North East Valley Normal School - 03/10/2011

1. Context

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

A key feature of this school is its immersion in the local community. The school is a central part of the community and the community is central to the school. All cultures in the community are valued by the school, especially Māori culture. The school is seen as belonging to and working with the local community. Along with other schools and agencies, the school is actively engaged in a comprehensive local project to assist parents and children in the North East Valley of Dunedin.

Students benefit from the strong links that the school has with the local College of Education and Ministry of Education. These links are a result of its “Normal School” status. Teachers model good teaching practice for trainee teachers and are sometimes involved in the trialling of new developments and initiatives in teaching. Often having a second “teacher” in the room makes it easier for students to learn in smaller groups and receive individual attention.

The strong community links and the high value all staff place on good relationships means that the school has a warm and supportive culture. Learning is seen in the context of each student’s background and covers academic, cultural, social and sporting dimensions.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are very well engaged in their learning. The school’s 2010 achievement data shows that the majority of students are achieving at or above National Standards expectations in numeracy and the school’s expectations for reading and writing. Those students who are not achieving as well as expected are closely monitored and receive extra support through specific programmes.

Areas of strength

Classroom teaching practice. Students’ learning is well supported by the wide range of strategies teachers use. Teachers provide students with a good range of activities that reinforce learning, challenge students’ thinking and appeal to their interests. The classroom environment strongly supports students in their learning. Teachers purposefully nurture students’ well-being. Teachers listen and respond positively to them. There is a collegial atmosphere amongst the staff, board and students. Teachers plan together and support each other. They told ERO they value and respect each other’s individual interests and strengths and use these to upskill each other for the ultimate benefit of all students.

Assessment practices. Students’ progress and achievement is well monitored through effective assessment practices. Teachers gather specific assessment information in literacy and numeracy. They use a variety of tests to make sure there is validity and reliability in the information collected. A strong focus for school-wide assessment practice is the emphasis on student progress. Teachers make good use of assessment information to plan programmes and reflect on their teaching. They know the students well. They have a shared understanding of students’ achievement and progress across the school. They regularly reflect on ways to support students in their learning and have involved them in developing learning goals. Students are assessed in all curriculum areas. The board receives useful assessment information that helps them to make strategic decisions that are directed at improving outcomes for students.

Partnerships with parents. The school has developed strong partnerships with parents. In 2010, parents received comprehensive reports about how well their child achieved, including an overall judgement about achievement against the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. Parents are encouraged to take an active role in their child’s learning, including through a goal setting process. Teachers make themselves available for casual conversations with parents before and after school each day. Survey results show that parents feel valued and listened to by the school.

Areas for review and development

Collating and reporting student achievement in writing. In 2010, teachers revised the approach they use to teach writing. The new approach focuses on where each student is at with their writing and the next steps they need to take to improve. Teachers work together to ensure that their views about students’ achievement in writing are accurate and link to externally recognised models of writing achievement. Teachers therefore have very good information about students’ writing achievement at the classroom level. It is now time for them to develop ways of combining the classroom information to gain a school-wide picture of achievement in writing. Such school-wide information can be shared with trustees and used to set future targets linked to the National Standards for writing.

Board targets and goals for student achievement. Each year the board sets annual targets linked to student achievement. Some targets are quite specific and easily measured. Other targets are more in the form of high-level goals and are therefore not easy to measure. In both cases, the targets are linked to benefits for students’ learning. Current targets are not linked to the National Standards. Review and development of target setting is needed to simplify board accountability and to meet legal requirements.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Māori students are learning very well. The principles of Ka Hikitia are well understood and reflected in school practices and classroom programmes that benefit students of all cultures. Students have the opportunity to learn te reo Māori, take part in formal welcomes and to become familiar with other aspects of tikanga Māori. Overall, Māori students are achieving as well as non-Māori students. In some cases their progress is very significant, for example for students receiving reading recovery support.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum has recently been revised and is effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

Area of strength

Curriculum design. The school’s curriculum draws heavily from The New Zealand Curriculum and is sensibly adapted to meet local needs. A feature is the approach where students are not seen in isolation but in the context of their community and families. Consequently there is a good balance between academic and welfare components. The curriculum is supported by an appropriate range of extra programmes. Students needing support or extension are catered for through programmes such as reading recovery, HPP, and the gifted and talented programme hosted at the school. All students are individually checked annually to ensure that they are progressing at the rate they should be. The positive behaviour for learning programme contributes to the calm atmosphere and helps develop students’ self-management skills.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The board is well placed to sustain current good performance and bring about improvements over time. Trustees are highly focused on supporting students’ learning, confident in asking challenging questions and have well considered reasons for their actions. The school is led by a very experienced team who work very well together. Board and teacher self-review practices are effective in providing good information to assist with future developments.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

The board is nearing the end of significant charter revision and is in discussion with the Ministry of Education about the timeline for its completion. The draft charter does not include the National Standards in the strategic plan, nor does it incorporate the student progress and achievement outcomes that the board hopes to achieve.

  • To meet its legal obligations the school must include targets on student achievement, including assessment of students in accordance with the National Standards, published under section 60A(1)(ba). [reference s61(4) Education Act 1989]

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

3 October 2011

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 50%

Female 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pāhekā










Special Features

Host School for Gifted and Talented education

Otago Reading Recovery Centre on site

Bi-lingual te reo Māori classes

Review team on site

July 2011

Date of this report

3 October 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Accountability Review

Accountability Review

February 2008

March 2004

November 1999