ERO Reports

Latest Report

July 2015


Letter of congratulations from Hon Hekia Perata regarding the July 2015 ERO Review.


Willowbank School (Howick) Dannemora, Auckland


Education Review Report



1 Context

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

Willowbank School opened in 2001 to serve a new suburban development in East Auckland. The school caters for Year 1 to 6 students, who come from diverse cultural backgrounds. Six percent of students  are  Māori  and  six  percent  have  Pacific  Island  heritage. The school has a positive ERO reporting history.

Willowbank  School’s  vision  statement  “Discover, Develop, Nurture” has been integral to the Willowbank Way school curriculum since 2005. In 2012 the board and senior leaders consulted with staff, students  and  their  community  as  part  of  reviewing  the  school’s  vision  for  learning.  This   consultation resulted in the vision being further developed into key statements underpinning each of the vision key words that identify a Willowbank School learner profile. These statements more clearly articulate the educative purpose of the Willowbank Way and vision.

Since the 2010 ERO report, a different and larger leadership structure has been put in place to support collaborative practices and build teacher capacity to promote and support student learning. Strengthening  partnerships  with  families  to  support  their  child’s  learning  has  also  been  a  focus.

There is a positive tone in the school that supports the learning of all students. Constructive relationships and connections underpin all practices. Students, staff and parents display a strong sense of belonging and pride in the school.

2 Learning

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

The board, senior leaders and teachers use achievement information well to make positive changes for learners.

School achievement information shows that students make expected, or greater than expected, academic progress over their time at the school. Good systems support teachers to make reliable and valid overall teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards. For reading and mathematics the school is making good progress towards meeting the government determined achievement goals for 2017 of 85 percent of students achieving at or above National Standards. There is presently a focus by the school on learner achievement in writing to accelerate student progress.  Māori  students  overall  are  achieving  at  similar  levels  to  the  school  population. The school is aware of the need to focus on Pacific student literacy achievement.

School leaders and teachers closely monitor the progress of all students and put in place useful strategies to improve their achievement. Senior leaders and teachers use achievement information very  well  to  plan  programmes  and  deliberate  acts  of  teaching  to  cater  for  their  students’  different   strengths and learning needs. Achievement information is also used effectively to enquire into the effectiveness of teaching practices and to identify suitable professional learning and development opportunities for teachers.

Students are highly engaged in the learning process and display ownership of their learning. Teachers share assessment information with students and support them in decisions about how to further improve their achievement. Staff have high expectations of students and believe in them as capable, competent learners. Students talk about their learning with confidence and support the learning of their peers.

The school has inclusive and responsive practices and systems to support students with special talents and learning needs. Teachers and learning assistants share a commitment to and responsibility for student progress. This shared approach ensures students participate fully in appropriate learning programmes and classroom activities.

3 Curriculum

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

The  school’s  curriculum  promotes  and  supports  student  learning  very  effectively.  

Students benefit from a broad, engaging and relevant curriculum. The curriculum has an appropriate balance between literacy and mathematics, and offers a range of learning opportunities in other learning areas. The curriculum meets and effectively supports the  school’s  diverse  cultural   community. Opportunities exist for students to participate in and strengthen their own and each others’  culture,  language  and  identity.  

The Willowbank Way and vision is highly evident in the curriculum. It shifts the focus of teaching and learning to students knowing themselves as learners, and learning how to learn.

The school is committed to ensuring that students have positive learning experiences. Students are taught the skills to scaffold new learning and are set up to be successful and independent learners. The curriculum promotes a learning approach that is negotiated with students. This is evident in the design of the curriculum. Opportunities for students to have a say in selecting meaningful contexts for learning, and sharing their knowledge as teachers of other students, contributes to ongoing expansion and change in the curriculum.

