Elm Park School - 28/06/2018

School Context

Elm Park School is a large, contributing (Year 1 to 6) primary school catering for approximately 620 students. A wide variety of ethnic groups is represented in the school. The bigger groups comprise 11 percent who are Māori, 25 percent Pākehā, 25 percent Chinese, and 12 percent who have Pacific heritages.

The board’s vision is to work together with the school’s community to provide a balanced curriculum to assist all students to maximise their potential. It provides clear expectations for learning, and emphasises promoting a stimulating and caring environment that rewards students’ efforts.

The outcome the school wants for its students is to have each learner progress and reach their personal best. This encompasses improving outcomes for all students, particularly Māori, Pacific, and children with special needs, and accelerating the progress of students performing below expectations.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and numeracy

  • progress as a result of implementing “Accelerating Literacy Learning” methods

  • progress with improving students’ attitudes to learning through a focus on Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L)

  • outcomes related to student wellbeing and success.

The school is a green gold recipient of Enviro Schools and the grounds reflect an emphasis on environmental sustainability. The school’s kapa haka group is very successful and there is a variety of other multi-cultural dance groups reflecting many of the 40 ethnicities at the school. The community supports the school through its Travelwise programme. All students have access to digital technologies and Year 4 to 6 students bring their own digital devices.

Since ERO’s 2013 report the majority of the school’s trustees are new to the board. Approximately half of the staff are also new to the school. The board is in the process of establishing modern learning environments for students, and has completed the refurbishment of the school’s administration block.

The school is a member of the Farm Cove Kahui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL) with the Elm Park principal leading the CoL.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Elm Park School is steadily working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students. Achievement information from 2017 shows that most students achieve at or above expectations in reading, writing and numeracy. However, trends and patterns in achievement over time show that since 2014 the numbers of students achieving at or above expectation in reading and numeracy is reducing, and has remained constant for writing. The2017 data also show that disparity exists for Māori and Pacific students in reading and numeracy, and for Pacific students in writing. The school is yet to report to the board information that shows how well Māori and Pacific students, and boys and girls are achieving as groups over time.

Overall achievement outcomes for students in their last year at school are better in reading than they are in writing and numeracy. Senior leaders note that some students transition into the school at the Year 5 level and they link this to the lower than expected Year 6 outcomes. It would be beneficial if senior leaders completed an evidence-based evaluation of the end of year outcomes for Year 6 students to determine the effectiveness of initiatives to lift achievement.

A variety of national and school-based assessment tools is used to ensure the school’s achievement information is robust and reliable. Teachers moderate their assessment of students’ writing across the school and with teachers in other schools to help them produce dependable assessment information.

The school’s targets are to increase the number of students reaching expected curriculum levels. Senior leaders agree that it would be useful to make these targets more specific, measurable and more focused on priority students.

Information reported to the board on the school’s PB4L initiative suggests that there has been significant improvement in students’ attitudes and behaviours for learning.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school’s 2017 and 2018 achievement information shows some students at risk of not meeting expectations have experienced accelerated achievement in reading and numeracy.

Senior leaders are aware of how many and which students (including Māori and Pacific students) require greater than expected progress to achieve at their expected level. Leaders gather anecdotal evidence about the impact that specific teaching approaches are having on accelerating students’ progress. Senior leaders should regularly report to the board evidence-based information about the accelerated progress of the school’s priority students.

Teachers closely monitor the progress of individual students who are identified as needing to make accelerated progress. Some students are making accelerated progress. It would be useful for senior leaders to collate and analyse overall data to show what accelerated progress different groups of students make over time.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Elm Park School uses many different processes and practices to help it achieve equity and excellence, and accelerate students’ learning. However, there is very little evidence-based information to demonstrate how effective these have been in improving outcomes for students.

