Riverdale School (Gisborne) - 10/06/2016

1 Context

Riverdale School is a Years 1 to 6 contributing primary school located in Gisborne with a roll of 167 students, 95% of whom identify as Māori.

The school is welcoming and inclusive for all, with a whānau based kaupapa to support childrens learning and well-being. An experienced principal and three leaders form the senior leadership team. The school has a special needs unit for 24 students with high and complex learning needs. Support services on site include Resource Teachers of Literacy (RTLit), Reading Recovery tutor and the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ).

The May 2013 ERO report identified a range of areas for improvement. These included: refinement of assessment, analysis and moderation practices, developing teaching as inquiry and strengthening appraisal and self review processes. There has been limited progress made in these areas.

Since the previous report, many initiatives have been implemented to strengthen the moderation practice within the school. Leaders and teachers have participated in a number of Ministry of Education (MOE) professional development opportunities, including Accelerating Literacy Learning (ALL), Accelerating Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) and Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L). The school requested the support of a MOE Student Achievement Function practitioner (SAF) to focus on accelerating students' progress by strengthening learning focussed relationships with parents and whānau.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are to prepare children for life through authentic, creative and innovative teaching and learning. The core values of Tūpono, Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, Kaitiakitanga, Kotahitanga and Aroha underpins the school's vision.

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2014 and 2015 a substantial number of students achieved below and well below the National Standards expectations for reading, writing and mathematics. Writing continues to require significant improvement, particularly for boys.

Since the previous ERO evaluation the school has undertaken considerable professional learning and development. Leaders and teachers have focused on improving assessment for learning, as well as making better use of assessment tools to improve overall teacher judgments in relation to National Standards. These improvements are yet to have the desired impact of accelerating achievement for all students.

An emphasis is given to accelerating and improving students' learning in literacy and mathematics, and improving conditions for learning in the classroom.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Strategies used to respond more effectively to those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration are in the early stages of development.

Leaders and teachers identify all students at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. These learners receive targeted teaching and support in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has evidence to show that some students have made accelerated learning progress.

Students with special and high learning needs are successfully supported for their learning and wellbeing. A tool for assessing these students provides useful data for teachers to clearly identify a learning pathway for them. Teacher aides work positively alongside these students.

Where there is evidence of effective practice, teachers:

  • make good use of well-analysed achievement information to plan and implement programmes based on identified needs of students
  • ensure more regular teaching and learning for targeted students
  • develop learning-centred partnerships with whānau
  • regularly monitor and track students' progress to celebrate success and share next learning steps.

However, these strategies are yet to be consistently implemented, embedded and sustained across the school.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

School leaders are actively involved in planning and coordinating the curriculum to raise student achievement with SAF support. A change and improvement plan, for raising student achievement is in the early stages of implementation.

The board of trustees supports the focus on raising student achievement. However, the board has not received sufficient information to help make informed resourcing decisions.

The charter, strategic and annual plans provide directions for school operations. It is unclear how the board evaluates outcomes and effectiveness of school developments and initiatives. Strengthening the annual targets and supporting processes to be more explicit about acceleration of students achievement from Years 1 to 6, is a key next step.

Leaders acknowledge that teachers are better using suitable assessment tools to make overall teacher judgments. However, they have identified that improving the school's results for students learning in relation to National Standards requires immediate attention.

The school's curriculum prioritises literacy and mathematics learning. Some teachers' practices need to better reflect te ao Māori, by being culturally appropriate, and more responsive.

Recently the school successfully focused on strengthening the learning partnerships between teachers, students and whānau to help improve student progress.

Internal evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building is at its early stages of development. A key next step is for leaders to develop a systematic approach to build capability and capacity in evaluation and inquiry that leads to improved and sustained outcomes for students.

The recently developed appraisal system is useful for developing and supporting teachers. A next step is for leaders to link professional learning and development, teaching as inquiry, observations of practice and the Practising Teacher Criteria to strengthen this process. This should assist leaders to better monitor, support and strengthen teaching practice.

It is timely for school leaders and trustees to further develop, embed and sustain the learning from current initiatives and determine what best suits students learning. There is an urgent need for the board of trustees and leaders to focus on how they can support those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • have not yet adequately built their knowledge of the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet adequately established necessary conditions to effectively accelerate learning and achievement
  • are not well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

6 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 the following:

  • Board administration.

  • Curriculum.

  • Management of health, safety and welfare.

  • Personnel management.

  • 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.

  • Processes for appointing staff.

  • Stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.

  • Attendance.

  • Compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

Some parents have not received adequate written information about their children's progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. The board must ensure that, through the principal and teachers:

  • progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics, are reported to parents in plain language twice a year.[National Administrative Guideline 2A(a)]

7 Recommendations

Trustees and leaders need to:

  • improve the rate of progress for students whose learning and achievement need acceleration
  • improve the use of student achievement information to better identify, track and monitor students' progress
  • implement, embed and sustain effective teaching practice across the school
  • strengthen the bicultural curriculum to better promote Māori students' culture, language and identity
  • improve the appraisal process
  • build capability and capacity in evaluation and inquiry that leads to sustained improvement. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 June 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Year 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 52%, Female 48%

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

10 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

April 2010

November 2006