Garston School - 09/04/2018

School Context

Garston School is a Years 1 to 8 school in rural Northern Southland. It has a roll of 38 children.

The school states that its vision is for the school to be a place where the school community works constructively together, “to challenge our children as they grow and learn in a positive and caring environment.” Its values for life are to nurture understanding of; Respect, striving for Excellence, Innovation and Community Responsibility.

The school’s stated goals are that all students have access to, and make sufficient progress and achievement in relation to the levels in the New Zealand Curriculum. Other school goals include, students being supported to take ownership for learning and teachers being responsive to students’ cultures and needs. The school aims to promote and support Māori students to achieve success as Māori. It also aims to support students with additional learning needs to fully participate in and contribute to the school community. The 2018 targets are to lift student achievement in most learning areas.

The principal regularly reports to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement trends over time
  • success in learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum identified as school strategic priorities
  • engagement in specific learning programmes for Years 7 and 8 students
  • outcomes related to engagement and student wellbeing
  • achievement, progress and support of students with additional learning needs.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, the staffing has remained stable. The board is a mix of long-standing and newly-elected trustees.

The school is part of the FINS Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school has sustained high levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for almost all students over the last three years. There has been an upward trend in both mathematics and writing over the last three years.

End of year 2017 school information shows that over 90% of students achieved at or above expected levels in writing and mathematics. Over 85% of students achieved at or above expected levels in reading.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school demonstrates that it effectively accelerates the learning for most of those students who are identified as needing differentiated support to succeed in their learning.

School data shows that 50% of students who had extra support to accelerate their progress in reading and writing made accelerated progress. In mathematics 75% of students identified as needing extra support accelerated their progress. Children with additional needs have made sufficient progress in their learning.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Leadership of teaching and learning is very effective.  Coherent and intentional processes and practices, such as teacher appraisal and inquiry are building teacher capability. This focus on effective teacher practice has resulted in the continued improvement in student engagement, progress and achievement.

There are high expectations for teachers and students guided by the attributes outlined in the Garston SPIRIT: These are:

  • self –assurance
  • productivity
  • independence
  • respect
  • innovation
  • thinking intelligently.

These attributes, based on the key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum, are used frequently as the framework for continuous improvement. For example the focus on innovation has led to an effective internal evaluation in writing. It has also led to the beginning of a meaningful shared approach between teachers and students in designing the curriculum. The focus on respect has strengthened a shared understanding of positive school culture.

Collaborative and caring relationships at all levels of the school create a positive inclusive environment that actively promotes students’ wellbeing and social learning. The school community has a strong commitment to equity, excellence, and belonging. Teachers work closely with parents and families, and external expertise to provide useful individualised learning approaches. The board contribute significant resourcing to ensure that all students have equitable access to the curriculum.

The trustees and principal work strategically to align resourcing to support improvement goals and development. This includes supporting long-term professional development in the teaching of mathematics and writing which has led to higher levels of engagement, progress and achievement.

Students benefit from an authentic localised curriculum that responds to their strengths, needs and interests. They are increasingly involved in taking greater responsibility for their learning and curriculum design. Strong links with the local community provide opportunities for rich learning experiences, often taking learning out and beyond the school.

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

Some areas of the school’s processes need to be strengthened and embedded to increase the effectiveness in achieving equity and excellence.

School leaders and ERO identified the following areas for development. Leaders and teachers have made some progress in the development of te reo and tikanga Māori across the school. Some of the school’s planning shows a developing focus on valuing the bicultural heritage of New Zealand.

 Trustees, school leaders and teachers need to:

  • strengthen their analysis and questioning of learning information to have greater assurance that all students are making sufficient progress appropriate to their needs
  • strengthen and expand the school’s curriculum developing the way te reo Māori, and local tikanga and history are meaningfully included.

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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to policies and procedures in a number of areas linked to children’s emotional and physical safety.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. establish comprehensive procedures for police vetting [Education Act 1989, Sections 78C]
  2. ensure that school practices for physical restraint comply with current Ministry of Education policy.
    Source: Clause 11, Education (Physical Restraint) Rules 2017 – updated Guidelines for Registered Schools in New Zealand on the Use of Physical Restraint

Provision for international students

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

 No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • effective processes and practices that support a very strong focus on ensuring the capability and effectiveness of teaching
  • the strong pedagogical leadership of the principal that maintains high expectations for teaching and learning in the school
  • its positive and collaborative school culture that provide for the wellbeing, belonging and inclusion students and their families.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, development priorities are in:

  • continuing to strengthen internal evaluation and scrutiny of learning information to be assured all students are making sufficient progress
  • focused implementation of meaningful and developmental plans in te reo and tikanga Māori that reflect the school’s practices, values, and future focussed curriculum development. 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in three years.

Dr Lesley Paterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region 

9 April 2018

About the school 


Northern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary

School roll


Gender composition

Boys:  19

Girls:  19

Ethnic composition

Māori:      3%

Pākehā:  97%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

9 April 2018

Most recent ERO reports

November 2014

September 2011

February 2005