Shirley School - 11/01/2013

1 Context

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

Shirley Primary School has an inclusive, welcoming and caring school environment that strongly supports students’ learning. Students appreciate the respectful, positive and affirming relationships they have with their teachers.

The school vision promotes high expectations that all students can and will succeed in their learning, and be well prepared for the future. Teachers actively encourage students to work together to share ideas and learn from each other.

The diverse and multicultural student roll includes a large number of students who do not have English as their first language. The school successfully engages and involves families in partnerships for learning in a variety of ways.

The school grounds and some buildings have been affected by the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010, 2011 and 2012. The board, principal and staff have responded positively and supportively to these events, and maintained their focus on student learning and wellbeing.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Areas of strength

Leaders, teachers and trustees have developed useful procedures to collect and analyse student achievement. They use this information well to:

  • identify students’ strengths and needs
  • plan appropriate programmes
  • set targets for lifting achievement
  • monitor student progress and identify next learning steps
  • provide informative reports to parents.

Regular reports are provided to the board about all areas of the curriculum, with appropriate emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics.

These reports show that most students, including Māori and Pacific, make good progress in their learning. This is most evident in the junior school, where many five year old students start with low literacy and numeracy understandings. These students make accelerated progress in their first years at school.

Students at risk of underachieving are well supported by specific in-class programmes and other targeted teaching. This additional support is making a positive difference to students’ learning. High achieving students are given regular opportunities for extension.

Teachers use a range of teaching practices to successfully engage students in learning and raise their achievement. These include:

  • making the purpose of learning clear
  • providing criteria for students to assess their own work against
  • giving students some choice about what and how they learn
  • recognising and affirming students’ efforts and success.

These approaches are contributing to students’ positive attitudes towards learning.

Teachers are increasingly using achievement information to reflect on the impact of their teaching on student outcomes, particularly for groups of learners most at risk of not achieving. They use this information to make appropriate changes to their practices.

Reports to parents provide very good information about student achievement, students’ next learning steps and how parents can support students at home. It is less clear in the end of year reports what progress students have made through the year. The school could consider making these reports easier for students and parents to understand.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively supporting and promoting students’ learning.

Areas of strength

The curriculum’s strong emphasis on the values of respect, care and determination, and the focus on life-long learning skills is evident in the way staff and students learn together.

Students benefit from a wide range of learning opportunities that build on their strengths, needs and interests. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are increasingly used by students and teachers for learning and teaching.

Teachers know, respect and value students and their language and cultural identity. The school’s kapa haka and Pacific cultural groups provide all students with opportunities to appreciate and learn more about Māori and Pacific culture and language.

Teachers give considerable emphasis to meeting students’ wider learning needs through well-organised pastoral care systems. Expectations for behaviour are well known and understood. Teachers promote students’ self esteem and expect them to take increasing responsibility for their own actions.

Students have many opportunities to support and learn from others. The concepts of tuakana teina and ako are regularly integrated in school programmes through buddy and leadership responsibilities.

Area for review and development

School leaders and teachers are aware of the need to continue to review the school’s curriculum to investigate its effectiveness in improving student engagement and achievement. This should include how well:

  • the New Zealand Curriculum principles are given effect
  • the school’s curriculum reflects Pacific and Māori perspectives
  • achievement expectations for writing align with the National Standards
  • students understand and can confidently talk about their achievement, progress and next learning steps, particularly in relation to the National Standards.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school is effectively promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Māori students are full participants in all aspects of school life. Teachers know their Māori learners well. They use this knowledge to form positive relationships with them, and to make decisions about the best ways to cater for their individual needs and strengths. Te reo Māori is taught in separate lessons in some classes, and is also integrated in class programmes. The school has given prominence to the whakairo (carving) that represents the values and vision of the school.

The school provides ongoing opportunities for Māori parents and whānau to contribute their views about a variety of topics. The board and school leaders recognise the need to find more successful ways to gain a wider response from the parents of Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Areas of strength

The strong and focused professional leadership is valued by staff and positively influences ongoing school improvement. The principal and other school leaders have high expectations for student learning and for teachers as professionals. These expectations are clearly defined in school guidelines. Teacher appraisal is used effectively to recognise good practice, and identify where improvements could be made.

The principal appropriately delegates and builds the leadership capacity of staff to work towards achieving the school’s goals. School leaders have actively fostered a team approach to school-wide decision making. Good use is made of teachers’ strengths and interests in leading curriculum development. Professional development for teachers is well targeted, and focused on improving outcomes for students.

Trustees and leaders have developed a systematic self-review process that is used well to maintain and further develop all aspects of the school’s operations. The views of staff, students and parents are valued and acted on.

The board has used external support to strengthen its governance responsibilities. Trustees ask good questions about student achievement. They use the information they receive to set future directions for the school.

Trustees work effectively as a team, combining a range of experience and expertise to confidently carry out their responsibilities. The board is proactively planning to ensure that its effectiveness is maintained over time.

Area for review and development

The school’s charter could be strengthened to more clearly reflect the needs of some groups of learners. For example:

  • annual targets should focus specifically on the groups of students who are not yet achieving against the National Standards
  • action plans should show the strategies that teachers will use to work towards these targets
  • the many good practices already in place to support Māori and Pacific learners need to be reflected and extended on in the charter.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

11 January 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 53% Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Other Ethnicities






Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

11 January 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

October 2009

June 2006

June 2004