The principal has established an organisational structure that encourages supportive stewardship and distributed leadership. Teachers are empowered to lead using their strengths and interests. The cohesive leadership team encourages teaching practices that have the potential to improve outcomes for students. Teachers are reflective and are developing skills necessary to inquire deeply into the impact that their teaching strategies have on improving outcomes for students.

Students are highly engaged with their learning. They are confident and proud of their school and appreciate the wide variety of activities available to them. They set personal goals that they closely monitor along with their parents and teachers. The individual progress of each student is valued and celebrated.

Senior leaders and teachers focus on maintaining positive relationships with and between students. The school’s ethnically diverse teaching staff is able to form strong bonds with students. Senior leaders ensure that transition approaches into, through and out of the school are smooth and help to settle students.

The school’s curriculum is responsive, values-driven and relevant. There is a consistent focus on literacy and numeracy, science, art and PB4L through teaching programmes. Teachers are developing and implementing a useful schoolwide approach to inquiry learning for students. The board allocates resources appropriately so that students learn in classrooms with low teacher-student ratios, and have access to English language learning and additional support programmes where needed. To improve practice, school leaders should ensure that students are learning and being assessed in all the learning areas of the mathematics curriculum.

Teachers are working together and with students to build the school’s bicultural practices. The successful kapa haka group is very multi-cultural and competes successfully with other schools. Students lead powhiri confidently and teachers are growing their capability to incorporate te reo and tikanga Māori through their class programmes. Ensuring the school curriculum includes the history of Māori in the local area would help to further build bicultural understanding.

Teachers are responsive to the community’s aspirations for children’s learning. Parent and whānau views are gathered through formal surveys and anecdotally at school events. The community has opportunities to have input into the school curriculum particularly to do with local events.

Senior leaders highlight the many positive opportunities that the school’s participation in the CoL offers. They note that the CoL is helping them to develop clear and consistent educational pathways for students through common professional development, shared practices and strong networks.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Strengthening evidence-based evaluation will help school leaders to determine the effectiveness of targeted teaching to accelerate students’ progress. Leaders acknowledge that this would be particularly beneficial for adapting programmes and strategies to accelerate the progress of those Māori and Pacific students who are at risk of not achieving.

Senior leaders recognise the value in refining the school’s strategic and annual targets, and ensuring a line of sight between these targets and the achievement of individual students. Continuing to build teachers’ data literacy skills would support teachers to more deeply analyse student progress and achievement. This would enhance the monitoring of progress with the targets over the year, and over time.

Senior leaders should consider the benefits of further developing curriculum guidelines, and evaluating the curriculum to assure the board that it is relevant, localised and innovative. The evaluation process should include parent and student input to help gauge how responsive the curriculum is to students’ learning needs and interests.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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

  • finance

  • 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 and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were three international students attending the school.

The principal and international student coordinator provide many high quality strategies to ensure international students’ pastoral care and welfare are well met. Students receive suitable levels of support with English language acquisition. International students participate in the same opportunities and experiences as all students at Elm Park School and integrate well into the school.

The principal acknowledges that it could be useful if further in-depth internal evaluation of the progress and wellbeing of international students was regularly reported to the board.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • pastoral care systems and practice that respond to students’ needs, promote their wellbeing and support their learning success

  • inclusive and restorative practices that assist students to successfully access the school curriculum

  • the organisational structure that empowers teachers to use each other’s strengths and contribute to the broad curriculum.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • the analysis and reporting of achievement information to show progress over time for different groups of students

  • developing specific strategic targets and regularly reporting target progress to the board

  • strengthening and expanding internal evaluation processes and practices

[ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

28 June 2018

About the school

Location

Pakuranga, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1269

School type

Contributing (Year 1-6)

School roll

621

Gender composition

Boys 51%, Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 11%
Pākehā 25%
Chinese 20%
Indian 9%
Samoan 7%
other Asian 5%
Cook Island Māori 3%
other Pacific 2%
other 18%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

28 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2013
Education Review December 2010
Education Review December 2007