Fernridge School

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1 Context

Fernridge School in Masterton caters for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this ERO review there were 222 students enrolled and around a quarter identify as Māori. Students are from Masterton and the surrounding rural area.

The school roll has steadily increased over recent years. Changes to staffing include a new deputy principal, who joined the school in term 2, 2016.

The school has participated in the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) Accelerating Learning in Literacy (ALL) and Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) programmes aimed at raising student achievement.

The school has continued to make progress in addressing the areas for improvement outlined in the April 2014 ERO report.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are expressed as KORU, representing the values of: knowledge, opportunity, respect and understanding. The school desires that: “students, just like the koru, will grow, develop, expand and be ready to establish themselves in the world”.

The school’s achievement information shows that most students achieve at or above in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Since 2014, there has been improvement in wholeschool achievement in mathematics and writing. Although there is good achievement in reading, this area has seen a slight drop overall. Boys do not achieve as well as girls in literacy, but slightly better in mathematics.

Māori students' achievement is similar to that of their peers in the school, with recent improvements for them in reading and mathematics. As a group, Māori students achieve highest in reading.

Students leaving at the end of Year 6 achieve at levels higher than those for the school overall in mathematics and writing. In 2013, the school targeted a group of students with low achievement in the middle years. As Year 6 students nearly all of them left in 2015 with improved achievement at or above the National Standards.

Since the previous ERO evaluation the school has focused on:

  • creating the positive culture and conditions that support the  acceleration of student achievement
  • building teachers’ capability and effectiveness
  • developing and implementing the Fernridge School curriculum
  • strengthening performance management systems
  • improving the tracking and monitoring of student progress
  • promoting students to take more ownership of their learning
  • building good relationships with parents, whanau and the community.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

Fernridge School continues to develop its response to Māori students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. It has successfully accelerated the progress for some students in reading and mathematics. However, it has not been as effective in increasing progress for Māori in writing.

School leaders use data to decide annual targets and strategic priorities. Those Māori students and others who are at risk of underachievement are identified and targeted to support accelerated achievement and other improved outcomes. Teachers have had some success in accelerating these students' achievement.

Data is used to group students for teaching and inform planning. Teaching teams regularly track and monitor achievement and progress. Leaders and teachers use a wide range of suitable assessment tools to measure achievement. Use of these tools has the potential to show progress over time.

Teachers collaborate to moderate aspects of their assessment decisions about students' achievement in relation to the National Standards. Extending moderation processes should ensure continued accuracy of teachers' assessment judgements.

The board is informed twice a year about National Standards achievement. However, analysed data does not yet provide a sufficiently clear picture of progress over time, and whether those students who need it are experiencing acceleration or not. Leaders and teachers should strengthen their use of achievement information to show this. This should also assist teachers to provide planned programmes that are better targeted and more responsive to students' individual learning needs, and contribute to increasing the school's effectiveness in accelerating learning.

Improving targets so that they more specifically identify the desired outcomes for students, should also better assist the board to track and monitor student progress over time, make related decisions and plan responses.

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

Leaders and teachers use similar strategies to respond to other students whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated. They have been successful in accelerating the achievement of some of these students.

Students identified with more complex needs receive additional support through a range of interventions, both in-school and externally, focused on promoting their learning and wellbeing. 

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 targets for equity and excellence?

The Fernridge School curriculum is effective for most students.  The vision and KORU values underpin all aspects of school life. There is a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, and good alignment with The New Zealand Curriculum.

The curriculum framework provides clear guidelines for school practices and teaching, as well as expectations for assessment and moderation practices.

Initiatives that seek to promote learning include:

  • teachers focusing on improving opportunities for students to take responsibility for their own learning, with programmes and practices to promote students' leadership and decision making
  • the introduction of play-based learning in the new entrant class to support transition to school, building on children's early childhood education
  • a project to establish the qualities of a successful learner that is being undertaken in collaboration with students and other schools.

A next step is to decide the desired learning outcomes of these initiatives, and develop processes to evaluate their impact on student achievement and progress.

The school is welcoming and inclusive, with a positive, learning focused environment for students. In classrooms observed by ERO there were good levels of engagement and students actively participating in their learning. Respectful relationships amongst students and with their teachers were clearly evident.

Programmes and interventions cater for students with additional needs. Teacher aides work with identified students. Appropriate support from external agencies is accessed when required. Knowing more about how well these programmes promote progress and success, should assist the school to continue to improve its responsiveness to these students.

Leaders and teachers value students' culture, language and identity to promote success for all. Students have opportunities to be involved in kapahaka, pōwhiri, waiata, and te reo Māori programmes.  An action plan to improve the teaching and learning of te reo Māori has been developed.

School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that it is timely to review and strengthen the curriculum so that it:

  • more effectively promotes achievement and progress for all learners
  • strengthens guidance for effective teaching practices that are responsive to students’ individual needs
  • continues to develop responses to students' cultural needs.

Working with Māori whānau to develop an agreed understanding of what success for Māori as Māori looks likes and means for Fernridge School, should assist with this curriculum review. 

Leaders have established a clear vision and direction for the school. They articulate priorities for improvement and for a climate of trust and collaboration. The principal expresses a desire to create more opportunities for teachers to lead aspects of school operation and build their leadership capacity.

Within a strong focus on building teacher capability, staff have good opportunities for professional learning. These align with the school's priorities for improving achievement in literacy and mathematics. The school works closely with other local schools to promote professional learning to build curriculum and teacher practice.

Performance management seeks to support teachers to improve their practice. A sound appraisal framework is intended to promote goal setting and reflection. A new model has been introduced to support teachers to inquire into the effectiveness of their practice. Next steps are for consistent schoolwide implementation of the appraisal and inquiry processes, coupled with a stronger focus on using data to promote improved outcomes for all students.

