Shirley School - 17/01/2018

School Context

Shirley School is a contributing school in Christchurch East. It has a roll of 401 students. Students come from diverse backgrounds and a range of ethnicities. Many students do not have English as their first language. Considerable numbers of students enter and leave the school within a year.

The school continues to respond to the ongoing effects of the 2011 and 2012 Christchurch earthquakes. Students, their families and whānau and staff continue to be challenged by this. There has been substantial school rebuilding and refurbishment. This has included, most recently, three large learning hubs containing more specialised learning areas.

Senior leaders are new to their roles at this school. This includes a new principal who took up the role in Term 4, 2017. Prior to his appointment the two deputy principals shared the acting principal role for two terms. There have been other changes in staffing and trusteeship.

Staff professional learning and development has been in areas that support the school’s current context and areas of focus. This has included ‘focusing on mindfulness’ and ongoing participation in a University of Waikato programme to develop Mathematical Inquiry Communities.

The school states that its vision is ‘whāia te iti Kahurangi, reaching for the star in everyone’. Its valued outcomes for its students are that they will be engaged, self-managing and have self-efficacy. The school’s expectation is that students will achieve this through striving for excellence, taking responsibility, collaborating actively and showing respect.

The school’s current goals are to:

  • create an environment for success
  • provide and foster educationally powerful connections and relationships
  • provide a responsive curriculum with effective teaching and opportunity to learn.

The school’s current targets are to increase the proportion of students achieving the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information in the following areas:

  • student achievement in relation to the National Standards in literacy and mathematics
  • progress for students with additional needs
  • progress for groups of students who have received learning interventions and specific programmes.

Shirley School is a member of the Ōtākaro Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

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 working very positively and proactively towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

Overall student achievement for the period 2014 to 2016 shows the majority of students are achieving at or above National Standards in reading. Most students are achieving at these levels for writing and mathematics. The school’s information shows that over time, greater proportions of girls are achieving in literacy, with boys not achieving as well as girls in reading and writing. Pacific students are not achieving as well as their peers at the school, particularly in reading. Students with additional needs are being very well supported and do achieve their goals, making very positive progress.

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

This school is responding very effectively to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school can show that it is effectively and sometimes very effectively accelerating the progress of students who are not yet achieving its expectations in literacy. In 2017, over half of those Māori and Pacific students who were achieving below expectations in literacy, made accelerated progress. Some year groups of students have made accelerated progress in mathematics as a result of a targeted intervention programme.

The school has had a deliberate focus on developing students’ mindfulness. Analysis after this programme indicates an increase in students’ awareness of their own responses and strategies that are contributing to their success and confidence in learning.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

The board is effectively guiding and supporting the school through a period of significant change. Its focus has very much been on supporting students and staff and their wellbeing. It is meeting its statutory requirements well and making decisions in the best interest of students.

This can be seen in its provision of additional resources for:

  • children learning English as a new language
  • individual or groups of children who need extra support in their transition into the school and the school learning environment.

The board supports equity for all students and participates actively in school-wide professional learning and development to better understand children’s needs to inform decision making. This enables children to have optimum opportunities to engage in their learning.

Leaders ensure an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to children’s learning, wellbeing and safety. They have redefined and raised expectations for student behaviour to improve the conditions for teaching and learning. Leaders identify and resolve conflict quickly and effectively. They are building and drawing on strong relationships with other education institutions and community organisations. They promote and participate in professional learning and development that is specifically targeted at the school’s current context and the needs of learners and teachers.

Prioritising students’ opportunity to learn underpins the school’s curriculum. It is responsive to the identified needs of students, providing a wide range of targeted and flexible support and intervention programmes. Students have many opportunities for choice within their learning. A school-wide culture of care and support for learners pervades. A particular feature of the school’s local curriculum is its strong focus on developing and embedding students’ social competencies. Teachers are implementing the school curriculum in ways that strongly promote student engagement in their learning.

Students’ skills, behaviour and readiness to learn are quickly assessed by teachers and teacher aides. Depending on need, these students receive specific support focused on accelerating their learning and embedding positive learning behaviours.

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

The analysis and use of learner information needs to be extended to identify and evaluate the sufficiency of progress individuals and groups of learners make. This should include developing and sharing a school-wide understanding and expectations for accelerated progress for learners.

Schoolwide targets should clearly show the school’s focus on accelerating progress for all learners who are below or well below the National Standards. Clearly aligning reporting (to leaders and the board) of this progress within the year will better assure the board about shifts made. Extending assessment and moderation practices within and beyond the school will strengthen the dependability of teachers’ judgements.

It is timely for the school to evaluate the effectiveness of recent curriculum and timetable changes on outcomes for learners. This should include:

  • the play-based curriculum in the junior school
  • students’ understanding and ownership of their own learning
  • how well the curriculum is supporting Māori learners to succeed and progress.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that its partnership with families/whānau is an area to continue to strengthen. Continuing to seek effective ways of communicating with families of English language learners will be an important part of this. Extending whānau engagement should include ways for them to support and know more about their children’s learning and how this can be supported at home.

Strengthening and embedding the school’s appraisal system for teachers will be an important aspect of the redefining of roles and responsibilities of the new leadership team.

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 Students 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:

  • strong, supportive and focused governance that supports student and staff wellbeing and success

  • the positive culture of care and support that is contributing to student wellbeing

  • its responsive curriculum design and enactment that is engaging learners

  • the way in which leaders and teachers are continuing to embrace change that improves learner outcomes.

Next steps

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

  • the analysis, evaluation and reporting of the sufficiency of progress learners are making, that aligns with schoolwide expectations

  • evaluating the effectiveness of the school’s curriculum to ensure it meets the needs, interests and abilities of all learners

  • strengthening partnerships with families and whānau so that they can be more involved in their children’s learning.

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

17 January 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 51% Boys: 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 14%
Pākehā: 56%
Pacific: 13%
Other: 17%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

17 January 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: January 2013
Education Review: October 2009
Education Review: June 2006