Bell Block School - 24/12/2018

School Context

Bell Block School is situated north east of New Plymouth. It has students in Years 1 to 8. The school community represents a range of cultures. At the time of this review, of the 438 children on the roll, 20% are Māori and ten of Pacific heritage.

The school vision statements ‘Kaha I nga wa katoa, Our best always’ is underpinned by the values ‘Respect, Honesty, Helping Others, Fairness and Taking Responsibility’. Restorative practices are the foundation of the school culture.

The 2018-2020 strategic plan prioritises on-going improvement in student achievement with a focus on priority groups, including: Māori and Pacific students; learners with special education needs; and those who are not achieving as well as expected.

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

  • mid-year and end-of-year achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum

  • progress and achievement termly for target learners

  • special/additional learning needs including English Language Learners

  • engagement and wellbeing for success.

The major areas of focus in 2018 and 2019 for leaders’ and teachers’ professional learning and development includes writing development.

The school has undergone staffing and leadership changes since the June 2014 ERO report. There is a new first-time principal supported by two new deputy principals.

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?

Reported information shows the school is achieving equity and excellence for most students. Student achievement data shows most students achieve at or above school expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

There is disparity between boys and girls, and Māori and their peers, in writing that the school has identified and is focused on addressing in 2018.

The majority of Pacific students achieve at or above expectation in reading, writing and mathematics.

Year 8 outcomes show nearly all students leave Bell Block School achieving at or above expectation.

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

The school is developing its effectiveness in responding to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. In 2018, there are systems established for collecting, analysing and interpreting data to assist in evaluating outcomes for students.

The majority of boys and Māori identified at the start of 2018, have made accelerated progress towards being at expectation in mathematics. Some target students have made accelerated progress in reading.

A well targeted and resourced English Language Learners (ELL) programme has contributed to significant progress in 2018 for these students.

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?

Leadership has established clear and consistent expectations to enable a supportive and collaborative environment conducive to learning and wellbeing. Leaders and teachers focus on ensuring schoolwide practices and processes promote student voice and enable students to learn and achieve at the appropriate level.

The school is relationship focused. Restorative practices and a schoolwide culture of reflection and review for improvement for teachers, students, their families and whānau are embedded. Making connections and building relationships continues to be a priority for the school.

Children learn in settled, inclusive classes. They are supported to become self managing and agents of their learning. Risk taking and problem solving are encouraged. Engaging learning contexts are used to respond to students' interests. Leadership is promoted, student voice is deliberately gathered and their contributions are valued.

Students with complex and additional needs are well known to staff. Specific plans are developed for these children. Goals are linked to social, behavioural and learning needs. Students are effectively supported through individual planning and monitoring, and responded to through relevant interventions and a range of internal and external supports.

Digital tools and resources are used appropriately to support teaching and learning. The pride the students have in their school and the high expectations for learning are reflected in student voice, participation in a range of cultural and sporting opportunities and work displayed.

The school values its distributive leadership model. Developing leadership is promoted and strengths and interests of teachers are recognised and valued.

Focused professional learning is responsive to school needs, aligned to goals and supported by external expertise. Systematic processes used to review school practices include collecting and using the views of trustees, staff, parents and students to prioritise goals and actions for further improvement.

Trustees are actively involved in the school. Equity for all students is prioritised through resourcing and provision of experiences.

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

Leaders should continue to strengthen inquiry and internal evaluation, through a sharper focus on targets, to support leaders, trustees and teachers to know what is working well for individuals and what needs to change to improve outcomes for all children.

The school has identified that further development in understanding and implementing writing assessment for teaching and learning is a priority and professional development is already underway. The school processes should be strengthened by external moderation and continued development of measures for progress and acceleration in writing.

Leadership and staff identify embedding appraisal as a key next step. They have developed a robust framework to ensure the appraisal process and practices are fully implemented. They should ensure that goals continue to promote teacher development and are linked to measurable outcomes for students.

The current documented curriculum appropriately outlines expectations for teaching and learning. The upcoming charter review should enable the school to better reflect its values, context and vision for learning in its enacted 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.

Appraisal audit

There is variability in the quality and consistency of the appraisals undertaken.

A framework for appraisal has been developed. It is aligned to the standards. All the required components are built into the framework. Continuing to develop and embed the understanding of the purpose of teacher appraisal is a key next step.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • collaborative relationships between leadership and teachers that support and enhance students’ learning and wellbeing

  • identifying individual learning needs of students and providing support to promote achievement of equitable outcomes

  • effective teaching practices and learning environments that are successfully developed and managed to support increased student collaboration, participation and engagement.

Next steps

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

  • a sharper focus on equity targets to allow for an evaluation of achievement, progress, and acceleration to improve outcomes for all

  • reviewing and revising some of the key school documentation, systems and practices that promote positive outcomes for students.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

24 December 2018

About the school


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary

School roll


Gender composition

Female 50%, Male 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 20%
Pākehā 61%
Pacific 2%
Other ethnic groups 17%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2018

Date of this report

24 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review April 2011
Education Review December 2008