Log in

Glenholme Primary School Reflects on their SOLO Journey

Milestone 3, Goal 5, Reflective Summary

Rotorua Central ICTPD Cluster

Cluster Goal 5:

Inter-school and across school collaboration within the cluster extends professional learning and enhances pedagogical practice and culminates in a series of e-presentations for a national audience.

Contributed by Nancy Macfarlane (Director/Principal) and Molly Norton (Lead Teacher) Glenholme School



Setting the Scene

Glenholme School is a thriving decile 3 inner city Rotorua School, with diverse student group.  The school is a contributing primary, with a current stable roll of 300.  The strength of Glenholme School is the diverse school community, with all of Rotorua’s socio-economic groups, represented across the school. The ethnic mix with 35% European with 58% Maori, and small groups of Pacific Island and Asian children, also reflects the broader Rotorua community.  Glenholme is one of Rotorua’s longest established schools, with a strongly loyal, committed group of supports.  There are many examples of third generation of a family attending Glenholme; this is reflected in the students and staff.


The Glenholme Board of Trustees and staff are committed to providing a high quality teaching and learning environment, that will enable the majority of our students to perform at or above their age level. We are very proud of the development of high quality school wide and classroom programmes. The 40 staff at Glenholme includes full and part time teaching staff, support staff and attached teachers. Glenholme has a strong reputation for being a friendly, supportive place, while meeting the needs of our diverse students including our ORS funded children and ESOL children.


Glenholme School Mission Statement and the school’s purpose is “to provide our tamariki with the stimulation, challenge and support needed to become successful 21st century learners”. The Board of Trustees is committed to this statement and is fully supportive of management’s developments and direction to make this possible. Management have undertaken a journey to ensure that the Mission Statement becomes a living and breathing entity at Glenholme School and not simply a policy on paper.


The Introduction of SOLO

Glenholme School has had a number of impetuses that have led to the introduction of SOLO Taxonomy. Identification in previous years self review, Education Review Office and Rotorua Central ICT Cluster understandings, that students need to develop deeper understanding of their learning and thinking and that this needs to be a process that is consistent school-wide.


The introduction of the professional e-Learning community has enabled staff to learn new pedagogy and be able and capable to implement this into classroom practice with support and guidance. The Teacher Inquiry learning model was developed from the BES Teacher Professional Learning and Development and modified to suit our SOLO Taxonomy learning journey.


Glenholme School has considered the “School Organisation” in regards to the successful implementation of SOLO Taxonomy:

·       Strategic planning

·       School structure, culture and practices

·       Type of professional community

·       Existence of accountability and targets

·       Allocation of funding

·       In-school time allocation for the professional learning opportunists to occur

·       Extra time allocation beyond the formal professional learning opportunities



Glenholme School has considered the “Professional Learning Context” in regards to the successful implementation of SOLO Taxonomy:

·       Length and frequency of professional learning opportunities

·       Mode of delivery

·       Who was involved within the school including leaders

·       Focus on the professional learning opportunities

·       Student year levels covered

·       Whether attendance is mandatory or voluntary

·       Other competing professional development (LiFE Cluster)

·       Other competing professional development (e-learning tools)

·       What internal or external expertise was utilised

·       Whether the content was specific to individual teachers or generic to all

·       Whether professional learning goals were explicit and shared

·       Whether the goals were consistent with accountability and targets

·       Whether the development of teacher leadership was part of the process


Management and e-Learning professional community are consistently reflecting on what teachers need to know about SOLO Taxonomy in order to deepen their professional understanding (e.g. pedagogical content knowledge) and extend their skills so as to have a positive impact on student outcomes. The e-Learning community utilised teacher surveys and teacher voice to gather understanding and to set next step professional learning. Areas of specific teacher learning were identified from surveys, team meeting minutes, staff sharing opportunities and classroom observations. As an outcome of the e-Learning community and the Lead Teacher developing this awareness and understanding of where individual teachers were at, appropriate professional development was delivered by external presenters and supported by internal expertise.


Management have ensured that the context of SOLO Taxonomy in which teachers’ practice, is supportive of learning. If the content offered is relevant to teachers’ classroom practice and if the activities are meaningful, the process is likely to promote iterative cycles of reflection and seeking new knowledge, with strong impact on teaching practice and student outcomes. Under these circumstances teachers are likely to be motivated to engage in on-going learning. Management believe that this is currently where Glenholme Schools’ SOLO Taxonomy journey is. We are creating the circumstances through the school organisation and the professional learning context where teachers are motivated and are engaged in on-going SOLO Taxonomy learning!


SOLO Taxonomy Symbols to empower students' learning!




  • Pam Hook

    Kia ora Paula and Nancy -

    The description of the school organisation supporting the implementation of a common model of learning outcomes (SOLO Taxonomy) at Glenhome is well framed. It suggests a thoughtful and purposeful initiative that will produce long term whole school change - change that will likely be sustainable. And I loved the videos.Well done.

    You may be interested in my latest project - I have created some new visual SOLO self - assessment rubrics for the HOT SOLO Visual Mapping and text based self assessmenrt rubrics.  They are very cool.  Will send a set through for Glenholme teachers to check out.

    Regards Pam 

  • Tessa Gray

    Thanks for sharing this story Paula and Nancy. Good point Pam, the bullets points on things to consider at the organisational level and for professional learning contexts are transferrable to other contexts.

    Using surveys to identify specific teacher learning needs has proven to be a successful way to tailor professional learning to meet both individual and wider organisational needs. Also, inspiring to read how school leaders are proactive in supporting and sustaining the pedagogical change. Reminds me of the following quote from An Open Letter to a Principal: 5 Leadership Strategies

    As instructional leaders, it is our primary responsibility to observe and evaluate instruction. With this comes the responsibility to ensure that teachers are provided the freedom to take risks, knowledge of effective practices, resources to make it happen, and flexibility to incorporate innovative teaching strategies. With these parameters in place, principals must then be able to consistently identify, foster, support, and promote 21st century pedagogy.