Peer Review Report Summary

2015 Peer Review Report Summary  October 2015

 Accredited School Reviewer: Peter Fotheringham

Executive Summary

2. 1 School Context

Sunbury Heights Primary School, established in 1981, and with a current enrolment of approximately 290 students, is located 30km northwest of Melbourne, in the City of Hume. The school is situated in a primarily residential area with a mixed and changing social demographic. The Student Family Occupation (SFO) index is 0.6098. 

The school possesses a shared commitment to the belief that all students, regardless of their background, can reach their full potential through access to first rate public education. School goals include high expectations, emphasising all students will become successful learners; confident, creative and curious individuals who are active and informed citizens. The school values are learning, honesty, caring, respect, responsibility, cooperation and learning.

While literacy and numeracy are major focuses, the school aims to provide a safe and supportive environment that promotes a passion for learning. Curiosity is encouraged along with developing confidence in students, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to become valued members of the community. 

The school equivalent full time staff is 25.8, with two Principal Class Officers, 16.4 Teachers and 7.48 Education Support Staff. Five new teaching staff members have been employed since 2011 and the establishment of Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) has enabled staff to work collaboratively on improving teaching practice and student learning. Team planning time is provided during the school day. 

Sunbury Heights offers specialist Science, Physical Education, and Art programs to all students in years Prep through 6. Each child in the school has access to their own XO laptop. Keyboard and guitar tuition is also available through the ‘Institute of Primary School Music’. 

The school’s facilities, housed in contemporary designed buildings, provide modern classrooms, specialist art and music spaces. The playground facilities include an oval, soccer field, basketball court, tennis courts, passive recreation areas and play equipment matched to the different physical and social stages of development.

A Community Hub operates within the school.  The Hub offers amongst other things support for all families. Currently running are three playgroups, a breakfast program, second hand uniform sales and a homework club. The Hub also provides space for training organisations to offer adult education programs. A Certificate III in ‘Education Support’ and ‘Keeping up with kids ICT’ are also delivered.  The Hub coordinator is available to assist both current families and other community members with any queries.

2.2          Summary of the School’s Performance

2.2.1      The School’s Performance against the Previous Strategic Plan

Sunbury Heights Primary School is congratulated on its performance during the 2012-2014 strategic plan period. A broad range of evidence reveals that the school has been effective in achieving targetted student outcomes during this timeframe.

Strategic Plan targets designed to measure student learning growth were generally achieved. Data for five student cohorts moving from Year 3 to Year 5 in three learning areas – Reading, Writing and Numeracy – reveal a general pattern whereby the average NAPLAN scores for Sunbury Heights students increased at a faster rate than the state mean score increased. A particular strength was in Writing where all of the five cohorts achieved increases in average scores greater than the state. Other DET performance indicators reveal that Sunbury Heights students consistently perform at levels similar to those schools with similar student profiles. Year 3 and 5 NAPLAN Reading, Writing and Numeracy Means have trended upward from 2011 through 2015. Some strong improvement trends have been recorded with the proportions of Year 5 students making medium or high relative gain in Reading, Writing and Numeracy have improved over the review period and are now better than the state benchmarks

The students’ perceptions of their cognitive, emotional and behavioural engagement with schooling were comparatively very strong during 2012 to 2014, with most 2014 student Attitudes to School Survey scores higher than those recorded in 2012. In 2014, all measures in the teaching and learning category of the survey recorded mean scores greater than those for the region and state. The scores were also greater than 4.2 on the five-point scale – a good result. The highest scores were recorded for Student Motivation, Teacher Effectiveness and Teacher Empathy, all scoring above 4.59 on the five-point scale, placing them well above the state median score. These scores and those for Learning Confidence (4.20) and Stimulating Learning (4.41) are indicators of high levels of student cognitive engagement. A measure of emotional engagement, school connectedness, received a 2014 score of 4.61. This score was above the state and region mean scores and above the state 75th percentile score.

