Westmount School - Wellington Campus - 24/01/2013

Findings

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Westmount School, Wellington Campus meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

1 Background

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

ERO reviews of private schools are significantly different in process and more limited in scope and reporting than those for state and state-integrated schools, focusing as they do on the Criteria for Registration set out in section 35C of the Education Act. 

Section 35I of the Education Act 1989 requires the Education Review Office (ERO) to review private schools and to report to the Ministry of Education on whether each school continues to meet the criteria for registration.  The schools are privately owned and the legislative requirements are significantly different to those for state and state-integrated schools.  Private schools are not required to follow the National Education Goals or National Administration Guidelines.

What does apply in place of the legislation imposed upon state schools by the Education Act is the contract between the persons paying for the tuition of the child at the school – the parents – and the school authority.  Those are matters between the parent and the school’s governing body.  More information about ERO reviews of private schools can be found on ERO’s website www.ero.govt.nz/Reviews-Process.

The criteria for registration are that the school:

a) has premises that are suitable, as described in section 35D;

b) usually provides tuition for 9 or more students who are of or over the age of 5 years but are under the age of 16 years;

c) has staffing that is suitable to the age range and level of its students, the curriculum taught at the school, and the size of the school;

d) has equipment that is suitable for the curriculum being delivered or to be delivered at the school;

e) has a curriculum for teaching, learning, and assessment and makes details of the curriculum and its programme for delivery available for parents;

f) has suitable tuition standards, as described in section 35F;

g) has managers who are fit and proper persons (as described in section 35G) to be managers of a private school.

In 2004, the Westmount School National Trust (National Trust), based in Auckland, established ten educational sites around New Zealand, including one in Palmerston North, to develop learning environments conducive to Brethren philosophy. In 2007, Westmount School had a roll of 1375 students in 15 campuses. The educational content is based on The New Zealand Curriculum under the direction of the National Trust. 

The National Trust and local trusts govern all campuses. The National Trust sets direction and writes policies and procedures for local trusts to follow. A national principal provides overall educational leadership.  Each campus has a chief executive officer, local trustees and a campus coordinator (leader of teaching and learning). Heads of Department are spread throughout the campuses, as are teachers in charge of subjects. They communicate regularly, using video-conferencing facilities.  Maintaining communication between staff in the school settings is seen as one of the ongoing challenges of the National Trust.

Since the 2009 ERO review of Westmount School Wellington Campus, all areas identified for improvement have been the subject of in-depth self review and outcomes have been successfully implemented. Self-review processes since 2011 have included key evaluation questions and indicators for success. As an outcome student achievement and teaching effectiveness have been greatly improved. A focus on improving behaviour has been successful. Teachers are able to focus on learning and teaching rather than on behaviour management.

Other changes include the reorganisation and rationalisation of school buildings. 

2 Criteria for Registration

Suitable premises and equipment

Trustees take all reasonable steps to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and staff in compliance with any applicable legislation, regulation or codes of practice, especially in the Health and Safety Amendment Act 2002. Guided by national Westmount policies, trustees work to ensure safety is maintained.

School grounds and buildings are clean, well maintained, tidy, attractive and inviting. Classrooms are comfortable and safe. A good range of equipment is available, encouraging positive playground interactions.

Resources and facilities support the effective delivery of the curriculum. Trustees are committed to providing a wide range of hands-on resources to enhance student learning. These resources are regularly and well maintained.

Since ERO's 2009 report, reorganisation and rationalisation of the main block has occurred. This has involved a larger learning-centre, relocating and providing more up-to-date books for the library and an increased computer infrastructure for better support for inquiry learning.

Suitable staffing

Trustees aim to recruit experienced, high quality staff. All teachers are fully registered. Appropriate procedures are in place to enable trustees to appoint the best person for the job. Staff are committed to the Brethren philosophy.

The campus coordinator is an effective leader. Systems and processes for day-to-day operations have been modified and as a result there is more buy in from staff. The school tone is settled, with a focus on improving outcomes for student learning. Improved community partnership has prepared the platform for developing a culture of excellence. 

Staff performance is monitored and guided by a rigorous and robust appraisal process. Goal-setting is linked to professional development and teachers are becoming increasingly reflective about their classroom practice. Systems are now used to improve the quality of planning and teaching where the need is identified. Teachers receive affirmation of good practice and clearly defined next steps for improvement.

