The Gardens School - 22/12/2014

Findings

The Gardens School provides an inclusive, caring learning environment for students and families. Students achieve at high levels in reading, writing and mathematics. The board, school leaders and staff work collaboratively to promote positive student outcomes. The school’s rebuild into a modern learning environment is expected to start in 2015.

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

1. Context

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

The Gardens School is located in the residential area of The Gardens in Manurewa and caters for students from Years 1 to 8. It has a semi-rural aspect, and is in close proximity to the Auckland Botanic Gardens and Totara Park. Students have good opportunities for learning from and within these local environments. Most students and their families live in The Gardens neighbourhood, and many take advantage of the school’s Travelwise initiative to walk, cycle or scooter to school.

A significant feature of this school is the strong ethic of care that staff have for students, families and each other. Students and their parents experience a welcoming and inclusive school. This positive climate promotes students’ sense of belonging in the school, and provides a comfortable and secure environment for their learning.

The school is increasingly culturally diverse with over 20 different ethnic groups identified. Māori students make up 16 percent of the school role and there are a small number of students from various Pacific nations. There are increasing numbers of students and families who have English as a second or subsequent language. These cultural and language differences are valued and celebrated in different ways throughout the school, and are part of students’ learning programmes.

The school continues to benefit from the principal’s experience and leadership, and from long serving staff and the committed board of trustees. Together they have managed the challenges and hazards posed by the school’s leaky buildings very well. A whole school rebuild is expected to begin in 2015. The school is excited about the development of their new modern learning environment.

The school has a history of positive ERO reports. The strengths identified in ERO’s 2011 report have been sustained and all next steps have been addressed.

2. Learning

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

Student achievement information is used very well at all levels of the school to promote student learning and achievement.

The school is justifiably proud of its achievement successes. Most students achieve at very high levels in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. Results for Māori, Pacific and all other groups are significantly higher than other schools throughout the country. Students who are new to learning English also make very good progress and achieve well.

Teachers have continued to improve the way they use student achievement information to plan classroom learning programmes. They are skilled at setting, monitoring and evaluating targets for raising student progress and achievement. Achievement information is particularly well used for designing programmes for students who require learning support and who have languages other than English. Regular discussion of achievement data promotes a shared responsibility and ownership for students’ learning successes and progress.

Teachers work alongside each other and with teachers from other schools to moderate student assessment. This very good approach promotes teachers’ confidence in making valid and accurate judgements about students’ levels of achievement in relation to the National Standards.

Students work with teachers to share information about their learning with their parents. Written reports to parents are useful documents, focusing on the progress students make as well as their achievement levels. Students are becoming increasingly confident and knowledgeable about their own learning, with many setting and evaluating their own learning goals. Senior leaders agree that students could now be supported to increase their understanding and use of achievement information to promote their learning.

Trustees use the regular information they receive about student achievement to make strategic and responsive resourcing decisions. Senior leaders and teachers expertly interpret the board’s broad achievement targets to ensure that students’ individual needs are met.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning effectively. Literacy, numeracy and ICT continue to form the foundations of the school’s curriculum. Inquiry topics and projects provide opportunities for students to explore science, technology, media and the Arts. Students experience specialist teaching in music, physical education, technology, science and Spanish.

Students are settled and focused in their learning environments. They have positive relationships with teachers and each other, and keenly participate in conversation and conferencing to further improve their learning. Teachers recognise and celebrate children’s learning successes. They provide an environment where it is safe for children to take risks and have fun with their learning. As a result, there is a good sense of children being actively involved in and excited about learning.

Teachers involve parents in the design of learning programmes, seeking to know about children’s interests and to understand each child. The school communicates regularly with parents in a variety of ways that promote strong connections and allow parents from various cultural backgrounds to be involved. These positive practices encourage students and their families to be secure and comfortable and have a strong sense of belonging in the school.

Strategies to promote success for the school’s Pacific learners are currently led by the deputy principal and a team leader. There are good opportunities for Pacific students to express and celebrate their cultures, languages and identities through a weekly Samoana initiative and as part of regular classroom programmes. The school is in the beginning stages of planning strategically for Pacific success using the Ministry of Education’s Pasifika Education Plan 2013 – 2017.

Senior leaders recognise that to further improve and sustain Pacific success strategies, it would be useful to align their Pacific success plan with the board’s strategic planning and reporting frameworks. They could also increase the number of staff involved in the decision making and planning processes for Pacific success.

Programmes to support students who are new learners of English are very well managed and led. The specialist teacher recognises students as highly capable linguists. She provides them with opportunities to lead language learning and to share their knowledge of their own language, culture and identity. She leads the very good practice of providing in class support for English language learning, as well as withdrawal programmes for students who are very new to New Zealand.

The school is highly welcoming and inclusive of children with special educational needs. It provides very good programmes that are regularly evaluated and refined to meet students’ changing learning needs.

The principal identifies that a key next step is to ensure that all students experience high quality teaching practices and have opportunities to lead their own learning. She recognises the need to refine the school’s inquiry learning approach so that all students experience high levels of challenge.

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

Māori students are highly engaged in learning and achieve very well. Parent and whānau are involved in their children’s learning and express high levels of satisfaction with the school.

Students’ language, culture and identity are supported in classroom learning programmes and through kapa haka. A capable member of support staff leads a school-wide te reo Māori programme that is delivered to students and teachers through the school’s radio network.

A key next step is for the board and principal to work in partnership with whānau Māori to develop the school’s strategic direction for Māori success. This future direction would ideally promote a more sustainable and sequential approach to the teaching and learning of te reo Māori, including opportunities to extend more fluent speakers. This planning for Māori success should align to the board’s strategic planning and reporting frameworks.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

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

The principal is a knowledgeable educational leader who is respected by staff and students for her high levels of professional integrity and thoughtful decision making. She recognises teachers’ strengths and promotes leadership opportunities.

School leaders, teachers and support staff have respectful and collaborative professional relationships. The principal and deputy principal promote a high trust model for staff. It is complemented by high levels of accountability and formalised through a meaningful staff appraisal system. Self review is well understood and used in different ways throughout the school as a mechanism for ongoing improvement.

The board is well led by a capable and experienced chairperson. Trustees are improvement focused and provide very good support for the principal. They have a strong understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities. Their approaches to promoting positive outcomes for students are strategic and responsive. Trustees receive clear assurance that the school enacts systems to promote a supportive and healthy environment for children and adults.

Trustees agree that having Māori representation on the board would honour the principle of a bicultural partnership. This approach should bring a Māori perspective to board operations and school developments.

The principal is keen to access externally facilitated professional learning for teachers. This support would help leaders to promote the high quality learning programmes required to match the modern learning environments provided through the planned rebuild.

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 no international students attending the school.

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.

Conclusion

The Gardens School provides an inclusive, caring learning environment for students and families. Students achieve at high levels in reading, writing and mathematics. The board, school leaders and staff work collaboratively to promote positive student outcomes. The school’s rebuild into a modern learning environment is expected to start in 2015.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

22 December 2014

About the School

Location

Manurewa, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

6947

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

604

Number of international students

0

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Indian

Chinese

Filipino

Samoan

African

Middle Eastern

Cook Island Māori

Other Pacific

Other

16%

32%

23%

8%

4%

4%

3%

2%

1%

2%

5%

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

22 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

June 2008

June 2004