Western Heights School (Auckland) - 14/07/2017

Summary

The school’s roll of 635 children comprises 12 percent Māori, 31 percent NZ Pākehā, eight percent from Pacific nations and 35 percent from Asian nations. The school celebrates diversity, is responsive to children’s wellbeing and learning, and caters well for children who need additional learning support.

The board demonstrates a professional approach to its stewardship role and consists of experienced and new trustees. Trustees and senior leaders have made very good use of the findings of ERO’s 2014 evaluation and have sustained and continued to make very good progress in relation to the school’s strategic goals.The school is a member in the Waitakere Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL). School leaders have established pathways within Western Heights School and the wider Waitakere CoL to build coherence and capability for the benefit of children.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

Western Heights School responds very effectively to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Achievement information is used very well by leaders and teachers to shape programmes to accelerate children’s progress.

The school is responding well to all children who need to make accelerated progress in order to meet the National Standards. The school’s curriculum and teaching programmes are very effectively supporting children to achieve the valued outcomes identified in the school’s charter and The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

The school’s mission, vision and values firmly underpin all school systems and processes. They are also clearly enacted through the curriculum and are well communicated to children and the school community. As a result the school’s processes and actions are well aligned, and are very effectively helping to achieve equity and excellence for all children.

Children are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school is successfully addressing in-school disparity in educational outcomes. Further deepening internal evaluation through the use of evaluation research, and continuing to strengthen connections with whānau Māori are likely to enhance the school’s already successful processes and practices.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Western Heights School responds very effectively to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school’s mission, vision and values firmly underpin all school systems and processes. The vision is for children to be ‘caring, creative critical, confident, connected and to contribute’. Respect and ‘Bucket filling’ and ‘pay it forward’ values are further key features of the school’s ethos. The vision and values are very effectively enacted through leadership and teaching programmes.

The school’s curriculum is responsive, child-centred and builds on children’s interests. Achievement information over the last three years shows that children achieve well. More than 80 percent of children are at or above National Standards in reading and writing and over 90 percent in mathematics. Approximately 90 percent of children who leave the school at Year 6 are either at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Children whose progress in reading, writing or mathematics needs acceleration, are very effectively identified, tracked, and monitored. Senior leaders have identified some disparity in achievement for Māori children in reading and writing. The school is successfully continuing to reduce this.

School leaders maintain a strong line of sight across the progress and achievement of all children. Systems for identifying, tracking and monitoring children’s progress are well established and used. Teachers analyse assessment information well to plan and implement additional support programmes to meet children’s needs.

The school’s varied intervention programmes and initiatives are helping to accelerate the progress of children who are at risk of not achieving. Achievement information shows that all children are benefiting from these initiatives and that most target children have made accelerated progress in both reading and writing. Disparity for Māori in writing is reducing. The overall achievement of boys in reading and writing continues to lift. Leaders and teachers plan to continue a focus on writing and to evaluate the impact that each acceleration programme and initiative has on children’s progress and achievement.

The school has effective internal processes for moderating assessment information and ensuring teachers’ overall judgements against the National Standards are dependable. Teachers use a variety of assessment information and share this information with each other when determining their judgements.

Children requiring additional learning support are well supported by the Special Education Needs Coordinator. The coordinator works collaboratively with teachers, and learning assistants to deliver a wide variety of programmes to improve children’s learning outcomes and accelerate their progress. 

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

The school’s processes and actions very effectively help achieve equity and excellence for all children. They include:

  • a well-established culture of high expectations

  • highly effective school leadership that has established an environment that is conducive to children’s learning and wellbeing

  • a meaningful curriculum design that is responsive to context, and children’s heritage, language, culture and identity

  • strong partnerships between home, school and community

  • a professional teaching community, committed to using educational research and ongoing learning and improvement

  • a strategic approach to accelerating students’ achievement.

School leadership is focused on children’s learning in a caring, respectful and inclusive community. Leaders promote and participate in teacher professional development programmes. They have successfully established and embedded a strong professional learning culture. Leaders use current educational research to enhance teachers’ collaborative practice and their capacity to deliver the curriculum.

Very strong learning-centred relationships are evident between the school and parents. The board, leaders and teachers have built relational trust. There is active collaboration with the school’s diverse communities to enhance children’s learning outcomes. Numerous communication strategies are used to inform, engage and involve parents and whānau in their children’s learning. An on-line reporting portal for parents is a special feature of the school. This ‘real time’ sharing and reporting initiative is highly valued by the parent community.

Children engage well in learning programmes. Teachers provide positive learning environments. A broad, responsive, and integrated curriculum is collaboratively planned and effectively builds on children’s interests. An ‘inquiry model’ is used well to scaffold children’s thinking and skills particularly in relation to science and social science learning.

Children benefit from numerous opportunities to ‘share and shine’ their experiences and successes. They enjoy experiences which include an extensive arts curriculum and provision of a range of sporting, cultural and leadership learning opportunities. The curriculum promotes children taking ownership of their own learning and incorporates e-learning and information communication technologies effectively as tools for learning. Leaders plan to review and refine aspects of curriculum mapping and this is likely to extend the school’s capacity to meet children’s specific needs.

There is a focus in the curriculum on the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. Leaders have established an opportunity for a teacher to lead culturally responsive practice within the school and with other schools in the CoL. Children and teachers benefit from a part-time teacher’s te reo Māori classes. Children have many opportunities to participate proudly in kapa haka and participate respectfully at pōwhiri. The inclusive nature of the school promotes a strong sense of turangawaewae. The school plans to further enhance these connections for children and their whānau.

The board is focused on children’s learning and trustees are well informed about achievement trends. They make good use of achievement information to make decisions about resourcing learning programmes. The board regularly reviews its own progress and uses information gained from ongoing staff and parent consultation feedback to inform change.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Western Heights School is very well placed to sustain its current good practices.

Agreed next steps include:

  • making greater use of evaluation research to further deepen internal evaluation
  • continuing to strengthen whānau connections to help build and further improve strategies for accelerating the achievement of target Māori learners in literacy.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

One international student was enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

The school provides high quality pastoral care, responds very well to parental aspirations and communicates progress and achievement regularly and effectively.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Children are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school is successfully addressing in-school disparity in educational outcomes.

Agreed next steps are to:

  • make use of evaluation research in order to further deepen internal evaluation processes

  • continue strengthening connections with whanau Māori to enhance the school’s already successful processes and practices.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Violet Tu’uga

Stevenson Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

14 July 2017

About the school 

Location

Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1567

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

635

Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Chinese
Indian
Samoan
South East Asian
African
Filipino
Middle Eastern
other European
other

12%
31%
15%
15%
7%
3%
2%
2%
2%
3%
8%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

14 July 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2014
October 2011
June 2008