Birkenhead School

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Summary

At the time of this review, the school’s roll of 430 comprises six percent Māori children, 63 percent Pākehā, three percent of Pacific heritage and 17 percent from Asian countries.

The school celebrates individuality and inclusion, is responsive to children’s wellbeing and learning, and caters well for children who need additional learning support. Achievement information is used very well by leaders and teachers to shape programmes to accelerate children’s progress.

The board and senior leaders have continued to make significant progress in relation to ERO’s 2014 report. Achievement information is used very well by leaders and teachers to plan programmes to accelerate children’s progress. A well-documented school curriculum builds on children’s interests, providing them with learning opportunities in meaningful contexts.

The school’s achievement information shows that most children achieve well in relation to the National Standards. Approximately 90 percent of children who leave the school at the end of Year 6 achieve the National Standards in mathematics and reading. Writing achievement, while still above National Standards achievement levels, is a current focus and target for the school. The school has identified some disparity in achievement for Māori and Pacific children in literacy and mathematics, and for boys in writing. Plans are in place to address areas of disparity.

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

Birkenhead School is increasingly achieving equitable outcomes for children. The school is responding well to all children whose progress needs accelerating in order to meet the National Standards. Children’s learning needs in reading, writing and mathematics are identified and targeted support is provided. Their progress is closely monitored and shared with parents.

The school’s curriculum and teaching programmes are effective in supporting children to achieve the valued outcomes identified in the school’s charter and The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The school’s values of “learning, community and respect” are enacted through the curriculum and all school systems and are aligned to the school’s pursuit of equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Agreed next steps include:

  • continuing to develop student agency so that children continue to develop a greater understanding of their own learning and next steps

  • strengthening multi-cultural responsiveness and using children’s language, culture and identity to enrich their learning

  • continuing to embed ‘Teaching as Inquiry’ approaches to strengthen the school’s evaluative culture and strategic development.

Children are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded 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?

Birkenhead School responds very well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Teachers use a variety of assessment information to plan programmes that meet the needs of children, and to identify those children who could benefit from additional support.

Achievement information over the past three years shows that most children achieve very well. Over 85 percent of children are at or above the national standard in reading, over 75 percent in writing and over 90 percent in mathematics. The school has identified some disparity in achievement for Māori and Pacific children in literacy and mathematics and for boys in writing. Targeted planning is in place to address this and disparity for Māori learners is reducing.

Achievement information is used very well by leaders and teachers to shape programmes to accelerate children’s progress. Numerous programmes and initiatives are in place to accelerate the progress of children who are at risk of not achieving.

Leaders and teachers are evaluating the impact of acceleration programmes and initiatives. The school is able to show that all children are benefiting from initiatives aimed at accelerating their progress in reading, writing and mathematics. There is evidence that the school’s writing initiatives are improving boys’ levels of engagement and are resulting in accelerated progress. Senior leaders acknowledge boys’ writing achievement as an ongoing area of focus.

There are good processes to ensure that overall teacher judgements for the National Standards are reliable. Teachers use a variety of assessment information and share this information across teams when confirming their judgements. There has been some moderation of writing assessments with other schools.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

The school’s systems and processes are effective in helping to achieve equity and excellence for all learners. Most notably, developments in leadership, teachers’ professional learning programmes, community collaboration, and the school’s broad, responsive and meaningful curriculum are contributing significantly to supporting and building equity and excellence.

Leaders and teachers work collaboratively to ensure children learn in a very caring and inclusive school community. Children’s wellbeing and learning are prioritised and intentionally supported through a range of strategies, and through the employment of a part time counsellor.

A recent review has resulted in a focus on the team leaders acting as ‘leaders of learning’. As a result of relevant professional learning programmes, leaders are working to build the collective capacity and capability of teachers. Teachers are encouraged to reflect on their practice, share their knowledge of effective teaching and its impact on children’s learning.

Senior leaders plan to:

  • make increased use of research in teacher inquiry

  • continue to grow and develop the role of learning leaders to respond to all children whose learning and achievement need accelerating.

