Ilam School - 15/02/2013

1 Context

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

Ilam School is a multi-cultural school. Its students come from over forty different ethnic groups. The way staff acknowledge and celebrate these different cultures enriches the learning of all students.

The school is located close to the University of Canterbury. The partnership that exists between the school and the university benefits students and staff in many ways. For example, some students take part in interesting additional learning opportunities either at the university, or provided by university staff at the school.

Since the school's October 2009 ERO review, school leaders and teachers have continued to take part in a variety of professional development. This, along with some recent changes in the way professional development is led and managed, has helped to extend the use of high quality teaching practices.

A new principal started at the school in term two 2012. His leadership, and that of other senior leaders, is helping to build on the best of past practices in ways that benefit both students and staff.

The board has recently spent significant time dealing with a property-related issue. During this time it has continued to maintain a strong focus on raising student achievement and enhancing teaching.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The principal and other school leaders systematically gather school-wide achievement information. This information has become increasingly reliable with ongoing improvements to assessment practices. Teachers are now confident about the judgments they are making about students’ achievement in relation to the National Standards.

School leaders make good use of this information to:

  • analyse and complete informative reports about achievement patterns in literacy and mathematics
  • identify groups of students who are at risk of not achieving and establish targets to raise achievement
  • consider the best ways to help students who would benefit from additional learning support or enrichment activities.

The board makes very good use of this information to discuss, and actively support, initiatives to improve learning and teaching. This includes providing additional staffing and resources, and extending funding for professional development.

Teaching teams and teachers are making increasing use of achievement information to plan programmes, establish teaching groups and reflect on their practices and programmes. This is helping them to be responsive to the needs of all students, including high and low achievers.

Many students benefit from being involved in the school’s extensive special needs, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) support, and gifted and talented programmes. These programmes and activities are well targeted, organised, taught and supported.

The next steps for the school in this area include:

  • where appropriate, having more than one annual target for raising student achievement
  • tracking the progress groups of students make during their time at the school
  • looking at further ways of evaluating and reporting about the impact on student progress of ESOL, special needs and gifted and talented programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports students' learning very well.

The effectiveness of the school’s curriculum is most evident in high levels of achievement in reading and mathematics and the progress many students have made in written language in 2012. It is also successful in helping Māori and Pacific students to achieve at similar levels to their peers. A significant number of individuals and some school teams have enjoyed success in a variety of academic, sporting and cultural competitions and activities.

The school’s curriculum continues to evolve and provides students with a rich and varied range of learning experiences. Student engagement in learning is successfully fostered through teachers often relating learning to students’ interests and everyday lives.

The way programmes are structured and integrated helps students to build on their previous learning, experience success and also helps to make learning meaningful. For example, the nature of programmes in the junior school helps five year old students to make a smooth transition into the school from early childhood centres.

Within classroom programmes at all levels of the school, teachers give appropriate emphasis to fostering students’ independence. This includes older students having a variety of opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

A positive school environment ensures a clear focus is maintained on learning and teaching. Features of the environment and school culture include:

  • respectful and supportive relationships between adults and students and between students
  • inclusive practices
  • a focus on acknowledging student efforts , including classrooms that have attractive displays of a variety of their work.

These features encourage students to succeed and support them to take risks to extend their learning.

Reviewers observed teachers using a wide and effective range of strategies. These observations confirmed senior leaders’ judgements about the quality of teaching within the school. Positive aspects of teaching include:

  • the high expectations teachers place on themselves and on students
  • purposeful, well planned and paced teaching
  • extensive use of individual and small group teaching to match programmes to student's needs
  • learning conversations that promote language development and often extend students' thinking.

These, and other approaches, help students to enjoy their learning and to feel motivated.

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

A growing emphasis on promoting educational success for Māori as Māori is contributing to their achievement and cultural identity and sense of belonging.

Bicultural perspectives are valued and are evident at all levels of school life.

Māori students are achieving well.

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.

The school’s principal, with the support of other school leaders, provides strong professional leadership. They give appropriate priority to fostering ongoing improvements to teaching and learning.

The newly appointed principal is placing appropriate focus on building on the best of existing practices. This should help to better integrate and sustain both past and current school developments, as noted in the school's 2009 ERO review.

School leaders foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation. This culture is evident within the senior leadership team and teaching teams. As a result, teachers are well supported in their efforts to continually improve their practices.

The recent approach to school-wide professional development in written language provides a good model for both this and other planned improvements. The strengths of this model include:

  • a focused, systematic approach to developments with clearly stated and monitored outcomes
  • well resourced and paced activities with good use of expertise within and beyond the school
  • appropriate provision being made for support, focused observation, feedback and the critical evaluation of practices.

These developments have extended teachers' confidence and skills, increased the quality of teaching and the consistency of the approaches teachers use to support students’ learning in written language.

Effective self-review practices related to this professional development are helping leaders to establish clear and appropriate next steps. These, and other school initiatives, provide a useful basis for improving school self review.

The board works effectively in partnership with the principal, leaders and other staff. Trustees maintain a strong focus on, and critically reflect upon, the information they receive about student achievement. They contribute to decisions, and provide strong support for, initiatives related to raising student achievement.

Areas for review and development

The board, principal and seniors leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that there is still a need to focus strongly on consolidating, rationalising and building on a variety of past and current initiatives. To support this, the board, principal and other school leaders should:

  • extend their strategic and annual plans to increase their usefulness for focusing action and self review
  • extend provisions for self review and give more focus to evaluating the factors that are contributing to student achievement.

Provision for international students

Ilam School provides high quality care and education for its international students. Their individual needs, progress and achievement are monitored closely and support for learning is provided through well planned ESOL lessons and by skilled teachers. Students are well integrated into the life of the school and community.

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 six 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.

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

15 February 2013

About the School


Ilam, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā




Other Ethnicities






Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

15 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2009

September 2006

August 2003