Balmoral School (Auckland)

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School Context

Balmoral School (Auckland) is a large urban school that caters for students from Years 1 to 8. It has a growing and increasingly culturally diverse roll of approximately 930 students. Māori children make up 4 percent of the roll, 9 percent are of Pacific heritage, 11 percent are Asian, and 68 percent are Pākehā.

The school’s vision is to “develop curious, confident and connected learners”. The vision promotes “together we will respect the concept of diversity, inquire, celebrate who we are and discover our nation’s heritage”. Balmoral School’s values are manaaki/respect, mana tū/integrity, tō tātou/inclusiveness and manawaroa/resilience.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have identified valued outcomes that include the key competencies from the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Leaders and teachers have developed their own key learning aptitudes based on the competencies, which include thinking, persisting, creativity, managing self and communicating. These key competencies, together with knowledge, attitudes and values, make up the school’s valued outcomes.

In recent years staff have participated in external professional learning in the teaching of writing, reading and science. They have also engaged in professional learning about brain development, teaching and learning approaches, and growth mind set. Internal professional support has helped develop teachers’ capability in te reo Māori and culturally responsive approaches for teaching Pacific students.

Since the 2014 ERO review, two of the three associate principals have been appointed to their current roles. There have also been changes at middle leadership level and several new teaching staff. The board has a mix of new and experienced trustees.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • overall progress and achievement in relation to school targets

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • students’ progress and accelerated achievement

  • students with additional learning needs

  • student wellbeing for success

  • parent and student feedback about the school.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Balmoral School (Auckland) is highly effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students.

School achievement information over the last four years shows very high student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Comprehensive assessment and trend data are analysed well to inform decision making. Appropriate next steps are put in place and closely monitored to ensure that desired outcomes are achieved, and that timely adaptations are made when necessary.

Achievement information indicates that Māori students achieve highly, particularly in reading and mathematics. Over the last four years, Māori students have significantly improved achievement in these key curriculum areas. In addition, Māori learners at Balmoral School achieve higher when compared with Māori nationally in both reading and mathematics.

Leaders and teachers are successfully addressing a small disparity in the achievement of Pacific students and for boys in writing. School systems, practices and personalised approaches have resulted in increasing parity for students in key learning areas.

Students with additional learning needs benefit from effective, well-coordinated and high quality support. School achievement information for the small proportion of students who are achieving below expectations in reading, writing and mathematics, shows accelerated achievement for the majority of students and almost all make progress.

Students achieve very well in relation to other school valued outcomes. Students:

  • reflect pride in who they are and relate well with each other
  • demonstrate curiosity, confidence and collaboration in their active engagement in learning
  • are inclusive, and accepting of diversity
  • demonstrate the school’s values.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

Balmoral School (Auckland) is successfully accelerating learning for students who need it.

The school’s charter and annual targets aim specifically to accelerate the progress of identified groups of students. Action plans that align with the school’s achievement targets are developed collaboratively with teaching teams. Leaders value the importance of timely identification, making prompt and planned responses to accelerate learning progress. Progress toward school targets is closely monitored through collaborative team inquiries.

Leaders have continued to appropriately target the learning of Māori and Pacific students, particularly in writing. An in-depth and broad approach to addressing overall Pacific student achievement is in place.

Teachers identify children’s strengths, interests and learning needs accurately and quickly. This helps them to plan specific targeted support that is well matched to children’s identified needs. Learners benefit from teachers’ collaboration in refining targeted classroom teaching and learning, and from a variety of additional learning support.

Leaders and teachers respond well to students with additional learning needs. Almost all students show positive shifts in wellbeing, confidence and engagement in learning. These positive shifts help students improve and sustain their learning progress over time.

The school has a growing number of children who speak languages in addition to English. These children receive highly effective learning programmes to build their English language skills and competency. Appropriate links are made between their classroom programmes and specialist English Language Learning support. The achievement of these students is carefully monitored to ensure that they have access to the full range of the curriculum.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school’s culture contributes to the achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning. A broad and holistic view of success and achievement is integral to the school’s vision, philosophy and culture. Children are active participants in their education where curiosity, challenge, critical thinking and creativity are valued outcomes. The school promotes the joy of learning.

Leadership is collaborative, promotes ownership and a strong sense of belonging. The school’s vision is clearly articulated among students, staff, parents and the Balmoral School community. Leaders develop clear goals and targets for all learners to achieve valued outcomes. There is a deliberate focus on growing leadership capability at all levels in learning, teaching, managing and governing.

