Heddon Bush School - 27/05/2016

1 Context

Heddon Bush is a small, three-teacher, rural school. The board partially funds a teacher to keep classes small. The school has a new principal, but few other changes in staff.

Children come from increasingly diverse cultural backgrounds and some are learning English as a second language (ESOL learners). Linked to the dairy industry, a large number of children arrive or leave during the school year. New children settle quickly and told ERO that they felt welcomed and included.

The school has a family-like feel, where older children work and play well alongside younger children. Children spoke with enthusiasm about their teachers and school.

The school owns a bus and most children use this to get to school. The bus is used frequently for excursions. Parents and the wider community are very supportive of the school.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are that children will feel a joy in learning. The school also aims to support each child to reach their full potential and become a confident, connected, life-long learner. The school is in the process of reviewing its vision and values to ensure that these reflect the wishes of its current parents.

The school’s achievement information shows that nearly 80% of its children achieve at or above the National Standards in reading and mathematics. Writing achievement is lower. An appropriate target has been set and adults in the school are working hard to improve children’s writing. Overall, Māori children achieve better than their peers in reading and writing and at similar levels in mathematics.

The school has made good progress against the recommendations in the 2013 ERO report. There is strong evidence of ongoing development and improvement. Developments include:

  • ongoing professional learning and development (PLD) to lift writing achievement
  • the development of learning expectations and guidelines for literacy and mathematics
  • an improved process for teacher appraisal
  • practices that encourage teachers to inquire deeply into how they can best support children’s learning
  • work with local schools to improve assessment and teaching practices in writing
  • becoming an enviro-school
  • building an obstacle course to challenge children and build their physical skills.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is very effective in supporting Māori children who need extra help to succeed with their learning.

Most Māori children at Heddon Bush School achieve at or above the National Standards. Any Māori child below the National Standards is quickly identified and carefully monitored over time. These children receive intensive support from skilled teachers and teacher aides. This happens in and out of the class, in small groups and one-to-one contexts. There is a real sense of urgency in helping these children to make the accelerated progress required. Past support has resulted in most Māori children making accelerated progress.

Teachers reflect deeply on what is working and what is not. They try new approaches and adapt their programmes and teaching strategies. The school sets useful targets. These targets include all children who are below the National Standards. At the classroom level, teachers plan in detail for each child. They inform parents when their child needs extra support and share ideas about how they can help at home.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

This school has several groups of children who need extra support with their learning. These include: children who shift between schools during the year, children from other cultures and ESOL children. Some children fall in all of these groups.

Many of these children arrive at this school below the National Standards. They quickly settle into their new school. As with Māori children, they are very well supported in their learning. The positive comments above (re Māori children) apply to these groups and to any other child who is achieving below the National Standards.

Given the high number of transient and ESOL children, the principal should report regularly to the board on how well these children settle and are supported in their learning.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

The school’s curriculum and culture, its systems and practices, effectively contribute towards realising the school’s vision and goals.

The principal, teachers and teacher aides know the children well as learners and as individuals. They keep parents well informed about their child’s progress and achievement and how they can help with their child’s learning. Most children can talk about how well they are achieving and their learning goals. They believe that their work is set at the right level of challenge.

Children benefit from a broad curriculum that is relevant to their interests and life experiences. Their ideas are valued by teachers. Senior children have many leadership opportunities and take pride in being responsible role models for younger children.

Other curriculum strengths are:

  • purposeful learning trips beyond the school
  • the strong focus on literacy, mathematics and physical activity
  • the supportive and settled school culture that enables teachers and children to focus on learning
  • a strong focus on children’s wellbeing.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that it is timely to review and update some of its curriculum guidelines. Teachers also need to continue to build their confidence in teaching te reo Māori and including Māori perspectives in, and approaches to, learning.

The principal is a capable professional leader. She has quickly built positive relationships with the children, staff, trustees and the parent community. She has identified key priorities and areas for improvement and is working towards achieving these. She ensures aspects such as PLD and appraisal goals, link back to these priorities. She is well supported by the board.

The principal, teachers and support staff work very closely to meet children’s needs. There is a strong focus on ongoing PLD, using research to find solutions, and inquiring deeply into what works and what doesn’t. For example, teachers meet every day to discuss how they can best meet the needs of their target children.

There is strong evidence of ongoing improvement to teaching and learning. The appraisal process is being strengthened to have a greater focus on children whose learning needs to be accelerated. The next step is to ensure regular and ongoing evaluation of how well different learning areas and teaching practices are implemented.

Trustees have a strong focus on achievement and wellbeing of all children. They are well informed about school-wide progress and achievement. With the principal, they have developed useful strategic priorities and plans. The principal regularly reports on progress towards implementing these.

Trustees show a strong commitment to their governance role. They are working with the School Trustees Association to improve their understanding of effective evaluation and governance, and to refine the school’s policy and procedure structure.

5 Going forward

Leaders and teachers:How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children.

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

6 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 the following:

  • Board administration.
  • Curriculum.
  • Management of health, safety and welfare.
  • Personnel management.
  • 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.
  • Processes for appointing staff.
  • Stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.
  • Attendance.
  • Compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

27 May 2016 

About the school


Central Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 23 Boys: 34

Ethnic composition




South African

Sri Lankan






Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

27 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2013

February 2010

February 2007