfactory, but would benefit from some further evaluation.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees 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:

  • board administration
  • 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 student 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.

Conclusion

The school provides an inclusive learning environment where children engage through trusting and respectful relationships with each other and with teachers. Student wellbeing, progress and achievement are at the centre of all school decision-making. The school’s strong connection to its community enriches school processes and systems.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

15 December 2014

About the School

Location

Birkdale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1229

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

158

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Samoan

Tongan

Filipino

other European

other Asian

other Pacific

others

33%

23%

12%

7%

4%

15%

2%

2%

2%

Special Features

Satellite Unit of Wairau Health

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

15 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2011

September 2008

September 2005