Merrilands School - 21/11/2018

School Context

Merrilands School, located in New Plymouth, caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The roll has continued to grow since the December 2015 ERO report. There are currently 205 children attending, and 32 percent identify as Māori. Te ātiawa are acknowledged as mana whenua.

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to be part of a caring community that inspires lifelong learning. Partnerships based on respect between all involved in the school community are seen as the key element to foster learning. Values linked to the vision have been identified and are actively promoted.

Board annual targets focus on accelerating progress for those below curriculum expectation in writing and mathematics. An improvement plan is in place to support these targets.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics relative to curriculum expectation
  • progress made as a result of early years reading interventions
  • impact of strategies linked to acknowledging and promoting identity for Māori children.

A special care home class for children with complex needs (Te Whare Manaakitia) is an integral part of provision for learners.

A new senior leadership team, including the principal and a recently appointed deputy principal, has been appointed in the past twelve months.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school’s achievement information shows that the majority of children achieve at or above curriculum expectation in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement in writing is below that of the other curriculum areas and has decreased since 2015. Most students leave Year 6 having reached curriculum expectation in reading and mathematics.

As groups, Māori children achieve at a lower level than non-Māori in each curriculum area. The disparities have reduced since 2015, but remain significant. Boys and girls achieve at similar levels overall in reading and mathematics. In writing girls continue to do better as a group than boys.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

A range of well-considered practices supports teachers to strongly focus on increasing progress for students below curriculum expectation. Teachers share with parents achievement information that indicates children’s progress over time relative to curriculum expectations.

Specific reading and mathematics interventions show significant progress for the students involved in these specialised programmes.

Schoolwide data indicates the majority of students below expectation in reading and mathematics successfully accelerated their learning in 2017. Less than half did so in writing. The proportion of Māori students accelerated was similar to non-Māori in each of the curriculum areas.

Students requiring acceleration are identified in the 2018 school achievement targets. Strategies support these children to progress their learning and reach curriculum expectation. Improved tracking processes are being implemented to indicate progress made and to support ongoing responsiveness to learners.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Students participate and learn in caring, collaborative, inclusive and purposeful learning communities. Foundation skills in literacy, mathematics and developing skills for learning are prioritised. Opportunities are provided to learn and progress across the breadth of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Teachers know children well, holistically and as learners. A range of tools is well used by teachers to show achievement and contribute to overall judgements. The new leadership team is focused on improving assessment practices schoolwide. This has included increasing the use of data management systems to capture achievement, monitor progress and increase teacher and leader access to key information. A review of the most appropriate use of selected assessment tools is underway.

Deliberate teaching approaches effectively support children’s involvement and progress. Routines and expectations are well known. Children are well supported to make choices about their own learning. Teachers provide additional opportunities within the regular programme for targeted learners. Physical environments celebrate children and their learning.

Well established partnerships effectively support wellbeing and learning. Parents and whānau are involved in a range of activities that strengthen engagement with the school and enable them to increase understanding and involvement in their children’s learning. Relationships that support inclusion and specific intervention programmes are well established for children with additional needs.

Care and inclusive practices successfully integrate children with high and complex needs into the daily life of the school. An experienced special education needs coordinator and leader of Te Whare Manaakitia effectively oversees students with additional needs schoolwide. Individual learning plans are responsive to children’s strengths and needs, and indicate progress being made.Improved outcomes are promoted through responsiveness to individual children’s learning needs.

Māori culture, language and identity is effectively promoted through schoolwide initiatives linked to te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and Te ātiawa. Iwi aspirations have been shared. Staff development of cultural understanding has included workshops and hikoi, visiting areas of significance around the rohe. High levels of participation in kapa haka, including regional competitions, occur.

Processes that build teacher capability are well established and prioritised. Teachers are collaborative and share approaches likely to improve outcomes for children. Professional learning focuses on teachers inquiring into the effectiveness of their practices in improving outcomes for targeted learners. The teacher appraisal process has been strengthened and supports improvement.

The new senior leadership team effectively fosters improvement and sustainability through a measured approach to change. Schoolwide access to assessment information has improved. Children at risk in their learning are systematically identified at the start and during the year. Senior leaders promote collaborative knowledge building, inquiry and evaluation to better support wellbeing and learning.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The equity and excellence priorities identified by the school are to improve overall writing achievement and also the level of Māori success in each curriculum area. The increased focus on students requiring accelerated progress in their learning, needs to be maintained.

Leaders and teachers should continue to progress the development of a place-based, future-focussed curriculum that further:

  • promotes in classrooms the culture, language and identity of Māori learners and bicultural understanding of all students
  • extends children’s ownership of their own learning across the school.

Teachers and leaders are reflective and focused on improvement. They adapt and modify programmes to respond to children’s changing needs. They should increase the systematic collation and reporting of data to consider the extent of progress for children below curriculum expectation. This should better support teachers, leaders and trustees to identify what is working well in the school’s curriculum, where further developments are necessary, and how shifts in practice are impacting on outcomes for children.

The board of trustees is effectively building understanding of roles and responsibilities. To further assist decision-making, more information should be shared with trustees in relation to; progress of target learners; outcomes for children with additional learning needs; and how well the school supports children’s wellbeing.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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
  • finance
  • 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 and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • a positive and inclusive environment that promotes supportive relationships, wellbeing and learning for children

  • well-established teacher practices that support children’s involvement and learning in a range of curriculum areas

  • schoolwide processes and practices that support children with additional learning needs to make meaningful progress

  • strategic and focused leadership that appropriately identifies priorities to improve outcomes for children

  • the inquiry focus of teachers, leaders and trustees that supports ongoing improvement.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • ensuring a continued focus on improving achievement of Māori children to support equitable outcomes

  • making greater use of achievement progress information to identify and evaluate the impact of the curriculum on outcomes for children.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

21 November 2018

About the school


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 56%, Female 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori 32%
Pākehā 54%
Asian 10%
Pacific 2%
Other ethnic groups 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

21 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2015
Education Review January 2013
Education Review December 2009