Teachers provide positive classroom environments and children engage well in learning programmes. The school curriculum builds on children’s interests, provides meaningful contexts for literacy, numeracy and especially for science and social science learning. The school’s ‘inquiry model’ supports children’s thinking and skill development well. The use of community resources and expertise from university scientific partnerships enriches children’s learning.

Children identified as requiring additional learning support are closely monitored by the Special Education Needs Coordinator. The coordinator works collaboratively with leaders, staff and parents to deliver a wide variety of programmes to improve children’s learning outcomes and accelerate their progress.

School leaders have consulted with whānau Māori to discuss initiatives that might further enhance outcomes for Māori children. This has resulted in the establishment of Te Whānau Wawata.These initiatives are helping to foster learning about te reo and tikanga Māori for both teachers and children.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

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

The school is developing and implementing sound internal evaluation processes. This has contributed to the strong progress the school has made in a number of areas. Senior leaders should now further build capability to strengthen the school’s evaluative culture. More systematic and in-depth evaluation could further support teachers, leaders and the board with decision making and in determining the impact of professional development and initiatives designed to accelerate children’s progress.

The school has many good processes to help it achieve equity and excellence for children. There is increasing evidence of accelerated progress for children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. School leaders have a continuing focus on strengthening foundation and early intervention programmes, and lifting the achievement of boys in writing is a priority.

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:

further build leader and teacher capability, in order to strengthen the school’s evaluative culture

  • continue to reduce disparity in achievement outcomes for boys in writing

  • continue to develop ‘student agency’ by ensuring that children develop a greater understanding of their achievement levels and next learning steps

  • strengthen multicultural responsiveness and use children’s languages, culture and identity to enrich their learning.

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

24 July 2017

About the school 

Location

Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1231

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

430

Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Pacific
other

6%
63%
17%
3%
11%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

24 July 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

January 2014
October 2010
December 2007

 

1 Context

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

Birkenhead School caters for between 350 and 400 students from Years 1 to 6. The 94-year-old school is situated in one of Auckland’s oldest North Shore suburbs, close to the Waitemata Harbour.

The school has a strong community culture. School leaders and teachers are committed to knowing children and their families well. Parents and whānau are welcomed, encouraged to participate in the school and to work together with teachers to support their child’s learning.

The board of trustees is supportive and appreciative of the principal and staff. Trustees are a mix of long-standing and new members. They value the community focus of the school. Trustees are enthusiastic about potential property developments and are planning ways to increase students’ access to information and communication technologies (ICT).

Since the 2010 ERO report, the board has appointed a new deputy principal. She is streamlining school management systems. Together with senior managers and teachers, she has improved the reliability and validity of student achievement data and is systematically improving school-wide teaching and learning expectations.

The 2010 ERO report noted a priority for the school was to improve school self-review systems in many areas. While the development of more strategic self review remains a priority, emergent reviews of a number of areas are enabling school development. A continuing focus on self review should promote ongoing improvements to school performance.

2 Learning

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

A majority of students are achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. School leaders closely analyse achievement data, and track those students who are not progressing and achieving well in order to provide support for them. The school is now well placed to further use student achievement information to identify the effectiveness of new initiatives and to make informed decisions that will further promote student engagement achievement and progress.

Student achievement information is used to set school-wide targets for reading, writing and mathematics. It could be now be helpful to develop more specific targets for individual year groups and cohorts of students. Targets should also include ways the school plans to further lift its provision for promoting the success of its Māori students.

The senior management team has followed a strategically planned and scaffolded approach to improve the validity and reliability of student achievement data collected by teachers. Professional learning and development, and moderation of data collected from different assessment tools have helped to improve the consistency of teacher judgements across the school.

School leaders and trustees believe they now have robust and reliable student achievement data as a baseline to enable them to set more differentiated, realistic, specific targets. This baseline information will also enable them to monitor the effectiveness of the school's support for at risk learners and the progress over time for other selected cohorts, including Māori and Pacific students.

Student achievement data is used by teachers to group students for instruction and to identify students needing extra support or extension. Senior managers have implemented a wide variety of strategies and initiatives to target and enable accelerated achievement for students who are not achieving to their potential.

