Ashgrove School - 26/02/2013

1 Context

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

Ashgrove School is a welcoming and inclusive school. As a result of housing growth in the Rangiora area, the school’s roll is increasing.

Students relate well to others and have positive attitudes towards learning. These relationships and approaches to learning are supported by a well-understood values programme (Ashgrove STARS).

Teachers work well together to support students’ learning. They plan together, observe each other’s teaching and share ideas.

The school enjoys high levels of parent support and involvement in a wide range of activities from supporting class programmes to fundraising.

2 Learning

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

The school makes very good use of reliable assessment information. Senior leaders and teachers use it to monitor and change teaching practice, particularly in literacy and numeracy. The school uses a number of good-quality assessments to measure students’ progress and achievement. This information is also used to identify individual students for further support or extension.

Teachers develop detailed class descriptions to show how they are going to support individuals and groups of students to improve their learning. Teachers then evaluate how effective the support has been in helping students achieve and make changes to programmes to further increase students’ interest and understanding.

Literacy professional development is making a significant difference to teaching practice and student progress and achievement. Teachers are working together regularly to:

  • make sure their judgements about students’ writing are accurate
  • plan next steps for students
  • share good teaching practice
  • discuss research about effective literacy approaches.

Senior students are gaining greater knowledge about their learning strengths and needs from relevant assessment information. Teachers support them to understand what the results mean and what they need to work on next.

There is a good-quality approach to providing for students with special learning needs. Teachers plan programmes that are inclusive so that these students are able to contribute within the classroom setting on most occasions. Teachers are ably supported by a well-qualified special needs coordinator (SENCO) and learning assistants. Students’ progress and achievement are well monitored and their programmes are regularly reviewed and adjusted.

Area for review and development

School leaders have identified the need and are reviewing how well they are reporting to parents. They have received feedback from surveys that the language in reports is not always easy to understand. Current reports do not clearly show where students are achieving against the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The school has a well-developed and designed curriculum to meet the needs of its students. The recently reviewed and revised curriculum document is in the early stages of use. Strengths of this curriculum include:

  • the integration and use of the local community environment when planning programmes
  • the way students are involved in inquiry learning at all year levels
  • clear expectations and guidelines for teachers about planning, teaching and assessment
  • a useful statement about developing greater student ownership and understanding of learning
  • learning that is related to students’ lives and experiences.

Teachers regularly have professional discussions about what they can do to promote effective learning and lift student achievement. They show care and concern for their students, providing regular encouragement and praise. Teachers make appropriate adjustments to learning programmes to meet student needs. ERO observed that students stayed focused on their work for good lengths of time.

Students told ERO about the many opportunities they have for leadership and extension as they go through their schooling. These include innovative approaches to developing the school radio station and newspaper.

The SENCO provides good-quality leadership and professional development for staff. This helps to increase teachers’ knowledge of the best ways to support students with special needs.

Area for development and review

ERO, senior leaders and teachers have identified the need to involve students more in making decisions about their learning. Next steps include:

  • reviewing the approach to individual and class goal setting so that goals are relevant, timely and purposeful
  • ensuring students have a good understanding of their individual learning goals
  • finding ways to support students' thinking and using their ideas when planning lessons.

These approaches should encourage greater student independence and critical thinking skills.

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

The school is developing its capacity to further promote educational success for Māori students as Māori. A Māori parent, who is a trained teacher, is leading the newly formed kapa haka group. Teachers are confident in participating in waiata and whakatauki. Staff share their new learning with students at assemblies.

Te reo Māori is evident in some classes. Leaders and teachers are continuing to develop a plan for the progressive introduction of te reo and tikanga Māori in classes so that all students can develop expertise and understanding of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

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. It has a clear vision and values that are understood and shared across the school community. These reflect the school’s beliefs and approach to governance and management.

Areas of strength

The board and school leaders work well together. They focus on improving outcomes for students and providing a well-balanced curriculum in a caring, inclusive environment.

Trustees have taken part in training to increase their understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Leaders ensure the school has the capacity among staff to address the learning needs of students. The appraisal process for teachers is very effective. Teachers receive good-quality feedback and credit this for helping them to improve their teaching and students’ learning.

Leaders provide good quality professional development based on information from student achievement, teacher appraisal and current educational research.

Areas for development and review

As the student population is increasing, it is timely for the board and senior leaders to review structures that support school development. This includes making the school’s guiding documents, such as the charter, strategic and annual plans more focused and clear. As the school grows it is important that consideration is given to reviewing leadership organisation. This should include how leaders plan to influence change in areas such as information and communication technologies (ICT) and promoting success for Māori learners.

While there is a range of self review occurring in the school, a next step is to more closely link self review to strategic plans.

The school is aware of the need to ensure that yearly targets focus on lifting the achievement of groups of students with specific needs.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

26 February 2013

About the School

Location

Rangiora, North Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3284

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

539

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacifica

Asian

Australian

British

Other Ethnicities

81%

7%

1%

2%

2%

5%

2%

Review team on site

December 2012

Date of this report

26 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

March 2006

March 2003