Westown School - 07/12/2017

School Context

Westown School, New Plymouth caters for 144 students, comprising mainly Māori (40%) and Pākehā (47%) students. There are a number of English language learners and students from other ethnic groupings. Roll numbers have decreased over time.

The CARE values of confidence, achievement, respect, and enthusiasm guide interactions to promote a positive school culture.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in relation to standardised assessments

  • interventions for at risk learners.

A new principal was appointed in Term 2, 2017. Most trustees were new to the governance role in 2016. Some staff and families have long associations with the school.

A range of professional learning and development (PLD) opportunities contribute to curriculum approaches. These include Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L), Incredible Years, Accelerating Learning in Mathematics and in Literacy (ALIM, ALL), and a local Māori achievement cluster (MAC).

A number of external educational agencies operate on the school site.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

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

The school is developing its practices and systems for promoting equitable and excellent outcomes for learners.

Data shows that over time approximately two thirds of students achieve at or above expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2016, there was an overall improvement in mathematics achievement following implementation of strategies for engagement and achievement through ALIM, teacher inquiry and focused use of learning strategies.

The pattern of achievement for Māori students is similar to that of their peers in the school. Leaders recognise that they have yet to get these students, as a group, achieving as well as others in schoolwide assessments.

Boys as a group continue to achieve significantly less well than girls in literacy.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

School assessment data shows improved outcomes and accelerated learning for some individual students. There is limited evidence of accelerated learning for groups of learners.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

A sustained focus on supporting student engagement through the CARE values and PB4L practices is evident. Students are well engaged and positively participate in learning. They show enthusiasm and enjoyment, and benefit from clear expectations for positive behaviour. Established routines support engagement and independence. Classrooms are stimulating and well-organised learning environments. Students are well supported to collaborate and discuss their learning with others.

There is a clear focus on improving outcomes for Māori through leaders’ involvement in the MAC and opportunities for teachers’ learning and development. The school engages with iwi and external expertise to strengthen te ao Māori within the curriculum. This provides opportunities for Māori students to develop leadership and knowledge of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

Curriculum and achievement plans have been developed for students at risk in their learning and for those with additional learning needs. A range of interventions and support are in place for these students. Teachers work alongside staff and external agencies to provide children with access to the curriculum and to foster their meaningful involvement in classroom programmes.

Leaders and teachers are building collaborative and cohesive practice. They regularly review achievement and progress, and share strategies for promoting learning. PLD is aligned to priorities. Teacher inquiries provide opportunities to reflect on practice and develop some new approaches. Senior leaders are establishing direction, processes and systems to promote improvement. There are useful guidelines for teachers new to the school.

There is an increased focus on promoting success for students at risk in their learning through improved assessment practices and systems. Increased tracking and monitoring of achievement and interventions provides a forum for teachers to share and discuss students’ progress and learning. Regular analysis of assessment information helps teachers to identify strengths and areas for improvement to modify their programmes and set achievement targets.

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

Further review and development of the curriculum is required to better reflect community aspirations and provide clear expectations for effective teaching practice. Aspects to strengthen include:

  • integration of the New Zealand Curriculum principles, particularly Te Tiriti o Waitangi, coherence, and learning to learn

  • reflections of the local context, and of students’ cultures, languages and identities

  • expectations for the success of Māori, as Māori

  • clear guidelines for each learning area aligned to the vision, principles and values.

The school recognises the need to further develop relationships with whānau Māori to support meaningful engagement and participation in curriculum and learning. Establishing a clear, shared vision for the success of Māori as Māori should guide ongoing development.

The school has recently improved identification of students at risk of not achieving and tracking of their progress. This should help staff to better determine students’ specific learning needs and target teaching for accelerated progress. Next steps are to: develop a shared understanding of accelerated progress; improve processes to measure the effectiveness of interventions and strategies in achieving desired outcomes; and report regularly to the board in relation to targets for acceleration.

The school has identified the need to review the usefulness of current assessment tools. Clear systems for internal and external moderation of teachers’ assessments of achievement and progress should improve the robustness of practice.

The new leadership team works collaboratively to identify areas of strength and for improvement. They recognise the need to establish clear expectations for roles and responsibilities and build their own capability. Priorities are to establish systems to support teacher practice and lead improvement; and to develop and implement a robust process for teacher appraisal.

The school is in the early stages of developing inquiry and internal evaluation. Consultation and surveys have been undertaken with community groups to inform direction setting and improvement. Further development of a shared understanding and a clear process for internal evaluation at all levels of the school should strengthen inquiry, decision making and improvement.

New members of the board of trustees should continue to access support to develop understanding of effective practice for undertaking their roles and responsibilities.

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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to:

  • appraisal of the principal

  • consultation and development of the health curriculum

  • review and development of policies and procedures.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • annually assess the principal against all the professional standards for principals
    [New Zealand Education Gazette; and relevant employment agreement]
  • comply with the requirement to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community.
    [Section 60B Education Act 1989]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure teacher appraisal is rigorous and well implemented

  • undertake regular review and development of policies and procedures.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a clear focus on improving outcomes for Māori that provides opportunities for students to be successful

  • clear expectations that promote students’ positive participation and engagement in learning

  • collaboration between leaders and teachers to build effective and cohesive practice.

Next steps

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

  • curriculum development and review, to support engagement and respond more effectively to the needs, interests and strengths of students

  • promoting educationally powerful connections and partnerships within the school and with the wider community

  • developing leaders’ and teachers’ capacity for sustained improvement of teaching and learning, including through internal evaluation processes and practices

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning, ensuring there is a clear focus and aligned processes to promote success for students at risk in their learning. [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school]

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

7 December 2017

About the school


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 56%, Male 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori 40%
Pākehā 46%
Pacific 8%
Asian 6%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

7 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2014
Education Review November 2011
Education Review November 2009