Sawyers Bay School - 13/03/2018

School Context

Sawyers Bay School, near Port Chalmers, caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The school has experienced significant roll growth over time and currently has approximately 140 students. Twenty percent of the roll are Māori.

The school’s vision states that the school is a place where teaching and learning engages, challenges and supports students, empowering all to become confident and capable lifelong learners. The vision is underpinned by the school values, where both children and staff are expected to be thinkers, risk takers, collaborators, communicators and self-managers. 

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

  • achievement in all curriculum areas, including literacy and mathematics
  • accelerated learning progress and achievement in relation to school targets and other areas related to engagement and the key competencies.

Since the 2014 ERO report, school leadership has remained stable. There have been some changes in the board and teaching team. Leaders and teachers have participated in professional development with a deliberate focus on using teaching strategies to accelerate children’s progress.

Sawyers Bay School is a part of the Dunedin North Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL), comprising of eleven schools, five early learning services and a tertiary provider. Leaders and teachers have long-established relationships with several local early learning services, schools and wider community networks. 

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is successfully achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Overall most students, including Māori, achieve at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. School data shows a positive upward trend in student achievement in reading, with increasing numbers of students achieving well as they move through the school. By the time students reach the end of Year 6 almost all learners are achieving well. 2015 and 2016 school data shows improved parity for boys in literacy and mathematics.

Students achieve well in relation to other school valued outcomes. These include students:

  • knowing that teachers have high expectations of them 
  • having a positive attitude and demonstrating confidence in themselves as learners
  • having opportunities to enact the school values
  • having greater ownership of their learning.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

School leaders and teachers use effective strategies and practices to support Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Leaders and teachers are very aware of those children most at risk of not achieving, including children with additional learning needs.  They prioritise how they will respond by carefully monitoring and tracking the progress of these learners.

There is a strategic focus on targeted teaching in writing and mathematics with the aim of accelerating progress. This long term focus is having a positive impact on improving student achievement. So too is the board’s resourcing of specific programmes that deliberately support those children most at risk of not achieving. Recent 2017 school data identifies significant acceleration of children’s learning progress in literacy and mathematics.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

The school has specific processes and practices that are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence.

The school promotes a positive culture for learning. Students, staff and parents are valued and encouraged to be actively involved. Relationships are respectful and productive. Intergenerational connections to the school are held in high regard. Community aspirations contribute to the school vision and values. The school values are well known to children and their whānau.

Effective school leadership is supporting a strengths based approach to, and shared responsibility for, pursuing equity and excellence for all learners. Leaders establish clear and consistent expectations that are designed to support teaching and learning. Leaders regularly report very good quality information about progress and achievement to the board.   

The board’s charter provides a high level of coherence. It identifies goals and specific achievement targets aligned to improving learning outcomes in writing and mathematics for identified groups of children. Progress towards these targets is closely monitored and reported to the board.

Leaders of different curriculum areas are deliberate in their approach to developing collective staff responsibility for students’ learning progress. Professional development is focused and deep. The school’s approach is personalised for children’s specific learning needs. This targeted approach is improving the effectiveness of teaching, particularly in writing and mathematics.

Ongoing connections and positive relationships with parents/whānau support successful learning outcomes for students. Parents have many opportunities to engage in conversations with teachers about their child’s learning. Parents regularly receive very good information about teaching and learning. Learning partnerships are fostered with families of children who are most at risk of not achieving.

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

Leaders and the board agree that continuing to strengthen bicultural practices is an area for ongoing focus. Reviewing and enhancing bicultural practices would provide more opportunities for Māori children to experience success as Māori, and for all children to learn about the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The board demonstrates a willingness to explore the New Zealand School Trustee Association document Hautū: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review tool for Board of Trustees. This framework could help the board undertake an internal evaluation of the school’s responsibility to promote Māori learners’ success.

Leaders and teachers have yet to formalise internal evaluation and professional inquiry processes. It would be useful to explore current research and determine practices that will help deepen evaluation, inquiry and strengthen the school’s appraisal process. Such practices should enable the creation and sharing of new knowledge and understandings about what works best and makes the most difference for learners.

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 that capably develops and pursues the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence
  • fostering a positive school culture whereby students, staff and parents are valued and encouraged to be actively involved in the life of the school
  • deliberately focusing on accelerating students’ learning progress by developing professional capacity and collective responsibility
  • ensuring clear expectations are in place that support teaching and learning. 

Next steps

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

  • formalising internal evaluation processes and professional inquiry processes to deepen evaluation, inquiry and strengthen the school’s appraisal process
  • extending schoolwide bicultural processes and practices, for all children, and further support for Māori educational success.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

13 March 2018

About the school 


Port Chalmers

Ministry of Education profile number


School type


School roll


Gender composition

Boys:     56%

Girls:     44%

Ethnic composition

Māori     20%
Pākehā   75%
Other        5%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

December 2017

Date of this report

13 March 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review:   October  2014
Education Review:   September 2009
Education Review:   July 2006