Donovan Primary School - 24/09/2014

Findings

The school has a welcoming culture where individual differences are celebrated. Students benefit from very good quality teaching across the school. They appreciate the way that school is a caring place, with a wide range of enjoyable experiences. Trustees, the principal and teachers work hard to successfully involve parents in the school.

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

1 Context

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

Donovan Primary School caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The school has had significant roll growth over the recent years. The trustees, principal, teachers and students are welcoming to newly enrolled children and their families.

Students benefit from an inclusive and positive school culture where their individual differences are valued and celebrated. Students with diverse and high needs are welcomed and well integrated into the life of the school. Students who spoke with ERO said that their learning is enjoyable.

There is a well-established culture of caring. This is modelled by the principal and staff through:

  • the way in which adults and students are supported in the school, creating a strong sense of manākitanga
  • the shared responsibility by all staff for all children
  • the responsiveness to the needs of students and their families.

The trustees, principal and teachers work hard to actively involve parents in the life of the school. Parents are highly supportive of the school. Many coach sport and cultural teams, and organise fundraising events for the school.

Staff are collegial and are very loyal and support the leadership given by the principal. Teachers willingly share ideas with each other for the benefit of all students.

Trustees are enthusiastically committed to providing a safe school environment so that learning can be the main focus for ongoing improvement.

2 Learning

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

Teachers and school leaders make effective use of learning information to make positive changes to students’ learning. Learning information is used across all levels of the school to accelerate the progress of those students most at risk with their learning. These students are included in well-coordinated literacy and numeracy support programmes.

Achievement information for the end of 2013 shows that most students achieved in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. Mid-year information in 2014 shows that some students have made accelerated progress in literacy and numeracy.

Students are knowledgeable about their learning and display a very good understanding of where they are in relation to the National Standards. They regularly have ‘learning conversations’ with their teachers about how well they are learning and what they need to do next. They set and monitor their own goals.

Teachers know their students well. Teachers make effective use of achievement information to monitor students’ progress, identify students who need extension or support and set goals for the next steps in students’ learning.

The principal, in collaboration with syndicate leaders, uses learning information to make school-wide decisions about programmes, resourcing and targeted professional learning and development. Syndicate leaders monitor and help teachers to use information well at classroom level to plan teaching and learning to meet the needs of their students.

Trustees use learning information to know how well students are achieving in relation to National Standards, and which groups of students teachers need to focus on. They work with senior leaders to set some annual achievement targets for students.

Next steps

The board, principal and senior leaders need to undertake more rigorous analysis of achievement information to:

  • show how well students most at risk are progressing towards end-of-year achievement targets
  • show what strategies are working well to accelerate students’ progress
  • show how many students have made accelerated progress over a year or between years
  • identify at mid-year how many students are on track to achieve the National Standards by the end of the year.

It would also be beneficial for the principal and leaders to explore ways to strengthen student voice in the three-way learning conferences with teachers and parents.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Students experience a curriculum that:

  • is interesting, enjoyable and engaging, and builds on their strengths
  • offers a wide range of learning experiences to develop the whole child
  • supports them to self and peer assess to know how well they are succeeding.

Students know their work is valued, celebrated and well displayed.

Newly enrolling students are assessed on arrival so that their learning needs are quickly identified and addressed. They are placed in a small, dedicated ‘reception’ class where the focus is on early literacy and numeracy, and effective support to be ready for further learning.

Students benefit from very good quality teaching across the school. Teachers consistently ensure that:

  • the school’s values of respect, responsibility, independence, honesty and personal excellence are evident in the way students learn and behave
  • students get useful, regular, written feedback that states clearly what has been done well and what the next steps are
  • students learn in settled classrooms with well-embedded routines and an appropriate sense of urgency about their learning.

Students told ERO they:

  • appreciate the way the school is a caring place, with a wide range of enjoyable experiences
  • know about their learning and what helps them make good progress
  • have positive relationships with other students
  • would value the opportunity to have more of their ideas and capacity to lead included in the way the school operates.

