Houghton Valley School - 14/01/2014

1 Context

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

Houghton Valley School is situated in Houghton Bay, Wellington. The extensive grounds are surrounded by native bush, known as the rainforest. The environment is used to create a variety of opportunities for learning.

The school roll is 201 students. Ten percent are Māori. Relationships between the school and parent community are well developed.

A new principal was appointed at the end of 2012, to start the 2013 school year. A new board was appointed in May 2013 and most trustees are new.

2 Learning

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

Teachers use student achievement information consistently to track the progress of individual students. They use data for grouping students for instruction, planning their next learning steps and reflecting on their teaching.

School targets are appropriately evidence based. The board is well informed about schoolwide achievement through regular reports from the principal which contain well-analysed information.

End of year 2012 National Standards' information shows that most students were achieving at or above the reading and mathematics National Standards. Writing results were slightly lower and in 2013 writing has been a focus of professional development and teaching.

October 2013 achievement data indicates that half of the students who were achieving below the writing National Standard are now meeting the standard.

Senior leaders and teachers should continue to:

  • develop their practices for moderation of overall teacher judgements (OTJs) about students' achievement in relation to the National Standards, using the writing moderation process for mathematics and reading
  • review the assessment tools currently being used to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

Senior leaders and teachers should increase:

  • collaborative analysis of student achievement information at syndicate and staff meetings. This is likely to lead to an enhanced focus on deliberate teaching in classrooms and support further development of teachers' inquiry into how well their practices promote learning
  • students' involvement in assessment of their own work to enable them to have increased knowledge of their achievement, progress and next learning steps.

While parents receive reports about their child’s learning, written reports do not state their achievement in relation to the National Standards. ERO understands an interim report, that begins to address this matter, will be used for the 2013 end of year reporting to parents.

3 Curriculum

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

Students benefit from a broad curriculum that focuses on literacy, mathematics, the arts and physical activity. Sustaining the environment is a priority. Good use is made of the local and wider community.

Teachers use a range of effective strategies in their practice. These include sharing high quality examples of work with students and linking learning to real-life contexts. Cooperative learning strategies are well integrated in classroom programmes. Information and communication technologies are used well as tools for learning. Positive teacher and student relationships are evident.

There are good systems to support students’ successful transition to school. Teachers realise the importance of forming positive relationships with parents and whānau.

Students with special education needs are well supported through a wide range of interventions. The impacts of these have not yet been reviewed and reported to the board. This is a next step.

The school’s curriculum requires development to more accurately reflect The New Zealand Curriculum. This needs to ensure that a shared understanding of effective teaching and learning is documented. The principal has analysed the current curriculum document to set the direction for a full review of the school curriculum and its implementation.

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

Over time, one of the deputy principals has consistently led a focus on te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. All students attend weekly kapa haka sessions and a local marae visit is an annual focus. Māori students are achieving well. They confidently take a leading role in welcoming visitors to the school.

Regular whānau hui are held. An outcome of a recent hui is the development of a school plan that will increase emphasis on promoting success for Māori as Māori.

ERO finds that teachers and senior leaders should continue to increase their focus on, and knowledge of, Māori language, culture and identity. Trustees and staff should now use Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017 to support their development of the school’s future direction for promoting success for Māori as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Trustees are working collaboratively to set school direction. Board members have been involved in trustee training with an external facilitator. They are developing a governance manual to guide operations. The development of a new strategic plan is planned. ERO recommends that the new plan includes goals that focus on moving the school forward with clearly identified priorities.

The principal and board have identified that work is needed to establish systems and processes for sustainability. ERO’s evaluation supports the development of a framework that establishes and documents processes for managing school operations and guiding teaching and learning.

While a new teacher appraisal system has been introduced, this should be implemented consistently. It is important that this process includes specific, robust feedback to teachers to support continuous improvement of their practice.

To strengthen sustainability, the development of a shared understanding of evidence-based self review is necessary. This process should be used by the board, school leaders and teachers to drive school improvement, with a focus on sustaining and improving outcomes for students.

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.

ERO identified one area of non-compliance.

Reports to parents do not state achievement in relation to the National Standards.

In order to address this matter, the board must ensure that:

  • teachers report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards in plain language in writing at least twice a year.[National Administration Guideline 2A(a)]

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

14 January 2014

index-html-m2a7690f7.gifAbout the School


Houghton Bay, Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 56%, Female 44%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Other ethnic groups




Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

14 January 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2009

September 2006

December 2000