Birkdale North School

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

School Context

Birkdale North School is a small primary school on Auckland’s North Shore. It has a roll of 200 students across Years 1 to 6, including 20 percent who are Māori. Students learn in mixed-age classes. The school’s charter highlights forward thinking to achieve valued outcomes for all students. Values of respect, integrity, perseverance and empathy are esteemed. Leaders plan to review the charter and curriculum in 2019 to reflect and promote the cultures and aspirations of all the school’s diverse communities.

A new class, Ngā Muka, was established in 2016 to provide a whānau-style approach for students in Years 4 to 6 who wish to learn within a Māori kaupapa. A Level 4 te reo Māori component is woven through this programme. Some classes provide a programme of teaching and learning solely using the French language for three days per week. Two satellite classes from Wairau Special School are well established. The school continues to host international students.

Since the 2014 ERO review, there has been significant turnover of board chairpersons. The established principal resigned and an acting principal has managed the school during this period. A new board chairperson and principal were appointed just prior to this ERO review. The deputy principal brings continuity as a longstanding leader.

As a result of this extended time of change, the next steps identified in ERO’s 2014 report continue to be a focus for improvement. The school continues to engage with Ministry of Education advisers and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) to support change and improvement.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics achievement

  • special needs and support programmes

  • student wellbeing surveys.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

The school is achieving good outcomes for many students. Achievement data for Year 6 leavers show that most achieve at expected curriculum levels in reading and mathematics. A smaller majority achieve appropriately in writing. There are varied approaches to supporting these learners to develop English and to achieve successfully in the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

The school is not yet achieving equitable outcomes for all its students. While there has been some reduction in disparity, more can now be done to support parity for Māori and Pacific students. An historic gender disparity in literacy achievement continues to be a challenge.

There is variability across the school in students’ access to classroom resources, including digital learning resources. Opportunities for children to participate in planned excursions and trips have not always been equitable.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The deputy principal works diligently to identify those individuals requiring additional support and implements withdrawal support programmes where possible. Participation and progress is thoroughly tracked. However, disparity is not yet being addressed in a planned, purposeful and cohesive way. Some classroom programmes are not sufficiently individualised or responsive, to accelerate learning.

Māori and Pacific students are most likely to appear in the group of students requiring additional learning support, particularly in literacy. School targets focus on all student groups but do not yet identify specific actions that would promote accelerated learning for those who need it the most.

A recent focus on enhancing the teaching of writing has impacted positively on students’ interest and enjoyment. Progress is evident for Māori learners. Leaders appreciate that further work should build on and embed this foundation so that classroom teaching becomes targeted, differentiated and deliberate. This focus should support boys, Pacific learners and Māori to achieve equity with their peers.

The school has a variety of approaches to supporting students to engage in the curriculum and learn English. Students who are learning English as an additional language participate in a withdrawal programme. Some are in mainstream classes where English is integrated through learning. Others are in classes where they learn solely through the medium of French three days per week and use English only on two days. Evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of these different models would be worthwhile.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

Classes are settled, with a positive tone. Children have a keenness to learn and to explore. They are capable, confident and articulate. Children feel a strong sense of belonging and pride in their school, and demonstrate the school values. Collaboration features in the learning approach across the school. Tuakana/teina relationships, evident in older children’s support for their younger peers, are a particular feature of Ngā Muka.

Leaders and teachers have collaborated to analyse data and discuss schoolwide achievement. They have engaged with appropriate professional development to support teachers to enhance teaching and learning in response to the data picture. Teachers are starting to collaborate to share information about teaching and learning techniques that are likely to support progress for students. Their inquiries should now focus on improving outcomes for those students at risk of not achieving.

The new senior leadership team is in a good position to sustain and build on recent improvements. They show great commitment to fostering excellence for all, and to enhancing equity. Parent communities are committed to supporting their children in this journey. All groups are keen to be involved and there is potential for them to share aspects of their cultures and languages to a greater extent. The new leadership team and chairperson are in agreement about instigating greater opportunities for equitable community consultation and decision making for all cultures in 2019, working towards partnership.

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

The new board and principal have identified a number of areas that require attention. They have established appropriate plans to address historical concerns and areas of non-compliance, to improve the quality of teaching and learning, and to assure the board that it is meeting all legal requirements. They have begun working with NZSTA to implement improvements and have further professional development planned for teachers in 2019.

The school’s curriculum needs to reflect a local perspective and the breadth and depth of the NZC. Curriculum review and development should help to provide clarity for teachers, the board and parents about expectations for quality practices and programmes. Bicultural practices and a commitment of the Treaty of Waitangi should be meaningfully embedded and more purposefully woven through learning. More opportunities for the arts, sciences and technologies, including digital technologies, are imperative.

The quality of teaching needs to be more consistent across the school. Differentiated planning, variety and challenge are needed, with opportunities for students to set goals for their learning. School plans include the development of a tier of middle leadership with a mentoring role and greater support for staff who have provisional teaching certificates. For many students, English is not their first language.

Leaders are developing strategic plans to increase the professional capability of teachers to support accelerated learning progress for those students who require this. Goals, targets and specific plans should define the school’s collective responses and prioritise Māori and Pacific learners’ and boys’ achievement. Parents’ aspirations for their children and their support for learning programmes and in the life of the school should be encouraged and incorporated into the school’s overarching response to disparity.

The board is considering ways to work in greater partnership with whānau Māori and Pacific parents to enhance learning and success for their children. Trustees need to review and adapt current approaches to ensure whānau Māori are supported to be equal partners in the life of the school. Building trusting and reciprocal partnerships that invite authentic consultation for all will benefit learners and the local community.

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.

Appraisal audit

School leaders plan to review the performance management system to enhance appraisal processes and reporting. Leaders will seek to develop a more functional, collaborative and coherent appraisal evidence trail. The school’s system for maintaining a register of teacher certification status also needs to be kept updated.

Provision for international students

The school is signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of the review two international students were enrolled. As identified in the 2014 ERO report, while the board is kept informed about the international students and their programme, there is a need to enhance evaluation in order to identify opportunities to strengthen this provision.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to the health curriculum, consultation with the Māori community, and maintenance of records and policies.

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

  1. consult with the school’s Māori community about plans and targets National Administration Guideline 2(d)

  2. consult with the community every two years about the health curriculum Education Act 1989, 60B

  3. ensure that the school maintains up-to-date and accurate records of police vets for applicable non-teaching staff, teacher registration and reporting, and board meetings where the public is excluded.
    Education Act 1989, 78C to 78CD; Vulnerable Children Act 2014; Education Act 1989, part 31; Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, 46-54; Public Records Act 1982

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice the board of trustees should:

  • work with staff and the community to review and refine policies and related procedures, including those related to behaviour management, the restraint and/or seclusion of students, and EOTC (Education Outside the Classroom)

  • ensure the curriculum delivered for all students reflects the principles, and the breadth and depth, of the New Zealand Curriculum

  • provide appropriate programmes of support and guidance to enable provisionally certificated teachers to gain full practising teacher certificates.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • students’ strong sense of pride and connection to the school that supports enthusiasm for learning

  • commitment from parents, staff and trustees that promotes positive outcomes for learners

  • a stable new leadership team with high expectations and clear plans for review and improvement.

Next steps

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

  • reviewing and enhancing the curriculum to provide greater choice and appropriate challenge to support and stretch all students to achieve to their potential

  • enhancing performance management and support so that teaching and learning practices are consistent and align to the school’s vision and expectations

  • reviewing the charter, policy and practices to provide greater equity for Māori and Pacific students and their families and whānau to participate and thrive in a learning partnership.

ERO recommends that the board continues to work with NZSTA in order to bring about improvements so that:

  • trustees develop a clearer understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities, establish systems to ensure all legal requirements are met and regularly evaluate their effectiveness

  • there is greater communication between the board and all its communities, bringing greater equity in consultation, to determine a collective community vision, values and aspirations.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Birkdale North School's performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

28 February 2019

About the school

Location

Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1229

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

200

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 20%
Pākehā 35%
Asian 6%
Samoan 6%
Filipino 5%
Tongan 4%
other European 16%
other ethnic groups 8%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

Yes

Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

28 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2014
Education Review December 2011
Education Review September 2008

Findings

The school provides an inclusive learning environment where children engage through trusting and respectful relationships with each other and with teachers. Student wellbeing, progress and achievement are at the centre of all school decision-making. The school’s strong connection to its community enriches school processes and systems.

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?

Birkdale North School is located on the North Shore of Auckland city. It is a small primary school catering for students from Years 1 to 6. Since the 2011 ERO report a new principal has been appointed and the school charter has been revised.

A culturally diverse range of students attend the school. The roll is growing, particularly at junior level, and in the French immersion classes. The French unit offers an innovative learning approach for students whose families opt for this choice. For two days a week the learning is in English, the other three days in French. The unit’s curriculum is aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum document. Students travel from other parts of Auckland to take part in this programme.

