Willow Park School - 25/01/2012

1 Context

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

Willow Park School, in Hillcrest, Auckland, is a primary school with a strong tradition of high quality teaching and a history of positive ERO reports. The school’s charter reflects the aspirations and values of the community, who are actively involved in developing the vision, mission and values of the school.

Student learning is at the heart of school operations. The school’s vision statement 'Inquire together, inspire forever' reflects the school-wide focus on inquiry as a tool for building knowledge and promoting valued student outcomes. The school is an authorised International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school and teaches The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) through a programme of inquiry thinking and strategies. This approach supports students from their early years to become confident, inquiring learners.

Reflective practices at board, school leader and teacher levels are evident. Good governance ensures the provision of effective student learning programmes. Decision making is focused on improving achievement for all students. Teachers review their teaching practices and classroom programmes so that they target identified gaps in students’ learning and build on their existing strengths.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are actively engaged in their learning and generally progress and achieve very well. They show enthusiasm for their learning and take pride in their achievements. Students reflect on their learning and have opportunities to follow both independent and collaborative learning pathways with teacher support and guidance.

Teachers use relevant assessment information to identify students’ strengths and learning capabilities and base teaching decisions on this information. They cater effectively for the learning needs of the small number of students who achieve below National Standards. School leaders provide appropriate resources and professional learning to help teachers to personalise students’ learning. Teachers discuss achievement information in depth and explore ways to modify their teaching so that it best meets students’ learning requirements. School leaders have identified the need to continue to focus closely on lifting the rate of progress of students who are achieving below or well below expectations.

The school’s culture is one of inclusion. Teachers recognise and respond to the diversity of learners, providing programmes of support for targeted students. Children’s progress is monitored and interventions are modified as students develop and make progress. Students whose first language is not English are supported by carefully planned and evaluated programmes.

Parents receive useful information about how their children are progressing. Reports to parents show how students are achieving in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement in the PYP programme of inquiry is also reported. Reports include students’ next learning steps and ways in which parents can help at home.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Māori students comprise ten percent of the school roll. The board is assured through regular reports that Māori students are engaging, progressing and achieving. The school’s information indicates that levels of achievement for Māori students are similar to the high achievement levels of other students. Leaders and trustees have a good understanding of the importance of Māori students achieving well and experiencing success as Māori. Teachers are increasingly providing opportunities for Māori students to take leadership roles and to share experiences that reflect the Māori world (te ao Māori).

ERO, the board and leadership team agree that the school could further develop relationships with Māori families so that their cultural knowledge, experiences and skills can be used to build on students’ knowledge and skills.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s well designed curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Curriculum review is ongoing, ensuring that classroom programmes are relevant and motivate and challenge students in their learning. The curriculum is dynamic and responds to students’ learning strengths, needs and interests.

The curriculum reflects the school’s vision and strategic direction. It is relevant and future-focused. The New Zealand Curriculum and the IB PYP programme of inquiry are effectively integrated to ensure progression in learning through learning areas and at each year level.

Students’ questions and ideas drive the curriculum lines of inquiry, promote high levels of engagement and encourage social action. Parents and the local community join the school in celebrating student successes and are seen as valuable resources to enrich learning for all students.

School leaders actively encourage and support the development of innovative teaching practices. Teachers learn from each other and refine their teaching strategies through a considered programme of professional learning and development.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Willow Park School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Governance and management is highly effective. The board of trustees, principal and staff work with a common purpose. Self review is integral to the functioning of the school at all levels. The board and school leaders use review information to determine areas of focus and development in the school and to monitor the progress and success of initiatives already in place.

The board is knowledgeable about the school and educational issues and understands its governance role well. Together with the principal, staff and community, trustees have developed a charter and direction for the school that is focused on enabling all students to grow and succeed as inquiring learners. The board makes informed decisions and sets targets for ongoing improvement based on high quality information about patterns of student progress and achievement.

The capable principal and leadership team promote highly effective teaching and learning practices across the school. Teachers are reflective and seek ways to refine teaching practices so that they encourage students’ understanding and ownership of their learning.

The school’s high quality student learning is likely to be sustained and extended by the board, senior staff and teachers:

  • building on students’ cultural knowledge, experiences and capabilities to enrich the learning of all students
  • continuing to develop the school’s inclusive culture, in which the input of students, staff, parents and whānau are sought and valued.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

25 January 2012

About the School


Hillcrest, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)



School roll


Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā







Middle Eastern

other Asian

other European











Review team on site

November 2011

Date of this report

25 January 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

September 2008

June 2005

November 2001