Riverdale School (Gisborne)

Riverdale School (Gisborne) - 10/06/2016

1 Context

Riverdale School is a Years 1 to 6 contributing primary school located in Gisborne with a roll of 167 students, 95% of whom identify as Māori.

The school is welcoming and inclusive for all, with a whānau based kaupapa to support childrens learning and well-being. An experienced principal and three leaders form the senior leadership team. The school has a special needs unit for 24 students with high and complex learning needs. Support services on site include Resource Teachers of Literacy (RTLit), Reading Recovery tutor and the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ (BLENNZ).

The May 2013 ERO report identified a range of areas for improvement. These included: refinement of assessment, analysis and moderation practices, developing teaching as inquiry and strengthening appraisal and self review processes. There has been limited progress made in these areas.

Since the previous report, many initiatives have been implemented to strengthen the moderation practice within the school. Leaders and teachers have participated in a number of Ministry of Education (MOE) professional development opportunities, including Accelerating Literacy Learning (ALL), Accelerating Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) and Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L). The school requested the support of a MOE Student Achievement Function practitioner (SAF) to focus on accelerating students' progress by strengthening learning focussed relationships with parents and whānau.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are to prepare children for life through authentic, creative and innovative teaching and learning. The core values of Tūpono, Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, Kaitiakitanga, Kotahitanga and Aroha underpins the school's vision.

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2014 and 2015 a substantial number of students achieved below and well below the National Standards expectations for reading, writing and mathematics. Writing continues to require significant improvement, particularly for boys.

Since the previous ERO evaluation the school has undertaken considerable professional learning and development. Leaders and teachers have focused on improving assessment for learning, as well as making better use of assessment tools to improve overall teacher judgments in relation to National Standards. These improvements are yet to have the desired impact of accelerating achievement for all students.

An emphasis is given to accelerating and improving students' learning in literacy and mathematics, and improving conditions for learning in the classroom.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

Strategies used to respond more effectively to those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration are in the early stages of development.

Leaders and teachers identify all students at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. These learners receive targeted teaching and support in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has evidence to show that some students have made accelerated learning progress.

Students with special and high learning needs are successfully supported for their learning and wellbeing. A tool for assessing these students provides useful data for teachers to clearly identify a learning pathway for them. Teacher aides work positively alongside these students.

Where there is evidence of effective practice, teachers:

  • make good use of well-analysed achievement information to plan and implement programmes based on identified needs of students
  • ensure more regular teaching and learning for targeted students
  • develop learning-centred partnerships with whānau
  • regularly monitor and track students' progress to celebrate success and share next learning steps.

However, these strategies are yet to be consistently implemented, embedded and sustained across the school.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

School leaders are actively involved in planning and coordinating the curriculum to raise student achievement with SAF support. A change and improvement plan, for raising student achievement is in the early stages of implementation.

The board of trustees supports the focus on raising student achievement. However, the board has not received sufficient information to help make informed resourcing decisions.

The charter, strategic and annual plans provide directions for school operations. It is unclear how the board evaluates outcomes and effectiveness of school developments and initiatives. Strengthening the annual targets and supporting processes to be more explicit about acceleration of students achievement from Years 1 to 6, is a key next step.

Leaders acknowledge that teachers are better using suitable assessment tools to make overall teacher judgments. However, they have identified that improving the school's results for students learning in relation to National Standards requires immediate attention.

The school's curriculum prioritises literacy and mathematics learning. Some teachers' practices need to better reflect te ao Māori, by being culturally appropriate, and more responsive.

Recently the school successfully focused on strengthening the learning partnerships between teachers, students and whānau to help improve student progress.

Internal evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building is at its early stages of development. A key next step is for leaders to develop a systematic approach to build capability and capacity in evaluation and inquiry that leads to improved and sustained outcomes for students.

The recently developed appraisal system is useful for developing and supporting teachers. A next step is for leaders to link professional learning and development, teaching as inquiry, observations of practice and the Practising Teacher Criteria to strengthen this process. This should assist leaders to better monitor, support and strengthen teaching practice.

It is timely for school leaders and trustees to further develop, embed and sustain the learning from current initiatives and determine what best suits students learning. There is an urgent need for the board of trustees and leaders to focus on how they can support those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • have not yet adequately built their knowledge of the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet adequately established necessary conditions to effectively accelerate learning and achievement
  • are not well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

6 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 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.

  • Processes for appointing staff.

  • Stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.

  • Attendance.

  • Compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

Some parents have not received adequate written information about their children's progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. The board must ensure that, through the principal and teachers:

  • progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics, are reported to parents in plain language twice a year.[National Administrative Guideline 2A(a)]

7 Recommendations

Trustees and leaders need to:

  • improve the rate of progress for students whose learning and achievement need acceleration
  • improve the use of student achievement information to better identify, track and monitor students' progress
  • implement, embed and sustain effective teaching practice across the school
  • strengthen the bicultural curriculum to better promote Māori students' culture, language and identity
  • improve the appraisal process
  • build capability and capacity in evaluation and inquiry that leads to sustained improvement. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 June 2016

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Year 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 52%, Female 48%

Ethnic composition





Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

10 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

April 2010

November 2006


Riverdale School (Gisborne) - 17/05/2013

1 Context

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

Riverdale School is a contributing Years 1 to 6 school in Gisborne city, with a roll of 145, 96% of whom identify as Māori. A special needs unit supports students in mainstream classes and within the unit in specialist class spaces. In 2013, a transition class further enhances access to learning for students with special needs.