The school has an inclusive culture where children and teachers collaboratively work and learn together. Involvement of families in students’ learning processes is a key priority, actively promoted by the school leadership and the board of trustees. There are two satellite classes of Wairau Valley School. These classes cater for special needs children. The school acts as a community hub and parents report high levels of confidence in teachers’ commitment to their children’s learning.

Positive features highlighted in ERO’s 2011 report have been sustained and school leaders have addressed priorities for development identified in that report. Self-review practices have been strengthened to promote positive outcomes for learners.

2 Learning

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

Birkdale North School leaders and teachers use school achievement information very well to track students’ learning progress. A high proportion of children are achieving at or above the National Standard in writing and mathematics. Currently students experiencing difficulties in reading receive intensive focus to help them to accelerate their progress.

Teachers analyse assessment information carefully to identify children’s learning gaps. This process ensures that individuals and groups of students receive targeted learning support where needed. Teachers regularly share strategies that could influence students’ success. This ongoing professional discussion adds to the quality of overall teaching practice in the school.

Students can talk about some aspects of their learning and teachers should continue to explain to children the significance of taking more responsibility for their learning goals and pathways. Students learn and achieve in a range of curricular opportunities outside the classroom where authentic learning experiences add to their understanding of the locality and region.

3 Curriculum

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

Birkdale North School’s curriculum is well aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). It is a values-based curriculum that encourages positive social development in children. Students have opportunities to contribute to curriculum planning and to follow their learning interests.

The curriculum emphasises the importance of key competencies such as thinking, participating and contributing. The school’s focus on positive relationships underpins all learning experiences. Cooperative and collaborative learning helps to promote children’s well being and their sense of belonging in their class and in the school.

Literacy and mathematics are appropriately prioritised in the curriculum as foundation learning areas. Other NZC learning areas are integrated in inquiry-based programmes which allow students to enjoy choice and ownership of their learning.

High quality professional learning initiatives are a valued and essential part of strategic planning for the school’s development of teaching and learning. The school’s planned e-learning vision is at the implementation stage. This initiative offers students opportunities to use digital technologies to support their learning.

During the course of the review school leaders and ERO discussed the following considerations for the school’s curriculum development:

  • integrating literacy and mathematics programmes more purposefully into the curriculum concept plans
  • reviewing how well learning environments are influencing students’ learning.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori students as Māori, who are the largest ethnic group within the school. The principal models te reo me ōna tikanga Māori and seeks appropriate advice from whānau and iwi. Perspectives and aspirations from the Māori community are formally documented by both the board of trustees and school leaders.

Whānaungatanga, manaakitanga and tuakana teina are examples of embedded Māori values that enhance school processes and strengthen Māori students’ sense of identity in the school. The visible presence of Māori language and culture in the school is affirming Māori students and developing an understanding of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage for all students.

School leaders are committed to developing the use of te reo Māori in class programmes. There is an increasing dimension of Te Ao Māori in the curriculum’s concept plans. Teachers also wish to incorporate an historical understanding of the local area in curriculum programmes.

Māori students are making good progress with their learning. They continue to achieve at a slightly lower level than other students in the school in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. However, this same data set indicates that Māori students at Birkdale North School are achieving at higher levels than other Māori students in the Auckland region and nationally.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain the evident good features and practices and to continue to develop its capability. A purposeful and clear strategic plan is in place to guide the board’s direction for the next three years.

The board of trustees is supportive of school leaders and they work productively together. Trustees bring varied community and business expertise to the governance role. Board resourcing decisions are based on benefitting student learning.

The principal is a strong and effective leader. She is a learner herself who models akonga and works alongside her teachers using a coaching approach. The principal is highly respected by students and the school community.

Working partnerships with parents are developing strongly and help to support their children’s progress. Examples of these are the Mutukaroa initiative, the Pacific Reading Together programme and parents’ involvement in the French unit.

ERO discussed with school leaders and trustees about how progress being made against the school’s strategic and annual planning goals could be documented more clearly.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there was one international student. The board receives regular information about the progress and achievement of international students. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self review processes for international students were satisfactory, but would benefit from some further evaluation.

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.

Conclusion

The school provides an inclusive learning environment where children engage through trusting and respectful relationships with each other and with teachers. Student wellbeing, progress and achievement are at the centre of all school decision-making. The school’s strong connection to its community enriches school processes and systems.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

15 December 2014

About the School

Location

Birkdale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1229

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

158

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Samoan

Tongan

Filipino

other European

other Asian

other Pacific

others

33%

23%

12%

7%

4%

15%

2%

2%

2%

Special Features

Satellite Unit of Wairau Health

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

15 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2011

September 2008

September 2005