Sommerville School - 04/10/2017


Sommerville School provides education and care for children with complex social, physical and educational needs. It caters for students from Year 1 and until they turn 21 years old. At the time of the ERO evaluation there were 13 percent Māori learners, 29 percent Pākehā, 19 percent of Pacific heritage and 33 percent Asian students.

Beyond the base school there are 15 satellite classes hosted by nine local schools including two at the adjacent Tamaki Primary School. The school also operates an outreach programme for many mainstream students and Te Hapori, the transition unit for senior students. Sommerville School is a member of the Manaiakalani Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation there have been no changes in the leadership team and few changes in the board of trustees. The school has continued to grow and there has been a focus on distributing leadership roles and extending connections with the school community. There have been several property improvements at satellite sites, and a major redevelopment of the base school is planned.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

Sommerville School has very effective strategies to achieve equitable outcomes for all students. School leadership is underpinned by expectations of equity and excellence.

Students’ progress is closely monitored. The school uses a range of standardised assessment tools, which are linked to The New Zealand Curriculum(NZC), to track this progress. An electronic programme records and collates students’ achievement of P Levels (Performance scale for students with special needs). Leaders analyse and evaluate these data to ascertain overall achievement in literacy and mathematics, and to ensure students’ learning aligns well with their IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals.

Learners are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school has successfully addressed in-school disparity in educational outcomes.

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

Equity and excellence

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

The school is responding well to students’ learning needs. As a school catering for students with special needs, the achievement of all learners requires acceleration. All students have IEPs and the school is developing a four-step approach to assess achievement of target action goals within these plans.

The individual nature of education plans is notably responsive to Māori learners and whānau. Personal consultation, through IEP meetings and milestone reviews, enables whānau to express aspirations, prioritise valued outcomes and co-construct goals for their children.

Leaders have gathered considerable data about students’ achievement in reading, writing, mathematics and communication goals. Between 40 and 60 percent of students in most groups are achieving steps within P Levels at or above the expected rate in the three curriculum areas. A variety of barriers that have impeded achievement have been identified for other students.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

The school has many effective processes, services and strategies to support learners to achieve their potential. Students learn in caring, and supportive learning environments. Teachers know them well and respond individually to their different capabilities and needs.

The board and leadership team are committed to building capacity and capability throughout the school. They have developed a Leaders of Learning team of experienced teachers to mentor others, and have distributed curriculum leadership roles to promote high quality curriculum delivery.

Teachers have regular opportunities for professional learning. This includes participation in focus groups where they scrutinise their knowledge and practices in relation to specific topics or curriculum areas. Learners benefit from this initiative that supports teachers to strive for high quality outcomes.

The school provides wrap-around support for learners and their families. Examples of specialised support include:

  • regular assessment and guidance from the team of occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech language therapists

  • advice and guidance from the behaviour support team

  • access to a paediatrician through on-site hospital clinics

  • personal support for families when needed by providing transport, guidance when dealing with agencies, and information in relation to the medical wellbeing of students.

In addition, the Te Hapori transition unit provides very good opportunities for the oldest students to apply the skills and knowledge they have learnt as they prepare for life in the community. As well as supporting students’ increasing independence, the unit finds work experience for those who are capable, and engenders confidence in all to strive for personal goals.

The board and leadership team work collaboratively in a culture of trust and cooperation. They have established a clear strategic direction for the school and are committed to professional learning for themselves. The board maintains a strong financial position which ensures the school is well resourced and provides for the ongoing professional learning that is readily available for all staff. Leaders recognise the need to further develop ways of documenting their strategic evaluations to measure the effectiveness and impact of their work.

Teacher aides are an integral and valued part of students’ learning. As a team, adults use humour well to defuse difficult behaviours, maintain positive environments and encourage individual effort.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

School processes promote equitable opportunities and outcomes for all learners effectively through coherent and sustainable strategic thinking. Internal evaluation processes are used well to identify and respond to development priorities.

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

  • 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.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Learners are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school has successfully addressed in-school disparity in educational outcomes.

Agreed next steps are:

  • developing the documentation of strategic evaluations to include analyses of the effectiveness and impact of processes on learners’ outcomes

  • ensuring that appraisal evidence meets the Education Council new requirements

  • extending the access to the digital portal for all families

  • continuing to explore ways to extend the school’s bicultural journey.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer NorthernTe Tai Raki - Northern Region

4 October 2017

About the school


Panmure, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special school

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 67% Girls 33%

Ethnic composition



Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

4 October 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

April 2007
May 2013
June 2010