Forrest Hill School - 03/05/2018

School Context

Forrest Hill School is located on Auckland’s North Shore and caters for approximately 450 students, from Years 1 to 6. The school community includes a diverse range of ethnicities, plus a small number of international students. Increasing numbers of students are English language learners.

The school promotes wellbeing for all with a clear focus on pastoral care. The school’s vision is “nurturing growth for a lifetime of learning” and valued student outcomes are to grow respect, make connections and challenge oneself to achieve highly. The school’s strategic goals and targets for improvement focus on the following key areas:

  • sustaining teaching practices known to accelerate progress in mathematics and literacy

  • continuing to develop teachers’ skills in supporting English language learners to make accelerated progress

  • ensuring that the reviewed school curriculum reflects the charter vision and valued student outcomes.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, and progress towards strategic targets

  • Māori, Pacific, and English language learner progress and achievement

  • programmes and interventions designed to support additional learning needs

  • innovative and authentic teaching and learning programmes, such as Garden to Table and Learning through Play

  • a picture of student engagement, wellbeing and attendance over time

  • programmes for international student outcomes.

Since the 2014 ERO review, there have been new appointments made to principal, deputy principals, and middle leaders. Leadership roles have been restructured. Professional learning has helped the school to sustain and continue improving effective practices during the time of change. The school has become a member of the Pupuke (Westlake) Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (COL).

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 is very effective in sustaining high levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Most students achieve at or above expected curriculum levels, with particular success in mathematics. Māori students are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics, in relation to the levels of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

The school maintains a rich picture of achievement through collating and scrutinising achievement data and other information about valued learner outcomes. The school’s valued outcomes are clearly expressed, and guide the curriculum and decision making for teaching and learning. Fostering the development of key competencies and authentic learning experiences are integral to the school’s curriculum.

Teachers, learning assistants, middle and senior leaders know students well as individuals, and are responsive to their learning needs. Data are collated and analysed to show progress for students involved in interventions and additional programmes. Teachers focus on targeted in-class support for individuals and groups, enhanced through research and inquiry into best practice.

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

The school fosters accelerated progress for the majority of students who need additional support. Teachers select students to deliberately target in their classroom teaching, as well as through supplementary programmes. Data are collated mid-year and at the end of each year to identify learners’ progress. The majority of these students show accelerated progress, so that almost all are achieving well by Year 6. Leaders plan to track long-term achievement data for these groups, to better inform strategic goals and targets, and for Māori and Pacific students in particular.

Over 50 percent of students at this school are English language learners. Strong programmes are provided to respond to students’ varying learning strengths and needs. Robust strategic and annual planning appropriately identifies targets and actions to enhance their language acquisition. These students are well supported, and show accelerated progress over four years of enrolment. By Year 6, the majority are able to work within the appropriate NZC levels.

Leaders and teachers work collaboratively with families, learning assistants and external agencies to cater effectively for children who need more individualised support.

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?

Strategic school leadership for equitable outcomes is a strength. The school’s vision and valued outcomes are integral to evaluation and decision-making processes. Deliberate plans and actions align with these to give clarity about what needs to be done, and by whom, and when. Leaders encourage and support teachers to be responsive to learner needs, and to work toward achieving strategic goals.

Reflective, collaborative decision-making around student learning includes shared analysis of information about how well students learn. Participation in professional networks further promotes improvement. Trustees are well informed about student learning, wellbeing and achievement, and they support further development through targeted resourcing.

Leaders provide high quality internally and externally facilitated professional development. Teaching teams build on research and collaborative analysis of achievement information. Teams are adaptive and innovative, so that the curriculum is highly responsive to learner strengths, interests and needs. Well-considered practices support these activities, foster open communication and promote shared purpose. Teachers are proactive in developing authentic and meaningful programmes. Students benefit from this trusting and inclusive approach, and engage in rich learning opportunities. They are viewed as decision makers and leaders of their own learning.

The community is actively involved in the life of the school. Trustees, leaders and staff value the skills, cultures and knowledge of the school’s ethnic communities. Leaders actively seek to build partnership with whānau. Teachers and leaders are inclusive and culturally responsive in terms of relationships, in teaching and learning, and in the respectful environment. There is great empathy and systems of support for migrant families who do not have English as their home language. The school website is a valuable resource, with multilingual text.

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

Since the 2014 review, a period of innovation and change has provided students with a range of exciting and engaging opportunities. ERO affirms the school’s commitment to further exploring and embedding these developments. The planned approach to evaluating new teaching and learning practices should highlight what is working well for student learning, and where strategic focus may be needed going forward.

Leaders plan to continue evaluating and adapting the curriculum and teaching practices. Their focus is on helping students to take increased ownership of their learning, and by setting and evaluating their own goals. Leaders are purposefully building teacher capability in this area.

The school charter states a bicultural commitment that particularly highlights the importance placed on supporting te reo Māori and aspects of tikanga Māori, including kapa haka. Senior leaders recognise the value in further developing strategic and annual goals to foster success for Māori students, as Māori, in more deliberate ways.

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.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (The Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of The Code.

At the time of this review there were six international students attending the school. Students are provided with a very good standard of education that includes formal English language classes and wide-ranging opportunities to participate fully in school activities. They benefit from the strong pastoral care systems, and are well-integrated into the school community.

The school has thorough review processes for determining the quality of education and wellbeing for international students. The board receives useful reports about the achievement and pastoral care of this group.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • highly effective leadership that promotes a culture of equity and excellence

  • educationally powerful connections and relationships that support learning and wellbeing

  • innovative, responsive curriculum design that aligns with the school’s vision, values and goals.

Next steps

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

  • innovate, and evaluate new teaching and learning practices

  • support students to take increased ownership of their learning

  • develop strategic and annual goals to foster success for Māori students, as Māori.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

3 May 2018

About the school

Location

Forrest Hill, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1278

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

446

Gender composition

Boys 57% Girls 43%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 32%
Māori 4%
Chinese 23%
Korean 12%
Pasifika 5%
British/Irish 4%
Indian 4%
other 16%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

3 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review January 2014
Education Review June 2009
Education Review June 2006