Teachers plan learning support programmes to provide extra help for some students to make accelerated progress in reading, writing or mathematics. Effective use is made of skilful teacher aides who are well directed and supported. The support provided for these students is regularly monitored and individual students are tracked by both the teacher and the coordinator of support programmes.

The principal and other curriculum leaders work strongly as a team to:

  • model the values, expectations and relationships that promote a positive learning experience for students and families
  • maintain a collegial staff culture to promote consistency across the school with student learning as their focus.

Next steps

School leaders need to strengthen the way they document the outcomes of their evaluation of teaching and intervention programmes. They will then have:

  • clear evidence of how well teachers are meeting the school’s expectations
  • better evidence of the impact on student outcomes
  • a sound basis for identifying next steps for further development.

School leaders should find ways to improve their reports to trustees by including:

  • summaries of achievement in curriculum areas other than reading, writing and mathematics
  • an indication of what students think about their learning and how teachers have responded to their opinions.

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

The school has good processes for supporting its 87 Māori students to experience success in their learning and to engage them in the life of the school.

Teachers and the principal model and build caring relationships with Māori students and their whānau. Teachers know all students well as learners. The learning of Māori students is closely monitored.

Teachers seek to provide meaningful experiences, such as noho marae, for all students to share and learn about Māori culture together.

Trustees are seeking greater involvement of parents and whānau in the school. The school’s popular kapa haka group has a high profile within the school and in the wider community. It has been a catalyst for involving Māori parents and gathering their views about the school and how their tamariki can be provided appropriate learning experiences.

The board acknowledges that its strategies for promoting and reviewing the school’s initiatives for Māori success could be strengthened by developing plans and targets for:

  • improving areas of lower achievement for Māori students
  • supporting teachers’ consistent use of te reo and tikanga Māori in learning and teaching
  • increasing the use of Māori student opinion in self review.

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.

The principal and other school leaders work together to ensure a collaborative, collegial staff culture of reflection, commitment and a focus on improvement. They model the school values, positive relationships, teamwork, desirable practices, and a determination to enjoy the challenges. A next step is to evaluate the effectiveness of the team as a whole and each leader’s role with a summary of this evaluation reported to trustees.

The principal makes good use of a robust system for the appraisal of teachers aimed at sustaining good practice and making improvements where needed. The performance-management system for the principal needs strengthening.

The trustees, principal and teachers use a range of initiatives to make positive links with families, whānau and the community. They:

  • have strengthened the way they survey and communicate with parents
  • communicate well with parents of students with higher learning needs
  • have a welcoming open-door policy and ensure staff are approachable and care about students and their families.

The board is a mix of experienced and new trustees. They have some useful systems for monitoring the school’s performance, and a newly-developed governance manual.

Trustees are enthusiastically committed to ongoing improvement for the school as a whole and their own work as trustees. Their next steps include strengthening their focus on evaluation of impact, through well-documented, sustainable practices in school-wide review.

Trustees make use of systems to monitor health and safety, and property procedures. The same quality of monitoring needs to be applied to other school procedures, such as those for police vetting and the support provided for new and provisionally-registered teachers.

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.

During the review, ERO found the following changes are needed. To meet legislative requirements:

  • the board of trustees is required to report to the school’s community on the achievement of students as a whole and of groups. [Source: NAG 2c].
  • the school must ensure that all police vets for non-teaching staff are repeated at least every three years. [Source: s78CC Education Act 1989].

Conclusion

The school has a welcoming culture where individual differences are celebrated. Students benefit from very good quality teaching across the school. They appreciate the way that school is a caring place, with a wide range of enjoyable experiences. Trustees, the principal and teachers work hard to successfully involve parents in the school.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

24 September 2014

About the School

Location

Invercargill

Ministry of Education profile number

2119

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

372

Gender composition

Male: 56%

Female: 44%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Other

72%

24%

3%

1%

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

24 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

September 2009

August 2006