Gulf Harbour School - 08/03/2013

1 Context

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

Gulf Harbour School, on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, provides an innovative curriculum that allows students to make connections in their learning through real life learning contexts and the flexible use of time.

An inclusive school culture is promoted through positive relationships between students and with teachers. The school tone is positive and settled. Students demonstrate a sense of belonging and pride in their school. They are confident and articulate. The change to multi-year-level classes offers new opportunities for promoting continuity of student learning and leadership.

School leaders have managed a number of challenges as a result of wider school and community change. The community has continued to become more diverse and mobile and there have been fewer school enrolments in recent years. Renovations to existing school buildings have been significant. A senior leadership team is now well established and committed to the school’s direction. Senior leaders are continuing to support a significant number of teachers and staff who are new to the school or in new leadership roles.

School leaders have used the 2010 ERO report well to support school development. They have reviewed the school’s vision and values in consultation with teachers and some members of the community.

2 Learning

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

The school effectively uses its review of achievement information to make positive changes that improve outcomes for students. This has been an area of significant progress for trustees and school leaders since the 2010 ERO review.

Students show enthusiasm and creativity through their positive engagement in classroom programmes. They are beginning to use achievement information to talk about and set goals for their learning. They make good use of student led conferences to share their learning with families.

To further support all students as leaders of their own learning, school leaders should focus on developing school wide approaches that encourage students to:

  • make individual decisions about their learning contexts and pathways
  • evaluate successes and set more challenging learning goals.

School leaders have worked with teachers to improve the quality of student achievement information. They have developed new processes for assessing students' achievement in literacy and mathematics. They recognise the value of increasing the range of assessment tools to inform overall teacher judgements in writing, especially in Years 4 to 8.

Teachers are increasingly using achievement information well to target key groups of learners. They are developing their capacity to use data to reflect on the ways their teaching is meeting the needs of individuals and diverse groups of learners. Ongoing work to increase the quality of targeted teaching in literacy and mathematics remains a key school priority.

Significant progress has been made to support students with specific learning needs. High needs students are very well known and achieve success. They benefit from thoughtfully modified programmes and well chosen resources.

School leaders and staff have made good use of the National Standards to increase their knowledge of, and communication about, student achievement. Most students achieve above or well above the Standards. Parents and whānau receive useful information regarding student achievement. Ongoing refinements, including reporting to parents more clearly and in plain language may prove helpful in promoting learning partnerships with families.

The board of trustees sets relevant and specific achievement targets. Useful achievement information is reported to trustees about how well achievement targets are being met. Priority groups are clearly identified by school leaders and appear in targets. Teachers know and appropriately focus on these learners. Māori and Pacific learners are part of the target groups.

Trustees agreed next steps are for the board to focus on how well:

  • priority learners make accelerated progress over time
  • other groups of students progress over time, including gifted and talented students
  • teaching and learning interventions and specific resourcing is supporting student learning.

The school has the systems and technology necessary to report and evaluate more specifically on student progress in the future.

3 Curriculum

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

The Gulf Harbour School (GHS) curriculum is effective in engaging and supporting student learning. It is appropriately aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and places emphasis on students experiencing coherence in their learning, making meaningful connections and gaining deeper understandings. The curriculum reflects the educational direction of the school.

Students are guided to explore learning in integrated ways. A key part of curriculum design is to encourage risk taking and ‘adventure’ in learning. The curriculum makes good use of local contexts to interest and engage students in real life learning. These contexts are often chosen and developed by teachers.

Digital tools support learners to make connections with the wider world and learn in different ways. Students benefit from modern and comfortable learning spaces that encourage collaboration and self management. Very good classroom resourcing also supports curriculum delivery.

School leaders work closely with teachers to align planning, teaching and programme evaluation processes. Teachers demonstrate good quality teaching approaches. They collaborate across teams to support a holistic focus on students and learning. School leaders and teachers could now focus on using inputs from diverse community groups to develop a more culturally connected curriculum.

Professional development has been used effectively to support teachers to assess student learning and consider the impact of their teaching. Performance management is well done and is becoming more directly linked to the school’s curriculum. To further progress the schools curriculum and continue to improve student outcomes, it would be useful for school leaders and teachers to:

  • increase levels of effective differentiation within classroom programmes
  • in consultation with the community, develop effective learner and teacher profiles that highlight the key knowledge, skills and understanding that are desirable in a GHS student and a GHS teacher
  • document how well individual students develop the breadth in knowledge, skills and understandings in the NZC learning areas
  • use the NZC to help evaluate the overall success of the school’s curriculum.

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

Māori students who identify as Māori are well known and supported by individual teachers. The school has a recently established a kapa haka group and some teachers connect curriculum contexts to te ao Māori.

However, further work, at a strategic level, must occur to promote success for and as Māori. Consultation with whānau must remain a high priority and be undertaken regularly. The school should better document the outcomes from the recently re-established consultation forum with whānau.

To promote adequate bicultural understanding and align with the intent of te Tiriti o Waitangi, school leaders should work alongside the Māori community to develop a strategic plan that promotes the language, culture and identity of Māori students as Māori. Useful starting points should include:

  • a review of the GHS vision and values from a bicultural perspective
  • developing specific and measurable school targets for progressing success as Māori
  • accessing professional support and using Ministry of Education and other resources to help school leaders and trustees make meaningful progress.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is adequately placed to sustain and improve school performance. Self review is ongoing and used to make improvements. School leaders have a good understanding of self review and are working towards better documentation of the outcomes of self review.

The school is led by a cohesive leadership team whose members have complementary skills. They have effective, distributed leadership approaches and developed positive working relationships with teachers, including them in leadership decisions. The principal provides very good reporting to the board on school progress against the strategic plan and student achievement targets. He is well respected by other school leaders.

Trustees have had ongoing training as a board. They have developed a useful strategic plan and documented governance processes. Using external support, they are developing a governance self review tool. They have managed a number of significant property reinstatements. Policies have been restructured and board operations are aligned the governance role. Trustees would benefit from focussing on succession planning and finding ways to further support the principal to enact the school’s vision.

The following next steps have been discussed with the board. Trustees should:

  • prioritise work to accelerate school progress on Success as Māori and find more ways to engage with the community
  • support school leaders to establish closer links with other ‘new’ and recently established New Zealand schools where useful
  • review how other schools are managing effective consultation with the diverse communities to advance the shared ownership of the school’s vision with the community
  • develop measures of school success and report on these to the community with a view to being more responsive and informing future directions.

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

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.

The board has not regularly consulted with the school's Māori community. The board of trustees must, in consultation with the school's Māori community:

  • develop and make known policies, plans and targets for improving the achieving of Māori students[National Education Guidelines, National Administration Guideline 1(e)].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

8 March 2013

About the School


Gulf Harbour, Whangaparaoa

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European



other European

other Asian

other Pacific









Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

8 March 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2010

October 2006

June 2003