Fairlie School - 07/08/2014

Findings

Students experience a wide variety of rich learning experiences, including some within their unique geographical area. They are well supported in their learning by their teachers. Key next steps are to improve school assessment practices and ensuring school systems are followed.

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?

Fairlie School is located in the Mackenzie Country, South Canterbury. It is adjacent to Mackenzie College and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. About half the students travel to school by bus from the surrounding farming district.

The students enjoy the variety of learning experiences they have within and beyond the school. Students and teachers make good use of the local environment for studies and sport. They also benefit from ongoing parent and wider-community support.

The school’s vision is for students to develop a range of useful skills and positive attitudes within a safe and caring environment. This vision is made clear to students and others in the ‘McKenzie Kid’ representation. There is an emphasis on literacy and numeracy learning in all teaching programmes.

In 2013, a fifth classroom opened as a result of an increase in student numbers. Current roll numbers are strong in the junior year levels resulting in larger classes in this area. The board has increased the teacher aides’ hours to support the junior class teachers.

All trustees have joined the board in the last twelve months. Since the last ERO review in 2011, there have been a significant number of staff changes.

School-wide achievement information in relation to the National Standards shows that achievement levels have increased in writing from 2012 to 2013. For 2013 and 2014 the board has set appropriate targets to lift writing levels.

2 Learning

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

Students and teachers are making appropriate use of achievement information to make positive changes to students’ learning. This report identifies the need for school leaders to improve their use of learning information at a school-wide level.

Students are involved in the ongoing assessment of their own work and learning and the work of others. This is particularly occurring in the senior classes. Through this self assessment and from feedback from their teachers, students identify what their next learning step is and what they need to do to improve their learning.

Teachers use achievement information well to:

  • identify individual and group learning needs
  • adapt long-term plans in response to identified needs
  • group students according to their learning needs and/or ability.

School leaders set appropriate school-wide targets. These focus on the students not achieving at their expected levels and aim to increase their rate of progress.

Trustees look at the trends and patterns in school-wide achievement information. The reports and accompanying discussions provide them with useful information to base resourcing decisions on. These include staffing needs, teacher-aide hours and provision for staff professional learning and development.

Areas for development

Leaders should carry out more rigorous analysis of the learning information gathered by teachers to better inform self review, decision making and future planning. This should include:

  • identifying areas of strength and/or common need within different student groups or the whole school
  • evaluating the difference teaching programmes are making to students’ achievement, including learning support initiatives such as the multi-lit programme.

Teachers should extend the evaluation of units and teaching programmes to evaluate the impact their teaching is having on student progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively promoting and supporting students’ learning.

The curriculum is well designed for students to experience rich learning across all areas of the curriculum, including making purposeful use of local resources and environment. The New Zealand Curriculum values, key competencies and principles are well developed. They form a constructive foundation for the ‘Mackenzie Kid’ qualities. These qualities are stressed at all year levels and students strive to demonstrate them in the classroom and in the playground. Students have authentic roles within the life of the school, including librarian duties, taking responsibility for the school’s recycling efforts and initiating and managing playground games with student groups. These successfully support their leadership development.

Teachers use effective teaching approaches, to involve students in the learning process. These approaches include:

  • seeking the opinions of students on how they prefer to learn and responding appropriately
  • making the learning purpose of lessons and activities clear to students
  • encouraging students to support each other with their learning
  • specific use of technologies that includes students being able to email their teachers to clarify learning and task expectations.

Learning support is in place for students at risk of not making sufficient progress. Each class has focus groups for reading, writing and mathematics. Teacher aides and a teacher provide valuable out-of-class literacy support.

Areas for review and development

The principal needs to review and rationalise the multiple references to teaching expectations that are made throughout the school’s curriculum and other documents. This should improve the clarity of expectations for teachers.

The principal, with the teachers, needs to improve the school’s assessment practices. This should include how teachers make judgements in relation to National Standards and putting in place formal moderation practices. This should create a shared understanding of the school’s assessment practices and improved consistency of judgements across the school.

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

The school is developing ways to show how it values Māori identity, language and culture in school life and learning.

The principal and teachers are building their knowledge of what success as Māori could look like at this school. They are using the Ministry of Education resources of Ka Hikitia and Tātaiako to support this work. The school is yet to discuss with the whānau of Māori students the aspirations they have for their tamariki in this area.

The school aims to promote a bicultural learning environment. A review of the school’s progress in achieving this aim would be worthwhile to identify what is going well and what needs improving. This would help to develop an action plan to better provide a bicultural learning environment.

There is a progressive te reo Māori curriculum to guide teachers’ planning. Teachers are developing their confidence in this area. Some experiences are provided for Māori students to celebrate their culture, for example marae visits and learning performance skills.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The teachers, principal and trustees are reflective. They respond to the information they gather from various sources to raise student achievement levels.

Improved self-review and planning practices would place them in a better position to sustain and improve overall school performance.

Areas for review and development

The principal and teachers have carried out some valuable review across a range of school operations. The outcomes of these reviews are not included in the school’s strategic and annual planning. Such inclusion would increase the coherence of planning and help the board with its decision making.

Currently, the strategic plan sets out development priorities as identified by the board. The board needs to ensure its planning clearly shows how these will be enacted over time.

To improve appraisal practices the principal and board need to ensure that:

  • the principal’s performance agreement and appraisal has direct links to the school’s plans and targets
  • the principal’s final appraisal report provides the board with an evaluation of the planned development and performance objectives
  • teachers’ appraisals are completed every year.

To support sustainability the principal must ensure:

  • new leaders have the professional support to be able to fulfil their responsibilities
  • new programmes and processes are well embedded into school practice
  • systems are in place to ensure programmes and processes are followed
  • practices reflect the documented procedures.

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.

1. The school has not developed practices to ensure all employees are police vetted every three years. Action: The board must obtain a police vet of every person who has unsupervised access to children every three years.
[Source: s78C, s78ca, s78CB Education Act 1989]

2. The school has not reported to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

Action: The school must report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. Reporting to parents in plain language must occur at least twice a year.
[Source: NAG 2A (a)]

Conclusion

Students experience a wide variety of rich learning experiences, including some within their unique geographical area. They are well supported in their learning by their teachers. Key next steps are to improve school assessment practices and ensuring school systems are followed.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

7 August 2014

About the School

Location

Fairlie, South Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3335

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

105

Gender composition

Boys: 51% Girls: 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

86%

10%

4%

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

7 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2011

May 2008

March 2005