Western Heights School (Auckland)

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Summary

The school’s roll of 635 children comprises 12 percent Māori, 31 percent NZ Pākehā, eight percent from Pacific nations and 35 percent from Asian nations. The school celebrates diversity, is responsive to children’s wellbeing and learning, and caters well for children who need additional learning support.

The board demonstrates a professional approach to its stewardship role and consists of experienced and new trustees. Trustees and senior leaders have made very good use of the findings of ERO’s 2014 evaluation and have sustained and continued to make very good progress in relation to the school’s strategic goals.The school is a member in the Waitakere Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL). School leaders have established pathways within Western Heights School and the wider Waitakere CoL to build coherence and capability for the benefit of children.

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

Western Heights School responds very effectively to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Achievement information is used very well by leaders and teachers to shape programmes to accelerate children’s progress.

The school is responding well to all children who need to make accelerated progress in order to meet the National Standards. The school’s curriculum and teaching programmes are very effectively supporting children to achieve the valued outcomes identified in the school’s charter and The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

The school’s mission, vision and values firmly underpin all school systems and processes. They are also clearly enacted through the curriculum and are well communicated to children and the school community. As a result the school’s processes and actions are well aligned, and are very effectively helping to achieve equity and excellence for all children.

Children are achieving excellent educational outcomes. School performance has been sustained over time through well-focused, embedded processes and practices. This school is successfully addressing in-school disparity in educational outcomes. Further deepening internal evaluation through the use of evaluation research, and continuing to strengthen connections with whānau Māori are likely to enhance the school’s already successful processes and practices.

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?

Western Heights School responds very effectively to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school’s mission, vision and values firmly underpin all school systems and processes. The vision is for children to be ‘caring, creative critical, confident, connected and to contribute’. Respect and ‘Bucket filling’ and ‘pay it forward’ values are further key features of the school’s ethos. The vision and values are very effectively enacted through leadership and teaching programmes.

The school’s curriculum is responsive, child-centred and builds on children’s interests. Achievement information over the last three years shows that children achieve well. More than 80 percent of children are at or above National Standards in reading and writing and over 90 percent in mathematics. Approximately 90 percent of children who leave the school at Year 6 are either at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Children whose progress in reading, writing or mathematics needs acceleration, are very effectively identified, tracked, and monitored. Senior leaders have identified some disparity in achievement for Māori children in reading and writing. The school is successfully continuing to reduce this.

School leaders maintain a strong line of sight across the progress and achievement of all children. Systems for identifying, tracking and monitoring children’s progress are well established and used. Teachers analyse assessment information well to plan and implement additional support programmes to meet children’s needs.

The school’s varied intervention programmes and initiatives are helping to accelerate the progress of children who are at risk of not achieving. Achievement information shows that all children are benefiting from these initiatives and that most target children have made accelerated progress in both reading and writing. Disparity for Māori in writing is reducing. The overall achievement of boys in reading and writing continues to lift. Leaders and teachers plan to continue a focus on writing and to evaluate the impact that each acceleration programme and initiative has on children’s progress and achievement.

The school has effective internal processes for moderating assessment information and ensuring teachers’ overall judgements against the National Standards are dependable. Teachers use a variety of assessment information and share this information with each other when determining their judgements.

Children requiring additional learning support are well supported by the Special Education Needs Coordinator. The coordinator works collaboratively with teachers, and learning assistants to deliver a wide variety of programmes to improve children’s learning outcomes and accelerate their progress. 

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

The school’s processes and actions very effectively help achieve equity and excellence for all children. They include:

  • a well-established culture of high expectations

  • highly effective school leadership that has established an environment that is conducive to children’s learning and wellbeing

  • a meaningful curriculum design that is responsive to context, and children’s heritage, language, culture and identity

  • strong partnerships between home, school and community

  • a professional teaching community, committed to using educational research and ongoing learning and improvement

  • a strategic approach to accelerating students’ achievement.

School leadership is focused on children’s learning in a caring, respectful and inclusive community. Leaders promote and participate in teacher professional development programmes. They have successfully established and embedded a strong professional learning culture. Leaders use current educational research to enhance teachers’ collaborative practice and their capacity to deliver the curriculum.

Very strong learning-centred relationships are evident between the school and parents. The board, leaders and teachers have built relational trust. There is active collaboration with the school’s diverse communities to enhance children’s learning outcomes. Numerous communication strategies are used to inform, engage and involve parents and whānau in their children’s learning. An on-line reporting portal for parents is a special feature of the school. This ‘real time’ sharing and reporting initiative is highly valued by the parent community.

