Feedback from School Leaders

Roseneath School

“It has been an approach that fits in with our school… collaborative, and one formed around relational trust and building a relationship with an evaluator. As a Board we’re looking for the value of the process and understanding … and looking to really improve our practice and the outcomes for our students.” – David Cooling of Roseneath School offers a Board Chair’s perspective on the new evaluation approach.

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Melville Primary School

“I’ve been through quite a few ERO processes in the past and found them quite daunting. I actually enjoy the days that ERO visits (now), and I enjoy someone helping me to think indepth about what’s happening for us and our students, and our achievements.” – Melville Primary School Principal Bronwyn Haitana, whose school has been introduced to the new evaluation approach.  

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Bayfield High School

“Relax. It IS different. Go into it with an open mindset. Don’t expect it to be adversarial. Make the most of it.” Mark Jones, Principal of Bayfield High School in Dunedin, offers his thoughts on the new evaluation approach. 

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Otahuhu Primary School

Otahuhu Primary School Principal Filivaifale Jason Swann shares his thoughts on the new evaluation approach, and the opportunity it offers for ERO and schools to learn alongside each other and build relationships of trust.

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Talofa lava.

Talofa lava.

Filivaifale Jason Swann, Otahuhu Primary Principal, it’s really good to meet with you today.

Thank you for having me.

You've come in at a time where ERO’s is going through a change in methodology, so talk to me a little bit about where that sits with you and how you're finding that.

I think it's a really good move, in the sense that it's a chance for the Education Review Office to walk alongside schools.

So in the past, you tend to get an education review and it's sort of a one-off visit.

And so you get a snapshot of a school, and you do get a very good snapshot, but in the new methodology you're able to actually walk alongside a school over a number of years.

So you get to build up relationships.

You get to build up the educational capacity of each other within your own schools.

So the education review people will learn quite an, and I hope, a real deep knowledge about the school.

And you'll build those relationships and be able to share, particularly around relational trust.

So with our Pacifica people, we call it the ‘’, the space between us.

So if the space between us as a really good space and a trusting space, we hopefully are able to do a lot better things than just a one off visit.

Also over the course of a new methodology, you hopefully will be able to learn alongside each other. So you know, for me, going into schools over time,

I'm hoping that I'll be able to learn in depth who they are, what they are about, how the Community works, what are their aspirations? What inspires them to do wonderful things, rather than just a one off visit.

I think it's a very exciting proposition.

What made you want to become a leadership partner for the Education Review Office?

I think firstly it’s umm.. probably quite a fascinating position to be in, in the sense that you get a chance to look at the education system from a different viewpoint.

So, for principals of the schools you get the chance to be part of an education review program as a principal and as a school.

But to be able to actually go into other schools and be part of it from a review point of view, and also have the privilege of going into other schools and being able to see what they're doing and how they're doing it, is a really unique opportunity.

That’s awesome.

So tell us you've how long you've been in it and what your experiences have been so far.

I think it's probably been about 16 months at the moment.

Initially when we did the induction and we had professional development around, you know, knowledge, processes, how things work, that was really, really invigorating.

And also just to be able to see how, how reviews are sort of done, and the sense of how you approach schools., what you do, what you're looking for, has been really good professional development for me as a principal.

And also I'm having a unique position of being able to mentor other principals, so I'm able to share that information, particularly around evaluation, and hopefully that improves schools and overall improves the system, the education system.

And coming back into your school, how has that helped you?

Are there any benefits?

Yeah, it's been really beneficial for us as a school, not only from the board level.

I'm able to talk to the board about what I'm learning, and to make sure that you know the systems and procedures and how we do things. You know it enhances that.

But once you talk with the board and let them know you know what I'm learning, go through to the staff, and then hopefully it has a real positive effect on our programs and our delivery.

And also building the capability and capacity of our staff so that our students ultimately are getting a really good deal.

What message would you give other principals thinking about going into this leadership partnership?

