College Street Normal School - 26/05/2011

1. Context

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

College Street Normal School is a high performing contributing, primary school, focused on continual improvement. The school’s culture is characterised by innovation, distributed leadership, creativity and developing capability. Trustees, parents and teachers have high expectations for student achievement. The shared philosophy of ‘Go for Gold’ underpins the home and school partnership aimed at every student becoming a confident and successful lifelong learner.

The roll is multicultural, representing 43 ethnic backgrounds. Students have positive attitudes towards achieving academic, social and physical goals. Habits of Mind, characteristics of effective learners, linked with the key competencies for confident citizenship, are evident in all aspects of the curriculum.

A new hall, auditorium and arts complex complement the wide range of resources that support learning. Specialist art classes and performing arts are taught in this purpose-built space. Teachers’ strengths are well used in specialist areas. Students have many, diverse opportunities to follow their interests and to venture into new activities.

Strong understandings of effective governance practices, high quality professional leadership and parental support result in collective responsibility for students meeting the agreed, challenging targets for achievement in literacy and mathematics. Continual success, over years, in achieving these targets allows teachers to focus more strongly on other aspects of the curriculum, such as the arts.

2. Learning

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

At the end of 2010, a high percentage of students achieved or exceeded the expected National Standards in literacy and mathematics. These results were confirmed by assessments against the school’s own expectations, which are set at a more challenging level. Annual student achievement targets and age-related expectations are reviewed and raised from year to year.

Student progress and achievement is the critical factor impacting on every decision made by teachers, senior leaders and trustees. The board is well informed, discusses, questions and acts on the information it receives. Teachers continually examine their teaching to identify those strategies most successful in maximising students’ progress, achievement and engagement. Collegial trust, cooperation and peer review contribute to the ongoing growth in best practice.

Students with exceptional talent and ability are well catered for in differentiated class programmes. They participate in special activities within the school and wider community. Students requiring additional assistance over time or short-term teaching to close perceived gaps in their learning, benefit from immediate individual or group programmes. Success is part of each student’s view of themselves as a learner.

In 2010, parents received two written reports stating their children’s achievement against the National Standards and against the school’s own standards. Feedback about the readability, format and content has been sought and is part of the ongoing review process. Comprehensive information is provided to inform parents about the standards and their relationship to the school’s already, robust targets.

Trustees, senior leaders and teachers continue to refine their approach to assessing students’ progress and achievement against National Standards and associated moderation practices to ensure the process is robust and challenging.

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

Māori students are high achievers in literacy and mathematics. Achievement levels, at the end of 2010, mirrored those of non-Māori. The majority met standards above the national expectations and the more challenging expectations established by the school.

Parents are fully involved in supporting their children’s success. Extensive consultation occurred to develop the school’s strategic plan and underpinning values structure. Trustees and a parent group worked together to determine alternative strategies when the bilingual class was no longer viable. As a result, there are suggestions for senior leaders and trustees to evaluate and adopt in practice. ERO’s external evaluation affirms that this partnership should assist future initiatives. The board and parent group are in a sound position to make and enact decisions for further improvements in this area.

3. Curriculum

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

The curriculum appropriately focuses on national priority areas of literacy and numeracy and clearly articulates the expected graduate profile for a Year 6 student. There are clearly stated expectations for students to achieve by the end of each school year. Expectations underpin the ‘Go for Gold’ philosophy. The curriculum is the uniformly understood guiding document for learners, teachers and parents.

Students are highly engaged and active participants in learning. Motivating factors include:

  • programmes evolving from students’ interests, passions and experiences;
  • each student having and knowing a personalised learning pathway;
  • students assuming the role of ‘expert’ within their group;
  • curriculum delivery in an environment rich with challenges and cues to motivate curiosity and perseverance; and
  • students being part of decision-making about the direction to follow within the integrated curriculum.

Teachers teach to a well-considered baseline of expectations, enhanced by their own creativity and innovation. Effective teaching:

  • acknowledges that each student has expertise and potential;
  • is a process of learning together: teacher and students, students with their peers;
  • ensures that students have considered and understand the characteristics of an effective learner;
  • requires students to apply learning in different ways and to different situations; and
  • provides useful feedback related to the task and helps students to identify ways to improve.

Teachers know their students well, have specific outcomes in mind, use assessment as the basis for planning and immediately address gaps in students’ learning.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

Strong relationships, embedded culture, governance and management capability, parental involvement and, conditions for successful teaching and learning confirm the school community’s ability to sustain ongoing improvement. Indicators include:

  • promoting ongoing, proactive leadership development at all levels of the school;
  • professional learning supporting best practice teaching to maximise student achievement;
  • building and sustaining improvement based on a collaborative, collegial model;
  • having a well-considered, planned way of introducing new initiatives and monitoring their impact on teaching and learning; and
  • valuing individual teacher strengths (internal expertise) to develop and share collective wisdom about the essential components of effective teaching.

The impact of this reflective approach is evident in students’ enthusiasm for learning, their high level of participation in classroom programmes and their confident belief in their ability to improve.

Senior leaders model professionalism. Change is supported by research, pilot programmes, stepped implementation and rigorous evaluation. Learning and teaching is continually examined, modified and shaped to achieve quality programmes. School organisation recognises teachers’ workloads and demonstrates the value placed on their contributions to improve practice.

Trustees understand the purpose and value of review for improvement. Achievement information and students' subsequent analysed needs guide all decision making. The board has a wide knowledge and skill base to support efficient and responsive forward planning.

Extensive community consultation and practical workshops contributed to the current strategic plan, the school’s curriculum and the implementation of National Standards reporting. Consideration of parents’ views is ongoing. Agreed values and philosophy are evident in practice throughout the school. Adults model respectful relationships, positive attitudes and the benefits of cooperation.

Provision for international students

International students learn in a positive, multicultural environment. Care, guidance and inclusion are of a high quality. Designated personnel provide individual support throughout students’ time at the school. International students are important contributors to the school’s culture and are fully involved in all aspects of the curriculum and wider activities. As a result of individually targeted learning support, students experience a high degree of success. The school’s ethos enhances their positive educational experience.

College Street Normal 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. At the time of this review six international students were attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Provision for students in the school hostel

College Street 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

26 May 2011


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 44%,

Male 56%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā


Other ethnic groups




Review team on site

March 2011

Date of this report

26 May 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

May 2008

May 2004

June 2001