Birchville School - 06/06/2018

School Context

Birchville School, located north of Upper Hutt, close to the Hutt and Akatarawa Rivers, caters for 180 students in Years 1 to 6. Of the learners enrolled, 44 identify as Māori. There are 101 girls and 79 boys. The school roll continues to increase.

The school vision is underpinned by the GEMS values of Growth, Empathy, Mana and Self Belief.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to school expectations
  • Māori student achievement in relation to school expectations
  • progress and achievement against annual planning goals related to raising achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for some groups of learners.

Since the March 2015 ERO report, there has been a number of changes to the board, leadership and staff. The new principal who was previously the school’s deputy principal, was appointed in 2017.

Birchville School is part of an active local cluster of schools.

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’s achievement data indicates that the majority of students, including Māori and Pacific learners, achieve at or above the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori and non-Māori achieve equally well, although a slightly higher proportion of Māori students achieve above school expectations than non-Māori in reading and mathematics. There is significant disparity for boys in reading and writing.

Most Year 6 leavers achieve at or above school expectation in reading and writing. In 2017, however, a significant number left not meeting mathematics expectations.

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

There is evidence of accelerated learning for some Māori and other students who need this.

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?

Trustees, leaders and teachers have a strong commitment to improving achievement for all students and to address the current inequitable outcomes. The school’s charter establishes a positive well-considered direction, with an appropriate focus on student achievement and in particular for those at risk of not meeting school expectations. Alignment from charter to classroom is clear.

The curriculum acknowledges and celebrates GEMS, which are closely aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies. The virtual Gems (or key competencies) are clearly articulated in the positive way the students (“real gems”) behave and interact.

There is a strong focus on collaboration as teachers build a shared understanding of effective practice. They share their learning and successful strategies to improve teaching. Useful systems and practices help them to identify students requiring support and to monitor their engagement and achievement. The school has established a good framework for engaging students in their learning. There is a positive social and emotional climate for learners. This has a supportive impact on their learning.

Māori students and whānau take leadership roles within the school community. Students are supported in their learning through kapa haka, te rōpu toa, the whānau support group, and actions through the ‘Te Reo Māori and the Mainstream Implementation Plan’. Teachers are continuing to increase their knowledge and understanding of Maori language, culture and values.

The newly established leadership team is strategic and has enabled the teachers and community to work collaboratively for the benefit of the children. Communication and consultation is very strong. Partnership is evident and effective.

Students transition seamlessly from the neighbouring early learning services. The positive, active relationships facilitate the sharing of knowledge to enhance the teaching of new entrant children. There is also a close relationship with the local intermediate schools and through cluster meetings teachers are informed of the ex-students’ progress.

Provision for children with additional needs is consistent with the positive, inclusive nature of the school. They benefit from programmes specifically designed to meet their needs, abilities and interests.

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

Further developments needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning are:

  • strengthening teacher inquiry processes to assist teachers and leaders to better identify, monitor and report accelerated achievement
  • complementing current self-review practice by building internal evaluation capability at all levels. This should enable trustees, leaders and teachers to better identify what is and is not working, and who for and to determine what changes are needed.

Many practices that are likely to be successful have been recently implemented. These now need to be embedded across the school and evaluated.

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 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the school culture that promotes students’ social and emotional wellbeing and a strong sense of belonging
  • school leadership that fosters collaboration across the school and encourages community partnership
  • clear direction setting by the board of trustees, that provides a purposeful strategic direction focussed on improving student outcomes.

Next steps

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

  • inquiry processes to assist teachers and leaders to better identify, monitor and report accelerated achievement
  • internal evaluation processes and practices [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders].

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

6 June 2018

About the school


Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 56%, Male 44%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 64%
Māori 24%
Other ethnic groups 12%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

6 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review March 2015
Education Review June 2012
Education Review March 2009