Botany Downs School - 30/06/2016

1 Context

Botany Downs in East Auckland has a positive history of ERO reports. The school is highly regarded in the ethnically diverse, local community. Over the past year there have been significant changes to senior and middle leadership teams. This has led to useful reflection about leadership roles and support for capability building.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are stated in the school charter and linked to the school's motto 'Our Best Always'. Curriculum values are underpinned by the principles of 'Beliefs, Excellence, Skills and Thoughtfulness'.

The school's charter goals for children include:

  • respecting individuality and cultural diversity
  • fostering excellence
  • developing skills to become confident, independent thinkers and lifelong learners
  • valuing family and social involvement
  • caring for selves, others and environment.

The school’s achievement information shows that well over three quarters of the children, including Māori children achieve National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2014 there was significant improvement to Māori achievement. The school's 2015 data indicate that Māori children were achieving higher as a group in reading and mathematics than other learners in the school. The 2015 data also show considerable improvement in Pacific achievement across all National Standards. Pacific children's achievement is higher than that of other learners in writing and mathematics but lower in reading.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has continued to promote improved learner outcomes through professional development for teachers. As a result of these initiatives, teachers are making increased use of assessment information to guide teaching and learning programmes. Professional learning has also supported teachers to think more deeply about the effectiveness of their teaching and its impact on children's progress. School leaders have also increased teachers' accountability for the progress of those children who are not yet achieving National Standards.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school demonstrates a strong commitment to prioritising and responding to all children who are at risk of not achieving National Standards. There are clear links between the school charter's targets and the deliberate actions taken to accelerate the progress of these priority learners.

School targets are relevant and aim to accelerate the progress of students who are yet to achieve the standards. Each year, targets are included that specifically focus on Māori and Pacific children's progress. School leaders and teachers closely monitor the progress of each individual child as well as the overall progress towards achieving the charter targets. Trustees are well informed about the progress being made towards achieving charter targets.

Teachers use a good range of classroom assessment strategies and standardised tools to identify individual children's learning needs. Teachers use their analysis of assessment data well to guide their teaching and to provide programmes that more specifically address the gaps in children's learning but also build on what children know. For the past two years, teachers have maintained learning action plans for each priority learner. This has been a key factor increasing Māori and Pacific children's levels of achievement over that time.

Another key factor in children's acceleration and sustained progress has been the growing collaborative dialogue between teachers and their shared responsibility for priority learners' progress. Discussions about individual learners is an agenda item on most teaching team meetings. Together teachers develop strategies to better support each learner.

School leaders and teachers have good evidence of accelerated progress. They keep relevant records of each priority learner's progress, and evaluate the programmes and strategies to accelerate progress. Senior managers have identified that a next step is to streamline recording processes on a digital platform so that staff can access data and work collaboratively with this information.

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 targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum, practices and processes reflect the charter's vision, values, goals and targets well. The board, leaders and teachers show commitment to providing children with equitable and excellent learning experiences and opportunities.

The school continues to prioritise literacy and mathematics as the foundation skills for children's learning. Children have many opportunities to apply these skills through the inquiry-based integrated curriculum. Children's languages and cultures are being increasingly included in class programmes. This supports children to have a greater sense of identity in their class and school. Children benefit from programmes led by specialist staff in music, swimming, te reo Māori, kapa haka and choir.

Inclusive and responsive approaches support children with special or additional learning needs. Children who do not have English as their home language receive additional English language support. These programmes build children's language acquisition and confidence to participate in, contribute to and benefit from classroom programmes.

Professional learning is guiding teachers to support children to talk about their thinking and to solve problems collaboratively. Teachers are also developing further ways to help children to understand their own achievement and to identify their next learning steps. For example, there are plans to adapt the written learning progressions to more child-friendly language. Children have regular opportunities to reflect on their learning and school activities.

Parents are well informed about their children's achievement and progress through written reports and learning conferences that include teachers, parents and children. School leaders and teachers proactively develop positive working relationships with the parents of priority learners. They share resources and strategies for parents to support their child's learning at home.

The principal and board have successfully navigated the school through significant leadership changes over the past year. The new senior leadership team is generating the momentum for well-paced developments in teaching and curriculum that are likely to result in better outcomes for children. Current initiatives to build leadership capability include an external adviser working with team leaders, and an external appraiser working with senior leaders both individually and as a team.

Professional learning and collaborative dialogue are resulting in teachers having a more cohesive understanding of effective teaching and assessment practices. Teachers show a willingness to adapt their practice when they are secure in the knowledge that it will benefit children's learning. School leaders have introduced new teacher appraisal processes that include a greater focus on priority learners.

Good processes are followed to support teachers to make reliable judgements in relation to the National Standards. Teachers contribute to assessment moderation in their teaching teams and across the staff, and also through the ongoing evaluation and discussion about each priority learner's progress. School leaders have a key role in moderation, closely checking data for any anomalies and undertaking appropriate follow up. They have good knowledge of priority children's learning strengths, needs and interests.

Trustees' professional approach to their governance responsibilities ensures that sound processes are maintained to ensure the board meets its statutory requirements. They strongly promote the school's direction and values. Trustees acknowledge that it would be timely for the new board to seek the perspectives of the school community about the school's direction and practices.

The principal and board recognise the importance of evaluating the progress of the charter's strategic priorities and action plans throughout the year. This formative evaluation could be led by the different people with responsibility for each priority.

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 whose learning and achievement need 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.

Botany Downs School is well placed to sustain the current good practices that promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Senior leaders have identified relevant priorities for development that include:

  • offering children greater opportunity to research their own inquiries
  • continuing to build digital resourcing through the school and extending children's e-learning opportunities
  • streamlining systems for tracking and recording children's progress.

The school is likely to be reviewed again within 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 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the school continues to develop the evaluation capability of children, teachers, leaders and the board. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

30 June 2016

About the school

Location

Botany Downs, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1235

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

486

Number of international students

3

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Chinese

Indian

British

Tongan

African

Middle East

other European

other Asian

other

3%

44%

21%

5%

2%

2%

2%

2%

8%

6%

5%

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

30 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2012

August 2008

August 2005