Central School - 24/08/2016

1 Context

Central School, Te Kura Waenga o Ngāmotu, in New Plymouth, caters for students in Years 1 to 6.
It has a roll of 325 students with over 60 identifying as Māori. Significant roll growth, 50% since the April 2013 ERO report, has required a redesign of some facilities and spaces to cater for extra classes. Significant and increasing numbers of English language learners are enrolled in the school.

Several teaching and leadership changes have occurred, with a second full-time associate principal position established from 2016 in response to roll growth. Teaching staff reflect the ethnic diversity in the school. Teachers have been involved in a wide range of both school-funded and Ministry of Education sponsored professional learning and development (PLD) programmes. This PLD supports implementation of improved programmes to cater for the increasingly diverse groups on the school roll.

2 Equity and excellence

The school vision is to be an innovative learning community striving for excellence. The P.R.I.D.E. values of personal excellence, respect, integrity, diversity and equity are woven into the life of the school. The school aims to support Year 6 school leavers to be learners who build positive relationships, are creative, resilient, take risks and know how to learn and achieve.

The school's achievement information over the past three years shows steady improvement in the rates of student progress, particularly in mathematics and writing. In 2015, most students achieved at or above expectations in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students’ achievement as a group has improved markedly over the past two years in all areas and is at similar levels to their peers in mathematics and writing.

Leaders, trustees and teachers continue to focus on strategies and programmes aimed at further reducing disparity between boys and girls in literacy and mathematics. A robust assessment framework and process involving teachers and leaders, assists the school to make consistent and reliable judgements about students' learning and ongoing needs.

Since the previous ERO evaluation, leaders have focused on providing an increasing range of interventions and support programmes to address inequity. These are designed to address the identified, specific wellbeing, learning, and development needs of diverse groups of children.

Teachers have undertaken PLD to further develop their teaching and assessment practices, particularly in the areas of special needs, eLearning strategies, mathematics and literacy. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is highly effective in responding to the learning needs, interests and cultural identity of Māori learners. Strategic goals prioritise accelerating achievement and include specific targets for Māori students.  

Systematic identification of the learning and wellbeing needs and strengths of individuals inform class placements and targeted intervention for those students at risk of underachieving. Close monitoring of the progress of individual students, supports ongoing improvement. As a result of school practices, a large number of Māori students are further engaged in learning. Their progress has accelerated, especially in mathematics and writing, over the past two years. They now achieve at similar rates to their peers.

Students learn in an inclusive environment where their culture and perspectives are valued and promoted throughout the school. Initiatives such as the Te Ao Marama programme and promotion of bicultural perspectives enable Māori learners to see their culture affirmed and promote their success as Māori.

Increased levels of learning-centred partnerships with whānau, support parent involvement in their children's learning. These partnerships are promoted through regular teacher communications, consultation in whānau hui and noho marae. During 2015 and 2016, all staff have participated in He Papa Tikanga Level 3 qualifications, to support the school's commitment to promoting tikanga Māori.

How effectively does this school respond to other learners whose learning and achievement need accelerating?

School leaders and teachers are highly responsive to other learners whose learning and achievement need acceleration. They know these students very well and use a wide range of information to develop classroom programmes and strategies that cater for diverse needs.

Students' progress and achievement levels are tracked. Teaching teams plan and review collaboratively. Detailed assessment data informs annual and term targets and is used to regularly monitor students' progress during the year. Analysis of targeted, junior students' reading data at mid-2016, shows most students had accelerated their progress, so that over 80% are achieving at or above expected levels.

A wide range of tailored support programmes and resources are provided in addition to purposeful in-class support. Initiatives include innovative programmes for English language learners, junior literacy and mathematics interventions and learning support and transition programmes. The school's 2014 and 2015 data shows that the small group of Pacific students' achievement has improved, especially in writing and mathematics, where it is similar to or better than their peers.

Additional interventions catering for specific individual needs and interests use physical activity, music, arts and home language contexts to contribute to improved rates of progress. As a result, students with additional or high learning needs are well supported to make progress and gain success.

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?

Central School’s curriculum processes and practices are highly effective in developing and enacting the vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence

Students experience a coherent, rich and inclusive curriculum that is very responsive to diverse needs, interests and abilities. There is a wide range of opportunities to use: inquiry; follow interests; and extend thinking with the arts, te ao Māori and eLearning integrated into literacy, languages, mathematics and science programmes.  

Teachers have recently reviewed and developed shared expectations and guidelines for a coherent and flexible approach to teaching literacy and mathematics. Matrices provided to learners allows them to self-assess and monitor their progress.

Further development of formative assessment and extending culturally responsive practice in all classrooms should support initiatives to further increase engagement and raise achievement. 

Leaders pursue equity and excellence and are effective in promoting strategies to implement the school vision. They lead by example, delegate well and encourage collaboration at all levels. Mentoring and coaching practices provide effective support for teachers new to their roles or the school.

A strong culture of innovation and future-focused problem solving underpins the school's approach to building capacity for ongoing improvement. A coherent approach to developing teachers’ capability is well aligned to strategic priorities and students’ needs and potential.  Teachers participate in a wide range of relevant PLD programmes and inquiries that build their knowledge and are closely aligned to strategic goals and the school performance enhancement framework.

A developing appraisal system provides increased opportunities to share evidence and feedback on professional practice. Further refinement of appraisal, including more specific goals, the continued development of cultural competencies and greater use of evaluative questions and feedback, should strengthen the performance enhancement framework.

Leaders and teachers make effective use of internal review, inquiry and knowledge building to inform practices, conditions and strategies for improving outcomes for students. Shared inquiries and critical reflection by teachers, into how well they respond to identified needs or challenges, extends collective capacity and knowledge.  

Sound governance is provided. Trustees bring a wide range of relevant skills and experience to their roles. They are well informed and use achievement information to prioritise and monitor decisions and resourcing. The board aligns governance practices to the school's charter and values. As a result the curriculum is well resourced to enact the vision and achieve targets to accelerate student progress.  Trustees are in the process of using the New Zealand School Trustees Association's resource, Hautū - Māori cultural responsiveness self review tool for boards of trustees to assist community engagement and the board's cultural competence.

Robust systems and processes are in place to monitor and support students' health and wellbeing. The school has developed effective learning-centred relationships with whānau, families and the community. Increased emphasis on transitioning growing numbers of new students at all levels, underpins a caring and supportive learning culture with high expectations of success for all.

5 Going forward  

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

The school is well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Effective practices and processes are in place to support accelerated progress for Māori, Pacific and other students below and well below expectations for National Standards.

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.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five 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
  • the school’s policy and procedures in relation to the application of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 

7  Recommendation

ERO and leaders agree strengthening appraisal and use of evaluation should help sustain and continue to improve the many positive and innovative developments evident in the school.   

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

24 August 2016

About the school 

Location

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

2160

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

325

Gender composition

Girls 52%, Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Pacific
Other ethnic groups

18%
54%
10%
  2%
16%

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

24 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

April 2013
March 2010
November 2006