Epsom Normal School

Epsom Normal School - 06/12/2018

School Context

Epsom Normal School provides education for 667 students in Years 1 to 6. Māori students and those with Pacific heritage comprise five percent of the roll.

The school is guided by its whakataukī ‘Together we are strong’. This is underpinned by the school’s vision for students to be:

  • nurtured by the community
  • inspired by creativity
  • empowered by strengths
  • responsible global citizens who make a positive difference.

The school’s values promote an inclusive and respectful school community. Students are encouraged to develop a strong sense of belonging while also valuing their diversity, uniqueness and creativity. The school’s strategic goals are to provide:

  • an inclusive learning philosophy and environment
  • a strengths-focused approach to talent development, curriculum design and effective teaching
  • a curriculum that is strongly underpinned by the principles of creativity and critical thinking.

The school sets high achievement targets in reading, writing and mathematics for students, including Māori and Pacific students. Goals are also set for groups of students to exceed expectations in each of these areas.

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

  • academic progress for all groups of students

  • student engagement, wellbeing and attendance

  • student success and participation in sporting and cultural activities

  • progress against the school’s strategic goals.

Strong leadership continues at the school. The new principal, appointed since the 2013 ERO review, has been part of the school’s leadership team for many years. School trustees are relatively new to their roles, and have accessed very good advice and expertise to support them in their governance and stewardship roles.

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 successfully achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students. School information shows very high levels of student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics over time, for all groups of students, including Māori and Pacific. Data from 2014 to 2017 show that almost all students are achieving at or above expectations in mathematics. Most students are also achieving at or above expectations in reading and writing.

Other valued outcomes evident in the school include students who:

  • respect themselves and others
  • are inclusive and respect each other’s differences
  • are creative and critical thinkers
  • are curious, optimistic and confident learners.

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

Epsom Normal School accelerates student learning very well and has maintained high levels of student achievement.

The school has effective systems and processes to identify students who need to make accelerated progress. Students who are new to the school are carefully assessed, and their progress is tracked and monitored by teachers and leaders. An extensive range of targeted interventions and multi-layered approaches are used to respond to students’ learning needs. These interventions have resulted in positive changes in terms of improving achievement patterns and accelerating children’s progress.

Teachers know children well. Students who enter the school below expected levels are carefully monitored to provide appropriate language programmes and other support. Many of these children build their confidence and learning capabilities to make accelerated progress. The extent and pace of acceleration is sufficient for success. Teachers’ collaborative inquiries have had a positive impact on accelerating students’ learning progress.

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?

Leadership at all levels of the school is highly effective. Leaders collaboratively develop and pursue the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence. They promote a school culture that nurtures high quality outcomes and wellbeing for all students and staff. The school’s strategic commitment to growing leadership capacity is succeeding. There are high quality professional learning programmes, effective school systems and a good range of leadership opportunities for teachers. These features support teachers to promote student excellence and equity.

The school’s intent to embody the vision, values and principles of the New Zealand Curriculum is highly evident. The underpinning principles of curriculum design, creativity and critical thinking are embedded in teaching and learning. A seamless curriculum that is connected across knowledge and learning activities, and with the local community and wider world, is strongly promoted. The curriculum is highly responsive. It enables students’ individual strengths and talents to flourish. Students excel in a range of learning areas. The learning community is characterised by respect, empathy, relational trust, cooperation and team work.

The school has a strategic and coherent approach to building professional capability. Systematic, collaborative inquiry processes and challenging professional learning opportunities align well with the school’s vision, values, goals and targets. The school’s relevant professional learning programme integrates theory and practice. It promotes innovative and adaptive practice through evidence-informed, collaborative inquiries. Leaders and teachers’ collaborative learning and decision-making are supported by highly effective organisational structures and practices.

The school and community enjoy rich, learning-centred relationships. Leaders and teachers take a strengths-based approach to affirming the diverse languages and cultures of parents, whānau and community. They actively broker parent engagement. This helps to extend and enrich opportunities for all children’s learning. Leaders build education-focused relationships with other educational and community institutions to increase opportunities for student learning and success. These community opportunities are helping students to become ‘confident, connected, actively involved life-long learners’.

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

To sustain and further support equity and excellence, trustees and leaders should now establish a more strategic approach to using evaluation processes and reasoning for improvement. Using the wealth of information and data available in the school, they could collaborate to:

  • investigate and scrutinise practices and data to identify priorities for improvement
  • monitor the implementation of improvement actions and evaluate their impact
  • generate timely information about progress towards goals and the impact of actions taken.

A more strategic approach should support trustees and leaders to evaluate the extent to which all learners are experiencing success. It should also enable them to determine which improvement initiatives are most effective for learners.

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.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (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 were 11 international students attending the school. International students are well cared for, and experience programmes that are suited to their learning and promote their wellbeing. The school’s monitoring systems for international students is well administered. The board receives reports about the quality of education provided for international students, their care and how well they are progressing and achievement.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • effective leadership that promotes equity and excellence at all levels

  • a responsive curriculum that develops the strengths and talents of all students

  • a strategic and coherent approach to building professional practice and collective capacity

  • strong partnerships with parents and tertiary institutions that are learning-focused and that integrate theory with practice.

