Clifton School (Bulls) - 03/02/2016


Clifton School has not successfully improved student achievement since the 2012 ERO review. The new principal and teachers are focused on developing systems and processes that will help them respond more effectively to students' increasingly diverse needs. Strengthening the curriculum and improving the quality of teaching should ensure more successful outcomes.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

1 Context

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

Clifton School is situated in the town of Bulls, South Rangitikei. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The roll of 142 students includes 38% who identify as Māori and 12% who are Pacific. The number of students on the roll has grown considerably since the December 2012 ERO report leading to an increase in cultural diversity.

The long-serving previous principal retired recently. The newly appointed principal joined the school in Term 4, 2015.

The school has been involved in several Ministry of Education programmes: Reading Recovery, Reading Together and Incredible Years.

Clifton School has a mixed reporting history. Some of the areas identified for review and development in the 2012 ERO report continue to be a priority for improvement.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The school is beginning to develop systems and processes that promote the use of achievement information to make improvements to learners’ progress and achievement.

The 2014 National Standards results reported by the school, indicate that in reading approximately 70% of all students were achieving at or above expectations, whereas in writing and mathematics about 60% of all students met the Standards.

Māori students achieved similarly to students overall in the school in reading and writing, and lower in mathematics. Almost all Pacific students achieved below or well below the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Data indicates that overall achievement in National Standards has fallen over recent years. Strategies to raise achievement across the school have not had enough impact on improving targeted students’ progress.

A limited range of assessment tools is used to gather information about students’ achievement. Teachers use the data to group students according to ability and to inform classroom planning. A selection of students identified as underachieving is included in class targets and provided with additional support.

Teachers track and monitor student achievement and in some areas are able to see where progress occurs. Children with additional needs, in particular those with oral language needs, are identified and monitored. Specific strategies to address their needs lack clarity and are not evaluated for impact.

The choice and purpose of assessment tools needs urgent review in order to establish what information is collected and why. Improving the usefulness and reliability of data will better support teachers to identify achievement and incremental progress of students.

Assessment data is not sufficiently analysed to reveal trends and patterns. Fully investigating the information should assist leaders to improve their evaluation of what makes the biggest difference to accelerating students’ progress. This would support them to set more specific, relevant and measurable targets for improvement.

Leaders have recognised and ERO agrees, there is a need to introduce a process for teachers to reflect on and inquire into the effectiveness of their practice. This would support teachers to use what they have learned to increase their knowledge of how to promote accelerated progress, particularly for targeted students. Leaders have engaged external support to assist with this next step.

Parents receive written reports twice yearly about their child’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. These include next steps for improvement. Adding better quality information about other learning areas would improve the breadth of information received by parents, aiga and whānau.

3 Curriculum

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

The Clifton School curriculum requires strengthening to promote and support successful outcomes for all students.

Curriculum documents have been developed that provide initial guidance to teachers for the delivery of reading, writing, mathematics and other areas of the curriculum. However, the Clifton School curriculum needs comprehensive review and development to improve how effectively it:

  • reflects the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • responds to all students' language, culture and identity, and particularly for Pacific students
  • promotes accelerated progress and achievement in literacy and mathematics
  • supports students to reach their potential and prepare them to transition smoothly to secondary school.

The review should also develop an effective teacher profile and define what pedagogical practices are to be included to achieve the quality of teaching needed in the context of Clifton School. This would be useful for guiding performance management and improving teacher practice.

Respectful and reciprocal relationships are evident across the school. Students cooperate and work well with each other. They follow well-established routines and expectations. The well-resourced classrooms have a calm and settled tone.

Students are engaged in class activities. Their work is valued and celebrated. Teachers are sharing the purpose of the learning with students, and use modelling books to record and revisit previous learning.

Increasing students' understanding of their achievement and involvement in decisions about their learning is a current focus for teachers. Improving the use of assessment information in learning conversations should support students to more clearly identify their next learning steps and reflect on their progress.

Parents engage with the school through a variety of activities and sports. A range of strategies support good communication about their children’s learning with parents, whānau and aiga. However, they have not yet had opportunities to contribute to the development of the school’s curriculum and charter.

With the arrival of a new principal, it is timely to explore new ways to strengthen partnerships with parents, whānau and aiga that support student learning and for parents to contribute to the decisions made about learning at the school.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Clifton School has not sufficiently improved how it promotes educational success for Māori students, as Māori.

Teachers are aware of the importance of recognising students' language and culture and are exploring how best to respond to the needs Māori children.

Leaders have established links to the local marae. Connections to local hapū and iwi are being developed.

Teachers need to build their capability to further integrate te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and use these as a platform to promote increased success for Māori students. The proposed review of the curriculum should support teachers to improve how effectively they respond to the strengths, language and culture of Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Clifton School is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Governance by the board of trustees has remained stable over the period since the 2012 ERO review. Trustees are committed to improvements in achievement and actively support teachers and leaders. They receive general information about students' learning on which they base decisions for resourcing. Trustees would benefit from ongoing training and support to assist them in strengthening their understanding of the roles and responsibilities of governance.

Leaders, teachers and trustees need to build their evaluative capacity and processes to better understand the effectiveness of their actions and curriculum. Effective use of evidence-based internal evaluation should enable them to:

  • improve decision-making and target-setting
  • measure the impact of teaching strategies and programmes on improving outcomes for all learners, in particular targeted learners
  • establish next steps for improvement.

The current performance management process is not sufficiently rigorous to support teachers to improve their knowledge and build their practice. Leaders have identified the need to further develop the appraisal process and fully implement it to:

  • align to school priorities of raising achievement
  • set specific and measurable goals linked to outcomes for students
  • track and monitor teachers' performance and progress
  • include opportunities to reflect on and evaluate effectiveness of practice
  • provide good quality feedback and feed forward for next developmental steps.

Previously teachers' practising certificates have been endorsed without the provision of sufficient evidence. Appraisal development should promote a clear understanding of what constitutes evidence and how this can collated and presented to satisfy requirements of the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (EDUCANZ).

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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

During this review, ERO identified areas of non-compliance.

Trustees have not reviewed all policies and procedures within the past three years. A regular cycle of ongoing self review in relation to policies and procedures needs to be maintained to ensure school operations are suitably guided by best practice.[National Administration Guideline (NAG) 2(b)] 

Support staff at the school have not been police vetted during 2015. The school must implement its personnel policy that any person who has unsupervised access to children at the school should be police vetted and the police vet renewed every three years.[Section 77A State Sector Act] 

Students are not offered the opportunity to learn a second or subsequent language. The proposed review of the curriculum should include how the school plans to comply with the requirement deliver an additional language.[The New Zealand Curriculum, NAG 1(a)] 

The school has not consulted its community about its delivery of the Health Curriculum. A statement on the delivery of the Health Curriculum should be adopted following a consultation with the community, at least once every two years.[Section 60b Education Act 1989]


Clifton School has not successfully improved student achievement since the 2012 ERO review. The new principal and teachers are focused on developing systems and processes that will help them respond more effectively to students' increasingly diverse needs. Strengthening the curriculum and improving the quality of teaching should ensure more successful outcomes.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

3 February 2016

School Statistics



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 53%, Male 47%

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

3 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2012

October 2010

June 2007