Cobden School - 27/07/2018

School Context

Cobden School is a full primary school situated in Greymouth on the West Coast. It has a roll of 120, about a quarter of whom identify as Māori. A recent development is a more transient population of up to 20% of the students. The school has a strong connection with its community, and is about to celebrate its 150 years’ anniversary.

The school’s vision is for high achieving, confident, engaged and caring thinkers. The foundation for achieving this vision is the ten point Graduate Profile which incorporates the school’s values of caring, communication and cooperation. The vision is also supported by a wellbeing programme which is in the early stages of implementation.

The board comprises several recently appointed trustees. The board’s key strategic target for 2018 is to improve progress and achievement in writing, especially for boys.

The school is involved in the global New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning initiative, with support through Core Education.

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

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • progress and outcomes in relation to key initiatives such as PB4L

  • progress and achievement for children whose learning and/or wellbeing is at risk

  • progress and achievement for Māori children.

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 uses a wide range of strategies and interventions well to support improving outcomes for equity and excellence.

School information over the last four years shows that:

  • the majority of students achieved at or above expected levels in reading

  • the majority of students achieved at or above expected levels in mathematics

  • achievements in writing fluctuated across all groups.

Leaders and teachers effectively promote excellence in outcomes for all children which they recognise in many ways. Reported improvements in student attendance and learning behaviour are having a positive effect on learning and wellbeing outcomes.

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

The school has strong systems in place to respond well to those students whose learning needs acceleration.

School information over the last two years shows that:

  • the school is effective in accelerating learning for the majority of target group of Māori students in writing

  • the school is effective in significantly accelerating learning for a target group of boys in writing

  • the school has yet to significantly reduce the number of students whose progress is well below expected levels.

Maōri students are successfully identified, tracked and reported on as a priority group. Other priority groups receive targeted support.

Children with additional learning needs are well supported to make progress.

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?

The school effectively prioritises the achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning. Capable, future-focused leaders and trustees, adaptive and innovative teaching and learning programmes, and a responsive local and global curriculum all support children’s learning and progress. Children feel valued and safe and are involved in decisions about their own learning and the direction of the school.

School leaders have a clear vision for enhancing learning and wellbeing for all children. They vigorously pursue the school’s vision and values by promoting the schoolwide Graduate Profile and wellbeing initiatives. There is regular, effective consultation and communication with the wider community. Collaborative practices and decision making ensure that a culture of ongoing, continuous reflection and evaluation are embedded as part of the school’s cycle of change. Decisions are informed by careful research and an understanding of the available data. A clear focus on identified strategic targets and groups of students has resulted in accelerated progress for targeted learners in the last year. Resourcing priorities are equitable and based on children’s identified needs.

Teaching and learning programmes reflect the commitment of teachers and leaders to the learning, wellbeing and other needs of children. Teachers have an unrelenting collective focus on positive outcomes for children as individuals. Leaders support teachers and teacher aides with comprehensive, targeted opportunities to develop professional learning. Teachers positively embrace teaching as inquiry and appraisal processes to improve their capability, and to undertake leadership of key school initiatives. Teachers are creative, innovative and improvement focused in order to bring about positive outcomes for children. They have a holistic vision of what progress and achievement for children looks like.

The school’s curriculum is focused, broad and student centred. It is based on students’ interests, needs, skills and goals. There is a strong emphasis on children managing their own learning and decision making. This includes personalised learning opportunities within an organised overall learning programme. The Graduate Profile’s processes enable children to access these learning opportunities and skills. It contributes to a positive school culture and is the means for recognising and celebrating student success. Aligned global and local curriculum initiatives support teachers to meet the wellbeing and other needs of children as 21st century learners. To support children’s readiness to learn, the school is in the process of implementing a well-considered, community supported and student-led wellbeing programme.

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

School leaders and ERO agree that the school’s highly useful Graduate Profile for learners is yet to be fully embedded. The planned and evident alignment of other school priorities and programmes to the Graduate Profile is likely to assist this process. Two of these other priorities, the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning initiative and the schoolwide wellbeing programme, also need to be further embedded and evaluated as part of the school’s continuous reflection for improvement.

The school is committed to the principles of biculturalism, but needs to continue developing understandings and practices to reflect this. Current teacher commitments to learning reo Māori and re-establishing the school’s kapa haka group need to be supported by schoolwide practices which reflect and recognise ngā tikanga Māori and te ao Māori in the day-to-day life of the school.

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:

  • leadership which has a vision for enhancing learning and wellbeing for all children

  • teaching and learning programmes and priorities that are adaptive, innovative and focused on positive outcomes for children

  • curriculum design and delivery that are student-centred, authentic and based on students’ interests, needs and goals.

Next steps

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

  • embedding the Graduate Profile and evaluating its effectiveness

  • embedding the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning global initiative and evaluating its effectiveness

  • implementing, embedding and evaluating the schoolwide wellbeing programme

  • improving understandings, skills and practices to reflect a commitment to the bicultural nature of Aotearoa New Zealand.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

27 July 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 55%

Boys: 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori 24%

Pākehā 65%

Pacific 5%

Other ethnicities 6%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

27 July 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: May 2015

Education Review: December 2011

Supplementary Review: September 2008

Education Review: October 2007