Riverdale School (P North) - 19/02/2019

School Context

Riverdale School, in Palmerston North, has children from Years 1 to 6. The Riverdale School community represents a range of ethnicities. At the time of this review, 21% of students attending are Māori and 12 are of Pacific heritage.

The school’s vision statement, ‘Empowering successful inquiring learners’ is underpinned by the school’s Ngā Matapono - ‘confident, creative, effective communicator and self- managing’. This set of guiding beliefs and attitudes is seen as important for each child to have so they succeed at school and in the future.

The 2018 strategic plan prioritises on-going improvement in student achievement in reading and mathematics, with a focus on those at risk of underachievement.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics at mid-year and end-of-year in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum
  • progress in relation to the annual targets
  • engagement and wellbeing
  • valued outcomes in the schools localised curriculum as defined by the school’s Ngā Matapono.

The major areas of focus in 2018 for leaders’ and teachers’ professional learning and development includes writing and mathematics development. Since the July 2014 ERO report, the school has further extended its flexible learning and teaching spaces pedagogy across the school. 

Evaluation Findings

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 achieves very good achievement outcomes for students. Since the previous ERO report, the school has maintained high levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for students.

Most students achieve well, with over half of all learners achieving above curriculum expectations in reading and a third above in mathematics at the end of 2017.

Mid-year data shows the school is on track to maintain similar outcomes for 2018.

The achievement of Māori and Pacific children is appropriately tracked and monitored. Students achieve well with any disparities suitably identified and addressed. Trends over time indicate most students, including Māori and Pacific learners, achieve at or above achievement expectations in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of Year 6. 

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

Robust processes are soundly implemented to identify, monitor and suitably respond to needs of students.

Comprehensive systems and practices support equitable outcomes for students requiring additional support or those identified with complex learning needs. A strong focus is apparent on responding positively to student wellbeing.

Of the few students identified at risk of underachieving in their learning, many make progress, with some showing acceleration.

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?

The kaupapa, common vision for, and focus on the potential of learners is reflected in the embedded mahi tahi, unity, of the school leadership. There are established goals and expectations for teachers and leaders with a relentless focus on ensuring excellence and equity for all students. School processes and practices effectively promote students’ wellbeing, engagement and achievement. School leaders ensure evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building is coherent, systematic and is used to purposefully promote innovation and improvement for student’s learning.

Manaakitanga, a culture of care, is strongly reflected in the inclusive, responsive, highly collaborative learning spaces and where mauri tau (harmony and balance) is promoted. Self-management practices and student choice strategies are strongly evident. Students have opportunity to learn and experience the breadth of curriculum through effective integration. The curriculum provides a range of authentic contexts to foster the culture, language and identity of Māori learners.

For those students identified with more complex learning needs, effective individual plans are collaboratively developed. Progress towards achieving these goals is suitably monitored, tracked and responded to by appropriate staffing and external agencies.

The documented curriculum provides explicit and specific guidance for teachers. Teaching clearly reflects the school beliefs and is aligned to the vision for learning. There is a strong and deliberate focus on building knowledge and skills that promote learning for now and in the future. Students are involved in a range of enrichment opportunities provided through cluster and community connections. Student leadership is promoted and contributes positively to the school culture.

The school environments value and suitably include Māori culture, language and identity. There are clearly planned actions tailored to promote and value te ao Māori across the curriculum and meet whānau aspirations for their children.

Leadership processes and practices encourage, strengthen and sustain professional learning and collaboration to improve teaching and promote student outcomes in achievement, engagement and wellbeing. There is a strong commitment to grow leadership capability. An improvement focused and highly reflective appraisal system includes opportunities for teachers and leaders to share their practice and learn from their peers.

A range of appropriate communication strategies and tools are used to engage and support whānau and families in their child’s learning. Parents and whānau are welcomed and involved in school activities and experiences. Relationships between students and their whānau and the school are clearly valued. The school identifies and draws on community expertise and resources to support students and their families. Comprehensive individual transition plans for children in, through and out of the school are appropriately developed and implemented.

The board of trustees bring a variety of skills to their stewardship role. They have undertaken training and provide competent oversight of school operation. There is a strong focus on resourcing the school to maximise student outcomes. Trustees demonstrate an embedded culture of review and evaluation. They perform their dual roles of accountability and improvement with clarity and rigour. Reports to the board support trustees to explore, scrutinise and deepen their knowledge of specific groups’ achievement within the school.

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

Leadership has begun to consider ways to more systematically report to the board in relation to progress towards the board’s targets in the annual plan. Simplifying the focus on the acceleration of this small group of students should provide clearer knowledge about the actions taken and their success. 

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:

  • leadership processes and practices that promote, strengthen and sustain professional learning and collaboration to improve teaching and learning
  • a rich curriculum, effective teaching practices and learning environments that are successfully developed to enable increased student collaboration, participation and engagement
  • internal review, evaluation and inquiry that meaningfully contributes to ongoing school improvement and contributes to success for Māori. 

Next steps

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

  • revising and strengthening current annual achievement targets to more clearly focus on those students in need of acceleration.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in four-to-five years.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services
Central Region

19 February 2019

About the school 


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 55%, Female 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                  21%
Pākehā                               66%
Pacific                                    1%
Other ethnic groups             12%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

19 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review, July 2014
Education Review, February 2010
Education Review, August 2007