Kaipara Flats School - 30/03/2015

Findings

Kaipara Flats School is a welcoming place for students. It provides a broad curriculum based on The New Zealand Curriculum. Most students are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics. The new principal and board are strengthening aspects of educational leadership, governance and school self-review.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1. Context

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

Kaipara Flats School is a small rural primary school situated north of Auckland. The school provides education for students from Years 1 to 6. Children learn in small, multi-level classes. They experience individualised attention and support. Students of different ages and year levels are very supportive of each other.

Students and families are proud of the long standing and inter-generational connections the school has with its community. Local community events and school traditions are very important to parents and the wider community. These events and traditions continue to feature in school programmes. Student wellbeing and students’ sense of belonging are fostered through positive relationships. The inclusive tone in the school supports the learning of all students.

The physical environment is attractive and well cared for. The school is well resourced and facilities are shared with the wider community.

The principal is soon to leave the school for a new position and a new principal will take over leadership of the school from the start of 2015.

ERO’s 2011 report identified a large number of next steps. These related to improving the curriculum, promoting Māori student success, and to school management and self review. Although the school has made progress in some of these areas, further development remains a priority.

2. Learning

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

The school is using student achievement information increasingly well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school’s student achievement information shows that most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers provide the board with a large amount of achievement data. The board could make better use of this information if it was collated and analysed to show trends and patterns in student progress and achievement. It would be beneficial if it included information related to groups identified by the Government as priority learners.

Teachers reflect on their practice in a number of ways to make positive changes for learners. They use a variety of assessment tools. They use assessment information for programme planning and to help them make overall teacher judgements about student achievement levels. They monitor all students closely. Students needing additional help are well supported in classrooms through additional programmes and teacher aide resourcing.

A next step for the school is to develop greater shared understandings of the teaching practices that are most effective in promoting student progress and learning. High quality external professional learning and development (PLD) should now be accessed to strengthen educational leadership and teachers' evaluation of their teaching. Work in these areas should include a focus on extending student learning so that more students are challenged to achieve at levels above the National Standards.

Parents receive information about their children’s learning in all curriculum areas through a variety of methods. Teachers welcome informal discussions with parents. Parents also receive written reports about their children’s progress and achievement against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school's plans to review and refine these reporting formats should help ensure that reports provide clear information that is useful to parents and students.

3. Curriculum

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

The schools’ curriculum supports and promotes student learning.

Students have access to a wide range of resources and tools to support their learning. They are confident and articulate. Students work enthusiastically in groups and/or independently. The school curriculum covers all areas of The New Zealand Curriculum. Teachers use different approaches to integrate curriculum learning areas to help students make connections in their learning.

Students' learning opportunities are enhanced by a significant focus on integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) into teaching and learning programmes. The board is committed to continuing to fund ICT resources. They are also planning to develop learning spaces that support collaborative learning. Students’ questioning, thinking and inquiry skills and abilities are promoted by teachers.

Teachers are using strategies to increase students’ independence and understanding of their own learning. As a result, the school is becoming better placed to increase students' sense of owning their learning.

Students are settled and willing to learn. They benefit from multi-level class structures, where they have opportunities to work with other children of different ages. Senior students have many opportunities to take on responsibilities and leadership roles within the school and in community events.

Teachers work together to share planning and classroom strategies to improve teaching practice. The school’s curriculum implementation plan provides a useful framework to guide aspects of assessment and planning.

It would be timely, however, to now increase school-wide systems for supporting future developments. These could include:

  • accessing school-wide PLD in areas of priority
  • refining school curriculum documents to better reflect the school’s philosophy and vision
  • providing more guidance to teachers and establishing clearer indicators of effective teaching practices.

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

The school has implemented some strategies to support Māori students’ success. Further development is needed to more fully promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

School data states that Māori students are achieving at levels similar to all other students. Māori students are well engaged in learning and school activities. Teachers explore some bicultural perspectives with students through various curriculum topics. The board and principal communicate informally with whānau of Māori students about school activities.

However, as identified in ERO’s 2011 report, the school’s practices for promoting Māori student success remain a priority area for development. To further promote the language, culture and identity of Māori students the school should:

  • hold different kinds of consultation hui and formally document the outcomes
  • document an action plan to give effect to the boards’ charter statements about Māori success, and ensure plans, targets and relevant policies are shared with the Māori community
  • develop strategies to strengthen all teachers’ confidence and capability in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori
  • use Ministry of Education resources to support teaching and learning practices and to provide a basis for reviewing school performance in this area, including teaching, leadership and governance practices.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is further developing its capacity to sustain and improve its performance.

The board and staff have a good understanding of their community. They value open communication and promote parent and community involvement in the school. They are trialling different approaches to further engage families in their children’s learning. They seek parental input into school goal setting and review practices.

Systems are in place for reporting to the board about progress towards school strategic goals. The board also receives useful reports about school programmes and operations to inform resourcing and other decisions.

A next step is to now strengthen school self-review practices by:

  • establishing a formal process to plan and conduct self review
  • documenting the school’s self-review process and the outcomes of reviews
  • complementing internal decision making with external advice and guidance at regular intervals to ensure strong connections are retained between current school practices and external research and knowledge about effective practice.

ERO affirms the principal’s intention to review policies and procedures as some are unclear or incomplete. Plans to improve processes for managing policies and procedures should also help strengthen governance and self review.

All trustees are in their first term in their governance roles. Some trustees have attended training workshops. Further training is recommended to help the board develop greater understanding of some of its governance responsibilities. More detailed governance documents would be useful to guide board process and should help the board to develop and sustain ongoing improvements in governance practices.

ERO and the board agree that further training would be useful to develop improved practice, promoting more effective governance for the school and improved transitioning and continuity from board to board.

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.

In order to improve practice, the board should:

  • develop secure processes for retaining confidential documentation
  • undertake a comprehensive review of policies and procedures
  • develop a clear and coherent framework for organising and ensuring good alignment between school policies and procedures.

In order to meet the school’s legal obligations, the board must:

  • in consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known to the school’s communities, policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students

[National Education Guidelines 1993, National Administration Guideline 1(e)]

  • adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community

[Education Act 1989, Section 60B]

  • ensure the principal has a current performance agreement and is appraised annually

[New Zealand Gazette 8 February 1999].

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that trustees and school leaders seek support from the Ministry of Education in order to strengthen school governance, self review and educational leadership, including strategies for promoting educational success for Māori as Māori.

Conclusion

Kaipara Flats School is a welcoming place for students. It provides a broad curriculum based on The New Zealand Curriculum. Most students are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics. The new principal and board are strengthening aspects of educational leadership, governance and school self-review.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey National Manager Review Services Northern Region

30 March 2015

About the School

Location

Kaipara Flats, Warkworth

Ministry of Education profile number

1324

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

84

Gender composition

Boys 45 Girls 39

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European / Pākehā

9

75

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

30 March 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

June 2008

May 2005