Ashburton Christian School - 30/11/2015

1. Context

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

Ashburton Christian School’s special character is well embedded and reflected in all aspects of school life. Students and staff learn and work in a caring, nurturing and respectful environment. There is strong support and involvement from the community.

Since the 2012 ERO review, significant changes have occurred including:

  • the retention of Year 9 and 10 students
  • the development of systems that support learning and teaching
  • new staffing appointments, including specialist teachers in the senior school for mathematics and science
  • an increase in roll.

The school has made good progress in addressing the recommendations outlined in the 2012 ERO report. There have been noticeable improvements in the quality and usefulness of evaluation to identify school strengths and areas for further improvement. The principal and teachers effectively use school-wide student achievement information to identify needs and plan appropriate programmes for students. Individual learning plans for students with special needs include increased involvement of parents and students. The professional development is closely linked to the school’s strategic goals and the needs of students.

2. Learning

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

The board and principal effectively use achievement information to guide planning and resourcing decisions. Most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in literacy and mathematics. There is some evidence of accelerated progress in mathematics, particularly Māori students, and in students’ writing and reading after three years at school.

Teachers work closely with the support staff to meet the different needs of identified students. This includes a specific programme for students who have English as a second language or learning needs in literacy or mathematics.

Areas for review and development

The board and principal could further support staff in meeting the needs of students by strengthening the student achievement targets so that they:

  • are more specific
  • focus on groups of students at risk of not achieving positive educational outcomes
  • have an emphasis on acceleration.

3. Curriculum

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

The curriculum strongly reflects the school’s special character, vision and values. The principal and teachers are continuing to develop the curriculum so that a good balance of Christian living and educational learning is evident.

High levels of student engagement in learning were observed. There is a strong focus on students’ self management of their learning at the senior school level. Students in the junior school are beginning to be more involved in their own learning. This is an area that teachers should continue to develop.

Students have access to rich learning experiences in and beyond the classroom. They greatly benefit from the expertise of teachers within the school and the specialist teachers within the community. Students who need extension are able to learn alongside other students of similar ability from neighbouring schools, on a regular basis.

A notable innovation is the preschool programme the school has set up to support children and their parents prior to their transition in to school. This programme, based on the principal’s research and run by the new entrant teacher, provides activities and resources that parents can use at home in preparing their children for school. The impact of this innovation is apparent in the high achievement of students in reading and writing after three years at school.

The senior school curriculum, for Year 9 and 10 students, offers more programme choices for students in preparation for College and Year 11. Teachers use relevant assessments and are developing a system that recognises student progress and achievement in relation to clear and useful criteria. When fully implemented, this process should provide more helpful and useful information to students and their parents and families.

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

The school is in the early stages of developing programmes that promote educational success for Māori students, as Māori. There is not an overall programme that commits all staff to incorporating bicultural perspectives in their teaching or the students’ learning.

Students have some experiences with tikanga Māori. They take part in waiata, mihi, mihi whakatau and through the tuakana teina practices where older students support and lead younger children in their learning. However, teacher awareness of the bicultural nature of some of these practices is limited.

Students are given good opportunities to achieve success across a range of learning experiences through art, music, sport, leadership. Student successes and contributions are regularly celebrated at assemblies.

Areas for review and development

The principal and teachers should:

  • develop a school-wide programme that provides opportunities for all students to develop a strong awareness of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • report to the Māori community on Māori student achievement and the programmes in place to support Māori students to achieve success, as Māori
  • consult with Māori parents to find out what their aspirations for their children are, as Māori.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The principal provides the staff with clear direction and leadership. The principal is building staff leadership capacity by delegating roles and responsibilities.

There is a stronger emphasis on teachers inquiring into their own practice and using the outcomes to improve teaching and learning across the school. Evaluation now includes effective use of students’ ideas and opinions, achievement information, current research and resources and recommendations. Appraisal follows a purposeful set of procedures and is linked to the Practising Teacher Criteria. Although teacher innovation is well supported, the principal has identified that increased reflection about teacher practice is needed. 

The principal provides useful achievement information to enable the board to make informed resourcing decisions. Trustees bring a range of skills, strengths, experience and strong commitment to their roles. They have used external expertise to build their capability. They have a useful framework to guide them in reviewing policies, guidelines and practices. A stronger focus on identifying challenges and next steps will strengthen the board’s evaluation process.

The board has reliable processes in place to ensure students and staff are provided with a safe and healthy environment.

Areas for review and development

The board has identified and ERO agrees that the school’s strategic plan needs strengthening. In order to do this, the board should: 

  • set more future-focused goals that link to the school’s vision and values
  • develop a plan and annual goals that link to the board’s strategic goals. 

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.

Conclusion

Ashburton Christian School’s programmes strongly reflect its special character. Students learn in a positive and respectful environment. The curriculum offers a wide range of rich learning experiences for students. The board and staff work well together to meet the needs of all students. Parents and the community actively support the school.

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

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

About the School

Location

Ashburton

Ministry of Education profile number

608

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 10)

School roll

96

Gender composition

Boys 56; Girls 40

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Cook Island
Samoan
Asian

63
  9
  1
  1
22

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

30 November 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Private School Review

August 2012
September 2009