Ficino School - 18/10/2013

Findings

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Ficino School meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

1 Background

The Chief Review Officer has a statutory duty to report on the performance of private schools throughout New Zealand.

ERO reviews of private schools are significantly different in process and more limited in scope and reporting than those for state and state-integrated schools, focusing as they do on the Criteria for Registration set out in section 35C of the Education Act.

Section 35I of the Education Act 1989 requires the Education Review Office (ERO) to review private schools and to report to the Ministry of Education on whether each school continues to meet the criteria for registration. The schools are privately owned and the legislative requirements are significantly different to those for state and state-integrated schools. Private schools are not required to follow the National Education Goals or National Administration Guidelines.

What does apply in place of the legislation imposed upon state schools by the Education Act is the contract between the persons paying for the tuition of the child at the school – the parents – and the school authority. Those are matters between the parent and the school’s governing body.

The criteria for registration are that the school —

a) has premises that are suitable, as described in section 35D; and

b) usually provides tuition for 9 or more students who are of or over the age of 5 years but are under the age of 16 years; and

c) has staffing that is suitable to the age range and level of its students, the curriculum taught at the school, and the size of the school; and

d) has equipment that is suitable for the curriculum being delivered or to be delivered at the school; and

e) has a curriculum for teaching, learning, and assessment and makes details of the curriculum and its programme for delivery available for parents; and

f) has suitable tuition standards, as described in section 35F; and

g) has managers who are fit and proper persons (as described in section 35G) to be managers of a private school.

2 Criteria for Registration

Ficino School, a small private school located in the Auckland suburb of Mount Eden, provides education for students from Year 1 to Year 8. The school continues to provide students with suitable premises, staffing, equipment and standards of tuition. Students learn through a suitable curriculum. A sound framework of policies and procedures guides the school’s operations.

The school was founded in 1997 and is managed by a trust board, who are members of the School of Philosophy. The school’s ethos and curriculum are modelled on those of the St James Independent Schools of London. In keeping with the founders' intent, the school aims to uphold traditional virtues and spiritual values and to provide a comprehensive and principled education. The board of trustees undertakes to provide a peaceful, happy learning environment.

The buildings and grounds continue to be well presented and maintained. Teaching facilities are spacious and well resourced. Improvements have been made to the library and staffroom over the last three years. The board has invested in improving facilities and equipment for children’s physical activity. Classroom resources to support the teaching of literacy and new information technologies have been purchased.

The curriculum is broad and continues to reflect the intentions of the school’s founders. The principal has introduced elements of the Cambridge International Primary Programme into the curriculum for students in Years 1 to 8. Assessment tools related to this programme enable teachers to monitor the progress and achievement of students in literacy, mathematics and science against other students who are also following the Cambridge curriculum. Recent test results indicate that students achieve well.

Teaching methods reflect the principles outlined in the school charter and maintain the traditions of the school. Teachers encourage positive interactions with students and between students. Students participate in educational opportunities that extend beyond the classroom.

Trustees have expressed interest in developing teaching practices that promote greater student ownership of learning. This could be the focus of future professional development to further support the board’s objective of providing students with an excellent standard of teaching.

Staffing levels are generous with small classes and high ratios of teachers to students. Teachers are suitably qualified and bring a wide range of curriculum strengths and interests to their teaching. Additional part-time teachers help to provide a broad curriculum that includes the arts, physical education and additional learning support. Staff performance is monitored by the principal who encourages teachers to reflect on their teaching practice.

Throughout the time of the ERO review, students were observed to show respect for their teachers and each other. The school reports that the test results for its Year 6 students who sat the Cambridge International Primary Programme tests compared very well with those of students from other schools.

The school’s managers have attested that they comply with the provisions of section 35G in respect to their being fit and proper persons to manage the school.

3 Other Statutory Obligations

There are good systems in place for the school’s managing body to be assured that its other statutory obligations are met.

4 Other Matters

Provision for international students

Ficino School provides international students with a good standard of education and English language support, as appropriate. The principal is responsible for the pastoral care of international students. Classroom teachers cater for students’ individual learning needs in small class settings.

The 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 there was one international student attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

5 Conclusion

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Ficino School meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

18 October 2013

About the School

Location

Mount Eden, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1935

School type

Private School (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

126

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Girls 55% Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Indian

Chinese

Other

60%

10%

12%

9%

9%

Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

18 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Private School Review

Private School Review

Private School Review

April 2010

March 2007

May 2004