Ashley School - 19/10/2016

Findings

Ashley School is moving ahead positively. Student culture, wellbeing and learning are at the centre of improvement initiatives and approaches. The board, principal and senior leaders make the most of their collective professional knowledge, experience and skills to sustain and build on recent initiatives. Positive relationships are promoted across the school. Very useful external expertise has helped to strengthen a number of school practices. Further improvements are likely to be gained from addressing the next steps in this report.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

The May 2015 ERO report for Ashley School identified a number of areas where processes needed improvement. These included governance and leadership, achievement, curriculum, compliance and bicultural perspectives.

Since the 2015 review, there have been some changes to the senior management team and teaching positions. The board that had been newly appointed at the time of the last review, has remained stable and been an active part of the significant progress that has occurred at the school in the last 18 months. Many of these improvements are now sustaining and building on the positive features of the school.

The board, senior leaders and staff have been very responsive in addressing the recommendations from the 2015 ERO report.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

Significant progress has been made in addressing all the priorities identified for review and development in the 2015 ERO report.

Progress

Bicultural perspectives

The board, principal, senior leaders and staff have developed an increasingly strong focus on te ao Māori and established positive relationships with Māori who have expertise in te reo and tikanga Māori. The knowledge shared with staff has increased the cultural aspects of the programmes and practices. Consultation with and feedback from parents of Māori students has informed the school’s actions in this area. The new initiatives are well led within the school, and keenly championed by the principal.

Māori students experience their language, culture and identity being valued. All students have opportunities to hear, learn and use te reo Māori and to experience tikanga Māori in meaningful contexts. This includes: mihi whakatau, karakia, whakataukī, pepeha, waiata and haka. More than half of all students at the school are involved in the kapa haka group.

ERO and the senior leadership team agree that the development of a Māori action plan would be useful to help sustain and build on what the school currently has in place.

Governance

The board actively represents and serves the school and education community in its stewardship role. The principal and board have worked closely with the school community to develop a new charter and refresh the school’s vision, values, and strategic direction. They have had good access to targeted professional development to support them in their roles. This includes opportunities to work with other boards and school leaders within the local cluster of schools. Additional improvements include:

  • better understanding of roles, responsibilities and reporting systems
  • improved management of governance processes, particularly finance and health and safety
  • review and revision of school policies and procedures to reflect the expectations of Ashley School’s community and current legislation requirements
  • increasing alignment to and monitoring of strategic planning, school-wide priorities, principal appraisal and professional development.

ERO, the board and the senior leadership team agree that the development of a governance handbook would assist the new and existing board members in their roles.

Leadership

The principal and senior leaders work collaboratively and effectively to strengthen leadership across the school. Factors contributing to this include clear leadership expectations and responsibilities and distributing leadership more widely. Senior leaders are increasingly making more strategic use of staff strengths. Some useful key actions that have been taken include:

  • specific professional development to grow leadership capacity and teacher capability
  • an improved appraisal process for the principal, senior leaders and teachers
  • promoting teacher inquiries that align to the school’s goals and annual plan
  • fostering a reflective culture that is focused on ongoing improvement and positive outcomes for students.
Achievement

School leaders, teachers and learning assistants are developing a collaborative approach and shared responsibility for student learning, achievement and behaviour. A number of well-targeted and evidence-based initiatives are building the conditions necessary for promoting equity and excellence for all students. Positive improvements to data analysis and use by teachers are evident. Deliberate actions that have been taken to improve this practice include the:

  • targeted professional development that is well-aligned to strategic goals
  • focus on increasing teacher confidence with OTJs and moderation
  • better use of data to inform achievement targets for students whose learning is at risk
  • specific strategies and programmes for target students
  • regular reporting of student progress to the board to inform resourcing decisions.

ERO and the senior leadership team agree that:

  • student achievement targets could be further refined to be more specific to the needs of students who are most at risk of not achieving
  • further analysis of classroom data is needed to identify accelerated progress and the strategies that made a difference to student achievement over time.
Curriculum

Students participate and learn in caring, collaborative and inclusive learning environments. Relationships between staff and students are respectful and productive and diversity is valued. The recently reviewed and refreshed vision, values and key competencies incorporate aspects of Māori concepts and are well used to promote students’ sense of wellbeing and pride in their school. Teacher collaboration to improve learning outcomes for students is especially evident in the:

  • positive response to targeted professional development and discussions
  • growing of collaborative teams and ways of teaching and learning
  • focus on reflective practices and good use of teaching as inquiry
  • increased use of digital tools that engage students in their learning and promote increasing student agency.

In the junior area there has been a change in staffing and in the classroom philosophy. The students' individual interests, strengths and capabilities are well considered as they transition into school. They benefit from an appropriate child-centred learning programme.

ERO and the senior leadership team agree that development of the curriculum should reflect the unique characteristics of Ashley School.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Findings

ERO’s evaluation of progress has confirmed that the school is moving ahead positively and is in a stronger position in most areas to sustain and improve its performance. Students’ learning and wellbeing needs are at the centre of the school’s strategic priorities and actions for improvement.

Under the leadership of the board, principal and senior leaders a number of school systems and practices have been strategically restructured to more effectively address areas identified for improvement in the 2015 ERO review. High quality external support has had a noticeable impact on building a more collaborative, learner-centred environment that values the language, culture and identity of students.

Key next steps

ERO, the board, principal and senior leaders agree that the key next steps are to:

  • continue to consolidate and refine new initiatives
  • develop and implement an internal evaluation framework
  • further develop the documented curriculum
  • strengthen appraisal processes to better align to the expectations of the Education Council
  • regularly ensure that the board has reliable ways of being assured about staff and student wellbeing, especially during a time of change and redevelopment.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

Not applicable, no recommendations.

Conclusion

Ashley School is moving ahead positively. Student culture, wellbeing and learning are at the centre of improvement initiatives and approaches. The board, principal and senior leaders make the most of their collective professional knowledge, experience and skills to sustain and build on recent initiatives. Positive relationships are promoted across the school. Very useful external expertise has helped to strengthen a number of school practices. Further improvements are likely to be gained from addressing the next steps in this report.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

19 October 2016

About the School

Location

North Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3285

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

161

Gender composition

Female 55%; Male 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

14%

86%

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

19 October 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2015

February 2012

November 2008