The belief that all students are capable of learning and succeeding is well embedded across the school. Diversity is valued. Students and staff celebrate their culture and identity with families and the community.

Progress in using achievement data at board, classroom and leadership level, identified in the April 2010 ERO report as an area for development, is evident.

2 Learning

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

Achievement data is effectively used to identify students requiring support or extension. School leaders report that in February 2012, most students were achieving below the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. By the end of the year most students had made good progress, with a greater number of students at and above the National Standards. Some students made accelerated progress.

Students are active learners. They understand what and why they are learning. High levels of engagement are evident in the successful student-led conferences, students actively supporting each other in and outside the class and students setting meaningful, realistic goals. Students who identify as Māori are involved in learning that respects them as individuals and as groups of learners.

Schoolwide programmes focus on learning. Student behaviour is effectively managed.

Every student has an Individual Learning Plan or an Individual Education Plan. Families regularly collaborate with the teacher and their child to assess ongoing progress. All students' progress is well tracked and monitored. These practices impact favourably on decisions about resourcing, staffing and areas to prioritise support. Students with special needs are well supported to meet their learning goals.

Pacific students identify with more than one cultural background. However their Pacific identity and achievement are well known. They are fairly distributed in support and extension programmes. Cultural contexts are well considered in schoolwide planning.

ERO and the principal agree it is timely for leaders and teachers to review and refine their assessment, analysis and moderation practices, especially in the junior school. Already in 2013, staff have strengthened their practices of using assessment for learning.

3 Curriculum

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

Riverdale School’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting students learning. Curriculum values, content for learning and the contexts used are well aligned to the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum. Whānau aspirations for students who are Māori are appropriately considered when making curriculum decisions. Implementation of the curriculum is collaborative, with students participating in decision making. A strong sense of team work is evident.

Students' views and opinions are appropriately encouraged, fostered, and acted upon by the staff. The use of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are well incorporated and valued.

The quality of teaching is responsive to the learning of Māori students and all students. Teachers expect students to succeed and achieve. They make deliberate teaching decisions and use a wide range of strategies to encourage students’ progress.

Recently, a strong focus on teachers’ understanding of student engagement resulted in some changes in teaching practice, greater collaboration and professional discussion about how to teach. Students work in calm, respectful environments where they are valued. High levels of student interest and motivation are evident across all groups.

The 2013 schoolwide focus for professional development and learning is the teaching of writing. This is a substantial resourcing commitment to build teacher capability. Teachers talk about the strategies they are learning and how these can be transferred to other learning areas.

Students from the special needs unit are nurtured and welcomed when they work in mainstream classes. An inclusive culture permeates school activity.

Students with specific strengths and abilities are well integrated across a wide range of activities, both inside and outside the school. Some students are highly successful and show leadership in activities across local schools.

The agreed next step is for teachers to develop the school’s model for teaching as inquiry. This should redirect reflection into a review of teaching and learning.

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

Riverdale School is effective in promoting education success for Māori, as Māori.

Students achieve and succeed in a wide range of educational, academic, cultural and sporting settings. School leaders make concerted efforts to engage students in learning about their own identity and the school’s location in Gisborne. Identity, language and culture are infused in how and what is taught.

Through the experiences at kapa haka, discipline and values are observed by teachers. These are transferred into the classroom within a culture of respect and trust. Whānau and community are highly visible and active in school life.

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.

Students and staff are immersed in a schoolwide culture where improvement for all is well managed. Māori students’ potential and success underpins their experiences at school.

The responsive and cooperative board understand their role in improving student achievement. The annual plan identifies the most urgent learning considerations for students. This is well aligned to the strategic plan. The board expects and receives timely reports about students' progress and achievement. This assists them to make decisions about resourcing.

The principal has high expectations of success for all. She developed and now refines a shared vision for students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The senior management team shows effective leadership. A commitment to building leadership capacity across a wide range of initiatives is evident in the responsibilities many teachers undertake. Collaboration between the leaders supports the implementation of new school initiatives.

Families spoken with during the ERO review value opportunities to know about their child’s learning through a wide range of formal and informal experiences. Teachers, staff, principal, families and trustees clearly appreciate the cooperative approach taken to deciding programmes that are important for students learning.

ERO and school leaders agree that the next step is to further develop teachers' capability through a strengthened performance management system that clearly links appraisal and student achievement.

School leaders have yet to implement a robust evaluative review process to measure how effective programmes and initiatives are on raising student achievement.

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.

ERO noted that when the board goes in-committee to exclude the public from all or part of its meetings, it does not follow the procedures set out in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

In order to improve practice the board should:

  • record all discussions held in committees that exclude the public, within in-committee minutes.

ERO noted that the board and senior leaders are not properly following effective policy and procedures when responding to complaints from the school community.

In order to improve practice the board should:

  • revise and strengthen the complaints policy and procedures, make these well known to the school community and ensure that implementation follows the stated policy.

ERO identified the following area of non-compliance. In order to address this, the board must:

  • police vet every person who is appointed to a position in the school, who is not a registered teacher and works at the school during normal school hours, every three years.[Education Act 1989 Sections 78C to 78CD].

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Image removed.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

17 May 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 53%

Female 47%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Special Features

Special Education Unit

Review team on site

March 2013

Date of this report

17 May 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2010

November 2006

September 2005