Western Heights School (Auckland) - 17/10/2014


The school has an inclusive culture for learning through its vision, ‘Love to learn to lead’. Students are enthusiastic learners. There is a focus on building school-wide consistency in student-led learning. Teachers have been improving the reliability of achievement information and making better use of this data to inform learning.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Context

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

Western Heights School is a contributing school for students from Years 1 to 6 in Henderson, West Auckland. The roll includes significant numbers of students who identify as Māori, Indian and Chinese.

The principal, a deputy principal and several teachers were appointed this year. The three deputy principals and many staff members have been long serving employees. This year senior managers have been working collaboratively to review the school vision, mission and beliefs, and to develop and implement many new school initiatives. In order to strengthen teacher support and to cater for a broader range of student abilities, the structure of teaching teams has been modified from single year levels to composite classes.

The board have accessed training and worked alongside an external consultant to appoint the principal. Trustees bring a balance of experience and professional skills to the board. They are well informed and supportive of the principal and staff.

Western Heights School has had a positive ERO reporting history that has acknowledged strong relationships and an inclusive learning environment for children. These continue to be features in the school.

2 Learning

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

This year the school has focused on improving the reliability of achievement information and making better use of this data to inform learning.

Creating a student-centred learning culture has been a priority for senior managers. The board, senior managers and staff value the learning community which is based on positive relationships and outcomes for students. Students' wellbeing is well supported through the school's pastoral care systems.

Students and the wider school community have a strong sense of ownership of their school. The new school vision, ‘Love to learn to lead’ has been developed in consultation with students, staff and the community. This vision underpins the school-wide emphasis on student-led learning. This vision is providing a renewed sense of motivation amongst staff and students for student-focused teaching and learning.

Many students demonstrate a good understanding of their learning. Students are settled and engaged learners. Many teachers have implemented effective strategies to support students to take control of and make choices about their learning. School leaders are building on these good practices by promoting the school-wide consistency and quality of teaching practice.

Senior leaders and teachers have reviewed a range of assessment tools and indicators to strengthen overall judgements about student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. The school's information indicates that most students are achieving at or above National Standards. Senior leaders are implementing strategies to moderate teachers’ judgements within the school and with other schools to help ensure these judgements are reliable.

Senior managers have supported teachers to improve their understanding and use of achievement information. Teachers are making more informed decisions about teaching and learning. They are differentiating teaching programmes to target student’s needs more effectively. Senior managers identify groups of students who are at risk of not achieving well and analyse data to better inform their provision for these students.

Senior managers agree that key next steps include:

  • adapting the electronic database to allow data analysis for an even broader range of student groups
  • continuing to improve school-wide targets by including achievement goals for Māori, Pacific, boys and targeted year groups in response to closer data analysis
  • reporting progress information to the board.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is promoting student learning and engagement.

Senior managers have undertaken an in-depth curriculum review this year. Several new initiatives and a strategic emphasis on professional learning for teachers are contributing to a more consistent school-wide approach to skilled teaching and learning.

Senior managers have used a coaching model to establish self review and prioritise improvements in teachers’ practice. Teachers work alongside colleagues to set goals and monitor their progress.

The principal has led professional development this year to support student engagement in learning and teachers’ use of information communication technologies (ICT). Senior managers, teachers and students are making more effective use of ICT to enhance communication with families. The board is resourcing improvements to ICT to support a consistent school-wide approach to e-learning.

Teachers are continuing to develop students’ inquiry learning through meaningful study. Students have access to a wide range of opportunities for leadership and co-curricular activities including sports, music and languages.

Senior managers agree that ongoing curriculum review and design using the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum will strengthen these recent developments.

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

There are 85 Māori students at the school. Senior managers have identified goals for raising Māori student achievement and closely monitor their progress and achievement.

A priority for the principal has been to establish and build relationships with whānau and students. Māori staff take an active role in leading school kawa and programmes that promote a bicultural curriculum. This year a kaiako has been appointed to lead a school-wide programme of te reo Māori and a kapa haka group. Students of all cultures proudly participate in experiences such as whakatau. Many students are beginning to demonstrate understanding and use of basic te reo Māori. These steps help ensure that the culture, language and identity of Māori students is valued.

The kaiako Māori has identified the need to implement a sequential programme of te reo Māori. It would be useful for teachers to use Te Aho Arotaki Marau mo te Ako i te reo Māori – Kura Auraki (Curriculum Guidelines for Teaching and Learning Te Reo Māori in English-medium Schools) to actively promote this goal.

To strengthen Māori student success, as Māori, senior managers and staff plan to:

  • continue building reciprocal partnerships with whānau that seek their aspirations and input to planned, formalised school practices
  • review the effectiveness of strategies and initiatives that have been used.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The board is led by a long-serving chairperson who has educational knowledge and experience. Trustees work well together to support new members and to maintain a good understanding of their governance role. The board is committed to supporting positive student outcomes and to working alongside the principal and staff to implement a planned approach to school improvement.

The principal is leading change amongst staff, students and parents that is strengthening the school’s learning community. The senior management team works together to support the principal’s vision for the school and are well supported by the board through professional development. Senior managers are modelling effective practices and taking opportunities to grow leadership amongst the staff.

There is a positive school culture and a sense of enthusiasm for the school’s future direction. Under the leadership of the principal, senior managers are taking a strategic approach to change management and model the expectations they have of staff. The principal leads by example through open communication and accessibility to students, parents and staff.

Senior managers agree that in order to strengthen sustainable performance they should develop their understanding and use of structured self review. It would be helpful to embed the use of indicators of effective practice as a measurement of success.

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 two international students attending the school. There is sound provision of pastoral care and education for students. The school has implemented good strategies to integrate students into the school community. The next step for senior managers is to report student progress to the board.

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.


The school has an inclusive culture for learning through its vision, ‘Love to learn to lead’. Students are enthusiastic learners. There is a focus on building school-wide consistency in student-led learning. Teachers have been improving the reliability of achievement information and making better use of this data to inform learning.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

17 October 2014

About the School


Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 46% Boys 54%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā







Other European












Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

17 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

June 2008

June 2005