Children engage well in learning programmes. Teachers provide positive learning environments. A broad, responsive, and integrated curriculum is collaboratively planned and effectively builds on children’s interests. An ‘inquiry model’ is used well to scaffold children’s thinking and skills particularly in relation to science and social science learning.

Children benefit from numerous opportunities to ‘share and shine’ their experiences and successes. They enjoy experiences which include an extensive arts curriculum and provision of a range of sporting, cultural and leadership learning opportunities. The curriculum promotes children taking ownership of their own learning and incorporates e-learning and information communication technologies effectively as tools for learning. Leaders plan to review and refine aspects of curriculum mapping and this is likely to extend the school’s capacity to meet children’s specific needs.

There is a focus in the curriculum on the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. Leaders have established an opportunity for a teacher to lead culturally responsive practice within the school and with other schools in the CoL. Children and teachers benefit from a part-time teacher’s te reo Māori classes. Children have many opportunities to participate proudly in kapa haka and participate respectfully at pōwhiri. The inclusive nature of the school promotes a strong sense of turangawaewae. The school plans to further enhance these connections for children and their whānau.

The board is focused on children’s learning and trustees are well informed about achievement trends. They make good use of achievement information to make decisions about resourcing learning programmes. The board regularly reviews its own progress and uses information gained from ongoing staff and parent consultation feedback to inform change.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

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

Western Heights School is very well placed to sustain its current good practices.

Agreed next steps include:

  • making greater use of evaluation research to further deepen internal evaluation
  • continuing to strengthen whānau connections to help build and further improve strategies for accelerating the achievement of target Māori learners in literacy.

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

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.

One international student was enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

The school provides high quality pastoral care, responds very well to parental aspirations and communicates progress and achievement regularly and effectively.

Going forward

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

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

Agreed next steps are to:

  • make use of evaluation research in order to further deepen internal evaluation processes

  • continue strengthening connections with whanau Māori to enhance the school’s already successful processes and practices.

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

Violet Tu’uga

Stevenson Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

14 July 2017

About the school 

Location

Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1567

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

635

Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Chinese
Indian
Samoan
South East Asian
African
Filipino
Middle Eastern
other European
other

12%
31%
15%
15%
7%
3%
2%
2%
2%
3%
8%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

14 July 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2014
October 2011
June 2008

 

Findings

The school has an inclusive culture for learning through its vision, ‘Love to learn to lead’. Students are enthusiastic learners. There is a focus on building school-wide consistency in student-led learning. Teachers have been improving the reliability of achievement information and making better use of this data to inform learning.

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?

Western Heights School is a contributing school for students from Years 1 to 6 in Henderson, West Auckland. The roll includes significant numbers of students who identify as Māori, Indian and Chinese.

The principal, a deputy principal and several teachers were appointed this year. The three deputy principals and many staff members have been long serving employees. This year senior managers have been working collaboratively to review the school vision, mission and beliefs, and to develop and implement many new school initiatives. In order to strengthen teacher support and to cater for a broader range of student abilities, the structure of teaching teams has been modified from single year levels to composite classes.

The board have accessed training and worked alongside an external consultant to appoint the principal. Trustees bring a balance of experience and professional skills to the board. They are well informed and supportive of the principal and staff.

Western Heights School has had a positive ERO reporting history that has acknowledged strong relationships and an inclusive learning environment for children. These continue to be features in the school.

2 Learning

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

This year the school has focused on improving the reliability of achievement information and making better use of this data to inform learning.

Creating a student-centred learning culture has been a priority for senior managers. The board, senior managers and staff value the learning community which is based on positive relationships and outcomes for students. Students' wellbeing is well supported through the school's pastoral care systems.

Students and the wider school community have a strong sense of ownership of their school. The new school vision, ‘Love to learn to lead’ has been developed in consultation with students, staff and the community. This vision underpins the school-wide emphasis on student-led learning. This vision is providing a renewed sense of motivation amongst staff and students for student-focused teaching and learning.

Many students demonstrate a good understanding of their learning. Students are settled and engaged learners. Many teachers have implemented effective strategies to support students to take control of and make choices about their learning. School leaders are building on these good practices by promoting the school-wide consistency and quality of teaching practice.

