Vardon School - 21/08/2018

School Context

Vardon School is located in the northern part of Hamilton. It caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The current roll is 350, 32% of whom identify as Māori. The school reports that Māori students come from various iwi throughout New Zealand.

Senior leadership has been consistent since the last ERO review in 2015. Recently there have been significant changes to both middle leadership and the classroom teaching team. The board is a mix of both new and experienced trustees.

The school mission and vision have recently been reviewed following community consultation. The school seeks to ensure that students are fulfilling their potential. Relationships/whanaungatanga, resilience/kia maia, resourcefulness/kia taiao, and reflection/kia ata are promoted.

Leaders and teachers regularly report school-wide information about student outcomes to the board in the following areas:

  • reading, writing and mathematics
  • student well-being.

In 2018 they also reported student progress in the areas of reading for pleasure and self-management to the board.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The majority of students are achieving at or above expectations. The school is not yet achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

In 2017 there was significant disparity between the achievement of Māori and Pākehā students in reading, writing and mathematics. There is significant disparity between boys and girls in writing. This pattern of underachievement has been consistent for a number of years. Achievement for boys is equivalent to that of girls in reading and maths. The majority of Pacific students are achieving at or above expectations in reading and a small majority in writing.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

Leaders have begun developing systems to monitor the extent, pace and sufficiency of progress to determine if students at-risk of underachieving are on track to achieve accelerated progress.

The school is effectively responding to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration in reading. It is not yet effectively accelerating at-risk learners in writing and mathematics.

The progress of students who have individual education plans, (IEPs) is regularly tracked and monitored. IEPs sighted by ERO indicate that students are making progress over time.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

Students participate and learn in a caring, collaborative learning community. Relationships between teachers and students are respectful and productive. Difference and diversity are valued. Well-promoted school values and restorative justice practices promote resilience and strong relationships between students. Various pastoral care initiatives contribute to the wellbeing of students who come to school with material needs. Classrooms are settled, well-managed learning environments. This is contributing to students’ sense of wellbeing and belonging.

Students with special needs participate in learning opportunities that provide appropriate support and challenge. They are effectively identified and their learning and progress are well monitored. Experienced learning assistants provide targeted learning experiences according to specific objectives in individual education plans (IEPs) developed with parents, whānau and relevant external agencies.

Leaders have established a welcoming school culture where parents feel that they can readily discuss their students’ learning and wellbeing as needed. This has been enhanced by a number of recent, effective initiatives to improve communication about school events and strategic direction. The school and community are engaged in learning-centred relationships.

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

School leaders now need to give urgent priority to the following development areas, a number of which were also identified in the 2015 ERO report.

Strengthening the collation and use of assessment information. ERO and school leaders agree that there is a need to:

  • further define the process for making teacher judgements about students’ progress and achievement
  • review charter targets to ensure an appropriate focus on accelerating the progress of all students who are at risk of not achieving in reading, writing and mathematics
  • develop and implement clear expectations for tracking and monitoring individual and cohort progress and acceleration with an emphasis on identifying associated effective teaching strategies
  • empower students to use assessment data and learning progressions to identify their pathways to success and the steps needed to get there.

Continuing to strengthen the local curriculum to:

  • ensure greater consistency in the teaching of te reo Māori
  • strengthen expectations for the integration of Māori knowledge across the curriculum, including further aspects of local iwi history
  • review and further develop school-wide expectations for teaching and assessment in reading, writing and mathematics
  • develop expectations for teaching and curriculum pathways in the other learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Developing processes for the robust evidence-based evaluation of the curriculum including the school’s innovations and interventions.

Continuing to strengthen learning partnerships with parents, especially those with at-risk learners.

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 Children Act 2014.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure that high-quality feedback about teaching practice and next steps are fully documented, particularly for provisionally registered teachers.
    [Good practice re s 77A State Sector Act 1988, Part 31 Education Act 1989]

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • strong whanaungatanga, particularly between teachers and students and their whānau that is contributing to student belonging and wellbeing and high levels of support from whānau and the community
  • strong manaakitanga that ensures that students with special needs are well catered for.

Next steps

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

  • improving the use of data to make decisions about students’ learning
  • clear expectations for effective teaching practice, to address variability across the school
  • development of a school curriculum that responds better to students’ identity culture and language, and the local context
  • internal evaluation that better identifies whether innovations and interventions are working well for students’ learning
  • partnerships with parents that involve them more effectively in helping their children with their individual learning needs
  • targeted planning to accelerate learning
    [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school].

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in the areas for review and development outlined above.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing external evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services (Acting)

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

21 August 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing Primary School (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 32%
Pākehā 46%
Pacific 6%
Asian 9%
Indian 4%
Other 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

21 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2015
Education Review November 2010
Education Review March 2008