Western Heights Primary School (Rotorua)

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

Education institution number:
2078
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
365
Telephone:
Address:

197 Clayton Road, Western Heights, Rotorua

View on map

School Context

Western Heights Primary School is located in Rotorua and caters for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this review there were 424 students enrolled of whom 88% identified as Māori.

The school’s vision is ‘E tu hei maunga – stand tall like the mountain’ is underpinned by the values of whanaungatanga, rangatiratanga, manaakitanga and kotahitanga. ‘The Whakaahu Way’ is the framework for positive behaviour. The framework is a combination of the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum and the designated ‘eight habits for happy kids’ which are:

  • be proactive
  • begin with the end in mind
  • put things first
  • think win-win
  • seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • synergize
  • sharpen the saw
  • find your voice.

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

  • achievement, progress and acceleration in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement in the integrated curriculum including science, social science, art, technology, health and physical education
  • outcomes related to engagement and wellbeing of children and their whānau through the hauora initiatives
  • value added for children in relation to the eight habits
  • outcomes for students with special and additional learning needs.

The school roll is highly transient with over 50% turnover in a year. Over half the roll is on the Ministry of Social Development vulnerable children list.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, the principal and the board chair continue in their roles, there has been a new appointment to the leadership team, and new appointments to the teaching and support staff.

The school has been involved in a range of professional learning and development focussed on improving teacher practice. These include the eight habit refresher course, literacy and numeracy, te reo, teaching through integration, and cultural responsiveness and relational pedagogy.

The school is part of Te Maru o Ngongotaha Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (COL).

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?

The school is effectively working toward achieving equity and excellence for all students.

In 2018 most students were achieving at or above expected curriculum levels in reading writing and mathematics. Māori and Pākehā are achieving at comparable rates in writing and mathematics. Māori outperform Pākehā in reading. Boys are achieving comparably to girls in mathematics but not as well in reading and writing. These high levels of achievement are consistent over time.

The school tracks cohort data and the value added over time. This information shows high levels of achievement by the end of Year 6 with almost all achieving at expected levels in reading and mathematics and most in writing. This level of achievement has been consistently high over time.

The school closely monitors children with special and additional learning needs and reports that they are progressing well towards their personal development and achievement goals.

The school reports positive achievement results for the integrated curriculum. Leaders show the positive impact of hauora initiatives on at-risk students’ progress and achievement.

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

The school is highly effective in accelerating learning for those Maori and other students who need this.

The positive acceleration outcomes for Māori and other learners are the result of the school’s systematic approach to the identification, tracking, monitoring and response to at-risk learners.Senior leaders can show collated, analysed and reported acceleration information for students at risk in their learning in reading, writing and mathematics.

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?

Leaders are highly effective in enacting the vision and values of achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Trustees and leaders work collaboratively to advocate for children and whānau and focus on the positive potential for all children to thrive and succeed. Trustees set overall achievement and acceleration targets. Leaders identify and regularly track and monitor the progress of all at-risk learners and report this to the board. The board responds to trends and patterns in data and generously funds initiatives to provide equitable opportunities to learn and build teacher capability. Leaders and teachers meet weekly to discuss priority learners. This approach ensures leaders are fully informed of all aspects of children’s lives that impact on learning and enables them to provide timely pastoral support to students and their whānau. Leaders’ commitment to equity and excellence is supporting high levels of progress and achievement across the curriculum.

Teachers are highly responsive to all children and whānau, actively promoting a strong sense of aroha and turangawaewae. Teachers model and foster the school values and the principles of love and belonging and high expectations. E tu hei maunga is regularly used by teachers to affirm positive behaviour for learning and is clearly understood and articulated by students and whānau. ERO observed high levels of engagement and enjoyment of learning and respectful relationships between teachers, students and whānau. Structured well-planned lessons provide security, clear expectations for students and creates calm settled classrooms conducive for learning. Highly skilled teacher aides provide in-class support and facilitate pathways for learning programmes in literacy, numeracy and oral language. Classroom teachers implement effective systems to track and monitor progress of at-risk learners. This enables them to plan responsive teaching and support programmes that contribute to high levels of success and accelerated progress.

