Wilson School - 06/07/2015


Leaders and staff at Wilson School have high expectations that students with significant needs can learn and make progress. Collaborative approaches with staff and specialists ensure learning programmes are meaningful and appropriate for each individual student. Ongoing improvements through self review and project inquiries will continue to improve outcomes for students.

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?

Wilson School provides education and therapy programmes for students from five to twenty-one years of age. Students have complex learning needs, physical disabilities, and high health needs. All students are funded by the Ministry of Education Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS).

The base school is located in the grounds of the Wilson Home Trust Takapuna, Auckland with eight satellite classes in four North Shore schools. Satellite class teachers are an integral part of the base school’s community, professional learning and ongoing review. The school provides an outreach service to support ORS students who are in the mainstream and whose school has chosen to use the Specialist Teacher Outreach Service. The outreach teachers work with student, teacher and teacher aide.

Since the 2011 ERO review, significant roll growth is impacting on property, space and resourcing at both the base school and in satellite classes. Plans are underway to create a further double satellite at an additional North Shore school to address this roll growth. The board, principal and school leaders are effectively managing these challenges with the support of the Ministry of Education. The school roll is 52% New Zealand European/Pākehā and 10% identify with Māori heritage. It has a growing number of Korean and Indian students and the rest of the students identify with at least 10 other ethnicities.

The school’s mission and vision encapsulates the school’s purpose and provides a strong foundation for its operation. The vision captures the notion of excellence in the field of special education. School practices and programmes reflect this vision very well.

The school’s culture is one where students, staff, therapists and other specialists work collaboratively to ensure students achieve the best they can physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially in preparation for their adult lives.

ERO’s 2011 report identified high quality respectful interactions between adults and students. It also noted the strong cohesive leadership supporting clearly defined curriculum and pastoral responsibilities. These strengths continue as specific features of this school context. Leaders have improved assessment practices and plan further bi-cultural development work this year.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information effectively to foster students’ engagement, progress and achievement. School leaders and staff are strong advocates for student wellbeing and progress. They share the belief that all students can experience success. They can show that each student is making progress in relation to the school’s assessment indicators. These indicators include a range of tailored assessments, key competency, and curriculum and therapy assessments.

Student achievement is celebrated in the school. Through a collaborative team approach, teachers, therapists and specialists use a variety of well moderated assessment processes to identify these achievements and to track student progress. Relevant planned sequences of learning support this monitoring process. Achievement decisions take into account multiple pieces of information.

Learning for all students is guided and closely monitored by goals set in individual education plans (IEPs). These appropriate goals reflecting students’ abilities and their developmental and social needs are developed collaboratively between teachers, specialists and parents/whānau and caregivers. Increasing student involvement in this goal-setting process, for students who are able to take an active part in this, is a suggested next step for the school.

Parents/whānau and caregivers are involved in their child’s learning. Beyond their involvement in IEPs, the use of daily notebooks enhances home and school communication. As the school continues to develop its information and communication technologies (ICT), it should be even better placed to create a richer partnership with parents/whānau and caregivers, and increase their contribution to their child’s learning.

Progress and achievement information is formally reported to parents twice a year in relation to their children’s IEP goals. Further opportunities are available for parents to attend meetings midyear to discuss progress. Reporting includes achievement in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies. Narrative assessments also align students’ learning within some areas of the NZC.

In 2014, targets were developed for an identified group of students experiencing complex learning difficulties and disabilities. Through careful analysis and observations, senior leaders identified a need to focus on play and engagement. They have since developed a play assessment tool, as part of the Early Learning Programme, for trialling, planning and monitoring the progress of these students. Positive progress outcomes for these students were identified and new targets set for 2015.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Programmes arise from senior leaders’ fine-grained analysis of data and their extensive inquiries into student’s needs and interests. Leaders guide teachers to seamlessly integrate IEP goals into a range of curriculum key competencies.

A strong emphasis placed on communication in the curriculum is well supported by visual aids, ICT and specialist programmes. Students experience a wide variety of programmes including early learning programmes, adapted literacy programmes, therapy and education outside the classroom. Extensive external agencies and networks support students’ health and wellbeing.

A transdisciplinary approach helps the school provide an effective curriculum. The collaboration between teachers, teacher aides, therapists and school leaders results in a calm atmosphere in which students have space and time to engage and learn at their own pace. Responsive teaching practices and a strong element of professional care promote student learning.

Base school provides students with well equipped and resourced classrooms complemented by attractive and purposeful play areas. Students have opportunities for physical, sensory and interactive exploration. Satellite classes and teachers benefit from host school environments. Students have opportunities to socialise and learn alongside mainstream students.

Transition processes are thoughtfully considered and sensitively managed throughout each student’s pathway to, within and from the school. The transition for older students preparing for their adult lives is focused on building life and community skills.

The board and principal acknowledge that a review of te ao Māori within the school’s curriculum could help support the school’s bicultural developments. It could continue to strengthen how the school uses culturally responsive approaches in leading, teaching and learning.

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

Wilson School has developed a few distinctive strategies to promote educational success for Māori as Māori. The school has nine Māori students. All students have access to Takapuna Grammar’s kapahaka group which practices at Wilson School, and the base school students perform a welcome for visitors. Students, particularly, in satellite settings, take an active part in a variety of bi-cultural activities.

The school reflects the Treaty of Waitangi by valuing the unique position of Māori in the community. It has undertaken a cultural survey. As a result of a 2014 survey the school’s strategic plan now identifies the need to provide further staff development on Māori protocols. The board and principal agree there would be value in using Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education strategy for educational success as Māori, as part of their future strategic planning and bi-cultural development.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Wilson School is well placed to sustain and build on improvements made over the last four years.

The principal’s dedication to special education and high levels of professional leadership ensure that the school’s vision is promoted within the school and the wider community. She participates in and shares her knowledge and experience with local and global education networks.

The senior leadership team are reflective and innovative. Through their collaborative approaches they ensure learning programmes are meaningful and appropriate for each individual student. New leaders undertake their roles with enthusiasm. They report regularly to the board about curriculum developments and teaching and learning initiatives. Including a greater focus on outcomes for students in these reports would support board decision making.

Trustees bring an extensive range of expertise to their board roles. They are strong advocates for students and parents. Trustees are very supportive of the principal and value the work of teachers and support staff. Together, trustees and staff are highly focused on the challenges of securing appropriate buildings for a rapidly growing school population.

The school’s goals are defined under seven strategic pillars aligned to specific actions in the annual plan. A greater outcomes focus in strategic and annual planning, and enhanced self review against these outcomes is now recommended.

The board agrees to take steps to ensure ongoing improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency in board roles. These steps could include trustee induction and ongoing training to ensure that the board is meeting the full range of its responsibilities. The board should ensure that performance agreements are completed for all senior leaders.

The board agrees that continuing to build evaluative capability and capacity with all staff should help to further sustain and embed school improvement.

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.


Leaders and staff at Wilson School have high expectations that students with significant needs can learn and make progress. Collaborative approaches with staff and specialists ensure learning programmes are meaningful and appropriate for each individual student. Ongoing improvements through self review and project inquiries will continue to improve outcomes for students.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

6 July 2015

About the School


Takapuna, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Special School

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 67

Girls 24

Ethnic composition






other European

other Asian










Special Features

8 satellite classes in local primary, junior high and secondary schools

Outreach service for selected ORS funded students in mainstream schools

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

6 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2011

January 2008

May 2005