The curriculum includes some aspects that reflect the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand through  the  school’s  te  reo  Māori  and tikanga implementation plan. This is an area the school is progressing. Senior leaders continue to increase the expectations for teaching practice and for students  to  experience  a  progressive  te  reo  Māori  and  tikanga  curriculum  across  the  year  levels.

A group of staff members have responsibility to promote bicultural awareness and practice in the school, and to build staff confidence to deliver the  school’s  te  reo  Māori  and  tikanga  curriculum.


Provision for staff to learn and develop their own te reo Māori through professional development is available.

Teachers and learning assistants deliver the curriculum very well, with high quality teaching practices evident across the school. Staff share teaching approaches and ideas. They are well supported to grow their practice through involvement in professional learning programmes and participation in a valuable teacher appraisal processes. Strong management systems also help teachers to meet the diverse needs of students.

School leaders and teachers work successfully with families, early childhood services and local intermediate schools to support students to make smooth transitions into and out of the school.

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

The school has taken some  positive  steps  to  promote  educational  success  for  Māori,  as  Māori.  

The  school  has  41  students  who  identify  as  Māori.  These  students  have  positive  attitudes  to  school   and learning and are represented in enrichment programmes and leadership roles in the school.

Students at all year levels have opportunities to engage in kapa haka which promotes discipline, teamwork,  and  deeper  understanding  of  tikanga  Māori.  Aspects  of  Māori  culture  and  language  are   evident in learning programmes and school practices. An  initiative  to  support  groups  of  Māori   students is having a positive impact on the engagement of Maori students in the learning process.

School  leaders  and  teachers  have  high  expectations  for  Māori  students  and  foster  positive   relationships  with  whānau. Partnerships  between  whānau  and  the  school  focus  on  providing  parents   with  the  knowledge  and  skills  to  support  their  children’s  successful  learning.  A  change  in  enrolment   processes  to  capture  whānau  goals  and  aspirations  for  their  children,  plus  an  investment in liaison people to gather community voice are other initiatives that are supporting engagement. These strategies are creating a shift in ownership, with increased collective responsibility for the raising of Māori  student  achievement.  

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to grow its performance.

There is cohesion and alignment across areas of the school. The work of the board and senior leaders  is  well  coordinated  through  the  school’s  strategic  and  operational  planning  process. A sense of collectiveness and collaboration allows the school to work on meaningful change and supports the sustainability of successful initiatives.

The board provides effective governance. Decision-making is well informed and inclusive and has a focus on improving outcomes for all students. Trustees contribute to and support school activities. They have good working relationships with school management and the community. There are good systems in place to ensure school accountabilities are met.

School  leadership  is  highly  effective.  The  principal  and  senior  leaders  clearly  articulate  the  school’s   teaching and learning model, ensuring that it is very evident in practice. Team leaders and curriculum focus leaders skilfully lead the improvement of classroom programmes. There is a focus on growing leadership capacity at all levels. A spirit of leadership is also nurtured in students through many meaningful opportunities. Students of all ages see themselves as leaders.

Self review is used well to support ongoing improvements and to meet and respond to the diverse expectations of the community. Self-review processes are robust and include the opinions of different groups of people, including students.

The board and school leaders build networks with other schools, and make good use of external advice and sound educational research to support improved outcomes for all students. The board continues  to  seek  effective  ways  to  connect  with  the  changing  diversity  of  groups  in  the  school’s   community.

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. At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects  of  the  Code.  ERO’s  investigations  confirmed  that  the  school’s  self-review process for international students is thorough.

Standards of education, pastoral support and access to English language tuition are of a very good standard. International students enjoy many opportunities to participate in school activities.

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.


    Willowbank School promotes student learning very effectively. Students benefit from a broad, relevant and well delivered curriculum. Students are highly engaged in the learning process and are supported well to be successful and independent learners. A spirit of leadership is nurtured in students.


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


Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

29 July 2015

Follow the link to view the Willowbank School information on the Ministry of Education website, Education Counts (including ERO reports).





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