Northcote School (Auckland) - 04/07/2011

Findings

1. Context

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

Northcote School, on Auckland’s North Shore, is medium-sized primary school that has served its community for over 90 years. Children of some second and third generation families are now attending the school.

Children continue to benefit from the positive school culture, good learning opportunities, and the effective teaching and learning noted in previous ERO reports. School-wide initiatives now ensure that children’s learning is enhanced by the inclusion of bicultural perspectives in the curriculum. These opportunities for cultural enrichment are a strength of the school.

The Northcote vision and values are clearly reflected in the school culture. The calm, purposeful school tone enables teachers and students to focus on learning. This positive environment supports student engagement, progress and achievement. Good relations between staff and students and between students empower confident and articulate students who support each others’ learning.

The principal provides staff and students with appropriate leadership opportunities and has continued to ensure that learning outcomes for students are improved. Consultative processes for decision making help to give staff, students and the community a sense of ownership and pride in the school. The board of trustees works collaboratively and trustees bring a range of useful skills to their governance role.

The board and principal are strengthening links with the wider community to build strong family and school partnerships. Parents are actively involved in school initiatives and their presence in the school is encouraged and welcomed. The extensive support given to the school by staff and the wider community is reflected in the wide variety of well attended co-curricular activities available to students.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are motivated to learn, and are engaged and interested in learning programmes. A wide range of student achievement data is collected and collated by classroom teachers and analysed by school leaders. Most students achieve at or above national expectations in reading and writing and 65% achieve at expected levels in numeracy.

Students needing support are identified early and receive purposeful additional programmes and individualised education plans with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy. Students’ progress, and the effectiveness of support programmes, are regularly monitored and this information is reported to the board every six months.

In 2010, parents received reports on their children’s achievement against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics and were given information about how they could help their children at home. School leaders have begun processes to introduce and consolidate moderation practices in the assessment of reading, writing and numeracy and could use these processes to help ensure that overall teacher judgments in relation to the National Standards are reliable.

School leaders and staff could now encourage students to use achievement data to take more responsibility for their own learning. It would be helpful for school leaders to ensure that information about the achievement of Pacific students is reported to the board.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The 2008 ERO review identified the need for the board and staff to introduce more specific strategies to support Māori students. Since then, teachers have had a strong focus on improving the profile of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school. All teachers are expected to include te reo and tikanga Māori in each curriculum unit plan. A dedicated classroom, Te Whare, has been provided for teaching Māori language and tikanga. The school has evidence that, as a result of this support, Māori students are now better engaged, have increased self-esteem, and are achieving at higher levels.

Each term, the lead Māori teacher monitors the achievement of Māori students in literacy and numeracy. Students achieving below expected levels receive additional learning support, which is tailored to individual needs. Information about the achievement of Maori students in these support programmes is reported to the board three or four times a year and shows that students are making progress over time.

A number of successful initiatives, including a consultative Whānau Group, have been established to involve Māori parents more in school events and in their children’s learning.

These bi-cultural initiatives are a strong feature of the school and are effective in further developing teachers’ and students’ knowledge of te ao Māori and New Zealand’s bi-cultural heritage and in promoting the achievement of Māori students.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s new curriculum is well aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum. Using a collaborative approach the staff, students and community have developed their vision for teaching and learning for the school and identified the values that they wanted to be promoted to support students’ learning. These values are reflected in the school culture and underpin all expectations for teaching and learning. Good quality teaching of the curriculum is evident throughout the school.

The inquiry approach to learning is well embedded in teacher practice and is linked to the development of students’ key competencies, including self-management and relating to others. Teachers have reviewed the teaching of literacy and numeracy, and the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and have made appropriate changes to reflect the school goals and the inquiry approach to learning.

Well resourced classrooms support the schools’ inquiry-learning approach and student engagement in learning activities. Classroom environments celebrate students’ learning and are attractive and printrich.

The senior leaders agree that the next steps in promoting continued curriculum development are to:

  • revisit the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and document the ways in which these principles inform teaching and learning in the school
  • develop and document expectations for teaching and learning in science, social studies and technology
  • further develop teacher skills in using assessment data to inform their teaching
  • include in curriculum documentation requirements for assessment in relation to the National Standards
  • further develop systems to monitor children’s exposure to all aspects of the curriculum.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. School leaders continue to:

  • review and improve quality assurance practices
  • improve teaching and learning practices through ongoing staff professional development
  • implement good systems to induct teachers who are new to the school
  • develop their charter collaboratively
  • value the expertise of all staff and provide staff with opportunities for shared leadership.

Trustees are committed to supporting and further improving the school and are well led by the new board chair. They work positively with the principal and are kept well informed about the operations of the school. They are interested in, and knowledgeable about, student achievement and progress. Trustees have identified the need to begin succession planning to ensure continuity in the knowledge and skills of new members of the board.

The next step for the board is to further document how it plans to meet its obligations through the inclusion of all aspects of the National Administration Guidelines in their charter and strategic plan. The board should ensure that its charter for 2011 includes achievement targets in relation to the National Standards.

The 2008 ERO report recommended that the board review and strengthen documentation of annual plans to ensure that outcomes of professional learning and development are fully embedded in school practice. This recommendation remains an area for improvement.

Provision for international students

  • The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 23F of the Education Act 1989
  • The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

The board of trustees must ensure that the school charter for 2011 includes achievement targets in relation to the National Standards,[Education Act 1989 s60A(1)(ba) reference s61(4)].

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should consult with the school community about the implementation of the health curriculum every two years.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

4 July 2011

About the School

Location

Northcote, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1395

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

Decile1

9

School roll

418

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Girls 51%, Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Tongan

African

Chinese

Filipino

Middle Eastern

Korean

other European

other Pacific

other

69%

7%

3%

2%

2%

2%

2%

2%

5%

3%

3%

Review team on site

May 2011

Date of this report

4 July 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

April 2008

April 2005

January 2001

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrate schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides