Sommerville School

Education institution number:
School type:
Special School
School gender:
School for pupils with intellectual impairments
Total roll:

80A Tripoli Road, Panmure, Auckland

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Sommerville School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report 


This Profile Report was written within six months of the Education Review Office and ​Sommerville School​ working in Te Ara Huarau, an improvement evaluation approach used in most English Medium State and State Integrated Schools. For more information about Te Ara Huarau see ERO’s website. 

This report is part of a nationally coordinated evaluation of 27-day specialist schools during the second half of 2023. This included the development of day specialist school evaluation indicators by ERO with significant input from principals, staff, and the Special Education Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SEPAnz). 


Sommerville School is in Panmure, Auckland. It provides education for students with intellectual disabilities, many of whom may also have physical, sensory or behaviour disabilities. Students are aged between five and 21 years of age and receive funding from the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). The school has two base sites, 13 satellite sites located in local host schools, and a community-based transition unit.  

The school employs a specialist therapy team that includes speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and behaviour specialists, who support the learning and wellbeing of students. The school also operates a large specialist teacher outreach service that supports ORS funded students enrolled in 24 schools in the central east Auckland area. 

The school continues to navigate and manage roll growth pressures along with the employment and property demands associated with this, including the suitability of the base school property.  

The school’s vision statement is ‘Together, learning to live our best lives’, and the school’s values are Kia Hono - Connected and Kia Māia - Courageous.  

​​Sommerville School​’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are: 

  • developing a Sommerville curriculum that is responsive to personalised learning needs 
  • preparing older students and their whānau for the life beyond Sommerville 
  • growing great staff who lead and collaborate to enrich learner outcomes. 

You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on ​Sommerville School​’s website. 

ERO and the school are working together to build schoolwide consistency by evaluating how well systems and processes support effective teaching, assessment and learning practices.  

As the school continues to experience roll growth and additional staff appointments, the rationale for selecting this evaluation is to continue to ensure:  

  • consistent effective teaching, assessment and learning practices  
  • induction of new staff and ongoing professional development programmes are effective in improving equitable and excellence outcomes for all students.  

The school expects to see: 

  • learners and whānau moving confidently through and across the school  
  • optimised learner engagement to ensure all students achieve success  
  • continuously refined and personalised curriculum learning pathways for each learner, based on effective evidence-based theories and evaluation practices 
  • staff confidently using effective teaching and learning pedagogy and can articulate what the language of learning practice looks like in Sommerville School’s environment.  


The school can draw from the following strengths to support its goal to build schoolwide consistency by evaluating how well systems and processes enable effective teaching, assessment and learning practices.  

  • Highly personalised individual goals and learning programmes that includes comprehensive support for students with very high health needs.  
  • Schoolwide culture, vision and values provide a warm, welcoming, and friendly environment. 
  • Educationally powerful connections with whānau 
  • Effective and distributed leadership with an ongoing improvement mindset that encourages all staff to take a lead role in projects, research, and innovation.  
  • Systems and processes which promote collaboration for all staff to support each learner to succeed. 
  • Strong reciprocal relationships across the school and with host schools, specialist therapy services, outreach services, local schools, and the wider community. 

Where to next? 

Moving forward, the school will prioritise:  

  • developing a schoolwide shared language of learning  
  • continuing to build a schoolwide shared understanding of what effective practice in teaching, assessment and learning practices looks like. 
  • continuing to develop and document the school curriculum and assessment refinements that respond to learners and the ongoing development of new staff in a rapidly growing school. 

ERO’s role will be to support the school in its evaluation for improvement cycle to improve outcomes for all learners. ERO will support the school in reporting their progress to the community. The next public report on ERO’s website will be a Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report and is due within three years.  

​​Shelley Booysen​
​​Director of Schools​ 

​​9 April 2024​   

About the School 

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Sommerville School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report ​2024​ to ​2027​ 

As of March 2024, the ​Sommerville School​ Board has attested to the following regulatory and legislative requirements: 

Board Administration 




Management of Health, Safety and Welfare 


Personnel Management 






Further Information 

For further information please contact ​Sommerville School​ Board. 

The next Board assurance that it is meeting regulatory and legislative requirements will be reported, along with the Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report, within three years. 

Information on ERO’s role and process in this review can be found on the Education Review Office website. 

​​​Shelley Booysen​ 
​​Director of Schools​ 

​​9 April 2024​   

About the School  

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement. 

Sommerville School - 04/10/2017


Sommerville School provides education and care for children with complex social, physical and educational needs. It caters for students from Year 1 and until they turn 21 years old. At the time of the ERO evaluation there were 13 percent Māori learners, 29 percent Pākehā, 19 percent of Pacific heritage and 33 percent Asian students.

Beyond the base school there are 15 satellite classes hosted by nine local schools including two at the adjacent Tamaki Primary School. The school also operates an outreach programme for many mainstream students and Te Hapori, the transition unit for senior students. Sommerville School is a member of the Manaiakalani Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation there have been no changes in the leadership team and few changes in the board of trustees. The school has continued to grow and there has been a focus on distributing leadership roles and extending connections with the school community. There have been several property improvements at satellite sites, and a major redevelopment of the base school is planned.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

Sommerville School has very effective strategies to achieve equitable outcomes for all students. School leadership is underpinned by expectations of equity and excellence.

Students’ progress is closely monitored. The school uses a range of standardised assessment tools, which are linked to The New Zealand Curriculum(NZC), to track this progress. An electronic programme records and collates students’ achievement of P Levels (Performance scale for students with special needs). Leaders analyse and evaluate these data to ascertain overall achievement in literacy and mathematics, and to ensure students’ learning aligns well with their IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals.

Learners are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school has successfully addressed in-school disparity in educational outcomes.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is responding well to students’ learning needs. As a school catering for students with special needs, the achievement of all learners requires acceleration. All students have IEPs and the school is developing a four-step approach to assess achievement of target action goals within these plans.

The individual nature of education plans is notably responsive to Māori learners and whānau. Personal consultation, through IEP meetings and milestone reviews, enables whānau to express aspirations, prioritise valued outcomes and co-construct goals for their children.

Leaders have gathered considerable data about students’ achievement in reading, writing, mathematics and communication goals. Between 40 and 60 percent of students in most groups are achieving steps within P Levels at or above the expected rate in the three curriculum areas. A variety of barriers that have impeded achievement have been identified for other students.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

The school has many effective processes, services and strategies to support learners to achieve their potential. Students learn in caring, and supportive learning environments. Teachers know them well and respond individually to their different capabilities and needs.

The board and leadership team are committed to building capacity and capability throughout the school. They have developed a Leaders of Learning team of experienced teachers to mentor others, and have distributed curriculum leadership roles to promote high quality curriculum delivery.

Teachers have regular opportunities for professional learning. This includes participation in focus groups where they scrutinise their knowledge and practices in relation to specific topics or curriculum areas. Learners benefit from this initiative that supports teachers to strive for high quality outcomes.

The school provides wrap-around support for learners and their families. Examples of specialised support include:

  • regular assessment and guidance from the team of occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech language therapists
  • advice and guidance from the behaviour support team
  • access to a paediatrician through on-site hospital clinics
  • personal support for families when needed by providing transport, guidance when dealing with agencies, and information in relation to the medical wellbeing of students.

In addition, the Te Hapori transition unit provides very good opportunities for the oldest students to apply the skills and knowledge they have learnt as they prepare for life in the community. As well as supporting students’ increasing independence, the unit finds work experience for those who are capable, and engenders confidence in all to strive for personal goals.

The board and leadership team work collaboratively in a culture of trust and cooperation. They have established a clear strategic direction for the school and are committed to professional learning for themselves. The board maintains a strong financial position which ensures the school is well resourced and provides for the ongoing professional learning that is readily available for all staff. Leaders recognise the need to further develop ways of documenting their strategic evaluations to measure the effectiveness and impact of their work.

Teacher aides are an integral and valued part of students’ learning. As a team, adults use humour well to defuse difficult behaviours, maintain positive environments and encourage individual effort.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

School processes promote equitable opportunities and outcomes for all learners effectively through coherent and sustainable strategic thinking. Internal evaluation processes are used well to identify and respond to development priorities.

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
  • 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.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Learners are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school has successfully addressed in-school disparity in educational outcomes.

Agreed next steps are:

  • developing the documentation of strategic evaluations to include analyses of the effectiveness and impact of processes on learners’ outcomes
  • ensuring that appraisal evidence meets the Education Council new requirements
  • extending the access to the digital portal for all families
  • continuing to explore ways to extend the school’s bicultural journey.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer NorthernTe Tai Raki - Northern Region

4 October 2017

About the school

LocationPanmure, Auckland
Ministry of Education profile number1484
School typeSpecial school
School roll249
Gender compositionBoys 67% Girls 33%
Ethnic compositionMāori
Provision of Māori medium educationNo
Review team on siteAugust 2017
Date of this report4 October 2017
Most recent ERO report(s)Education Review
Education Review
Education Review
April 2007 
May 2013 
June 2010