The average number of days absent per student for the whole school, was 18.57 in 2012 and 14.32 in 2014, representing a 23% reduction in absence rates. The school has increased attendance through promoting the importance of attendance and clear procedures for dealing with absences.

Scores for Student Wellbeing and Student Relationships measures on the student Attitudes to School Survey trended upward during 2012 to 2014 and were at or above state median scores in 2014. The Student Morale score was comparatively very strong, above the state 75th percentile mark. The 2014  Connectedness to Peers score of 4.30 (five-point scale) was similar to  the state and region means and in the middle 50% of all school scores. The 2014 Student Safety score was 4.47 (five-point scale) and above state and region means.

The school has adaptive decision-making processes that ensure resources are allocated productively in response to evidence about student performance and developmental needs. This is evident in the productive allocation of resources to targetted teaching and learning, coaching roles, the distributed leadership structure, and the allocation of time during the school day for teacher teams to meet for planning and improvement.


2.2.2      Summary of the considerations for the next Strategic Plan

The Self Evaluation and review panel discussions have identified some well-considered actions for future improvements. The panel endorsed the school’s current directions, and agreed that these plus those actions highlighted during the panel discussions be considered for inclusion in the new School Strategic Plan. Considerations for the next strategic plan include:

Student Achievement

Goal – Each Sunbury Heights student will be curious and reach or exceed expected standards in literacy and numeracy.

Targets – consideration be given to including targets such as the following in the new Strategic Plan:

­   For the value added learning of students progressing from Year 3 to 5 to be above the state mean in reading, writing and numeracy (as measured by NAPLAN marched cohort mean score growth).

­   Targets established for measuring growth from Prep to Year 2

­   Year 1 to 6 students to make at least one Victorian Curriculum level progress every year as measured by teacher judgement.

Key Improvement Strategies (KIS)

Two key improvement strategies to consider for the next steps/SSP are:

­   Refinement and further development of the school’s instructional models in Mathematics, Reading (and Writing).

­   Continue to build teacher capacity to implement the instructional models (building on the good practice already exists)

Student Engagement


Continue existing goals –

To improve student engagement in the three interrelated components behavioural, emotional and cognitive.

Each Sunbury Heights student will be connected and engaged in their learning.


To maintain student Attitudes to School Survey measure mean scores at levels similar to those recorded in 2015, and at least above four on the five-point scale and in the middle 50% of all school scores

Key Improvement Strategies

­   Ensure students are prepared emotionally and socially for their next stage of learning and make a smooth transition to each grade level.

­   Further build parent and community engagement with improving student learning.

­   Continue to use ICT to promote student engagement in learning.

Student Wellbeing

Goal – To develop student resilience and behaviours that reflect the school values.

Targets – To maintain the Student Attitudes to School mean scores for the wellbeing measures at least in the middle 50% of all school scores

Key Improvement Strategies

Refreshing the Ramon Lewis developmental management approach

Review Sunbury Heights wellbeing program to ensure a coherent whole school approach incorporating mindfulness and resilience.


Goal – Use multiple sources of evidence to make effective decisions and allocate resources that result in sustained improvement to student learning, engagement and wellbeing.


The strategies and actions described in each of the Achievement, Engagement and Wellbeing sections of the Self Evaluation provide the basis for a general resource allocation strategy in the new Strategic Plan.


Achieve high levels of staff opinion as measured through the Staff Opinion Survey collective efficacy and collaboration measures

2.2.3      Next steps

The panel fully endorsed the school plans for future improvement, and is of the opinion that the school is very well placed for its next strategic plan period. This review is an opportunity for the Sunbury Heights Primary School community to celebrate its efforts and achievements. Observations by peer members of the review panel that the school has a high level of internal expertise should lead the school to be optimistic about future gains. The panel was impressed by the clarity in directions articulated by the leadership group.