Continuing to build a collective understanding of Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, should support teachers to improve their effectiveness in responding to Māori learners.

Trustees, leaders and teachers continue to strengthen partnerships that support children's learning, with parents, whānau and others. They have focused on: improving communication with parents; building positive relationships between the school and the community; and, engaging the community in the life of the school. To promote smooth transitions for students to and from the school, links have been made with contributing early childhood centres and the local intermediate.

The board is improvement focused and continues to develop frameworks and practices for effective governance. Trustees seek feedback from the community when formulating the charter. Succession planning is in place. A next step is for the board to undertake internal evaluation of its effectiveness in promoting equity and excellence.

5 Going forward

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

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated. 

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes.

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

7 Recommendation

To support the school to sustain and continue to improve its performance, leaders and teachers should:

further develop evidence-based evaluation of practices and programmes, to better determine the effectiveness and impacts of the curriculum and teaching on accelerating student progress.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

27 January 2017

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



Other ethnic groups




Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

27 January 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2014

April 2011

February 2008

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Fernridge School is situated west of Masterton. It caters for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this review there were 200 students on roll, of whom 20% identified as Māori. The majority of students are from Masterton and others from the surrounding rural area.

ERO’s 2011 review identified that teachers promoted positive relationships with students and were developing effective partnerships with parents and whānau that supported children’s learning.

The review found the effectiveness of professional leadership needed significant improvement to build the educational, administrative and cultural conditions necessary for successful teaching and learning. Teachers were required to develop and implement an appropriate curriculum that responded to children’s needs. Trustees needed to develop a policy and procedural framework that was suitable to support effective governance. A rigorous process for self review needed to be understood and established in order to measure the effectiveness of programmes, teaching and interventions on learning.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has provided extensive support to strengthen the school's governance and leadership. Teachers have received professional learning and development in literacy and mathematics.

Since the previous ERO review there have been changes to key personnel. A new principal joined the school at the beginning of term 2, 2013 and an assistant principal was appointed at the start of term 3. The deputy principal has led the school on several occasions over the last two years, during the former principal’s absence due to illness and following his subsequent resignation. Six new classroom teachers have been appointed.

The board of trustees' chair, appointed immediately after the 2011 ERO review, steered the board effectively through a phase of building a procedural structure to better support governance. All other trustees began following the 2013 elections, and a new chair was subsequently elected.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The 2011 ERO review identified the following areas for review and development:

  • building the capability of leadership to be effective in improving teaching and learning
  • establishing the strategic direction and suitable priorities for improvement
  • providing professional support, guidance and learning for teachers to increase their effectiveness
  • assessment practices, including teachers’ ability to make overall teacher judgements about students' achievement in relation to the National Standards
  • a Fernridge School curriculum that responds to all students' learning, social and cultural needs
  • supporting success for Māori students, as Māori
  • a rigorous self-review systems to gauge the effectiveness of programmes and interventions
  • governance and management
  • reporting of student achievement and progress to parents and trustees.

The new principal and leadership team are developing their capability and are beginning to clearly articulate strategies to improve school culture and raise achievement. They express high expectations for student learning and for teachers as professionals.

Significant changes in school leadership and turnover of teachers over the last two years have resulted in variable progress towards addressing the priorities for review and development. More stable staffing should provide opportunities to further develop and embed recent initiatives.

Levels of achievement for all students have improved overtime since the 2011 review. End of 2013 National Standards data provided by the school shows that most students are achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing and maths. Many students have made good progress, with some priority students making accelerated progress. Māori students perform equally as well as their peers.

Teachers are building their capability to make overall teacher judgements about students' achievement against national expectations. They are beginning to use student achievement information to inform decision making.

Teachers are reflective and starting to use evidence to examine the effectiveness of their own practice for improving outcomes for all learners. Strengthening the schoolwide use of achievement information should support teachers to better respond to students’ individual needs.

Parents and whānau receive useful information about their child’s learning and progress in relation to National Standards. School leaders have made developing partnerships with parents and whānau a priority in order to better support learning. Trustee’s decision-making is becoming better informed due to improved reports about the impact of teaching and learning.

A Fernridge Framework has been recently introduced by school leaders to address the lack of progress in developing a school curriculum. The next step is to fully develop a curriculum in consultation with the community that responds effectively to the cultural, social and learning needs of all students.

A clear and coherent curriculum design in line with the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum should set the direction for learning and provide guidance for teaching.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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


Following the significant changes in personnel, the board and senior leaders are now better placed to sustain and continue to review and improve the school’s performance.

Trustees have benefitted from significant external support to develop a useful framework and structure that will support more effective governance. The new board is better informed and has undertaken training to build capability to fulfil its roles and responsibilities.

The charter and strategic plan set a clear direction based on student achievement data and state appropriate priorities for improving student achievement. There is improved alignment between planning, policies and practices.

A schoolwide process for self review has yet to be established. Reviews have yet to provide clear information about what makes a difference to students' learning. A key next step is to gain a better understanding of self review and develop a robust, systematic and evidence-based school approach.

The performance management system has yet to provide the necessary ongoing improvement in the quality of teaching. Leaders need to develop and implement a consistent and rigorous appraisal process.

Linking appraisal to teachers' use of evidence to inquire into the impact of their practice on learning outcomes will better support teachers to increase their capability and effectiveness. Incorporating Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners will build teachers capacity to support success for Māori students.

Leaders and teachers have engaged in a wide range of professional development opportunities. Involvement in the MOE project Accelerated Learning in Maths has been identified by leaders as contributing to the accelerated progress of priority learners.

Improvements in self review should allow leaders and trustees to gauge the value of professional learning 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.

Next ERO Review

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

9 April 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 53%, Females 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

9 April 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2011

February 2008

May 2005