Helensville School - 20/10/2016

1 Context

Helensville School caters for children in Years 1 to 8. The school roll has grown significantly in recent years and an enrolment zone is in place to help manage roll growth. Maori children now make up 21 percent of the school roll. The board is about to appoint a new principal.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are documented in the school's charter and form strong foundations for teaching and learning. The school's mission, "To engage, to challenge, to achieve," is supported by the values of respect, resilience, excellence assertiveness, citizenship and honesty (REACH). Together these values promote the vision to be a school "where we know what it is to be a learner". The vision and values are modelled and promoted by teachers and school leaders.

The school’s achievement information shows that over the past five years most children have achieved well in relation to the National Standards. Data for 2015 shows that over 80 percent of children achieve at or above the National Standards in reading and mathematics. Māori children's achievement has risen over that time in all Standards, particularly in reading and mathematics. There is now little disparity between the achievement of Māori and that of other children in the school.

The school's data shows that achievement in writing, while rising by 12 percent, has shown less improvement over time, and that boys' writing achievement is still lower than that of girls. The board, school leaders and teachers continue to focus on deliberate actions to reduce this disparity.

Moderation processes used by teachers are well developed. As a result there is good information available about how well children are achieving in relation to the National Standards. Overall teacher judgements reflect the breadth of children's ongoing learning across the curriculum. Good use is made of nationally referenced assessment tools. The school also moderates their achievement data with other local schools, and is now a member of the Helensville-Parakai Community of Learning.

Since the 2011 ERO evaluation the school has continued to develop systematic processes to identify, track and monitor the progress of all children who need to make accelerated progress in their learning. Leaders and teachers have been involved in a variety of professional learning programmes designed to support the acceleration of children's progress and achievement. They continue to use inquiry and evaluation well to improve the effectiveness of systems and practices that support children's learning success.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school responds very effectively to Māori children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Māori children who are at risk of not achieving are identified through the use of a thorough school-wide tracking and monitoring process. Programmes of targeted support for Māori children are effective in reducing disparity and raising achievement through accelerated progress.

The learning needs of these Māori children are catered for through:

  • well considered teaching that requires teachers to reflect on ways that they can modify their practices to meet individual children's learning requirements
  • high levels of collaboration and trust among staff to successfully support Māori learners as they progress through the school
  • promoting children's knowledge and perception of themselves as successful learners.

Longitudinal achievement information shows the benefit of teachers being deliberate in their actions to accelerate the progress of children who are at risk of underachieving. Regular reports to the board about how well Māori children are progressing assists trustees to ask questions about achievement trends and patterns, and to target resources.

Teachers’ high expectations of all children 'to engage, to challenge, to succeed' are apparent. They skilfully support children to make accelerated progress, and to grow in confidence, cultural identity and leadership skills.

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

The school responds very effectively to other children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration, including children with special educational needs and those for whom English is an additional language. School strategies for accelerating the progress of Māori children have a positive influence on outcomes for all learners. There is good evidence of accelerated progress for Pacific learners and boys.

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 targets for equity and excellence?

The school’s curriculum processes and practices are very effective in developing and enacting the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence.

Effective leadership and stewardship are guiding the school's practices that support all learners to achieve success. The culture of high expectations for children and staff is underpinned by the belief that all children are capable learners. Senior leaders work collaboratively with team leaders and teachers to ensure expectations are shared and to guide effective practices across the school.

Purposeful and coherent systems support school leaders and teachers to respond successfully to individual children’s learning and wellbeing requirements. Children actively contribute to, and lead their learning. They have many opportunities to build confidence in themselves as successful learners.

Children learn through an inclusive school curriculum that is grounded in the concepts of manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, ako and mahi tahi. Trustees and school leaders recognise the positive impact that bicultural practices, culturally responsive curriculum content and use of te reo Māori have on Māori children's sense of identity.

The breadth of the curriculum is evident in the many opportunities children have to learn through music, technology, drama, sustainability and kapa haka. Success in these areas builds children's confidence and supports them to demonstrate their progress in literacy and mathematics in wider contexts.

Leadership occurs at all levels of the school. The school leadership team supports staff to develop and apply their leadership capabilities. Students are provided with meaningful opportunities to be involved in decision-making. This form of leadership development contributes positively to children’s wellbeing and their efficacy in their learning.

Trustees, school leaders and staff place a high priority on building meaningful relationships with families/whānau, and developing strong home-school partnerships. These relationships are fostered from the time children enrol at the school and are focused on their engagement in learning and their achievement. Families who spoke with ERO value the way the school responds to their aspirations for their children.

Promoting equity and excellence is a key feature of the consistently high quality, school-wide teaching practices. School leaders use effective appraisal processes to support teacher development. Reflective teaching practice is evident in the way teachers are open to possibilities and implement new ways of working promoted by targeted professional development and learning.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • 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
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Helensville School is very well placed to sustain current effective practices and to refine and adapt these in response to children's learning needs and to the aspirations of families/whānau. School leaders and trustees use internal evaluation well to continually improve school systems that support teaching and learning practices to meet diverse learners' requirements. They support staff to engage all children in a curriculum that is based on learners' strengths and accelerates the progress of those who are at risk of not achieving.

Senior leaders have identified relevant priorities for further development. These include:

  • continuing to develop cultural competencies across the school community to promote shared understandings and enhance processes and practices
  • sharing the outcomes of teachers' professional inquiries to inform practice, particularly in accelerating children's progress and achievement
  • developing a digital strategy to guide ongoing school development.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five 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

  • provision for international students.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the school continues to use internal evaluation to build on the strong foundations that support equity and excellence for all learners. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

20 October 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition




other European







Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

20 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2011

June 2008

July 2005