Senior leaders and teachers have reviewed a range of assessment tools and indicators to strengthen overall judgements about student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. The school's information indicates that most students are achieving at or above National Standards. Senior leaders are implementing strategies to moderate teachers’ judgements within the school and with other schools to help ensure these judgements are reliable.

Senior managers have supported teachers to improve their understanding and use of achievement information. Teachers are making more informed decisions about teaching and learning. They are differentiating teaching programmes to target student’s needs more effectively. Senior managers identify groups of students who are at risk of not achieving well and analyse data to better inform their provision for these students.

Senior managers agree that key next steps include:

  • adapting the electronic database to allow data analysis for an even broader range of student groups
  • continuing to improve school-wide targets by including achievement goals for Māori, Pacific, boys and targeted year groups in response to closer data analysis
  • reporting progress information to the board.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is promoting student learning and engagement.

Senior managers have undertaken an in-depth curriculum review this year. Several new initiatives and a strategic emphasis on professional learning for teachers are contributing to a more consistent school-wide approach to skilled teaching and learning.

Senior managers have used a coaching model to establish self review and prioritise improvements in teachers’ practice. Teachers work alongside colleagues to set goals and monitor their progress.

The principal has led professional development this year to support student engagement in learning and teachers’ use of information communication technologies (ICT). Senior managers, teachers and students are making more effective use of ICT to enhance communication with families. The board is resourcing improvements to ICT to support a consistent school-wide approach to e-learning.

Teachers are continuing to develop students’ inquiry learning through meaningful study. Students have access to a wide range of opportunities for leadership and co-curricular activities including sports, music and languages.

Senior managers agree that ongoing curriculum review and design using the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum will strengthen these recent developments.

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

There are 85 Māori students at the school. Senior managers have identified goals for raising Māori student achievement and closely monitor their progress and achievement.

A priority for the principal has been to establish and build relationships with whānau and students. Māori staff take an active role in leading school kawa and programmes that promote a bicultural curriculum. This year a kaiako has been appointed to lead a school-wide programme of te reo Māori and a kapa haka group. Students of all cultures proudly participate in experiences such as whakatau. Many students are beginning to demonstrate understanding and use of basic te reo Māori. These steps help ensure that the culture, language and identity of Māori students is valued.

The kaiako Māori has identified the need to implement a sequential programme of te reo Māori. It would be useful for teachers to use Te Aho Arotaki Marau mo te Ako i te reo Māori – Kura Auraki (Curriculum Guidelines for Teaching and Learning Te Reo Māori in English-medium Schools) to actively promote this goal.

To strengthen Māori student success, as Māori, senior managers and staff plan to:

  • continue building reciprocal partnerships with whānau that seek their aspirations and input to planned, formalised school practices
  • review the effectiveness of strategies and initiatives that have been used.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The board is led by a long-serving chairperson who has educational knowledge and experience. Trustees work well together to support new members and to maintain a good understanding of their governance role. The board is committed to supporting positive student outcomes and to working alongside the principal and staff to implement a planned approach to school improvement.

The principal is leading change amongst staff, students and parents that is strengthening the school’s learning community. The senior management team works together to support the principal’s vision for the school and are well supported by the board through professional development. Senior managers are modelling effective practices and taking opportunities to grow leadership amongst the staff.

There is a positive school culture and a sense of enthusiasm for the school’s future direction. Under the leadership of the principal, senior managers are taking a strategic approach to change management and model the expectations they have of staff. The principal leads by example through open communication and accessibility to students, parents and staff.

Senior managers agree that in order to strengthen sustainable performance they should develop their understanding and use of structured self review. It would be helpful to embed the use of indicators of effective practice as a measurement of success.

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 were two international students attending the school. There is sound provision of pastoral care and education for students. The school has implemented good strategies to integrate students into the school community. The next step for senior managers is to report student progress to the board.

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 has an inclusive culture for learning through its vision, ‘Love to learn to lead’. Students are enthusiastic learners. There is a focus on building school-wide consistency in student-led learning. Teachers have been improving the reliability of achievement information and making better use of this data to inform learning.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

17 October 2014

About the School

Location

Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1567

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

605

Number of international students

2

Gender composition

Girls 46% Boys 54%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Indian

Chinese

Samoan

Korean

Fijian

African

Other European

Other

14%

42%

10%

8%

6%

3%

2%

1%

3%

11%

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

17 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

June 2008

June 2005