Mt Cook School (Wellington) - 30/05/2017

Summary

Mt Cook School is a multi-culturally diverse school, located in Wellington’s inner city.

At the time of this ERO review, 260 Years 1 to 8 students from 35 ethnic groups attended the school. About half of all learners are from families whose first language is not English. Many are new migrants to New Zealand and emergent English Language Learners. Māori children make up 12% of the school roll, and 9% are Pacific.

The school has participated in professional learning and development in a range of areas, including a national writing project at Years 5 to 8, learning through play and mathematics.

Since the June 2014 ERO report, leaders have used findings from internal evaluation and inquiry to build knowledge to inform and drive school improvement. Teachers respond positively to schoolwide development to continue enhancing outcomes for children.   

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school responds very well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Many children enter the school with limited or no English language. As a result of timely and well-targeted support, they make very good progress as they advance through their schooling.

At the time of this ERO review, approximately 70% of all learners were achieving at or above in relation to National Standards in reading and mathematics. The percentage overall for writing was lower at 58%.

Achievement for Māori learners has improved over time and the percentages achieving at or above in relation to National Standards equates to all in the school. Achieving equity with Pākehā learners remains a school priority. Pacific children are a group that the board, leaders and staff are focused on to accelerate progress. In 2016, many children accelerated their learning as a result of targeted action in writing.

A localised and authentic curriculum provides a firm foundation for student success. Children learn in a highly inclusive, supportive school community, where shared values are strongly expressed in action. Individual achievement and wellbeing is given priority.

The principal’s and senior leaders’ approach to curriculum development and schoolwide improvement is well considered. Collaborative practice and relational trust is built through deliberate approaches to generating new learning together. 

Stronger alignment of school processes to focus on the groups of learners most at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes is the next key development. Further development of the appraisal process, teacher inquiry, and internal evaluation should support school leaders to transfer successful practices and monitor how effectively new initiatives are accelerating progress for these children.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school responds well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. It is continuing to strengthen its effectiveness in this area.

Many children enter the school with limited or no English language. As a result of timely and well targeted support, they make very good progress as they advance through their schooling.

At the time of this ERO review, approximately 70% of all children were achieving at or above in relation to National Standards in reading and mathematics. The percentage overall for writing was lower at 58%.

Achievement for Māori learners has improved over time and the percentages achieving at or above in relation to National Standards equates to that overall. Achieving equity with Pākehā learners remains a school priority. Pacific learners are a group that board, leaders and staff are targeting to accelerate progress. Significant disparity exists for this group, with most children English Language learners.

In 2016, a group of Māori and Pacific children in Years 4 to 8 were part of a special programme of targeted support in writing. All of these learners made progress and some accelerated their progress as a result of teachers’ actions.

The school articulates a clear vision and a wide range of valued outcomes in the school charter. Learning, personal and social competencies are well defined, with frameworks and tools available for children to measure their development.

A good range of assessment information is used to make teacher judgements about achievement and progress. Moderation processes are sound, and include both internal and external collaborative critique. This practice contributes well to the dependability of National Standards data.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

A localised and authentic curriculum provides a firm foundation for student success. Children learn in a highly inclusive school community, where stated values are strongly expressed in action. Each child’s unique character, strengths, culture and needs are recognised and valued.

Children’s wellbeing is a high priority. Staff respond to parent and student ideas, to develop partnerships for learning. Teachers build children’s confidence and resilience.  

Staff follow very useful processes to gather information about children’s ongoing needs. This information is shared between classes and with senior leaders. Teachers regularly examine data together to look for trends and patterns in student achievement and progress, and to share and develop teaching practices.

English language learners (ELL) are well supported through effective transition processes and tailored language programmes. Frequent communication between the ELL teacher and classroom teachers features the sharing of knowledge and successful strategies for learning.

Supportive leaders are committed to improving learning and teaching. They build collaborative practice and relational trust through their deliberate approach to generating new learning together. This has been a key feature of curriculum development over time at the school. Professional development is a useful process.

In 2016, staff deliberately sought to strengthen the curriculum and teaching for Pacific learners through feedback, research and professional development. Building effective learning partnerships with families is a key focus.

Māori children experience a learning environment where their cultural identity is celebrated and they have opportunities to use their language and show leadership. Teachers continue to develop culturally responsive practices. They place emphasis on the importance of care and reciprocal relationships and have explored key documents such as Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners in relation to their teaching practice.

The writing initiative has supported improved teacher practice in using data more diagnostically for individual learners. This is well used to inform specific teaching actions for individuals and to consider new curriculum approaches.

The inquiry and reflective journaling, undertaken by teachers in the writing project, is providing more depth of knowledge about: learner needs; and teachers’ learning about what is successful practice for the engagement and progress of learners most at risk of not achieving.

The principal and senior leaders have a planned approach to schoolwide improvement. Curriculum development initiatives are well considered. These are based on the intent to improve student achievement and build teaching capability.

Thorough research is undertaken to establish shared understanding of best practice and collaboratively explore this before implementation. External expertise is sought and new programmes are strategically trialled and deliberately reviewed before expanding the numbers of teachers and children involved in the programme. 

The school actively engages families to support children's learning. Trustees work to promote the aspirations of their community. They seek opportunities to build understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Internal evaluation is an established process. Leaders collect a wide range of information to examine what needs improvement. Teacher, student and parent voice, external research and school data all contribute to collaborative sense-making and decisions for change. 

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Aligning school processes to focus on the groups of learners most at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes is the next key development. In 2017, the school strengthened its target setting to concentrate more closely on particular Māori and Pacific children at risk of not achieving.

The refined and more specific targets should allow the school to evaluate more regularly and easily whether these particular children are accelerating their progress as a result of targeted actions.

New curriculum initiatives in play-based learning and mathematics are being trialled and extended. Developing further clarity about expected teaching practice, and resulting outcomes for learners, is an important next step. The new approaches should help children to know more about their achievement and next learning steps.

The appraisal system has been strengthened. More rigorous implementation is now required, with constructive feedback and more formalised observations. Inquiry processes are beginning to contribute to the growth of teachers’ professional practice. The developing processes of appraisal and teacher inquiry should support more deliberate transfer and monitoring of successful practices emerging from the writing initiative, to become expected teacher practice schoolwide.

Expanding the investigative phase of internal evaluation to include more systematic review of teaching quality, and strengthening evaluation and monitoring of outcomes for learners, are next steps.

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
  • 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.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are to:

  • strengthen appraisal, teacher inquiry and internal evaluation
  • continue to align school processes to more clearly focus on groups of learners at risk of not achieving.

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

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

30 May 2017

About the school

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

2918

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

260

Gender composition

Female, 50%      Male, 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori; 12%
Pākehā; 28%
Indian; 13%
Pacific; 9%
Chinese; 9%
African; 7%
Other Asian; 12%
Other ethnic groups; 10%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

April 2017

Date of this report

30 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review; June 2014
Education Review; May 2011
Education Review; December 2007