Omakere School - 14/03/2016

Findings

Omakere School is a family-oriented rural school in Central Hawkes Bay. The vision and values within the curriculum have recently been redefined through community consultation. Developing the curriculum to ensure it responds to the strengths, needs and interests of the students and improving the capacity for internal evaluation are important next steps.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in one-to-two years.

1 Context

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

Omakere School is situated in Central Hawkes Bay, east of Waipawa. At the time of this review 28 students were enrolled at the school and 50% identify as Māori. Some students live in the local community, and about half of the students attend from the town. Students participate in a range of sporting and cultural activities with other local schools.

Staff and trustees value the input of the wider community in the life of the school. The establishment of the Omakere School and Community Association provides support for the school. Many families have a long association with the school.

The vision and values of OMAKERE CREW, 'Open Minded Active Kids Excelling in our Rural Environment' and ‘Community Resilience Excellence and Whanaungatanga’ have been recently developed after consultation with the community.

Since the October 2012 ERO report, there have been staff changes. A new junior room teacher, and a new part-time teacher have been employed. At the time of this report, the school is recruiting a new principal. Three new trustees now sit on the board. With the pending appointment of a new principal, the school is in a state of change.

The previous ERO report identified key areas for development and review, including the updating the Omakere School curriculum, writing more in-depth guidelines for teaching and learning and strengthening self review. These areas have not been fully developed, and some areas such as the curriculum, not progressed to a satisfactory extent.

2 Learning

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

Teachers use achievement information well within class programmes. Ongoing planning is responsive to the needs of individual students.

According to the school's data, most students achieve at the expected levels in relation to the National Standards in reading and mathematics. Writing achievement for some students is tracking below expectation. The school has appropriately identified writing as a target area for both raising achievement and strengthening teaching practices.

In relation to the National Standards, Māori students achieve at similar levels to their peers. Annual achievement targets are set to ensure there is an ongoing focus on Maori students who are at risk of not achieving at the expected levels.

Teachers call on a wide range of sources to make judgements about student achievement. This includes formalised testing, teacher observations and moderation practices with other local schools. Staff regularly moderate judgements to develop consistency.

Teachers are able to identify the strengths and next learning steps for students. The use of clear progressions of learning in reading, writing and numeracy allows teachers to track student progress through achievement levels.

Inclusive education for students with diverse needs was a focus of review for the school in 2014. Positive practices, relationships and interactions are evident. Building partnerships with parents, families and whānau around learning pathways for these students is a focus.

Learning needs of individual students are identified through data. Academic success for students with specific needs is well supported through the use of individual plans. The board of trustees allocates resourcing to ensure interventions are in place to support these learners.

To work out what makes the biggest difference to students' learning, internal evaluation needs to be developed and used.

3 Curriculum

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

Teachers set high expectations for learning and behaviour, linked to the values and visions developed with the community.

Teaching programmes focus on literacy and mathematics and provide students with a range of experiences across all learning areas. Teachers use different strategies to extend and promote learning opportunities for students. Digital technology is used to enhance learning.

Science has been a curriculum focus in 2015. This focus is supported by resources and expertise from the local community. The introduction of an inquiry learning model is a deliberate strategy to support students to be self-directed learners. The difference the inquiry model makes for students' learning has yet to be evaluated and is an important next step.

An up-to-date curriculum is needed, under which the classroom programmes sit, to ensure students learn, achieve and progress in the breadth and depth of The New Zealand Curriculum. Initial work has begun with the development of a vision and school values. Currently, the board cannot be assured that students have sufficient and equitable learning opportunities.

Development should ensure The New Zealand Curriculum is reflected and that guidance for effective teaching and learning is provided. Omakere School curriculum development should be mindful of:

  • connections to the local geographical and historical context of the Omakere area, including te ao Māori
  • clear links between school values, initiatives and The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies
  • clear, shared understanding about effective teaching practices in reading, writing and mathematics
  • a formal process for teachers to inquire into the impact of their teaching, linked to student achievement targets
  • provision of a formalised second language programme for Year 7 and 8 students.

Teachers are outward looking and access professional development opportunities related to student achievement targets to improve their understanding of effective practice. A considered approach is taken by staff when exploring new strategies for developing students as writers. Authentic contexts are used to engage and motivate students. A collegial, collaborative approach to sharing strategies that raise achievement in writing has been established within the school and with the local schools' cluster.

Transitions into and beyond the school are well thought through. Positive relationships with early childhood centres and the local high school are promoted.

Over the course of 2015, the principal has reviewed the teacher appraisal process to strengthen the focus on building staff capacity and lift student achievement. ERO affirms this is a positive development.

To further improve the process, the appraisal system should also include:

  • clear professional goals linked to the school's strategic direction for the principal
  • clear professional goals linked to raising student achievement for teachers
  • use of data to inquire into the impact of teaching strategies and interventions
  • strengthening the expectations for culturally responsive practices as expressed inKa Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013-2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners
  • the collation of evidential files in relation to the Practising Teachers Criteria to support teachers’ development.

To improve student learning outcomes, the school should give priority to developing and implementing the curriculum and an effective appraisal process.

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

Whānau have opportunities to engage in meaningful ways in school events and decision making. Aspirations for Māori students are sought to better support their learning pathways.

Te ao Māori can be seen in integrated programmes and some local context is evident.

Māori students are engaged in leadership roles and a variety of cultural, sporting and environmental activities.

Continued development is required to strengthen the expectations and practice of teachers to respond to the language, culture and identity of Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

In order for the board to improve and sustain the school's performance, trustees need to be clear about roles and responsibilities. The place of internal evaluation, to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum on student learning, continues to be an area for development.

Induction for trustees should be strengthened to ensure those new to the board have access to appropriate training. In particular, there should be a focus on the development of the strategic direction for the school and the establishment of a clear process for internal review.

The board is representative of the wider community. Trustees actively seek and respond to community input. The principal leads the school in an inclusive and collaborative manner. Parents, families and whānau partnerships are valued in the life of the school and involvement of students’ learning. This enhances a sense of belonging for students and families.

The board receives useful information on student achievement across the year and focuses on resourcing to improve students’ equity of access to the curriculum. Annual targets are set in reading, writing and mathematics. Targets are used to monitor the progress and achievement of students.

The strategic and annual plans should be strengthened through the inclusion of measurable outcomes, clear timeframes and responsibilities against set goals. This should enable the board to review progress throughout the year by identifying what is working well, and why, and the development of next steps.

Strengthening evaluation is needed to assist teachers, leaders and trustees measure the impact of the curriculum and effectiveness of teaching. Decisions about strategies to accelerate progress and raise achievement are more likely to be based on firm evidence where there is a clear and understood way of examining practice.

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 current practice, leaders should ensure that the curriculum is further developed and that this includes the provision of a formalised second language programme for Year 7 and 8 students.

Conclusion

Omakere School is a family-oriented rural school in Central Hawkes Bay. The vision and values within the curriculum have recently been redefined through community consultation. Developing the curriculum to ensure it responds to the strengths, needs and interests of the students and improving the capacity for internal evaluation are important next steps.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in one-to-two years. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

14 March 2016

School Statistics

Location

Waipawa, Central Hawkes Bay

Ministry of Education profile number

2627

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

28

Gender composition

Males 17, Females 11

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

11

17

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

14 March 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2012

December 2009

April 2006