Next steps

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

  • a more strategic approach to evaluation to determine which improvement initiatives are most effective for all learners

  • strategic targets that focus on students whose learning needs acceleration.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

6 December 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing Primary (Year 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā                                 12%
Chinese                                30%
Indian                                   27%
Sri Lankan                              5%
Pacific                                    5%
Middle East                            4%
other Asian                            8%
other ethnic groups                9%

Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

6 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review August 2013
Education Review August 2010
Education Review June 2007

Epsom Normal School - 14/08/2013

1 Context

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

Epsom Normal Primary School is a multi-ethnic, central Auckland school where inclusive and evaluative approaches support students to learn. Bicultural practices are valued within a culture of innovation, respect and care. The board, community and staff are proud of the school’s history and traditions. The school operates in a research-based environment with professional and academic links to local and international universities.

The board has recently reviewed and modified its vision and values in consultation with the school’s community. The school’s learning priorities have been revised and focus on students strengths within the school’s curriculum. Students respond positively to high quality creative and inquiry based learning programmes where critical thinking, expression and invention are promoted.

Staff reflect the diversity of the school’s community and capably support the high numbers of students who are English speakers of other languages.

The board and staff engage positively with internal and external review and the school has an affirming reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

The principal and teachers use achievement information effectively to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. High expectations for student achievement are clearly understood and articulated. Challenging targets are set to promote ongoing improvement to achievement.

Students are highly engaged, motivated and achieve well. Their progress and achievement is closely monitored each year and over their time at school by senior leaders, teachers and students.

The board is well informed about student progress and achievement and use the information to make good governance decisions. School information indicates that the majority of students, including the school’s Māori and Pacific students, achieve either at or above national standards in reading, writing and mathematics. It would be useful for senior leaders to monitor and report to the board, on the progress and achievement of each of the school’s separate Pacific groups.

The principal’s deliberate restructuring of the senior leadership team has resulted in a whole school approach to the pastoral and academic care of all students. Senior leaders have implemented effective strategies to support students who are yet to achieve national standards. Early identification of learning needs and the implementation of innovative programmes by capable class teachers and teacher aides are accelerating these students’ progress.

The principal has introduced a curriculum approach that empowers students to increase their learning across all curriculum areas. Student learning celebrations are a key feature and provide meaningful connections between students, teachers and the community.

School and classroom environments are increasingly reflecting national and international approaches to teaching and learning. Such approaches are aligned to the school vision and philosophy for learning that has recently seen the board offering different learning spaces and seating options for students to use. Team leaders are looking now to evaluate the effectiveness of the environments on students learning and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum is broad, carefully designed, and effectively promotes and supports student learning. It is enacted through a philosophy of student-centred learning and includes input from the community. The school-wide writing programme continues to be a strength and is a focus of the curriculum.

Students’ individual learning strengths are at the heart of school curriculum design. Extensive opportunities for student creativity are offered and collaborative learning is encouraged. There is a shared understanding of the approach by parents, teachers and students. Learning opportunities are relevant, authentic and are aligned to the school’s curriculum planning. They include rich experiences in pure science, music and the performing and visual arts.

Senior leaders have a deep knowledge of the teaching capabilities of the staff. They nurture ongoing improvement and encourage innovation. Teachers are supported to research areas of educational interest that impact on student learning. Evidence of the positive outcomes of these projects is visible in students’ achievement results.

Teachers are motivated, hard working and have high levels of skill. They work collaboratively in teams and across the school. The board offers many opportunities for teachers and students to develop and deepen leadership skills. Teachers participate in externally and internally facilitated professional learning opportunities based on personal and school-wide goals.

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

The school’s commitment to promoting the language, culture and identity of Māori is effective. The board, principal and teachers respectfully consult with parents/whānau. Senior leaders sought guidance on implementing appropriate practices for school-based pōwhiri. The school promotes kapa haka and has designated teachers to embed tikanga and te reo Māori throughout the school.

Students who identify as Māori are achieving well and their individual progress is monitored closely by teachers. They are well supported by the school philosophy that acknowledges and affirms students’ identity.

The principal plans to review the school-wide te reo Māori curriculum. ERO recommends that the board consider accessing suitable external support to guide the review process.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Trustees capably undertake their governance role and board proceedings are conducted in a professional and efficient manner. Their knowledge of the community, through effective consultation, informs the school direction and self review. The board provides a multi-faceted approach to consultation that includes providing language appropriate opportunities to maximise parent input into school decision-making. A newly implemented, well considered strategic plan and revised vision has set the course for the following three years.

The principal is a highly effective professional leader. She is strategic, has a clear educational vision and uses academic research to inform educational decisions about improvement. The principal works in partnership with the board and her senior leadership team to make the school’s vision a reality.

Self review practices and principles are strong and are used throughout the school. The board reviews its own governance effectiveness and there is evidence of a true sense of partnership between the school and parents for the benefit of the students.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

14 August 2013

About the School


Epsom, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




South East Asian


Other Asian

Other European











Review team on site

June 2013

Date of this report

14 August 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2010

June 2007

February 2004