Somerville Intermediate School - 03/06/2014

Findings

1. Context

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

Somerville Intermediate School, in Howick, continues to provide high quality education for its Years 7 and 8 students in a supportive, learning-focused environment. Students receive a broad education that develops their academic, sporting and cultural interests and abilities.

The board, principal, senior leaders and staff work together effectively to meet school goals and are committed to continuous improvement. They have maintained and built on successes outlined in previous ERO reports such as sustaining very good partnerships with parents, whānau, and the local community.

Students respond well to the inclusive learning environment that staff provide. They support each other in their learning and are respectful to teachers. Recommendations from the 2009 ERO report have been used to further embed the school’s student centred curriculum. Teacher participation in professional learning and development (PLD) initiatives has resulted in improved outcomes for students. These developments have provided a sound foundation for trustees, senior leaders and teachers to embed the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum.

2. Learning

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

The school uses achievement information effectively to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Students engage in their learning by confidently contributing ideas to lessons and identifying their next steps.

Student wellbeing and learning are supported by students having a sense of belonging and connectedness to each other, their teachers, the school, and their local environment. Improving student learning and achievement is the focus for school development. Teachers show high levels of professionalism and their work is purposeful and focused on success for all students. Students report that staff members provide them with an emotionally and physically supportive environment to learn in. Teachers have high expectations of students, consistent with the school motto, ‘to be the best you can be’.

The school is tracking well to meet the government targets for student achievement. Overall, most students achieve at and above National Standards. School achievement information for 2013 shows a high proportion of students achieving in the ‘above’ category in National Standards for mathematics and reading. Māori students achieve at similar levels to their peers.

The school’s inclusive practices and support programmes cater effectively for students with special needs. Students involved in targeted programmes in the Learning Enhancement and Advancement Programme (LEAP) make very good progress. Increasingly, the LEAP initiative is having a positive school-wide impact on classroom programmes which are designed to raise students’ achievement levels, particularly for students achieving below the National Standards.

Trustees, senior leaders and teachers have prioritised raising the overall achievement levels of boys, particularly in writing. School self review has been used to explore ways to strengthen the teaching of writing. Senior leaders are committed to applying successful school-wide strategies that have contributed to gains in student achievement in mathematics to the teaching of writing. Professional learning and development during 2014 aims to build teacher capability to motivate and support reluctant and underachieving writers. The school has a strong focus on ensuring successful outcomes for all students not yet reaching their potential. The board and senior leaders are also committed to supporting and extending students who achieve well in relation to the National Standards.

National Standards achievement information for the small group of Pacific students who attend the school shows that overall achievement levels are lower than for other groups of students. The board and ERO agree that enhancing learning partnerships with Pacific families would complement the good quality learning support programmes that cater for underachieving Pacific students. Trustees, senior leaders and staff could use the Ministry of Education’s Pasifika Education Plan for 2013 to 2017 to assist a review focused on promoting success for Samoan, Tongan, and Cook Island Māori students.

Very good systems are in place to support teachers to make reliable overall teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers also monitor and report students’ progress and achievement in other essential learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Trustees' review of school reporting processes has shown that more explicit, written reporting to parents about National Standards achievement is required to supplement the comprehensive portfolio and face-to-face reporting processes that are undertaken by the school.

3. Curriculum

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

Strategic and cohesive leadership promotes a curriculum that personalises teaching and learning to cater for students’ different needs and interests. The school’s values based curriculum is highly effective in supporting student wellbeing and learning. A culture of positive relationships and inclusiveness contributes to students viewing themselves as socially, physically and emotionally successful learners. Students collaborate well with their teachers and other students, and are receptive to new ideas and experiences. Students are increasingly given opportunities to give direction to their learning.

Good teaching and learning practices are evident across the school. Teachers plan programmes that support students’ curiosity and their interest in the world around them. They provide students with meaningful opportunities to apply their learning to life situations. As a result of significant review, the board has paved the way for students to use their own digital devices in lessons. This initiative has had positive implications for teaching and learning. Ready access to information and communication technologies (ICT) has enabled students to extend their learning by having increased opportunities to communicate their ideas and thinking to others.