Stewardship is strategic and coherent. The board actively supports the school’s broad curriculum to be inclusive and responsive to learner needs, local contexts and the environment. Trustees ensure that the curriculum enables all students to become confident, connected and active, life-long learners.

The school’s curriculum design draws on research and current educational thinking to meet the learning needs and aspirations of students and parents. It provides students with opportunities to learn, achieve and progress through the breadth and depth of the NZC. Leaders and teachers are exploring ways to promote seamless transition from Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, to the NZC, by delivering a play-based curriculum in children’s first year of school. The use of “Philosophy for Children” continues to be a cornerstone of the school’s curriculum.

Students engage in cognitively challenging and purposeful learning opportunities that relate to real life contexts, issues and experiences. The school’s inquiry learning approach enables students to pursue their own interests and strengths, lead their own learning, and collaborate to make sense of the world.

Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building are embedded in school systems and practices. Relational trust supports collaboration, risk taking and openness to change. Effective communication supports the sharing of new knowledge to promote improvement and innovation. Leaders and teachers use internal evaluation and inquiry to contribute to evidence based decision making and ongoing improvement.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Leaders have identified that continuous upskilling of teaching practices and induction of teachers new to the school, are areas for further development. Strong systems and processes are in place to support this development.

Teachers benefit from internal professional learning in te reo Māori. Leaders agree that continued development in learning and using te reo Māori, and increasing teachers’ understanding of te ao Māori, is needed to further build bicultural perspectives in the curriculum.

3 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

  • finance

  • 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 pf 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 the aspects of the Code.

At the time of the review there were 21 international students attending the school.

Balmoral School provides international students with very good quality pastoral care and education. Students make good progress and achieve well in English language learning.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • leadership that is collaborative, grows future leaders and contributes to building a strong sense of belonging in a community

  • stewardship that is strategic, coherent, and resources school initiatives to realise the school’s vision

  • an inclusive, culturally responsive curriculum that is clearly aligned to the intent of the NZC

  • internal evaluation and inquiry that contribute to changes in thinking and practice

  • a culture where children are at the heart and are supported to be leaders of their own learning.

Next steps

Leaders agree that for continued improvement trustees, leaders and teachers should continue to:

  • refine internal evaluation to critically gauge the effectiveness of initiatives and practices and the impact of these on valued student outcomes
  • build teacher confidence and capability in te reo and te ao Māori to ensure biculturalism is more visible in school practices, curriculum, and culture.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

20 December 2018

About the school

Location

Mt Eden, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1219

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

926

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                      4%
Pākehā                                 68%
Chinese                                  9%
Indian                                    8%
Samoan                                 4%
Tongan                                  4%
other ethnic groups                 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

20 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review February 2014
Education Review August 2009
Education Review August 2006

1 Context

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

Balmoral School is a large urban school for students from Years 1 to 8. The school has two campuses, one for intermediate students and another for primary age students.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history. The 2009 ERO report noted capable, confident students who responded well to the challenge of high level thinking promoted by many teachers. The report also noted very good overall standards of achievement, and trustees and senior leaders’ commitment to ongoing improvement. These positive features have been sustained and continue to develop and improve.

There is a positive tone in the school that supports the learning of all students. Students, teachers and parents value being members of the school community and display a strong sense of pride in the school.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of achievement information to promote student engagement, progress and achievement.

Student enjoyment of learning is highly evident. They are interested, motivated and are active participants in classroom programmes. Students are encouraged to ask questions, valued for their ideas and opinions, and have opportunities to explore their strengths and interests. Student engagement in learning is very well supported by the school’s culture of learning. The concept of teachers as learners is modelled to students through the school’s approaches to professional learning and development. Staff and students have high expectations of themselves and others.

School achievement information shows that students overall are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. Senior leaders clearly report student achievement to the board. The information is used to set annual achievement targets and school priorities. The board and senior leaders monitor student progress against these targets. The usefulness of achievement information to the board continues to be strengthened as senior leaders use more refined tools to measure student progress over time.

Pacific students are represented across all achievement bands in the school. However, as a group of students, they are not yet achieving at the levels of the school community as a whole, especially in Years 7 and 8. Recently introduced initiatives to lift Pacific student achievement are well supported by the board, staff and the Pacific community. The challenge for the school is to sustain these initiatives and accelerate the progress of Pacific students.

