Fernside School - 10/05/2013

1 Context

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

Fernside School is a rural school in the North Canterbury region. The school is well resourced with a range of outdoor sporting facilities and learning spaces used by the community. A welcoming school culture helps teachers in building and maintaining strong relationships with parents and the community.

Students told ERO the school is a very safe place. They appreciate the many and varied leadership and learning opportunities they have during their time at the school.

The school has made significant progress in addressing the recommendations from the 2009 ERO review. The development of a set of shared values has strengthened professional relationships and communication.

The principal has extended leadership by developing the capacity of staff to lead student progress and achievement.

The board has responded positively to the wishes of parents and community to provide more extensive sporting and music experiences in school programmes.

2 Learning

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

Students are well engaged in their learning and in their participation in the wider life of the school.

Most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori student achievement over time is at similar levels to whole-school achievement.

Factors contributing to these high levels of engagement and achievement include:

  • respectful and positive relationships between teachers and students, amongst students and with parents
  • increased student independence in their learning
  • effective analysis and use of achievement information, including the setting of targets to lift achievement of groups of students.

There are well-developed systems and processes in place to support students not achieving or at risk of not achieving. Teachers make good use of achievement information to identify these students and to monitor their progress. There is a good level of communication between the school and parents to set and review learning goals. Plans for learning support are provided for different levels of need, including for gifted and highly able students.

The board receives regular and informative reports about student progress and achievement. These reports help trustees to make informed decisions about learning programmes and resources.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum very effectively promotes and extends student learning.

The curriculum has been developed and reviewed through extensive consultation with staff, parents and the community. There are strong links between the New Zealand Curriculum, the school curriculum and key planning documents.

The curriculum includes:

  • clear expectations for teaching and learning
  • useful guidelines for planning and assessment
  • parent and community wishes for children’s learning
  • learning programmes that include specific priorities and wide coverage of the curriculum
  • a whole-school focus on topics of particular interest to students.

Students’ learning benefits from very good quality teaching, which includes specialist teachers of music and physical education. Teachers take part in a thorough process of appraisal for improving the quality of teaching. This process is well linked to appropriate training opportunities, including a very effective peer-coaching programme. These activities have helped teachers to develop shared understanding of good teaching strategies, and a strong culture of teachers working well together.

Students learn in attractive well-maintained classrooms. Teachers’ management of classrooms is learning-focused.

The curriculum is well managed and monitored by syndicate leaders and teachers. The organisation of the syndicate groups supports the management of interesting, varied and appropriate learning programmes for students.

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

The school is developing increased effectiveness in promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori. Key features of the developments include:

  • the importance of and recognition of leadership in this area
  • the results of a comprehensive review undertaken by the staff that has generated a number of recommendations for improvements
  • the development of sequential classroom programmes and resources for students and teachers
  • useful professional development and support for teachers.

The next step is for teachers and leaders is to give even greater prominence to te reo and tikanga Māori and New Zealand’s bicultural heritage in the school.

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.

Strong and effective leadership at all levels provides a planned direction for continued improvement.

Features of leadership include:

  • developing a professional culture that encourages honest and open communication
  • the principal and senior leaders working well together to bring about positive change
  • providing leadership opportunities that recognise, value and further develop the skills of staff
  • the refinement of highly effective review processes.

Self Review

Leaders, teachers and trustees show a high level of reflective thinking. This is evident in review processes that include:

  • consistent and systematic review guidelines
  • a well understood and used framework across the school with a focus on the curriculum
  • the board, leaders and teachers making good use of recommendations to plan strategies and actions
  • good use of external review to inform and improve long term planning and decision making.

The school’s review process has identified a number of key priorities for further development. ERO supports the school’s identified future goals that include:

  • maintaining a focus on the core curriculum of reading, writing, mathematics and science
  • helping students develop as confident learners
  • enhancing the school environment through sustainability
  • strengthening partnerships across the community.

Trustees have a wide range of skills and experience. They have had external support to help them in developing the school charter. There are good procedures and guidelines for governing. The board is confident it has the capacity to sustain improvement and has already discussed succession planning.

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

10 May 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51%; Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā








Review team on site

March 2013

Date of this report

10 May 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

October 2009

October 2006

December 2005