Central Normal School - 19/05/2011

1. Context

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

Central Normal School is an urban Palmerston North primary school. As a normal school there are strong links to Massey University and teacher pre-service training. The expectation to model good practice in teaching and learning is well met. The school is also a fund-holder for students with very high learning needs. An inclusive school culture and education programme supports these students. The school embraces its growing diversity with 48% Māori, 41% New Zealand European/Pākehā, 5% Asian, 4% Pacific and smaller numbers of many other ethnic groups. All cultures are valued for the contributions they bring to the learning community. The school provides the option of bilingual education from Years 1 to 6. In these six classrooms, up to 80% of teaching instruction is in te reo Māori.

Since the March 2008 ERO review, a new principal, deputy principal and assistant principal have been appointed. The principal’s initial school-wide review identified key priorities for the school and set the scene for a new strategic direction.

The school’s belief is that active and authentic involvement of students in their learning is crucial to engagement and achievement. This vision is met in a respectful and cooperative environment.

2. Learning

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

Achievement information is collated, comprehensively analysed and the results used for multiple purposes. These include:

  • planning strategically at board level;
  • monitoring student progress and achievement;
  • teachers deciding appropriate programmes to support students varying strengths and needs; and
  • teachers inquiring into their practice.

Data collected and moderated for literacy and numeracy in 2010 shows that many students made significant progress during the year. Most achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori and Pacific students as groups achieve as well as the whole school population.

The implementation of National Standards has been well planned. The board receives regular reports about students’ progress and achievement in relation to these. In 2010, parents received two written reports in plain language that showed their children’s achievement, progress and next steps for learning in relation to National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. The board has set targets for 2011 based on reported data and recently submitted its charter to the Ministry of Education. Teachers work collaboratively to further develop their understandings of each National Standard. They continue to review and develop moderation processes to support their overall teacher judgements about student achievement. Information gathered from parents and staff forms the basis of ongoing review of reporting processes.

Teachers continue to develop formative assessment practices that encourage students to understand how well they achieve and to set goals for their future success.

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

Māori students are well engaged, confident and successful learners. Each student is considered important and their potential nurtured. The school culture recognises the important place that Māori have as tangata whenua. Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are valued and woven through the curriculum experiences students have. Emphasis is placed on partnership with whānau and their involvement and contributions are actively sought.

The needs of Māori students are considered strategically and the focus given to their success is evident in curriculum statements, planning, professional development and practice. A number of teachers have skill and expertise in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and in teaching strategies that usefully engage Māori students. They share this knowledge with all the staff.

3. Curriculum

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

A well-considered school curriculum is based on The New Zealand Curriculum and designed using community, staff and student consultation. Comprehensive guidelines in literacy, numeracy and inquiry learning clearly define what high quality teaching and learning looks like in the school. Key competencies are described in a way that supports teachers to monitor student progressions with these. Students are highly engaged in programmes that are relevant, meaningful and planned to meet their identified needs. Teachers provide experiences linked to and using community expertise and resources.

Thorough review and consultation led to the development of a school culture to support agreed values within the curriculum. Staff and students demonstrate attributes of “WISE” - Whanaungatanga, Integrity, Showing respect and Excellence.

Students with identified special or complex learning needs are very well-supported by a number of suitably resourced programmes and trained support staff. This collegial team uses the expertise of a number of long standing, well trained personnel. Adults are responsive and accommodating and students learn in highly inclusive environments. Their progress and achievement is closely monitored and well-reported to the board. Student learning journals feature stories and photographic displays of their progress towards key competencies. These journals allow parents to clearly see their child’s successes and progress and they support students to reflect on their learning.

Expectations for effective teaching are very clear. School leaders, through evidence-based review, ably support teachers to meet these expectations. Teaching as inquiry underpins quality practice and teachers contributing to improving their own effectiveness and student achievement. A culture of critical reflection is fostered through a rigorous appraisal and teacher development process. Priorities for professional learning and development are clearly responsive to school-wide strategic direction, curriculum development and individual teacher needs. For 2011, these include on-going development in teachers inquiring into their own practice, the use of information and communication technologies as tools to engage students and student inquiry learning in classrooms.

The board, principal, senior leaders and teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to designing a curriculum to deliver Te Marautanga O Aotearoa for students in the bi-lingual classes, Te Arawaru. Substantial community and school based consultation, discussion and planning has occurred to decide important values, vision and features of the curriculum for students in Te Arawaru. Graduate Profiles outlining the aspirations for graduating students were developed with Te Arawaru whānau and expanded to include the whole school. The profiles and the school curriculum document provide platforms for further development of the local Marautanga.

The board is well-informed about how the school is progressing with implementation of Te Marautanga O Aotearoa and has this as a key strategic priority. A very recently appointed leader contributes to the leadership team necessary skills and expertise in areas of bilingual education and te reo Māori learning. ERO’s external evaluation confirms the need for the principal and leader to review current developments and strategic priorities to further support Te Arawaru to give full effect to Te Marautanga O Aotearoa, and the use of Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori for student learning and achievement.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The board of trustees continues to develop knowledge and practices for effective governance. Trustees are well supported through their participation in highly useful professional training and clear, documented expectations about their roles and responsibilities. Effective working relationships exist between the trustees, the principal and senior leaders. The board responds strategically to information received from senior leaders about student achievement and progress.

The principal successfully models, promotes and develops school-wide leadership. The senior leadership team combines a range of expertise and works purposefully and cohesively to enact the school's vision. Building the skills and confidence of teachers and leaders has created an environment that supports collaboration, innovation and ongoing improvements in capability.

A strong culture of critical reflection and evidence-based self review is evident. It is supported by useful and embedded processes including the expectation that information will be gathered from a wide range of sources to support decision making. From rigorous evaluation, the principal and board identify appropriate priorities that will contribute to ongoing school improvement.

The school's values, tone, climate, culture, community engagement and relationships provide a strong foundation for sustaining and enhancing student learning.

Provision for international students

The school is a 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 the Code.

ERO's investigations confirmed that the school's self review processes for international students are appropriate.

At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Central Normal School does not have a school hostel.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' 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 four-to-five years.

Kathleen Atkins

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

About the School


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)



School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female 51%, Male 49%

Ethnic composition


New Zealand European/Pākehā



Other ethnic groups






Review team on site

March 2011

Date of this report

19 May 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2008

March 2005

February 2002

*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 integrate 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