Student achievement information is used well by teachers to plan programmes to cater for their students’ different strengths and learning needs. Teachers could give greater ownership of assessment information to students and more actively involve them in decisions about how to further improve their learning. Providing students and parents with written reports that more overtly indicate student’s achievement in relation to the National Standards is a next step.

The school has inclusive and responsive practices and systems to support students with special learning needs. There is a shared commitment and responsibility for student progress on the part of teachers and learning assistants. This ensures students participate fully in appropriate learning programmes and classroom activities.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

The curriculum caters well for the different developmental stages of students as they move through the school. The school’s curriculum builds on the approaches from Te Whāriki, the Early Childhood Curriculum to support children’s transition to school. The principles and key competencies that are part of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) enrich classroom programmes for all learners. Specialist subject teachers, together with general classroom teachers provide high quality learning experiences for Year 7 and 8 students. These students are well prepared for secondary school.

While the curriculum has a strong focus on literacy and mathematics, students benefit from a broad curriculum. The school’s habits of 'thinking, persisting, creativity, managing self and communicating' are explicitly taught. 'Philosophy for Children' is a cornerstone of the curriculum and students are challenged to inquire about their world and make reasoned decisions about their attitudes and values. Another cornerstone of the curriculum is introducing new concepts through 'rich tasks'. The 'rich tasks' involve learning activities and content designed to be relevant, authentic and interesting for students.

Further inclusion of Māori, Pacific and other multicultural aspects in contexts for learning should further increase the relevance of the curriculum for many students by providing opportunities for them to learn through their culture.

Teachers' well planned and high quality teaching programmes are underpinned by respectful learning relationships. School systems support teachers to be reflective. Teachers share professional practice within syndicates and across the school. They are supported by useful professional learning and development programmes and effective performance management processes.

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

The school has 58 students who identify as Māori. Māori students value the inclusion of aspects of Māori culture and language in the environment, learning programmes and school practices. Teachers’ capacity for successfully integrating te reo and tikanga Māori into class programmes is growing through professional development. Whānau have been involved in documenting the history of the school site, which is displayed at the entrance to the school. Whānau have also contributed to the school karakia which is a feature of school assemblies. Students from all year groups are encouraged to attend the school’s active kapa haka group.

Māori student achievement is gathered separately and reported to the board. They are achieving at similar levels to other students in relation to the National Standards in mathematics, and slightly less well in literacy. The board and senior leaders should consider how to sustain and build on current initiatives designed to support the focus on raising achievement for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to grow its performance.

The board provides effective governance. They are well informed about curriculum developments and student achievement. Board decisions are well considered, strategic and aimed at ensuring the sustainability of improvements. The work of the board and senior leaders is well coordinated through the school’s strategic and operational planning process.

There is strong professional leadership in the school. The principal and senior leaders clearly articulate the school’s teaching and learning model, ensuring that it is very evident in practice. Syndicate leaders and curriculum focus leaders skilfully lead the improvement of classroom programmes. There is an emphasis on growing leadership and recognising people’s capabilities to complement and enhance school developments.

Self review is used well. Trustees and school leaders make very good use of external review to evaluate the school performance and build internal capability for self review. The outcomes of review provide clear rationales for improvements in curriculum design and teaching practice, and help to shape the school’s future direction. Students, staff and the school community are consulted as part of review processes. School leaders build networks with other school and make good use of external facilitators and sound educational research to support improved outcomes for students.

Provision for international students

Balmoral School provides its international students with a very good standard of education and support. An effective programme supports their English language development, and they make good progress over time. Students are warmly welcomed and enjoy many opportunities to participate in school activities. The office manager provides effective pastoral support for these 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. At the time of this review there were eight international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. EROs investigations confirmed that the schools self review process for international students is thorough. School leaders could build sustainable practices by formalising ways for documenting and reporting self review and provision for international students.

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.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should give parents more information on enrolment about curriculum and activity charges, and make it clear to parents that the charges for these activities are donations and are not compulsory. [Section 3 Education Act 1989]

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

14 February 2014

About the School

Location

Mount Eden, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1219

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

824

Number of international students

8

Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Chinese

Indian

other Asian

other ethnicities

60%

7%

10%

7%

7%

4%

5%

Special Features

Satellite Unit Sunnydene Special School

Technology Centre

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

14 February 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2009

August 2006

April 2003