Westmount School - Northland Campus - 07/07/2009

1 Background

Introduction

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

Under section 35A of the Education Act 1989, private schools are required to be “efficient”.  The Act defines “efficient”, in relation to a private school as -

(a) Having suitable premises, staffing, equipment, and curriculum; and

(b) Usually providing tuition for 9 or more students who have turned 5 but are under 16; and

(c) Providing suitably for the inculcation in the minds of students of sentiments of patriotism and loyalty; and

(d) Giving students tuition of a standard no lower than that of the tuition given to students enrolled at…schools of the same class.

This report focuses on the extent to which the school meets this requirement and other statutory obligations.

This review report was prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

2 Efficient

The Northland Kerikeri Campus sits under the umbrella of the Westmount School National Trust, which oversees fifteen campuses throughout New Zealand.  The National Trust sets direction and provides policies and procedures for local Trusts to follow.  Policies reflect a Brethren ethos and learning environments reflect the Brethren philosophy. 

Since the 2006 ERO review, the local trustees, chief executive officer (CEO) and campus coordinator have successfully managed significant changes in their school community and in the development of new facilities.  The Northland Kerikeri Campus continues to offer a high standard of education.  Students are provided with high quality teaching, a wide range of learning opportunities, appropriate resources and suitable facilities. 

3 Statutory Obligations

Suitable premises and equipment

The Northland Education Trust ensures that suitable facilities are provided for students and their teachers.  Since the 2006 ERO review, the Trust has successfully managed significant development of the school premises to accommodate additional Year levels.  The school now caters for students from Years 3 to 13.  Additional premises on the Kerikeri campus include a gymnasium size hall, with purpose-built specialist teaching spaces attached for technology and music, a computer suite, virtual teaching and study spaces, and a library.  One new classroom has been added for Year 3 to 6 students.  A junior adventure playground, larger hard court areas, and a second playing field have also been added. 

A satellite campus in Whangarei has been developed to accommodate a group of Year 3 to 6 students.  This campus has two classrooms and a library.  The students have access to play areas that include a hard court area, adventure playground and grass surfaces. 

Enhancement of outdoor areas has continued, with seating areas and additional shade provided.  In addition, the school continues to make good use of nearby facilities, including pool complexes for swimming programmes.  School buildings and grounds are attractive and well maintained by school personnel and members of the Brethren community. 

Students and teachers have access to appropriate resources to support curriculum delivery and learning.  Libraries are well stocked, with very good use made of the National Library Service for additional fiction and non-fiction material to support classroom programmes.  The school is purchasing more instructional reading materials.  The Trust has immediate plans to upgrade the information and communication technologies (ICT) infrastructure so that teachers and students can access information for teaching and research from all buildings in the school. 

Systems for monitoring health and safety provisions are extensive and indicate a high level of commitment to student and staff welfare. 

Suitable staffing

The Northland Education Trust and campus coordinator continue to appoint high calibre staff who respect the Brethren ethos and philosophy.  Teachers demonstrate good subject knowledge, are enthusiastic about their work, and are committed to promoting best outcomes for students.  Since the 2006 ERO report, five new teaching positions have been established. 

All teachers are fully registered with the New Zealand Teachers’ Council.  An effective appraisal process is in place, with a clear focus on supporting teachers in their professional growth.  Staff professional development is sought from external providers and clearly aligns with school-wide strategic goals and teachers’ professional goals. 

Since the 2006 ERO review, more management positions have been established at the national level, aimed at getting consistency across all fifteen Westmount Campuses.  The campus coordinator is aware of the challenges of ensuring that the specific needs of students at the Northland Campus continue to be well catered for as national consistency is emphasised.  The campus coordinator and staff have faced and overcome challenges relating to increased roll growth and have maintained their focus on learning throughout a period of considerable change.  The CEO position continues to provide a good link between the Brethren community and staff.

Suitable curriculum

The Westmount Kerikeri Campus continues to provide students with a suitable curriculum.  Teaching and learning programmes are based on The New Zealand Curriculum Framework and are appropriately linked to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).  The introduction of virtual teaching, where subjects are taught by other Westmount teachers through video conferencing, has increased senior student access to specialist tuition in a wider range of subjects. 

Learning is regularly assessed and students achieve well in all areas of the school.  Achievement data provided by the Campus indicate that most Year 3 to 10 students are achieving at or above national expectations in literacy and mathematics.  One hundred percent pass rates in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) for Year 11 to 13 students are successes of which the Campus is justifiably proud.  Parents are kept well informed about their children’s progress.

There is a clear match between Westmount curriculum planning documents and the programmes delivered in classrooms.  Westmount national curriculum guidelines are used as the starting point and are adapted by the campus coordinator and teachers to fit authentic local contexts for learning, and to ensure that curriculum pathways are clear and meet individual student needs.  Thoughtful consideration is also given to providing students with leadership opportunities and responsibilities as they move through the Year levels. 

The Brethren community are active participants in supporting the special character of the school and contribute to the wide range of learning experiences that the school provides.  Members of the community take current affairs and Bible studies lessons during school hours, and support individual students with learning programmes.  Sport, arts and cultural activities are a feature of the Brethren community fun days. 

Standard of tuition

A consistently high standard of teaching is evident across the school.  Teachers use a good range of teaching strategies that make best use of findings from current research on effective teaching, learning and assessment.  They make the purposes of lessons clear and work with students to set learning goals that are worthwhile and present a challenge to students.  Students are encouraged to evaluate their own work and that of their peers. 

Classroom teachers use achievement information well to identify academic strengths and areas of difficulty in learning, and to inform their programme planning.  Instructional programmes cater well for the variety of students’ learning needs.  A particular feature of the campus is the ongoing strength of the Diverse Learning Programme, which is available to all students and offers a range of learning support programmes, including a gifted and talented programme.  Students are valued as learners and their progress is carefully monitored.  Students’ work in all curriculum areas is attractively displayed in all classrooms so that students can reflect on their achievements and consider what they might do differently next time.  These good practices help students to achieve well.   

Teachers have positive interactions with students and relationships are mutually courteous and supportive.  Students are on task and are keen to engage in class discussions and activities. 

Patriotism and loyalty

The Northland Education Trust fosters patriotism and loyalty throughout the school.  This is evident in the Westmount School’s philosophy, which promotes values and dispositions that enable students to become capable and loyal New Zealand citizens.  Students benefit from well structured programmes that include ecological sustainability and reflect New Zealand’s dual heritage.  The values of the New Zealand Curriculum are incorporated into school values and are made explicit in lesson planning.  Teachers make good use of New Zealand texts to illustrate curriculum. 

4 Conclusion

Westmount Kerikeri Campus is deemed to be efficient, as defined within section 35A of the Education Act 1989.  It complies with all components of its suitability statement and continues to provide high standards of education and care for students.

ERO is likely to review the school again as part of the regular review cycle 

Dr Graham Stoop
Chief Review Officer

7 July 2009

About the School

Location

Kerikeri, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

99276

School type

Private School - Composite (Year 1-15)

Decile rating

8

Numbers of teachers

14

School roll

118

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 100%

Gender composition

Girls 53%, Boys 47%

Review team on site

May 2009

Date of this report

7 July 2009

Previous ERO report

Private School Review, June 2006