While campus coordinators have opportunities to meet professionally through video conferencing, a sense of isolation in their roles is evident. A platform where they can share good practice in
face-to-face meetings would support their professional development.

Regular opportunities for schoolwide professional development continue to be built into the annual development opportunities for teachers. Recent professional development has supported teachers to empower students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Suitable curriculum

Westmount School Wellington Campus is meeting its obligations under section 35A of the Education Act 1989 to provide a suitable curriculum and tuition.

Teaching is clearly based on The New Zealand Curriculum. Programmes are adapted and modified to reflect the Brethren ethos. In Years 3 to 8, nationally referenced tests are undertaken in literacy and numeracy, according to the school’s revised assessment schedule. Data indicates that overall, student achievement is improving.

Westmount School planning documents provide sound guidelines for teachers. Classroom planning is of good quality and it is regularly monitored by the campus coordinator and the junior-school lead teacher.

Achievement data is available to track the progress of Year 9 and 10 students. There is now strong evidence to show that teachers are using student achievement data to differentiate classroom planning. Achievement information identifies students who require additional support. Programmes to assist these students are planned and implemented and progress monitored.

Teachers place an increasing emphasis on each student reaching his or her potential, teaching them how to learn, providing a well-rounded education and preparing them for a way of life governed by Christian principles. This is focused on achieving personal excellence.

At the secondary level, the curriculum is linked appropriately to the National Qualifications Framework and follows the national Westmount Trust structure. Across the Wellington Westmount Campus, 100% of students gained 2011 NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3. This is higher than levels for all New Zealand schools. The school is on track to achieve 100% this year (2012) in university entrance. A considerable improvement on the 2009 achievement levels is evident.

Collated and analysed data is well reported by the campus coordinator and curriculum leaders to trustees. This enables them to make informed choices about resourcing and staffing. The board of trustees is efficiently led by a knowledgeable chief executive officer. Effective relationships and communication processes have resulted in strong partnerships between trustees and the campus coordinator.

Suitable tuition

Teachers now use a good range of effective teaching strategies. They focus on practical ways to raise student interest and as a result student engagement has increased.

Teachers are successfully increasing student voice and promoting self-directed learning through their teaching strategies. Informative junior school student portfolios are used in conferences between parents, students and teachers twice a year. Students share their learning with parents and demonstrate how they are improving.

Students have authentic opportunities to assume leadership, such as participation in the student council and mentoring and assisting junior school students as a Year 13 prefect responsibility. Regular school assemblies promote and affirm the increasing role students have in managing their own learning and celebrating success.

Attractive classroom environments support learning and promote belonging. The provision of an appropriate te reo Māori perspective is encouraged where possible. Some te reo Māori is now used by teachers and environments reflect Māori content.

Across the campus students work cooperatively, supporting each other in their learning. Teachers actively promote the values of the Westmount Wellington Campus. They encourage and provide opportunities for students to show and practise respect for each other, take ownership of behaviour, to be accountable and responsible. Relationships are positive across the school.

In junior rooms, the quality of classroom teaching is now more consistent. Students are engaged in their work. They regularly contribute to high quality learning conversations and bookwork shows increased evidence of written feedback to identify achievement and next steps for development. There is a clear focus on learning.

The campus has refined systems for identifying students with special needs and abilities. Students with learning needs receive targeted assistance. Individual education plans are prepared for those with higher learning needs. Staff have identified a need to strengthen provision for gifted and talented students.

Teaching through video conferencing is an integral part of the total Westmount academic programme. Through this medium students have access to a range of courses that may not otherwise be available. Westmount Wellington organises video conferencing classes well. Lessons are closely supervised by the learning centre manager and the campus coordinator and linked to students’ independent learning-centre activities. As a result independent study has more purpose and meaning than previously.

3 Other Statutory Obligations

There are good systems in place for the school’s managing body to be assured that its other statutory obligations are met.

4 Conclusion

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Westmount School, Wellington Campus meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989. 

Joyce Gebbie
National Manager Review Services
Central Region (Acting)

24 January 2013

About the School 

Location

Johnsonville, Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

99273

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

99

Gender composition

Male 53, Female 46

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

100%

Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

24 January 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Private School Review
Private School Review

September 2009
July 2006