Ferndale School (Christchurch) - 01/10/2013

1 Context

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

Ferndale School is a special school for students from 5 years to 21 years old with significant and complex learning needs and challenges. All students receive additional funding and support for their learning from the Ministry of Education.

The school oversees 11 satellite classes located in other schools in Christchurch. It also provides an outreach services to local schools, where specialist teachers regularly visit students attending regular classrooms.

The school provides high quality pastoral care for students and families. School leaders have established extensive links with a wide range of external agencies to support students’ learning and their families.

The board has established very effective safety policies and procedures to help provide a safe environment for students, families, teachers, support staff and visitors.

2 Learning

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

School leaders and teachers make very good use of achievement information. They have developed high-quality procedures to gather and analyse this information. It is well used to plan for specific next learning steps, and to monitor individual student progress.

Areas of strength

The school makes effective use of a wide variety of appropriate assessments. All students have a detailed Individual Education Plan (IEP), or an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) if they are over 16 years of age. The individual plans include appropriate goals across all areas of the curriculum. Parents and families respond positively to the communication about these plans.

School leaders regularly monitor and measure school-wide student progress. They provide good-quality analysis and detailed reports to the board about students’ progress and achievement. The analysed information is used to set appropriate learning goals and targets, for individuals and groups of students.

The school has established an effective and informative way of reporting student progress to parents. The comprehensive reports are visual, easy to understand and include next steps for the student. Older students who are preparing to leave school develop a detailed curriculum vitae to help with this transition.

School leaders have identified the need to review and further develop school assessments and procedures to better identify the individual learning needs of students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning.

Areas of strength

The comprehensive and unique curriculum is designed to give emphasis to the school values which have been developed in consultation with the community. It has a focus on individual student’s learning and development pathways. These pathways involve managed transitions into life beyond school.

Strengths of the curriculum include:

  • extensive education outside the classroom ( EOTC ) programmes
  • innovative and varied use of technology, particularly for student communication
  • useful links with tertiary institutions
  • older students having access to the Duke of Edinburgh awards.

School leaders and teachers regularly review all aspects of the curriculum. These reviews lead to detailed action plans for bringing about improvements.

Students benefit from high-quality teaching by classroom and specialist teachers, and the extensive support staff. Teachers and support staff are provided with clear expectations and guidelines, and are well supported by effective management practices.

A well-designed programme provides relevant and useful training for all staff, addressing a balance of individual teacher’s and whole staff developmental needs.

The principal has identified and ERO agrees that there is a need to further develop appraisal procedures to ensure more emphasis is placed on teacher development.

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

The school is very effectively promoting Māori student educational success.

Areas of strength

Most Māori students succeed and progress better than other groups of students in the school.

The principal's analysis of Māori student achievement shows a positive increase in achievement of Māori students in literacy and numeracy in 2011 and 2012.

Leaders, teachers and the pastoral care coordinator effectively consult and communicate with students’ whānau. The school kaumātua is extending home and school links, and whānau feel welcome in the school. The school provides significant pastoral care for Māori families, including liaison with appropriate external support agencies.

A number of staff members are confident speakers of te reo Māori.

A detailed and useful cultural audit has been carried out. This has helped to inform the Māori development plan that is part of the charter, and to integrate Māori values into planning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Areas of strength

School leaders provide a high level of professional leadership. They have a strong sense of vision and direction for the school. They have extensive knowledge of special education, and make good use of self-review information. The leaders work well together, and set high expectations for all aspects of school operations.

The board of trustees provides very good governance. Trustees are responsive and committed to the core values of the school. Board procedures are well organised and effective.

Leaders and trustees manage a detailed self review programme for each year. Review reports contain useful evaluations, and lead to relevant action plans.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

1 October 2013

About the School


Merivale, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 62 Girls 36

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnicities





Special Features

School employs therapists and provides Specialist Education support services for some schools. It has satellite classes in six schools.

Review team on site

July 2013

Date of this report

1 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2010

February 2007

May 2004