Ashley School - 20/05/2015

Findings

Ashley School places a high value on positive relationships with the local community. Students are provided with an interesting range of learning and sporting opportunities within and beyond the school. Calm and purposeful classroom environments support children’s learning. This report identifies a number of strengths, particularly at curriculum and learning levels. The board and principal are aware that significant improvements are needed to governance and leadership practices.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Context

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

Ashley School has a history of strong links and involvement with its rural community. Some school facilities are shared with the community. Many parents and the parent teachers association continue to provide a range of valuable support for the school.

School values contribute positively to a calm and settled school culture and are actively promoted by leaders and teachers. The school’s involvement in a national environmental programme enables students to experience, learn about and care for the natural world.

Changes to housing in the local area are contributing to the school’s stable roll. Leaders and teachers are building useful links with nearby early childhood centres. This is providing effective support for young children as they transition into the school. The school is part of a local education cluster that is focused on continuing to improve learning outcomes for students.

The school has been receiving support from the Ministry of Education for the management of school finances. This is leading to ongoing improvements in this area. ERO found that the school has responded well to some aspects of the 2012 ERO review. However, significant areas have yet to be effectively addressed. ERO has concerns about the capacity of the board and principal to make the necessary improvements without external support.

2 Learning

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

The school is making good progress with the way achievement information is used to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Achievement information provided by the school shows that students achieve best at reading and mathematics. A high-quality programme for students who need extra support in mathematics is in place. Additional support for reading is also available for a number of students.

The effective use of achievement information includes:

  • teachers’ regular discussions about students’ individual learning needs, and flexibility about the way those needs are met
  • the extra support teachers and teacher aides provide for students who may be at risk of poor outcomes
  • ongoing improvements to the analysis and use of achievement information at classroom levels.

A system has been developed by a senior leader to track students’ achievement across their years at the school. This is likely to provide very useful information for parents about their child’s learning and progress over time, against the National Standards and New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) levels.

Areas for review and development

The board, leaders and teachers should now build on the improvements identified above by:

  • making charter achievement targets more specifically focused on groups of students who are not succeeding as well as they could be
  • continuing to extend and improve the use of achievement information across the school
  • ensuring that relevant reporting to the board identifies what is working well and what the next steps are for ongoing development.

At the onsite stage of the review, ERO did not see evidence that reports to parents were against the National Standards. Written reports do not make it clear enough that achievement is against the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

Senior leaders and teachers are continuing to ensure that students are provided with a wide and interesting range of learning opportunities including sport within and beyond the school. A newly-introduced music programme and extra physical education opportunities help to expand children’s learning and contribute well to their enjoyment and engagement.

Other improvements in the curriculum include more regular reviews of learning areas and the development of a long-term curriculum review plan to help sustain current practice. Programmes stimulate children’s curiosity and motivate them to achieve at increasingly higher levels.

Leaders and teachers ensure that students have good access to external support, where necessary, for their emotional wellbeing. They are proactive about seeking extra help for students’ physical health such as hearing and eyesight, and make sure that parents are included in discussions and decision-making processes.

ERO observed many examples of purposeful teaching, respectful and warm relationships between teachers and students, and students being well included and involved in classroom programmes. The school’s gradual movement to more collaborative teaching approaches is increasing opportunities for teachers to improve practices that benefit student’s learning.

Areas for review and development

It is now important for leaders and teachers to:

  • develop guidelines and expectations for improving the accuracy of judgements about students’ learning
  • review current provisions for students at risk of poor outcomes and very able students, including ensuring that annual review of these areas is reported to the board
  • extend current curriculum review to include an evaluation of how well school values and New Zealand Curriculum key competencies and principles are reflected within programmes across the year levels
  • further improve student goal-setting processes by developing a cohesive school wide framework that promotes students’ self-management and independence.

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

As identified in the 2010 and 2012 ERO reviews, the school has yet to plan, develop and extend bicultural practices across the school in ways that build and celebrate the importance of the Māori language, culture and identity.

Most Māori students achieve well and at similar rates to their peers.

Area for review and development

In consultation with Māori whānau and students, the board and leaders should develop planning that identifies priorities for improvement in promoting biculturalism within classrooms, the school environment and in the school curriculum. Regular review and reporting to the board and whānau about progress towards goals is likely to strengthen positive outcomes for all students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

This report identifies many areas of good practice at the school. However ERO has significant concerns about governance and professional leadership. The school’s response to external reviews over the last five years has generally been inadequate. A range of significant issues must be effectively addressed before the school is in a better position to sustain and improve its performance.

A number of changes to the board, including a new board chairperson in 2014, have occurred since the 2012 ERO review. Trustees value and encourage input from parents and the community. Good relationships are evident between the board and senior leaders. While the board has had some training, it is now critical for board members and the principal to improve the quality of governance and professional leadership at the school.

Leaders and teachers provide students with good leadership opportunities and encourage service to the community in a variety of meaningful ways. Students’ opinions and suggestions are valued by leaders and teachers who also ensure that students reflect on their learning progress in their reports home to parents.

Areas for review and development

The board and school leaders must now address the following key areas:

  • health and safety policies, procedures and practices, including police vetting, must be current, complete, documented and reported to the board in a timely and appropriately-detailed manner
  • the performance management system should be reviewed and significantly improved to ensure that all staff are appraised, including the principal, on an annual basis, and that appraisal completion is reported to the board
  • continue to improve aspects of financial management including reviewing and reporting procedures
  • self review should have a clear framework and guidelines to identify school-wide review priorities, processes and reporting requirements to the board.

Other priorities for the board and senior leaders are to:

  • develop a strategic plan to guide the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the school, including professional development for staff and equitable access to ICT throughout the school
  • complete the development of senior leaders’ roles and responsibilities, and update job descriptions for teachers, where necessary
  • establish operating guidelines for the audit committee, including review and reporting to the board.

Since the on-site stage of this review the board have been proactive in addressing the issues raised in this report.

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.

5 Recommendations to other agencies

  • that the Ministry of Education provide support for professional leadership at the school
  • that the School Trustees Association (STA) provides board training to help trustees build governance capability.

Conclusion

Ashley School places a high value on positive relationships with the local community. Students are provided with an interesting range of learning and sporting opportunities within and beyond the school. Calm and purposeful classroom environments support children’s learning. This report identifies a number of strengths, particularly at curriculum and learning levels. The board and principal are aware that significant improvements are needed to governance and leadership practices.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

20 May 2015

About the School

Location

Rangiora

Ministry of Education profile number

3285

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

167

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other ethnicities

76%

16%

8%

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

20 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

2012

2010

2008