Sanson School - 07/08/2017


Sanson School needs to make further progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified in the June 2015 ERO report. Development is required in relation to the quality of teaching, leadership, governance and curriculum responsiveness. Evaluative capacity also requires strengthening. Positive and warm relationships between children and staff are evident.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Sanson School caters for students from Years 1 to 8. At the time of this review, 39 children were enrolled and approximately half are Māori learners. Children enjoy many opportunities to be involved in sporting, cultural and community events. The principal is experienced and teaches in the junior school for part of each day.

The revised school vision reflects The New Zealand Curriculum and its importance in supporting students as ‘confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners’. Literacy and mathematics continue to be curriculum priorities.

The Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme is in its third year at Sanson School. ‘STARS’ – selfcontrol, take responsibility, aroha, respect and self-belief – are the collaboratively developed values that underpin the school's approach to positive guidance.

A Ministry of Education Senior Education Adviser has provided some assistance to the school since the June 2015 ERO evaluation. The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) is working with the school to grow governance capability. In August 2016, the board sought support from an external provider to assist them with the appraisal of the principal for 2017.

The board of trustees comprises community members and parents of children currently at the school. Since the 2015 ERO review, one new trustee has joined the board and shares the cochair role with the other parent representative.

Sanson School is part of the Palmerston North City and Rural 1 Community of Learning.

This report outlines the progress made since the previous ERO review and the areas for continued improvement and development. 

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The 2015 ERO report identified a number of key areas for ongoing development. These were for trustees, the principal and staff to improve:

  • the responsiveness of the curriculum and teaching to strengthen outcomes for learners
  • systems and processes for effective assessment, planning and internal evaluation
  • practices to build effective teaching
  • leadership and governance.


Sanson School’s curriculum is yet to successfully support all learners to experience success. Urgent action is needed to accelerate levels of progress and achievement for those most at risk of poor educational outcomes.

National Standards data shows a decline in reading and writing since 2015. The school reports that, in 2016, almost three quarters of learners were achieving at the National Standards in mathematics, but only about half were achieving at the National Standards in writing and reading. Māori children were achieving at better levels than their non-Māori peers in reading and mathematics and at similar levels to them in writing. There was disparity in outcomes for girls in mathematics and boys in reading and writing.

In 2016 and 2017, the school was involved in an external intervention on Accelerating Literacy Learning (ALL). This programme has a focus on involving parents in goal setting for their children and supporting learning links between home and school. Student achievement information for ALL indicates some children made accelerated progress in their writing in 2016. Initial 2017 data shows that levels of achievement have been sustained for some individuals.

Teachers collate samples of student work and assessments. These are shared with parents to show children’s learning journeys. Of concern, is that limited progress is evident for some learners.

Further development is needed in the use of achievement data to better inform decisions about teaching and learning. Improving internal evaluation practices so that teachers and the principal can measure actions taken to lift achievement is urgently required.

ERO observed a positive tone in classes and warm relationships between children and staff. The enactment of the school values was evident. There were some examples of deliberate teaching practices and strategies being used to support student learning. Classrooms have visual representation of aspects of te ao Māori. 

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Sanson School is not well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Systems and practices for Sanson School’s internal evaluation are not adequately developed to support sustained and continued improvement to teaching, learning, leadership and stewardship.

The school’s strategic and annual plans do not clearly outline school priorities and targeted actions for raising and sustaining achievement. Strengthening targets to more clearly identify children whose learning and achievement requires acceleration is needed.

The board receives monthly principal reports outlining a range of information about aspects of the school operation. These should be strengthened to more clearly focus on the priority of raising student achievement for individuals and groups. Board meeting minutes have yet to adequately record how trustees are scrutinising student data and evaluative information focused on student achievement.

School leadership needs strengthening. The professional leader has not been successful in leading sufficient progress towards meeting the goals established in the school’s improvement plans. There has been a reliance on external support to build teacher capability.

The appraisal process for teachers requires further improvement. Changes required include, ensuring appraisal is based on the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTCs) and that teachers have evidence to show how well they meet each of the PTCs. Further development of teaching as inquiry is needed, to support staff in building their understanding of what evidence-based teaching as inquiry is and how it might help them to improve their practice.

Since September 2016, NZSTA has been providing governance training to trustees. A plan outlines the areas requiring development, support needed, and time frames for undertaking this work. Trustees express satisfaction with this useful support. ERO recommends all trustees, including the principal, continue to access ongoing training to build understanding of effective stewardship, and an improved response to meeting all legislative requirements.

The board did not meet its legislative obligations in relation to the principal’s appraisal in 2016. Steps have been taken to address this in 2017. The principal’s appraisal is now undertaken by an external appraiser. ERO recommend the board continue this approach in future years. 

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.

Since the on-site phase of the review, the board of trustees have taken steps to update policy guidelines to meet the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • strengthen teacher appraisal and endorsement processes for the renewal of practising certificates.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the following improvements:

  • strengthening teacher capability to accelerate student learning and achievement
  • develop the effectiveness of principal leadership
  • building stewardship capability
  • develop understanding and use of internal evaluation for improvement. 


Sanson School needs to make further progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified in the June 2015 ERO report. Development is required in relation to the quality of teaching, leadership, governance and curriculum responsiveness. Evaluative capacity also requires strengthening. Positive and warm relationships between children and staff are evident.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

7 August 2017

About the School 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 21, Boys 18

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

7 August 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2015
September 2012
July 2010