Birkdale North School - 08/12/2011

1. Context

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

Birkdale North School is a small, urban school that caters for Year 1 to 6 students from an ethnically diverse community. A significant number of students are Māori and Pacific. Approximately fifty percent have English as a second language. A notable strength of the school is the high level of understanding and empathy staff and trustees have for families and the local school community.

The tone of the school is inclusive and welcoming. Staff work with families to support students to engage in their learning and to improve their achievement. Students are proud of their school and enjoy learning and interacting together.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Positive relationships and personal support for students result in high levels of motivation and student interest in learning. Trusting relationships with adults and peers support children to engage in learning. Good tuakana/teina relationships between older and younger children also support student learning.

Students participate enthusiastically in classroom learning and in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. They are offered leadership opportunities and are encouraged to be involved in decisions about school.

Teachers use assessment data to group children according to their levels of ability in reading, writing and mathematics. Students engage well in these instructional groups. They are increasingly able to discuss how well they are achieving and their next learning steps. The principal and senior managers plan to further develop students’ ownership of their learning.

Robust assessment information is used to identify students’ capabilities and learning needs, and to monitor their learning progress. Parents are taking up the opportunities provided to discuss their child’s progress and achievement with teachers.

Although some students make good progress, senior managers are aware of the need to accelerate student progress and achievement in literacy and numeracy. The school’s achievement information indicates that the majority of students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading and mathematics. In writing, over half of students are working towards the appropriate National Standard.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Māori students are encouraged to value their heritage and succeed as Māori. They have authentic opportunities to expand their knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori through their involvement in pōwhiri, making hangi, and through teachers’ integration of Māori cultural concepts into the school curriculum.

The inclusive, supportive and respectful learning environment helps Māori students to be enthusiastic participants in the life of the school and to engage in learning. Significant steps have been taken to raise Māori student achievement. Staff used Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education’s strategic plan for Māori student success, to develop a school strategy for ‘Managing Success for Māori Students’. The principal, senior managers and teachers have used a holistic approach to improve Māori student engagement, progress and achievement. A concerted effort has been made to improve Māori student attendance, develop learning connections with Māori whānau, support students and whānau with health matters, and to provide a culturally safe learning environment.

Māori students and whānau have a strong sense of belonging in the school and students are enthusiastic and keen to learn. Recent feedback from a parent forum indicates that Māori parents feel that their children are culturally safe in the school.

The principal and senior managers acknowledge the need to accelerate the progress of Māori students so that they achieve at levels similar to those achieved by other students in the school, particularly in reading, writing and mathematics.

3. Curriculum

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

The principal, deputy principal and staff track and review the school curriculum in order to effectively promote and support student learning. They have led considerable curriculum developments since the 2008 ERO review. The vision, values and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum are integral parts of the school’s curriculum design. Literacy and numeracy planning are aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum. A detailed framework for mathematics provides teachers with clear guidance for classroom implementation at all levels of the school.

The principal, senior managers and teachers could continue to strengthen their curriculum design and planning by reviewing the links between the concepts identified as the school curriculum framework and the knowledge and skills base of each of the curriculum areas. They should ensure that the links are clearly established and support full coverage of the curriculum.

Good quality assurance processes are in place. Teachers benefit from professional development to improve the quality of teaching and learning programmes, and to help teachers continue to make the curriculum more responsive to students’ interests and needs. Students would benefit from lessons that are more appropriately paced and that are pitched to their individual and group learning needs.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The school’s values, and inclusive and caring tone and culture, strong relationships between children, staff, trustees and the community provide a solid foundation to improve student learning. The school is effectively governed and well led.

The principal and senior managers are an experienced team who have complementary skills, knowledge and expertise. They are committed to ongoing school improvements, and in particular, to developing and improving teaching practice. Performance management systems and appraisal feedback indicate that managers have high expectations for teacher performance. Teacher involvement in professional learning and development and in mentoring programmes is helping to guide improvements in classroom teaching.

A self-review cycle has been developed. There is a need to strengthen the rigour of self review so that policies and documentation reflect the aspirations that staff and trustees have for high quality practices.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

8 December 2011

About the School


Birkdale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)



School roll


Gender composition

Girls 52%

Boys 48%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā








Cook Island Māori













Review team on site

October 2011

Date of this report

8 December 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2008

September 2005

May 2002

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.