Swanson School - 03/03/2017

1 Context

Swanson School located in West Auckland, caters for children from Years 1 to 8. The school is led by an experienced principal and three deputy principals. The newly-elected board comprises two experienced and several first-time trustees. Children experience an environment where play is valued as meaningful learning. This is further supported by the recent completion of several innovative-learning classrooms.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to develop good citizens who are responsible and caring, lifelong learners. The school encourages values of respect, responsibility, honesty, trust and care. Its key strategic goals are for:

  • all learners to effectively access the curriculum and achieve their potential in relation to the National Standards
  • all Māori and Pasifika learners to be engaged in their learning and to achieve educational success, with pride in their unique identity, language and culture as Māori and as Pasifika
  • learners with special educational needs to be supported in their learning so that they can progress in relation to the curriculum and fully participate and contribute to the school
  • teachers to be supported to improve pedagogy, teaching, learning and assessment practice which will lead to increased learner progress and achievement.

School-wide targets have been set for all children who are below National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The schools achievement data at the end of 2015 showed that for all students 71 percent were achieving at or above the National Standards in mathematics, 77% in reading and 64% in writing. Further analysis indicates that boys do not achieve as well as girls, while Māori and Pacific students showed similar outcomes in reading with slightly lower achievement in writing and mathematics.

In 2015 disparity between Māori and non-Māori was evident in achievement outcomes.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has introduced the following teaching strategies to improve learner success:

  • the 'Power Learning' model to promote greater teacher reflection on practice
  • 'home-school' partnerships with Māori and Pacific whanau to improve communication and support children's learning

In addition, the school has focused on ways to embed good teaching and learning practices. These identified aims and strategies were partly effective in 2015 and have continued as goals in 2016.

To provide clear information about how well the school's initiatives and values are supporting students to succeed, ERO recommends that the school use a deliberate, robust evaluation process. School leaders and staff could benefit from the Effective School Evaluation resources published by ERO in 2016, which describes a process of noticing, investigation and analysis, reaching collective understandings about evidence, agreeing on key priorities for action and then, further monitoring action points and strategies over time. This process has the potential to support school leaders and the board to be accountable to its community. Good reporting and communication of the outcomes of school internal evaluation could provide further opportunities for parents and whanau to be involved in school processes and decision-making.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is taking steps to become effective in its response to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Steps include:

  • re-establishing Māori community relationships
  • sharing success stories about Māori student outcomes
  • including children's 'back-story' or family background as a way of improving teachers knowledge and understanding of each student
  • monitoring meetings held by teachers to discuss the progress of individual students
  • the appointment of a staff member for 2017 to support Māori success initiatives.

In 2016 the school has initiated a schoolwide and an individualised approach to raising and accelerating Māori student achievement. Teachers have developed plans for each identified Māori and Pacific learner. Raising achievement planning has been underpinned by the schools holistic values. These are reflected in children's physiological wellbeing, safety, belongingness and self-esteem. However, there is not yet an in-depth evaluation process to identify and investigate the practices that are working well in promoting accelerated outcomes for Māori children.

To accelerate the progress of Māori children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes, the board, senior leaders and teachers have employed additional staffing to support them to:

  • set specific Māori student achievement targets
  • build on a strengths-based approach that includes the aspirations whanau have for their child
  • moderate data to improve reliability and clarity
  • use achievement information to inform teaching and learning programmes
  • improve school systems for internal evaluation and effective reporting to the board and community on Māori student progress and achievement

These developments should well align with the school's individualised action plans and the work currently underway to promote teachers' reflective capacity.

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

While the majority of children are achieving at or above national standards there are still a number of students who are well below national standards in writing and reading. The school should implement appropriate strategies to accelerate and lift the achievement of these children.

Good systems and processes have been established this year to enable the new Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) to more easily track and monitor the progress and achievement of children who require additional learning support and to co-ordinate support. The SENCO liaises with a local SENCO cluster network and accesses external professional support and advice for children as needed. A useful next step will be to evaluate the effectiveness of support for children who receive additional learning support.

Provision for children who are English language learners is monitored by the SENCO. Teachers administer English Language Learning Progressions testing to assess children's needs. Ongoing professional development should assist teachers in continuing to provide appropriate teaching and learning programmes for these children.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum is not yet effectively supporting the schools vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence. Senior leaders and teachers should give priority to the review of, and formalise changes to, the school curriculum. This could include effective use of staff capability and Māori resources to enhance students curriculum experiences of te ao Māori me ona tikanga.

Senior leaders and teachers should collaboratively develop a local curriculum in consultation with parents and students to guide teachers and leaders to adequately support improvements for students. This includes the provision of languages options for Year 7 and 8 children.

In 2016 the school has implemented a new leadership structure by introducing a third deputy principal to the senior leadership team. Full delegation and depth of responsibilities is yet to be realised. The new structure would benefit from the revision of roles and responsibilities. This has the potential to strengthen the team and provide shared leadership of key areas of school operations.

Leaders have introduced a new appraisal system in the current year which is having a positive effect on teaching practices. Staff are building trusting relationships and building their collaborative capabilities.

Children are confident in the school environment. Children self manage their recreation. As a result, school leaders are able to identify positive aspects of the school's culture arising from the schools free-play philosophy. This is further supported by very good innovative programmes being trialled by teachers with five year olds as they transition into school from early childhood centres.

Teams are supported by a senior leader and managed by team leaders. Team leaders coordinate their teaching team and support teachers to collaborate and share their practice. Further induction and training would continue to improve the collective capabilities of team leaders and senior leadership. This year teachers have begun to implement and document their teaching inquiries to inform their student achievement plans.

In order to build and affirm school progress, school leaders should evaluate and support ongoing improvement in the school. Evaluative capability needs to be further developed throughout all leadership and operational levels in the school. In particular, reporting should be more evaluative. School leaders need to document the decisions and strategies made about internal evaluation and clearly identify a planned approach to implement it.

Trustees are committed to promoting positive outcomes for all children. It is important for the board to continue to build governance capability through ongoing involvement in board training. The board could further scrutinise the reporting of student achievement data to confirm the decisions they make about accelerating student achievement.

5 Going forward

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

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

Teachers have developed some good approaches to meeting the needs of targeted learners. However, the current internal evaluation process is not robust and hinders the board's capacity to be assured and to assure its community, that the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop more targeted planning that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years.

6 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 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

As part of this review, ERO found that potential risks in the playground are well managed. The board should continue to seek assurance that children's learning and safety are ongoing priorities.

During the course of the review ERO identified areas of non-compliance in relation to curriculum and internal evaluation. To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • develop a programme of internal evaluation that enables the board to be assured of the effectiveness of its own and school operations
    National Administration Guidelines 2 (b)
  • ensure that year 7 and 8 students are provided with opportunities to learn in more than one language
    The New Zealand Curriculum p 24-25
  • develop and implement teaching and learning programmes to provide all students with opportunities to achieve for success in all areas of the New Zealand Curriculum; and on the basis of good quality assessment information, identify aspects of the curriculum which require particular attention
    National Administration Guidelines 1 (a)i, (c)iv.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the board and school leaders implement a robust process of internal evaluation to ensure that the school's curriculum effectively supports the schools vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

3 March 2017

About the school 


Swanson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition






Cook Islands Māori



Latin American

other Pacific













Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

3 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2013

February 2011

July 2007