Birkdale North School - 28/02/2019

School Context

Birkdale North School is a small primary school on Auckland’s North Shore. It has a roll of 200 students across Years 1 to 6, including 20 percent who are Māori. Students learn in mixed-age classes. The school’s charter highlights forward thinking to achieve valued outcomes for all students. Values of respect, integrity, perseverance and empathy are esteemed. Leaders plan to review the charter and curriculum in 2019 to reflect and promote the cultures and aspirations of all the school’s diverse communities.

A new class, Ngā Muka, was established in 2016 to provide a whānau-style approach for students in Years 4 to 6 who wish to learn within a Māori kaupapa. A Level 4 te reo Māori component is woven through this programme. Some classes provide a programme of teaching and learning solely using the French language for three days per week. Two satellite classes from Wairau Special School are well established. The school continues to host international students.

Since the 2014 ERO review, there has been significant turnover of board chairpersons. The established principal resigned and an acting principal has managed the school during this period. A new board chairperson and principal were appointed just prior to this ERO review. The deputy principal brings continuity as a longstanding leader.

As a result of this extended time of change, the next steps identified in ERO’s 2014 report continue to be a focus for improvement. The school continues to engage with Ministry of Education advisers and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) to support change and improvement.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics achievement

  • special needs and support programmes

  • student wellbeing surveys.

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 achieving good outcomes for many students. Achievement data for Year 6 leavers show that most achieve at expected curriculum levels in reading and mathematics. A smaller majority achieve appropriately in writing. There are varied approaches to supporting these learners to develop English and to achieve successfully in the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

The school is not yet achieving equitable outcomes for all its students. While there has been some reduction in disparity, more can now be done to support parity for Māori and Pacific students. An historic gender disparity in literacy achievement continues to be a challenge.

There is variability across the school in students’ access to classroom resources, including digital learning resources. Opportunities for children to participate in planned excursions and trips have not always been equitable.

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

The deputy principal works diligently to identify those individuals requiring additional support and implements withdrawal support programmes where possible. Participation and progress is thoroughly tracked. However, disparity is not yet being addressed in a planned, purposeful and cohesive way. Some classroom programmes are not sufficiently individualised or responsive, to accelerate learning.

Māori and Pacific students are most likely to appear in the group of students requiring additional learning support, particularly in literacy. School targets focus on all student groups but do not yet identify specific actions that would promote accelerated learning for those who need it the most.

A recent focus on enhancing the teaching of writing has impacted positively on students’ interest and enjoyment. Progress is evident for Māori learners. Leaders appreciate that further work should build on and embed this foundation so that classroom teaching becomes targeted, differentiated and deliberate. This focus should support boys, Pacific learners and Māori to achieve equity with their peers.

The school has a variety of approaches to supporting students to engage in the curriculum and learn English. Students who are learning English as an additional language participate in a withdrawal programme. Some are in mainstream classes where English is integrated through learning. Others are in classes where they learn solely through the medium of French three days per week and use English only on two days. Evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of these different models would be worthwhile.

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?

Classes are settled, with a positive tone. Children have a keenness to learn and to explore. They are capable, confident and articulate. Children feel a strong sense of belonging and pride in their school, and demonstrate the school values. Collaboration features in the learning approach across the school. Tuakana/teina relationships, evident in older children’s support for their younger peers, are a particular feature of Ngā Muka.

Leaders and teachers have collaborated to analyse data and discuss schoolwide achievement. They have engaged with appropriate professional development to support teachers to enhance teaching and learning in response to the data picture. Teachers are starting to collaborate to share information about teaching and learning techniques that are likely to support progress for students. Their inquiries should now focus on improving outcomes for those students at risk of not achieving.

The new senior leadership team is in a good position to sustain and build on recent improvements. They show great commitment to fostering excellence for all, and to enhancing equity. Parent communities are committed to supporting their children in this journey. All groups are keen to be involved and there is potential for them to share aspects of their cultures and languages to a greater extent. The new leadership team and chairperson are in agreement about instigating greater opportunities for equitable community consultation and decision making for all cultures in 2019, working towards partnership.

