Linkwater School - 10/09/2014

Findings

The school benefits from strong, professional leadership. There is a welcoming, positive school culture and good levels of support from families and the local community. The school’s curriculum encourages student independence, engagement and learning. Students’ progress and achievement is well monitored. Achievement in written language against the National Standards in 2013 was above regional and national expectations. The school is focused on improving student progress in mathematics and reading. The school is becoming very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

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?

There is a welcoming, family-like atmosphere in this small, rural school set in the Marlborough Sounds. A positive school culture exists with good levels of support from families and the local community.

The school provides education for students in Years 1 to 8 in two multilevel classes. An extra class opens two days per week so that students in Years 3 to 5 can work together. There are low class numbers, with students being taught by several different teachers.

To help overcome the school’s isolation, the board, staff and community ensure students gain many varied learning experiences both in and beyond the school gate. The school is well resourced. Features include a bike track, multipurpose court, orchard, swimming pool and edible gardens. Teachers also make effective use of the local environment to enrich students' learning.

Students and teachers interact with a number of other schools to provide shared experiences for students and an exchange of ideas for staff.

The school has responded well to the areas for review and development in the 2011 ERO report, particularly in improving student goal setting.

2 Learning

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

Whole-school data is used well to support student engagement, progress and achievement. Teachers are increasingly effective in using assessment information to support student engagement and learning.

A feature of the school is the approach teachers use to promote student achievement through the regular setting and resetting of students’ personal learning goals. Teachers have developed a useful system that:

  • helps students understand their goals and the steps they need to take to achieve the National Standards at each level in reading, writing and mathematics
  • supports students to lead meetings with their parents and teachers about their learning
  • makes the learning process more transparent for students, teachers, parents and the board of trustees
  • enables students to progress at their own pace.

The effectiveness of this personalised goal setting is most evident among older students who are more able to manage their own goals and can share their progress. Reports to parents provide useful information about their child’s achievements.

The principal uses achievement information deliberately to identify student strengths and gaps school-wide. Teachers keep good records of students’ assessments and other learning information. The principal and teachers thoughtfully consider factors that may be helping or hindering students’ progress and achievement and make appropriate adjustments to programmes and practices.

Students requiring extra support to reach the National Standard expectations in reading, writing and mathematics are clearly identified, provided with additional support and closely monitored for progress. The school fosters partnerships with parents that help improve students’ learning outcomes.

Teachers have responded well to professional development in writing. As a result, student progress and achievement is most significant in this area. Achievement in written language against the National Standards in 2013 was above regional and national expectations. Results for achievement in reading and mathematics were lower. However, good progress was made in lifting student achievement in reading during 2013.

Areas for review and development

The principal and board set appropriate annual student achievement targets. To strengthen the quality of actions plans, further consideration should be given to what teachers will do differently to raise achievement to meet the targets set.

Many reflective practices are in place. ERO suggests that the principal and teachers continue to explore:

  • ways to raise student achievement in reading and mathematics
  • how best to report student achievement to the board in areas other than literacy and mathematics
  • how well younger students connect with their learning goals
  • different ways to support the community through transition to school so that students can make the best possible start to school life.

The principal and teachers should further build on formalising the way they inquire into their practice. This would support more in-depth reflection and self review about the success of different teaching strategies used to raise achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum supports student independence, engagement and learning well.

Teachers provide a wide range of learning opportunities to engage and enthuse students. They provide purposeful, real-life contexts for learning. Students benefit from the involvement of external providers and members of the local community who share their knowledge, skills and experiences in support of programmes.

The principal and teachers consistently reflect on what is working well and what could be improved. They undertake an extensive range of curriculum reviews.

Teachers work from some well-developed, useful school curriculum guidelines. There is a strong emphasis on promoting well-known values, student independence, and the attitudes and skills needed for lifelong learning.

Environmental studies are a significant feature of the curriculum and have been sustained well and further developed over time. Students benefit from a good balance of academic and practical learning experiences.

Students’ wellbeing is actively promoted. Older students support younger students. Respectful relationships are evident amongst students and staff. Students’ views are valued and used to influence teaching and learning programmes as well as other aspects of school life.

Students have increasing opportunities to grow leadership skills as they move through the school. Students in Years 7 and 8 are well supported to take on these additional responsibilities confidently. Those in the senior class also have a good understanding of how to shape their own topic learning inquiries. Within a framework, they have choice about further investigating and learning about areas of interest.

Teachers make good use of technologies to personalise learning programmes, build students’ independence and practise new learning.

Areas for review and development

It would be appropriate for the principal and teachers to:

  • complement existing self-review practices with more in-depth reviews in priority areas, where student achievement is lower
  • include local context more in the school’s documented curriculum guidelines to reinforce a personalised learning approach
  • provide further opportunities for teachers to observe other teachers’ practice enabling a useful exchange of skills and knowledge on specific areas of focus.

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

The principal, well supported by the board chairperson, fosters interest in developing bicultural practices. Appropriate steps taken to achieve this are:

  • students learning about the history of the local area from an iwi member
  • fostering tuakana teina amongst students
  • obtaining useful feedback on the school’s te reo Māori programme
  • building stronger relationships with local iwi and marae-based professional development.

The principal, teachers and board chair have had suitable professional development and advice on how to promote Māori success as Māori. Appraisal includes teachers setting a goal related to building their knowledge and skills in this area.

Area for review and development

Leaders and teachers now need to continue their efforts to increase the integration of bicultural practices in the curriculum and school operations.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is becoming very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The board and principal give appropriate emphasis to raising student achievement and schooling improvement. They work well together and actively foster positive school and community relationships.

The principal and board chair help trustees to better understand the education context and their roles and responsibilities as trustees. The board receives informative reports from the principal that assists trustees with decision making.

The staff is provided with strong professional leadership. The principal ensures that the school’s motto of promoting lifelong learning is clearly evident in programmes and practices. The principal actively considers new ideas for supporting students’ learning.

There is good teamwork and ongoing reflection about teaching practices amongst staff. The principal is effectively supporting teachers’ understanding of self review for making ongoing improvements. Staff views are valued and they are well involved in decision making.

School-wide professional development enhances the depth of conversations and helps to develop shared understandings.

Useful performance management practices affirm strengths and useful next steps for the principal and teaching staff. Appraisal, professional development and the school’s priorities are all well connected.

Areas for review and development

The board is aware of the need to be more involved in the long-term planning process. This includes being more specific about the future priorities for the school.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

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.

Conclusion

The school benefits from strong, professional leadership. There is a welcoming, positive school culture and good levels of support from families and the local community. The school’s curriculum encourages student independence, engagement and learning. Students’ progress and achievement is well monitored. Achievement in written language against the National Standards in 2013 was above regional and national expectations. The school is focused on improving student progress in mathematics and reading. The school is becoming very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

10 September 2014

About the School

Location

Linkwater, Marlborough

Ministry of Education profile number

2891

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

33

Gender composition

Girls 20; Boys 13

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other ethnicities

26

2

5

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

10 September 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

June 2008

November 2005