Mt Somers Springburn School - 19/02/2014

1 Context

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

Mt Somers Springburn School is located in rural South Canterbury. Many of the students travel long distances to school by bus.

A strong sense of community exists within and beyond the school. The school has become better known in the district through improved communication.

Students benefit from a wide variety of learning experiences within and beyond the local community. Teaching and learning is well supported by the range of good quality facilities and resources.

Since the ERO review in 2010, the school’s roll has an increasing number of students who move into, and out of the school. School leaders and staff are managing this new situation well.

The transition between the school’s previous principal, and the new principal appointed in 2012 was effectively managed by the school’s leaders and existing management structure. This structure helped maintain and build on the strengths outlined in the last ERO report. Changes have also occurred on the board with four new trustees elected in 2013.

2 Learning

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

The board, school leaders and teachers make very good use of achievement information to encourage students’ engagement and achievement.

Leaders and teachers gather a good range of well-analysed assessment information in literacy and mathematics. They make appropriate use of this information to:

  • identify and provide suitable support for students who are at risk of not achieving, and those who are gifted and talented
  • develop useful school achievement targets, and to focus their teaching
  • regularly report to students, parents and the board in ways that support students’ learning and the decision making of leaders, teachers and the board.

The board and leaders identified, and ERO confirms, that by extending reporting information they are likely to further improve students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

This includes reporting:

  • how students progress overtime
  • the impact of board-funded interventions such as additional staffing and learning support
  • student progress and achievement beyond literacy and mathematics.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports learning well. Recent initiatives, such as those in written language, e-learning and inquiry-based learning, are likely to further improve student learning.

Students benefit from a rich variety of learning opportunities. Effective use is made of staff members’ strengths and interests to develop these opportunities for students.

Teachers are successfully building on students' interests and everyday experiences to help motivate and engage them in learning. The way some programmes are integrated helps to make learning meaningful for students.

Teachers consistently use a range of practices that are known to foster student learning. These include:

  • ongoing adaptations to programmes and groupings in response to students’ emerging strengths and needs
  • well-planned programmes and clearly focused class, group and individual teaching
  • growing emphasis on helping students to develop the attitudes and skills associated with becoming a life-long learner
  • the effort teachers make to enable new entrant, and other students to successfully transition into the school.

The positive impact of the school’s curriculum is most evident in achievement levels in reading and the progress many students made in written language in 2012.

Students learn in a supportive and positive learning environment. Students who spoke to ERO confirmed they felt safe and valued, enjoyed good relationships with their teachers and peers, and that the school is an inclusive environment. Appropriate emphasis is given to acknowledging and celebrating student success. These features result in students being willing to take appropriate risks to extend their learning.

The leaders and teachers have identified the need to continue review and update the school’s curriculum guidelines.

ERO identified that teachers could make more effective use of student goal setting to support and extend their ongoing progress.

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

The school’s inclusive culture and positive relations support Māori students to achieve success. Aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori are becoming increasingly evident in the programme and school environment. This helps to affirm and acknowledge these students' culture.

To further support students to achieve success as Māori, leaders and teachers could:

  • clarify the aspirations of parents of Māori students
  • find ways to more deliberately integrate bicultural elements into programmes.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The principal and trustees have a positive working relationship and are successfully working in partnership to achieve shared goals. The board is focused on raising student achievement and supporting teachers in their efforts to do so.

The board’s recruitment processes have resulted in a good mix of staff strengths and skills that are well used to enrich the school’s curriculum.

The principal, with the help of the deputy principal, has maintained a positive school culture that is supporting ongoing school improvement.

Features of leadership and management include the:

  • good balance achieved between promoting consistency of programmes and practices while encouraging initiative and innovation
  • level of collaboration, teamwork and support amongst the staff
  • well-targeted professional development
  • growing evidence of reflective practices.

The board and principal agree with ERO that the next steps to make the school very well placed to improve and sustain its performance include:

  • further development of the school’s strategic plan with an increased focus on evaluating the impact on students
  • extending the board and curriculum self review, in ways that better evaluate the quality of programmes, practices and procedures
  • embedding and building on recent initiatives, such as the improved written language programme and teacher appraisal process.

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.


The principal has not had a performance agreement and appraisal in 2012 and 2013. The board must:

  • put in place an annual performance agreement and carry out an appraisal of the principal every year.

[NAG3; Primary Principal’s Collective Agreement 4.1]

ERO recommends the principal and teachers:

  • extend school provisions for careers education and second-language learning for students in Years 7 to 8
  • extend the deputy principal’s appraisal to include leadership responsibilities.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

19 February 2014

About the School


Mt Somers, Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50; Girls 34

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Other European




Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

19 February 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2010

September 2007

February 2004