A highly supportive, caring and inclusive culture and school curriculum provides equitable opportunities for learning. The shared understanding among staff, students and whānau of the eight habits of a happy kid underpin the positive school culture. These habits are clearly integrated throughout the school to reinforce positive behaviour and are further supported by a strong restorative and behaviour management process that sets clear expectations for a consistent approach for staff and students. A key feature of the school is the specific focus on hauora and the multiple initiatives that effectively support children to have their needs met physically, socially, emotionally so they are ready to learn. The school provides weekly opportunities for inter-agency collaboration to provide wrap-around support for children and whānau. The school continues to strengthen its integrated curriculum which offers relevant and authentic contexts for learning. High-quality curriculum documents are clear, comprehensive and promote high levels of consistency across the school. The school has a purposeful approach to transient students and prioritises the need to provide highly responsive programmes to support learning for these students. For children with high additional learning needs, teachers and the special education needs coordinators develop individualised education plans and work collaboratively with external specialist agencies to support these children and their families. There is a strong sense of belonging and inclusion for all children and whānau in the school.

Whānau and iwi are empowered to be productive partners in their children’s learning and wellbeing. Leaders and teachers work proactively to build learning partnerships with whānau. The school provides resources to support whānau with building on children’s learning at home to further support accelerated progress. The school provides a range of parent education courses including habits in the home, budgeting, health and wellbeing. Ngāti Whakaue are active partners in the school supporting staff to grow their knowledge and understanding of tikanga and te reo Māori. The Ngāti Whakaue Endowment Trust funds several initiatives to support students needing acceleration. Whānau who spoke to ERO appreciate the love and support provided for their children in all aspects of their pastoral care needs so they are ready to learn.

There is well-sustained high performance and consistent improvement over time, informed by rigorous internal evaluation. The school is strongly improvement and future focused. Robust quality assurance processes are in place to support all areas of the curriculum, pastoral care and wellbeing, progress and achievement. All initiatives are effectively evaluated and are consistently focused on improving outcomes for children. Teachers are highly reflective practitioners and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of teaching programmes. There is a robust system for teacher appraisal which contributes to continual improvements to teaching practice. There is a highly effective coaching and mentoring process that is informed by achievement information and focuses on building teacher capability to accelerate progress for those students who need it.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers need to ensure annual targets are specific and align with all students who require acceleration.

Leaders and teachers need to continue to strengthen a more sequential and integrated approach to developing te ao and te reo Māori across the school.

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.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Western Heights Primary School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Strong.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a culture of collaboration between trustees, leaders and teachers that builds collective capacity to improve educational outcomes for all learners
  • an holistic approach to student wellbeing that actively creates an inclusive environment for learning
  • productive partnerships for learning with trustees, parents, whānau and community that provide equitable opportunities for all children to learn
  • highly effective internal evaluation that underpins ongoing improvement.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • setting annual targets that are specific, measureable and aligned with all students requiring acceleration
  • strengthening the localised curriculum to further support students understanding of Ngāti Whakauetanga.

Phillip Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

26 March 2019

About the school

Location

Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number

2078

School type

Contributing Years 1 to 6

School roll

424

Gender composition

Girls 49% Boys 51%

Ethnic composition

Māori 88%
Pākehā 10%
Other 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)

58

Number of students in Level 5 MLE

58

Review team on site

February 2019

Date of this report

26 March 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review May 2010
Education Review May 2007

Findings

Western Heights Primary School has sustained high performance since the 2010 ERO review. The teaching is highly effective in promoting students’ learning through a rich and exciting local curriculum. An effective partnership with parents, whānau and the school’s community supports a positive learning environment for all learners.

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

1 Context

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

Western Heights Primary School also known as Te Kura o Whakaahu, is located in the western suburbs of Rotorua. The school caters for Years 1 to 6 students and features three bilingual classes. The current roll of 424 students includes 90% Māori students and 3% Pacific students. There is a high number of students who stay at the school for short periods of time.

Since the last ERO review the management team has been restructured, there have been changes in the board of trustees, a sports complex has been built, the hall redeveloped and a playground constructed. The school enjoys a stable staff who access a wide range of professional development opportunities. The areas identified for review and development in the 2010 ERO report related to appraisal, student ownership of their learning and te reo Māori have been addressed.

