Raphael House Rudolf Steiner Area School - 20/11/2014

Findings

The Rudolf Steiner special character is strongly evident in the school. Students in the senior school are focused and capable independent learners. Students in the lower school achieve well in English and mathematics. Improvement to some teaching practice in the lower school is a next step.

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?

Raphael House Rudolf Steiner Area School is located in Lower Hutt. There are 320 students on the roll, most of whom are New Zealand European/Pākehā. A growing number of students identify as Māori. A small range of other ethnic groups is enrolled.

The school provides education from kindergarten to Class 12 (Year 13). Kindergarten children move onto the official school roll from age five. They transition as one complete cohort at the start of the academic year in Year 2 and remain in the lower school until they graduate to the senior school in Class 8 (Year 9). The provision for children in the kindergarten, but on the school roll is addressed in ERO’s review of the kindergarten.

The aim of Waldorf schooling is to ‘educate the whole child, head, heart and hands’. The curriculum is broad to allow balance between academic, artistic and practical activities. The belief is that teaching through the arts and other hands-on experiences helps to develop internally motivated learners. Formal instruction begins gradually in Class 1 and thereafter students develop at an unhurried pace.

The recently appointed principal has introduced a number of positive initiatives to address areas identified for development in the July 2011 ERO report. These changes are yet to be embedded. Significant aspects of the 2011 report have yet to be addressed.

The newly appointed lower school coordinator is responsible for student achievement in the lower school. The deputy principal has responsibility for the senior school. Learning Steps, the Steiner equivalent of National Standards, have been introduced to measure and monitor students’ progress.

The Proprietor's Trust owns the property and has responsibility for the grounds and buildings. It also has oversight of the school’s special character. Proprietors are represented on the board of trustees. The Trust recently reintroduced a "college-of-teachers” approach. The Rudolf Steiner philosophy underpins the school’s special character and is evident in all aspects of the school life.

2 Learning

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

Since the previous ERO review, the school has improved the use of student achievement information. There is more useful reporting of this information to the board. Positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement are evident in the senior school.

School reporting shows that in 2013 most students achieved at or above the Learning Steps in English and mathematics.

The validity of some of Learning Steps judgements, however, should be reviewed. Teachers should become more familiar with the expectations inherent in these steps to make more reliable judgements on student achievement. Using this information to more effectively to plan teaching programmes should support improved outcomes for children.

Because the school targets for 2014 were set before the collation of Learning Steps data, appropriate priorities were not identified. Consequently, alignment through explicit goal setting and provision of sufficient additional support to accelerate the progress of students at risk of not achieving at expected levels, is limited but developing. Strategies are in place for better strategic alignment in the future.

The Steiner School Certificate is fully implemented at Levels 1 to 3 as a New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved senior qualification. In 2013, almost all students who entered achieved a certificate, often with endorsements of highly commended or distinction.

The high proportion of students who stay at school until at least their 17th birthday is a good indication of student engagement at senior level.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum promotes and supports student learning at the senior level, but less so in the lower school.

As part of the integration agreement, the school is expected to develop a curriculum that is consistent with The New Zealand Curriculum without losing the school’s special character, as implemented through the Waldorf approach.

In 2011, ERO reported the need to develop a shared understanding about good teaching of reading. There is still a need to address the variability in the quality of teaching in the lower school.

A broad range of subjects is offered to students in the senior school. There are compulsory elements through to Year 13 to facilitate a broad education. There are many opportunities for practical, authentic learning and student research. The appreciation of the purpose of these lessons facilitates engagement and focused learning.

Students at senior level relate well to one another and are respectful. Teachers facilitate and, given the generally small class sizes, support individual learning.

Students with identified high needs are well supported through alternative therapies. The Raphael Class was formed in order to accommodate the students’ educational and therapeutic needs in their own home room, while still being part of the school community. Their individual needs are met in a specialised setting.

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

The school is increasing its effectiveness to promote success for Māori as Māori. Māori students’ academic achievement is generally above that of their non-Māori peers.

Through Te Rōpū group, the school is developing a growing relationship with Waiwhetu marae.

The principal has been active in promoting cultural awareness. There is an appropriate link between the Waldorf approach and te ao Māori. This link is being made more explicit. Aspects such as waiata, karakia, and tikanga are integrated into the curriculum.

Te reo Māori is taught and some teachers are increasing their knowledge. An element of the teachers’ appraisal is the use of Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners.

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.

The school trustees participate in training and have a good understanding of their role. They make knowledgeable decisions based on the information they receive. The principal’s reports to the board are comprehensive. They outline school activities, student achievement and implementation of the National Administration Guidelines. School policies and procedures are on the school’s informative website. They are comprehensive and up-to-date and communicate to the community, agreed school approaches and expectations.

The recent appointment of the principal, and the systems and initiatives she has introduced, have enhanced management. The revised teacher appraisal system is supportive, and developmental. Information from internal reviews contributes to the knowledge of the effectiveness of school performance. These processes are in the early stages of implementation but are likely to support improvement once embedded.

Roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the Proprietor's Trust, the school board of trustees, the leadership team and the college of teachers are not clear. These groups should review, agree and document the aspects of school operation they are responsible for and the protocols for how they interact with one another.

To sustain and improve its performance, the school should:

  • address the variability of teaching in the lower school, through robust appraisal
  • ensure teachers in the lower school better understand and use the Learning Steps
  • review the roles and accountabilities of The Proprietor's Trust, the board of trustees, school leaders and the college of teachers.

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 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were two international students attending the school, including one exchange student. Both students come from Germany.

There is appropriate academic, social, cultural and pastoral provision. The international coordinator, who also has responsibility for pastoral care, works closely with the students who mostly come from Germany. She is fluent in German and usually speaks to the students’ home school and parents before offering a place in the school. A Japanese-speaking teacher is responsible for the pastoral care of any Japanese students who enrol.

The students usually have home-stay accommodation which is organised and monitored by the home-stay manager. Clear guidelines and expectations are in place to provide a safe and welcoming environment.

Most students come to improve their English. The specialist teacher of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) individualises lessons to enable students to progress at their own level. School staff and management work collaboratively to provide a good level of pastoral care. They build positive and productive relationships with students. Students integrate well into school life and participate in a range of social, sporting and cultural events.

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 Rudolf Steiner special character is strongly evident in the school. Students in the senior school are focused and capable independent learners. Students in the lower school achieve well in English and mathematics. Improvement to some teaching practice in the lower school is a next step.

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

Joyce Gebbie National Manager Review Services Central Region

20 November 2014

About the School

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

133

School type

State Integrated Area School (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

320

Number of international students

2, including 1 exchange student

Gender composition

Female 57%, Male 43%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākeha

Māori

Other ethnic groups

77%

7%

16%

Special Features

Attached early childhood centre

Attached unit for special needs

Review team on site

September 2014

Date of this report

20 November 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2011

June 2008

July 2005