School leaders have identified that their next steps are for all teachers to more consistently:

  • analyse and use classroom achievement data to inform their teaching and planning
  • enable students to know and make use of their own data to help them become more effective selfmanaging learners. This point was also raised in the 2010 ERO report.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes children’s learning in reading, writing and mathematics.

Students’ engagement in the curriculum is supported through the good relationships evident across the school and teachers’ good knowledge of students, families and whānau. Students are valued as individuals and encouraged to express themselves in a variety of ways. A range of school programmes and activities outside the classroom provides for the holistic development of students. Classroom environments are attractive and well resourced. They provide learning prompts for students and celebrate their learning.

Teachers have participated in considerable external professional learning and development to improve their teaching of writing. They have engaged in discussions and mentoring with other teachers to improve teaching and learning in reading, writing and numeracy. Teachers consistently share the purpose of lessons with students and use good questioning skills to encourage students to think critically.

School leaders have identified the need for a stronger focus on science. A two-year approach to this task, which included a comprehensive teacher professional development programme, has helped build school resources and teachers’ knowledge and confidence in the teaching of science through an inquiry approach. As a result students benefit from enriched science learning experiences and opportunities.

Senior leaders have planned, and ERO agrees, the school’s next steps are to:

  • further develop the school 's culture of encouraging students' input into class and school level decisions which affect them
  • further promote the school's culture of critical inquiry to support individual teacher’s ongoing reflection on, and adaptation of, their own teaching practice
  • complete the upgrade the school’s ICT infrastructure and resources to better support student learning.

Senior managers now need to develop an overview to document and guide school self review on the extent to which students have access to all aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum during their time at the school.

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

Four percent of students at Birkenhead School identify as Māori. The school’s curriculum and inclusive, positive relationships support Māori students to achieve. Initiatives such as the school’s kapa haka and te reo Māori programme have a good profile in the school. Teachers believe these programmes are having a positive effect on the achievement of Māori students. Māori students spoke positively to ERO about their experiences in the school.

As suggested in the 2010 ERO report, trustees and school leaders could now make greater use of Ministry of Education resources that support success for Māori as Māori.

A useful next step for the school's te reo Māori programme would be to ensure that it that enables students to progressively develop their knowledge of, and confidence in using, te reo and tikanga Māori each year.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

While the school has continued to make progress, it should now focus on developing effective, well understood processes for self review. Establishing a clear framework and culture for robust, systematic review would help the school better meet its accountabilities. To make improvements senior leaders and the board should focus on the development of:

  • a more future-focused strategic plan with measurable and achievable goals, including goals for priority learners
  • more robust, and improvement-focused performance management processes for the principal, senior managers and teachers
  • robust and ongoing review of policies and procedures to ensure they reflect current legislative requirements and school practices.

A culture of professional learning discussions amongst teachers across the school has been established through focused professional development in assessment, literacy, numeracy, inquiry and science. Senior managers, together with staff, could now complete the development of the school's 'preferred practice ' documentation related to effective teaching and learning, and use this documentation to better guide and monitor class programmes.

Collegial working relationships are evident between the board, senior managers and staff. A next useful step for further enhancing shared ownership for school improvement would be to consider ways to involve teachers and curriculum leaders more fully in setting school goals and targets.

ERO further recommends training for the board and principal to strengthen aspects of governance and management, including strategic planning and self-review. This would support the enactment of the school’s vision for 'reaching for our heights, looking to our horizons'.

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

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigation confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is adequate.

Birkenhead School provides good pastoral care for its international students, who are well integrated into the school’s programmes. These students benefit from the school’s family-like culture and the provision of additional English language tuition.

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.

During the review ERO identified one area of non-compliance. To address this, the board must:

  • develop and implement robust policies and procedures for the appraisal of the principal, senior leaders and staff

[NAG 3 (a); State Sector Act 1988 (77 C)].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

29 January 2014

About the School

Location

Birkenhead, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1231

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

389

Number of international students

4

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākeha

Chinese

Korean

Indian

Middle Eastern

Pacific

Other Asian

Other European

Other

4%

64%

7%

3%

3%

2%

2%

6%

6%

3%

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

29 January 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2010

December 2007

February 2005