Gordonton School - 26/11/2012

1 Context

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

Gordonton School is a semi-rural school located in Gordonton Village on the north eastern outskirts of Hamilton. The school caters for students in Years 1 to 8 and the current roll is 247. Significant roll growth in recent years has occurred. To manage this growth an enrolment scheme has been put in place that clearly defines the areas from which the school is able to draw its students. Māori students make up 17 % of the school roll and the board of trustees is currently working to enhance the way the school acknowledges and celebrates the rich Māori history evident in the local area.

School grounds are extensive and are well maintained, and used by the school and wider community. Since the last ERO review in 2009 several new classrooms and a court area have been established.

Since that ERO review, teachers have undertaken professional learning in mathematics and information and communication technologies, and are currently learning about how to improve their practice in the teaching of writing.

There are many opportunities for parents and families to become involved with the school, share their ideas about school direction, and make a contribution to the large number of school-based community events. The parent community is supportive of the school and has high expectations for school performance and development. The principal is highly visible in the school and takes pride in being accessible and approachable to parents and families.

The tone in the classrooms and playground is settled with students interacting politely and respectfully towards their peers and teachers. There are many opportunities for older students to support the learning and participation of younger students in the school.

School governance and self-review processes are highly effective. The school has a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Information provided by the school shows that students are achieving very well with their learning. The school acknowledges the important contribution made by the large number of parents who, in partnership with the school, value education and foster students’ positive attitudes.

Teachers use a variety of appropriate tests to gather information about student achievement. They use this information, along with observations of student learning behaviour, to make overall teacher judgements about achievement in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. This data shows that in 2011:

  • in reading, 92% of students achieved at or above the expected standards
  • in mathematics and writing, 87% achieved at or above the expected standard
  • Māori achieved well but slightly below non Māori

Good systems are in place to identify students needing support with their learning and programmes are in place to target these needs and monitor the individual progress of these students.

Teachers have high expectations for student learning and behaviour which are consistently met across the school. They recognise and reinforce the partnership in learning and achievement between students, teachers and parents. In classrooms observed by ERO there were very high levels of on-task learning.

The school has set broad, aspirational goals to raise student achievement in relation to National Standards. More specific targets particularly in relation to groups of priority learners, should contribute to a more systematic focused approach to tracking progress for groups of students over time and raising achievement for these learners.

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 student learning. The curriculum:

  • is broad in coverage of all subject areas
  • emphasises the importance of literacy, mathematics and the local environment
  • has been designed in consultation with parents, teachers and trustees to strongly reflect the vision and values of the local community
  • is reviewed annually in response to collated and analysed achievement information.

Relationships among teachers and students are respectful and affirming. Teachers have worked hard to create learning environments that reflect, support and celebrate student learning. Classrooms are print rich and well resourced with high-quality equipment to support teaching and learning.

Teachers use a range of effective strategies to engage students in learning. They plan topics for learning that students find enjoyable and relevant to their experiences and interests. As a result students are enthusiastic and motivated learners who happily participate in classroom activities.

Parents have many opportunities to be well informed about their child’s achievement and progress during the year. Termly interviews, well-presented achievement portfolios and formal written reports combine to provide parents with useful information, including achievement in relation to National Standards.

ERO and the school agree that the school’s conscientious teachers, motivated students, involved parents and generous resourcing provide a strong foundation for further development in curriculum design and teaching. This development should focus on establishing:

  • a school-wide approach to inquiry learning
  • a shared understanding about what student self management of learning looks like at the school.

These developments are likely to result in students taking a greater role in their own learning by more effectively monitoring their own progress, making more decisions about their learning, and progressing towards becoming self-managing learners.

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

The school has a clearly defined vision about success for all students, including Māori. The vision is for ‘Māori to be the best that they can be, achieve academically, socially and to become confident, life-long learners’. This vision is closely linked to the school’s mission statement. The strategic plan acknowledges the unique position of the Māori culture through:

  • marae visits every second year
  • school-wide tikanga and te reo Māori studies
  • inclusion of Māori perspectives in all topic studies
  • hui with local community with the purpose of improving school achievement
  • continuing marae visits and advice and guidance through Hukanui Marae contacts.

There is a now a need to continue to raise the profile of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage throughout the school’s curriculum, environments and school practices.

A useful starting point for teachers would be to examine the Ministry of Education publications, Ka Hikitia (Managing for Success-Māori Education Strategy) and Tātaiako (Cultural Competencies for teaching of Māori Learners) to establish shared understandings and expectations about what these documents might mean for teaching and learning at Gordonton 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 because:

  • the school has successfully engaged with its parent community at all levels, involving them as partners in their children’s learning
  • governance is highly effective with clearly defined roles, active involvement in the setting of school direction and planned involvement in school review
  • the experienced principal and school leaders are focused on raising student achievement through improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning programmes
  • processes for self review are clearly defined, well understood and based on evidence from a wide range of sources, including parent and teacher voice, analysed achievement information and ongoing consultation
  • the positive and inclusive school culture provides a sound foundation for student learning and engagement
  • the school’s planned priorities for future development are clearly focused on further improving student achievement.

Provision for international students

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 were four international students 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.

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.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

26 November 2012

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 50%

Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā NZ


Other Asian


Other European


Cook Island Māori










Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

26 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2009

December 2006

April 2003