Staff understand their role as ‘privileged and pivotal’ in catering for the developmental growth of students in their middle years of schooling. The school has very good transition processes to support new students after they enrol at the school, and Year 8 students as they move on to the next phase of their formal education. Increased communication with contributing schools and local secondary schools has resulted in students experiencing less disruption to their learning as they move from one school to another. Achievement information gathered from contributing schools helps Year 7 classroom teachers to better plan for their students’ social and learning requirements from the outset of the school year.

The school sees importance in supporting students to be:

  • life-long learners
  • socially responsible
  • successful in a variety of learning areas.

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

Māori students represent five percent of the school roll. They experience success for Māori, as Māori. Māori students have a sense of belonging and connectedness to the whenua and to each other. The school’s information and ERO’s discussions with parents of Māori children have identified how they value:

  • promotion of te Ao Māori through the school’s tikanga
  • experiences such as noho marae that promote and reinforce whānaungatanga
  • positive Māori adult role models in the school and from the community
  • how manaakitanga and whānaungatanga are evident in the school.

The school has used Ministry of Education resources such as Tataiako and Ka Hikitia- Managing for Success Māori Education Strategy 2008 – 2012 to guide PLD and school practices. Consultation with parents of Māori students helps the board, senior leaders and staff understanding parent/whānau aspirations for their tamariki.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

In order to drive whole-school direction and purpose, the principal deliberately encourages and supports the development of leadership capability. Good quality leadership at board, teacher and student levels has a positive impact on student learning and wellbeing.

The school is well served by:

  • a board comprised of experienced trustees
  • coherent systems and practices
  • an experienced principal and senior leadership team
  • committed teachers and staff
  • a highly involved school community.

The board governs the school successfully and supports the principal and teachers in their work. School review processes impact positively on the school’s engagement with the community. Trustees value parent feedback and contributions and regularly seek their views through surveys and community meetings. Their strategic decision-making supports staff and parents in promoting positive outcomes for students. The school has a variety of means to gauge that students feel safe and are happy. Bicultural practices and use of self review have contributed to the school sustaining and improving its performance for Māori students.

Senior leaders and teachers work collaboratively to meet school goals. They use self review to identify areas of strength and areas for continuing development. Teachers reflect on and adapt their practice to cater for students’ diverse learning requirements. This improvement-focused culture contributes significantly to the school’s sustainability.

The strategic alignment of school direction, goals and processes has fostered shared ownership by students, staff and community. The school places importance on how findings and recommendations from self review processes support various groups and their contribution to school improvement.

ERO and the board agree that the school’s self review processes could be further refined by:

  • trustees, senior leaders and teachers exploring a variety of different ways to communicate with groups of parents to ascertain their perspectives and aspirations, including aiga from various Pacific nation backgrounds
  • communicating more clearly key recommendations to teachers, parents and students in order to support their contributions to school initiatives that are focused on raising student achievement.

ERO is confident that the board, senior leaders and staff have the capability to use the school’s well developed self-review processes to sustain their provision of high quality education. These processes should now be used to ensure reporting to parents on their children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards meets legislative requirements.

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 six international students attending the school.

International students are well included in classroom programmes. They receive support from a teacher qualified in second language teaching and learning.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. The board is provided with regular reports on the effectiveness of the school’s provision for international students, including on how well international students are engaged in learning, achieving and progressing.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review within four to five years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

3 June 2014

About the School

Location

Howick, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

6760

School type

Intermediate (Years 7 to 8)

School roll

959

Number of international students

6

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Chinese

African

Indian

British/Irish

Korean

Pacific

Filipino

Middle Eastern

Other Asian

Other European

Other

47%

5%

13%

8%

8%

4%

3%

2%

1%

1%

3%

3%

2%

Special Features

Counsellors on site

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

3 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2009

November 2006

February 2003