Springbank School - 19/06/2014

Findings

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Springbank School meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

1 Background

The Chief Review Officer has a statutory duty to report on the performance of private schools throughout New Zealand.

ERO reviews of private schools are significantly different in process and more limited in scope and reporting than those for state and state-integrated schools, focusing as they do on the Criteria for Registration set out in section 35C of the Education Act.

Section 35I of the Education Act 1989 requires the Education Review Office (ERO) to review private schools and to report to the Ministry of Education on whether each school continues to meet the criteria for registration. The schools are privately owned and the legislative requirements are significantly different to those for state and state-integrated schools. Private schools are not required to follow the National Education Goals or National Administration Guidelines.

What does apply in place of the legislation imposed upon state schools by the Education Act is the contract between the persons paying for the tuition of the child at the school – the parents – and the school authority. Those are matters between the parent and the school’s governing body. More information about ERO reviews of private schools can be found on ERO’s website www.ero.govt.nz/Reviews-Process.

The criteria for registration are that the school —

a)has premises that are suitable, as described in section 35D; and

b)usually provides tuition for 9 or more students who are of or over the age of 5 years but are under the age of 16 years; and

c)has staffing that is suitable to the age range and level of its students, the curriculum taught at the school, and the size of the school; and

d)has equipment that is suitable for the curriculum being delivered or to be delivered at the school; and

e)has a curriculum for teaching, learning, and assessment and makes details of the curriculum and its programme for delivery available for parents; and

f)has suitable tuition standards, as described in section 35F; and

g)has managers who are fit and proper persons (as described in section 35G) to be managers of a private school.

Springbank School is a small, independent, family operated school that provides a positive and inclusive learning environment for students from Year 1 to 13. Students are actively engaged in a broad curriculum that includes academic and entrepreneurial studies and has a growing emphasis on education outside the classroom.

The school is set in 14 hectares of attractive, well managed farmland in rural Kerikeri, in Northland. The school has had positive ERO reports throughout its 18 year history.

The school’s founding philosophy of ‘learning for life’ is now expressed as the three values of developing student’s confidence, character and capability. These values underpin the goals and priorities identified in the school strategic plan.

2 Criteria for Registration

The school provides suitable premises. They are attractive and well resourced for learning. Since ERO’s 2009 review, the school has begun significant property development to enhance its extensive outdoor environment. Developments include additional native planting, the extension of a grassed area, and a cross-country fitness trail. Longer term, the directors have a vision for establishing a forested area that will become an ecological niche to provide opportunities for students to learn in and about the natural environment. An equestrian centre is also planned.

Classrooms are well equipped and well resourced. High speed wireless has been installed and is providing students with access to a more global world perspective to enhance their learning. Staff expertise has contributed to progress in this area and is also promoting the increased staff and student use of digital devices.

The development of outdoor education and the digital infrastructure are a part of the directors’ vision for students to access challenging and relevant learning opportunities within and beyond the school. A further aim of this approach is to enhance students’ positive connection to people, places and communities to strengthen their sense of belonging and contribution.

A suitable curriculum is provided for students. A holistic focus on students’ learning is evident in programmes that provide both whole class and individualised learning and support. Class sizes are generally small. Numbers vary across the school, depending on the year level and students’ subject choices.

Classrooms are characterised by teachers’ high expectations for learning and students’ high levels of engagement. Teachers’ relationships with students are positive, encouraging and focused on student outcomes. Programmes are based on the Cambridge junior and senior curriculum and also reflect the values of building confidence, character and capability. The New Zealand Curriculum is used as the framework for subjects other than mathematics, science and English, particularly in the junior school.

A strong ethos of community service is evident in the curriculum. Students are offered many opportunities to develop entrepreneurial and enterprise skills. The progressive development of students’ self-management skills and sense of responsibility for themselves and others is being promoted across the curriculum.

Students’ progress is monitored regularly by teachers and the principal. Students achieve high levels of success at school, regional, national and international levels in the Cambridge International examinations. These include the Primary Checkpoint, Secondary 1 Checkpoint and senior IGCSE A and AS examinations. They are also well represented in national leadership forums, such as the model United Nations programme, and frequently win prizes and awards for their entrepreneurship and enterprise.

The new principal, appointed in 2013, is leading a re-balancing of the school curriculum. He aims to provide increasing opportunities for students to experience education outside the classroom. An outdoor adventure programme recently introduced for senior students is providing challenging and well-managed physical opportunities for learners.

Regular experiences with overnight camps for junior, middle and senior level students also provide opportunities for students to succeed in outdoor and physical pursuits. Parent involvement in, and support for, these and other school activities is strong.

The principal and directors agree that it is timely, given the increased focus on outdoor pursuits, to review and strengthen health and safety policies and procedures, particularly those related to education outside the classroom.

The schools’ directors provide suitable staffing. Teachers show high levels of commitment to their students and the school philosophy. They know students and their families very well and are able to plan longer term for students’ on-going learning and development.

Teachers are collegially supportive and keen to maintain a strong partnership with parents. They provide in-school and after-hours tuition for students, who benefit from the additional and often one-on-one support they receive. Students’ pastoral care is well managed.

Teachers have a good knowledge of the Cambridge International curriculum and their specialist subjects. This provides a sound framework for teaching and learning. Teachers are self-managing professionals, and are proactive in accessing relevant professional development.

Teachers are highly reflective. This characteristic is particularly evident in their approaches to self appraisal. The principal is aware of the value of reviewing the current approach to teacher appraisal observations and the ways in which appraisal discussions are documented. Increasing opportunities for teachers to observe their peers’ teaching practice also has the potential to enhance the reflective and developmental nature of appraisal.

The school’s directors have attested that they comply with the provisions of section 35G in respect to their being fit and proper persons to manage the school.

3 Other Statutory Obligations

There are good systems in place for the school’s managing body to be assured that its other statutory obligations are met.

4 Other Matters

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were 21 international students attending Springbank School. Good English language support is provided for students on a needs basis.

The numbers of international students attending Springbank School has increased since 2009. The programme now employs a full-time staff member with responsibility for the administration and pastoral needs of these students. The international student programme is an area of growth in the school.

Students generally enrol for two to four school terms and make strong and lasting friendships with other students, staff and their home-stay families. They participate fully in the life of the school.

Students particularly value opportunities to experience the Bay of Islands aquatic, tramping and adventure activities offered through the school. Their learning progress and pastoral care is well managed.

Conclusion

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Springbank School meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

19 June 2014

About the School

Location

Kerikeri, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

436

School type

Independent Private School (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

165

Number of international students

21

Gender composition

Girls 53% Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/Pākehā
European
Asian
Indian
other

3%
70%
13%
7%
3%
4%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

19 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Private School Review
Private School Review
Private School Review

June 2009
July 2006
June 2003