I would be very, very encouraging. I think principals day to day lives are really really busy, but for me it's been quite an inspiring time, in the sense that not only do you find, and it is a real privilege to go into schools, so I don't take that lightly.

To be able to walk into someone else's school and listen to their story and learn from them, you know, is a real privilege.

But also the fact that all the professional development that you get through the Education Review Office, induction and program and ongoing professional development.

You don't often get opportunities like that and all the opportunities that you get in the program can come back to school, and it can enhance what you're doing at school.

 

Hillcrest High School

ERO hosted Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti on a recent visit to Hillcrest High School, where Principal Kelvin Whiting and his ERO Evaluation Partner Neil Harray shared their thoughts on the new approach to school evaluations.

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I’ve been principal here for coming on 18 years, and in the teaching service for 40 now.

And, as you can imagine, being through a number of reviews over that time..

And the… you know, the pattern that happened was that we would be reviewed every, sort of, three, four, five years, whatever the cycle was determined by the, sort of, quality of the review really..

The reviews could sometimes be quite tough going.

And you had to sort of get all your ducks in a row, and make sure that everything was presented.

And you’d go to the meetings and find out what was needed, and you get all that organised, and so on.

So, up until the 2018 review we hadn’t been reviewed for five years, so we got a five year one, which we're very happy about, thinking.

But in hindsight though, I think that five years was probably a bit too long, because you tend to just sort of lose track with that ERO focus if you like.

And so, when we reviewed in 2018, the team came in and we did a lot of work in preparation for it and we ended up by getting, I think, a pretty good review, to be honest, I think that it highlighted the things that we needed to do better, and it highlighted those things that we'd done really well, which we're really pleased with.. I think that the review was very…

I think they were pretty tough on us in some respects, in terms of what they were demanding from us, in terms of information and so on, but I think they were very fair. Which we really liked.

And I remember at the end of the review talking to. Fiona, who is review team leader, and talking to her about that, and. I decided to send an email off, to you Nick.

And it was a complementary one about the way the review had been and what we learned from it, and so on.

And we really learnt quite a bit about our school, but it also gave us ideas about how we could improve in the future.. Particularly around the disparities that we had within our school.

The new approach, developing that relationship and developing that partnership and it being ongoing, there's a lot more benefit to the school.

I think, is that it's a much more positive way of working, and it's developing a relationship.

It's around building that trust and that partnership up because what we want is what all schools want: is to do our job better.

So you were quite weary?

Yeah, yeah. I'll say that honestly

I think it just took a bit of time to have the trust in Neil, because we’re used to ERO, you know, coming in and doing their thing and disappearing.

So we needed a bit of time to actually uhh, “Is Neil actually going to work with us?” so I think this enables both parties to have a, an honest conversation about what's happening.

Sometimes we think, actually that ERO came and did all of this work, but there was this focus on just this one part, and they don't tell us all the great things that are featured.

So here we are hoping that, actually he sees the whole thing, and he gives us advice and we can use the tools or best practice from other places to make our place better for our kids.

And that's, that’s what we're looking for.

I certainly felt that pressure, and while we had an existing relationship, I knew that I had to, to win over the trust.

And Dan's perceptive questions about whether this is really going to be a change or not was awesome.

And I've said to a few people, in the first phase of the new model: this is, this school, this leadership team, was the hardest one for me to, to really work through and establish that relationship..

But it was awesome, and I think we're way better off because of going through that.

And it’s awesome too, because you’re making sure, as Sarah said, you know, sort of sussing me out and making sure we can deliver what we're promising, and that we're living up to the expectations of the new model that’s identified through Nick and the task force and our collective vision.

I think what, what I expect is more collaboration and more ongoing learning from each other.

This sharing of knowledge and then this this… taking it more to a level of equals.

Equal experts talking to equal experts rather than…

What sometimes in the past used to happen. Yeah, yeah.