Albury School - 23/05/2016

1 Context

Students at Albury School learn in two multilevel classrooms. The school has a family-like culture. The teachers know the children and their families very well and older and younger children play well alongside each other.

Parents and the wider community are very involved in and supportive of the school. This includes significant fundraising for resources and assisting students who need extra help to succeed. For many families the school is an important point of social contact.

School and community facilities are often shared. The extensive grounds are well used for sport and other physical activities. In school time, there is a strong focus on students learning to swim confidently and on water safety.

The school has been part of the Mackenzie Cluster of Learning. Albury students benefit from regular sporting and social contact with students from some of the participating schools. The cluster has also provided professional links and development opportunities for staff.

There had been no change in staff since the 2013 ERO review. However, changes are expected in the near future.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to be positive, confident learners, strive for personal excellence, make good learning decisions and healthy lifestyle choices, reflect on their learning, be effective communicators, aware of self, and have positive relationships. Adults have also considered carefully what each New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) principle, such as cultural diversity and inclusion, should look like in the school.

The school’s achievement information shows that close to 80% of students were achieving at or above the National Standards (NS) in reading and writing at the end of 2015. For mathematics, 88% achieved at or above the NS. The school had identified students who needed extra help to succeed.  Appropriate targets to lift student achievement were set. Most target students made accelerated progress as a result of intense support and caught up with their peers.

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation there has been a number of developments in the school. These include professional development for staff, improvements to aspects of literacy and physical education learning and improved assessment practices. Professional development for teachers focused strongly on how to best support students who were below expected levels in literacy and mathematics. The school needs to ensure that this and other new learning is well embedded and built on across the school. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school very effectively supports children whose learning needs acceleration. Teachers have very good systems for identifying students who are not achieving as well as expected. They work closely with a very experienced teacher aide to provide specific support for each student. They communicate closely with parents and share ideas and resources with them.

Each student’s progress and achievement is very closely monitored. The school could show that most students made accelerated progress as a result of this support.

The school usually has one or two Māori students. The principal and teachers have developed an action plan that clarifies how the school supports its Māori learners. 

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?

Students benefit from a broad curriculum. Good use is made of local people and places to make learning more relevant. This includes regular trips beyond the school. Teachers also take advantage of incidental events, such as finding space debris on a local farm, to excite students about the world around them.

Students, parents and staff have had input into the Albury School curriculum design. Students can talk about the ‘Albury Kid’, the ‘Albury Keys’ to learning and the Albury values. Teachers are clear in their expectations and good work habits are encouraged. Older students have many opportunities to take on leadership roles and other responsibilities.

Consistent with the school’s vision, students enjoy frequent, well-planned physical activity and sports. Oral language development is also emphasised.  Teachers agree that this area needs ongoing work. Similarly, ICT could be better used to support learning.

Students meet twice a year with their parents and teachers to set long-term goals. Within the classroom, they set smaller goals towards achieving these. As students move through the school, they could take greater ownership and responsibility for their learning, including playing a more active role in the assessment of their work.

The principal and teachers have worked hard to build relationships and connections that will benefit students’ learning. Examples include:

  • frequent communication with parents about their children’s learning
  • providing parents with useful ideas and resources about how they can best support their children’s learning
  • accessing local experts about Māori language and culture
  • regularly seeking parent and student views about students’ wellbeing and learning, and school in general.

The principal, teachers and teacher aide constantly share ideas and resources as to how they can best support individual children. Teachers have participated in year-long literacy and mathematics programmes about how to best support students not succeeding in these areas.

The board, principal and staff have put some very good reporting and evaluation practices in place. Adults in the school agree that some reports could be more evaluative.

The principal has established efficient systems for the smooth running of the school. He keeps the board and parents well informed about what is happening in the school. He actively builds relationships with other schools and the wider community. With the board he has developed useful strategic and annual planning systems.

Trustees show a strong commitment to doing what is best for children, especially those needing extra support. They receive detailed reports on how well students are supported and what progress they have made. Finances are well managed and at-risk students are prioritised.

The board is forward thinking. It has made investments, such as planting a forest on school land, to ensure it can continue to best support its children. It has also developed a useful manual to guide future trustees in their work and improved how it reviews its own practices.

5 Going forward

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

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children who need their learning and achievement to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

This school's strength is in its very good systems for identifying, supporting and monitoring any student who is not making sufficient progress with their learning. Aspects of evaluation and other practices that help teachers look more deeply at teaching and learning could be improved.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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 Recommendations

The school and ERO agree that next development steps are to:

  • strengthen the use of ICT as a tool for teaching and learning
  • continue to strengthen students’ understanding of and responsibility for being a successful learner, including opportunities to assess their own and their peers’ work
  • review how the school supports students as they transition into the school as new-entrants and from other schools, and their transition on to Year 7 at other schools
  • extend appraisal to include teachers’ deep inquiry into their teaching practice
  • continue to build staff and board understanding of how to best support Māori learners and all students' understanding of Māori culture and language. 

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

23 May 2016 

About the school 

Location

South Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3273

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

25

Gender composition

Boys:     16
Girls:        9

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori

24
  1

Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

23 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2013
November 2009
November 2006