The increase in roll numbers has resulted in the Ministry of Education establishing an enrolment scheme. This scheme limits the school from enrolling students from outside the designated zone. The school also hosts a Kea Street Special School satellite class and Reading Recovery Centre.

2 Learning

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

The school makes highly effective use of achievement information to manage positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Contributing factors include:

  • the appointment of a student achievement analyst to assist teachers to identify, collate and analyse student learning needs especially for students ‘at risk’ of not succeeding
  • prompt and detailed assessment of students, particularly transient students to determine their specific goals and targets, and design of a responsive programme to accelerate their achievement
  • an extensive variety of support programmes including the effective use of skilled teacher aides for students requiring extra support in their learning. These students have individual education programmes which are carefully monitored
  • class assessment information is well used by teachers to design appropriate programmes for groups and individual students
  • school-wide assessment data is informing board resourcing decisions, management of achievement targets and specific professional development and learning needs of teachers and teacher aides.

School-wide student achievement information for 2013 shows that students are achieving at or above National Standards in writing and mathematics and this is comparable to national averages. The school recognises that further raising student achievement in reading is an identified strategic goal, as well as reviewing and refining student achievement reports for parents.

The school can clearly show progress, and in many cases accelerated progress, of individual students in reading, writing and mathematics. However, it is challenging for Western Heights Primary School to report comparative achievement information for all students over time due to the highly transient nature of the student population.

3 Curriculum

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

Western Heights Primary School’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. ‘The Whakaahu Way’ is the school’s vision and model for effective classroom teaching. Developed in consultation with staff and community, this curriculum framework sets high expectations and guidelines for teaching and learning. ERO agrees with management’s intentions to further embed the school’s curriculum and extend its influence into the wider community.

A strong emphases is placed on the importance of a safe and inclusive culture that caters for students’ social, academic and wellbeing needs. They have opportunities to participate in a broad range of learning experiences within and beyond the school environment.

A comprehensive and well-managed pastoral care system assists students to enjoy school life and focus on learning. Students experience success within a caring, supportive school environment, underpinned by respectful and nurturing relationships amongst all stakeholders.

Teachers are highly committed to building their professional knowledge and capacity. They have extensive opportunities to attend relevant professional development targeted to the learning needs of students. There is a strong focus on teaching as inquiry where teachers are encouraged to reflect and refine their teaching practice.

ERO observed high levels of student engagement in many classrooms. Teachers use a variety of teaching strategies that assist students to understand more about their own learning. They know students and whānau well and respond to parent’s aspirations and students' learning styles.

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

Nearly all students at this school are identified as Māori. Western Heights Primary School effectively promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori. School-wide student achievement information for 2013 shows that Māori students make significant progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school has developed a culture that embraces the needs and aspirations of Māori students and their whānau. Management and teachers demonstrate this commitment through the natural integration of tikanga Māori in formal and informal routines and celebrations.

Western Heights Primary School has strong connections with to Ngāti Whakaue and the Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust. The trust actively supports the school by providing funding for additional support programmes and monitors the effectiveness of these programmes.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Western Heights Primary School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance because:

  • there is a positive reporting history with ERO
  • governance is highly effective and trustees make good use of high-quality school self review information to set direction, make decisions and improve student outcomes
  • the experienced and well-informed principal is focused on providing the highest quality education for students
  • the skilled and knowledgeable executive management team have successfully established a strong strategic approach to achieving the school’s vision and values and are focused on improving teaching and learning
  • the school’s values, tone, climate, culture and community engagement and relationships provide a strong foundation for sustaining and improving student learning
  • Māori learners are actively engaged in their learning, progressing and achieving well and succeeding as Māori
  • the school places priority on the importance of a safe and inclusive school learning environment.

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

Western Heights Primary School has sustained high performance since the 2010 ERO review. The teaching is highly effective in promoting students’ learning through a rich and exciting local curriculum. An effective partnership with parents, whānau and the school’s community supports a positive learning environment for all learners.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 June 2014

About the School

Location

Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number

2078

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

423

Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Cook Island Māori

Other

88%

8%

1%

3%

Special Features

Three te reo Māori medium classes

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

11 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

May 2007

October 2003