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

The new board and principal have identified a number of areas that require attention. They have established appropriate plans to address historical concerns and areas of non-compliance, to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and to assure the board that it is meeting all legal requirements. They have begun working with NZSTA to implement improvements and have further professional development planned for teachers in 2019.

The school’s curriculum needs to reflect a local perspective and the breadth and depth of the NZC. Curriculum review and development should help to provide clarity for teachers, the board and parents about expectations for quality practices and programmes. Bicultural practices and a commitment of the Treaty of Waitangi should be meaningfully embedded and more purposefully woven through learning. More opportunities for the arts, sciences and technologies, including digital technologies, are imperative.

The quality of teaching needs to be more consistent across the school. Differentiated planning, variety and challenge are needed, with opportunities for students to set goals for their learning. School plans include the development of a tier of middle leadership with a mentoring role and greater support for staff who have provisional teaching certificates. For many students, English is not their first language.

Leaders are developing strategic plans to increase the professional capability of teachers to support accelerated learning progress for those students who require this. Goals, targets and specific plans should define the school’s collective responses and prioritise Māori and Pacific learners’ and boys’ achievement. Parents’ aspirations for their children and their support for learning programmes and in the life of the school should be encouraged and incorporated into the school’s overarching response to disparity.

The board is considering ways to work in greater partnership with whānau Māori and Pacific parents to enhance learning and success for their children. Trustees need to review and adapt current approaches to ensure whānau Māori are supported to be equal partners in the life of the school. Building trusting and reciprocal partnerships that invite authentic consultation for all will benefit learners and the local community.

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

School leaders plan to review the performance management system to enhance appraisal processes and reporting. Leaders will seek to develop a more functional, collaborative and coherent appraisal evidence trail. The school’s system for maintaining a register of teacher certification status also needs to be kept updated.

Provision for international students

The school is signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of the review two international students were enrolled. As identified in the 2014 ERO report, while the board is kept informed about the international students and their programme, there is a need to enhance evaluation in order to identify opportunities to strengthen this provision.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to the health curriculum, consultation with the Māori community, and maintenance of records and policies.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. consult with the school’s Māori community about plans and targets National Administration Guideline 2(d)

  2. consult with the community every two years about the health curriculum Education Act 1989, 60B

  3. ensure that the school maintains up-to-date and accurate records of police vets for applicable non-teaching staff, teacher registration and reporting, and board meetings where the public is excluded.
    Education Act 1989, 78C to 78CD; Vulnerable Children Act 2014; Education Act 1989, part 31; Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, 46-54; Public Records Act 1982

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • work with staff and the community to review and refine policies and related procedures, including those related to behaviour management, the restraint and/or seclusion of students, and EOTC (Education Outside the Classroom)

  • ensure the curriculum delivered for all students reflects the principles, and the breadth and depth, of the New Zealand Curriculum

  • provide appropriate programmes of support and guidance to enable provisionally certificated teachers to gain full practising teacher certificates.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • students’ strong sense of pride and connection to the school that supports enthusiasm for learning

  • commitment from parents, staff and trustees that promotes positive outcomes for learners

  • a stable new leadership team with high expectations and clear plans for review and improvement.

Next steps

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

  • reviewing and enhancing the curriculum to provide greater choice and appropriate challenge to support and stretch all students to achieve to their potential

  • enhancing performance management and support so that teaching and learning practices are consistent and align to the school’s vision and expectations

  • reviewing the charter, policy and practices to provide greater equity for Māori and Pacific students and their families and whānau to participate and thrive in a learning partnership.

ERO recommends that the board continues to work with NZSTA in order to bring about improvements so that:

  • trustees develop a clearer understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities, establish systems to ensure all legal requirements are met and regularly evaluate their effectiveness

  • there is greater communication between the board and all its communities, bringing greater equity in consultation, to determine a collective community vision, values and aspirations.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Birkdale North School's performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

28 February 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 20%
Pākehā 35%
Asian 6%
Samoan 6%
Filipino 5%
Tongan 4%
other European 16%
other ethnic groups 8%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

28 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2014
Education Review December 2011
Education Review September 2008