Mt Richmond School - 18/02/2013

1 Context

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

Mt Richmond School in Otahuhu, Auckland caters for students from five to twenty-one years old who have high special educational needs. The base school in Otahuhu has eight classes. Satellite classes are located at Flatbush School, Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Papatoetoe Intermediate and Bairds Mainfreight Primary School. Plans are in place to open up a further two satellite classes next year. The school also continues to provide an outreach service for teachers and teacher aides in mainstream schools that have students funded by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS).

Shared values underpin the school’s well considered vision for education. “Belonging, Independence, Mastery, Generosity” are highly reflected in practice. As a result an inclusive culture promotes a caring, connected community where the perspectives of students, parents and staff are valued. Parents are respected as partners in their child’s learning progress.

Staff to student ratios are high to ensure that students receive individual attention and learning support. Staffing includes therapists and teacher aides who work with students to cater for their functional needs and to enhance their participation in classroom programmes. At the time of this review, the school was embarking on a significant building project to provide administration facilities that cater for the increased staffing in the school.

School leaders welcome external feedback and use it to strengthen their own self review. They have responded well to the suggestions and recommendations in the 2009 ERO report. Since that ERO review, teachers have participated in professional learning to develop literacy, numeracy and e-learning programmes.

2 Learning

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

School leaders and staff are strong advocates for student wellbeing and progress. They share the belief that all students can experience success, and can show that each student is making progress in relation to the school’s assessment indicators.

Each student’s achievement is closely monitored in relation to goals in individual education plans (IEPs). These plans build on student capabilities and are developed by teachers, whānau, teacher aides, therapists, and students as they are able to participate. This collaborative approach promotes meaningful learning pathways for individual students.

Teachers use a range of assessment strategies and tools to identify students’ achievements and to track their progress. Relevant sequences of learning support this process. Achievement decisions are based upon multiple pieces of assessment evidence and are moderated within teaching syndicates.

Trustees are well informed about student progress and appropriate targets are set to enhance it. The board is meeting its obligations for reporting against the National Standards.

School leaders have plans to further develop the school’s data management system. Improvements should enable leaders, staff, parents and students to access student progress data more easily.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Holistic, flexible learning programmes are implemented in response to each student’s individual needs and interests.

Syndicate leaders work with teachers to ensure learning programmes provide meaningful experiences for students to achieve their IEP goals. Over the past three years curriculum programmes have increasingly focused on developing students’ skills and knowledge in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers can now reflect more specifically on the impact of their teaching on student engagement and achievement.

Considerable work has also been done to build staff understanding of effective teaching strategies that engage students and support their learning. One such strategy has been teachers’ use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Students are very motivated to engage through e-learning, and ICT resources support teachers to offer stimulating activities that reinforce literacy and mathematics skills. The planned use of ICT to promote greater teacher use of students’ home languages should further enhance students’ sense of belonging in the school.

Effective transition processes support students through the different transition points of their schooling. The Planning Alternatives for Tomorrow with Hope (PATH) is a transition programme for students in their final year at school. Through this programme students are supported to make choices about opportunities for work, study and leisure pursuits after they leave school. The programme focuses on building life skills, confidence and independence. Parents’ perspectives and aspirations are valued and included.

The principal acknowledges the need to ensure that curriculum documentation is more clearly linked to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Leaders and staff could begin this process by reviewing the school’s curriculum in relation to the principles of the NZC.

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

The principles of aroha, whanaungatanga, and manaakitkanga are reflected in the school values and in practice. Māori students have opportunities to engage with their culture through language, waiata, dance and powhiri to welcome visitors to the school.

Staff have discussed Ka Hikitia, a Ministry of Education strategy for educational success as Māori, and are considering how Tātaiako, Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners could be usedto enhance learning for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Mt Richmond School is well placed to sustain and build on improvements made over the past three years in the quality of governance, leadership, teaching and learning.

The school has experienced and capable leaders, and a committed board of trustees. The impact on student engagement and progress is at the centre of school review and decision-making. Trustees are very supportive of the principal and value the work of teachers and support staff.

The school charter is relevant and well aligned to the school’s mission statement and values. Sound planning and reporting systems ensure that the board is well informed about progress towards the charter goals. Trustees plan to review the board’s performance in relation to the school’s improvement and strategic direction. This review should provide useful information for the new board in 2013.

The principal makes good use of research in her management of the school. Leaders are respectful of teachers’ work and model expectations for reflection and inquiry based on data. Teachers throughout the school are given opportunities for leadership. These effective practices are building educational leadership capability in order to sustain and develop teaching and learning initiatives.

Performance management processes are being reviewed and developed to more clearly align with the Registered Teacher Criteria. This alignment should provide a complementary framework to the very effective coaching approaches currently evident in the development of teaching.

At the time of this review, the principal and board were compiling a new Memorandum of Understanding to guide working relationships between the base school and each school that hosts satellite classes. This agreement is likely to bring more clarity to the understanding of the different responsibilities of the base and host schools.

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 three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

18 February 2013

About the School


Otahuhu, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 68%

Girls 32%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā


Cook Island Māori




other Pacific











Special Features

Satellite classes at: Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Bairds Mainfreight School, Papatoetoe Intermediate School, Flatbush School.

Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

18 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2009

July 2006

June 2003