South Auckland S D A School - 10/11/2015

1. Context

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

South Auckland Seventh Day Adventist School is an integrated multicultural school that caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The school is adjacent to the local Church and Preschool.

The school’s shared vision is enacted through its values emphasising Excellence, Respect and Family. These values guide all areas of school life. All permanent teachers are required to be active members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The school’s full-time chaplain works with students and staff to support the special character of the school.

The school has close connections with its church and community. These relationships have been established over many generations, and help to bring stability and continuity to the school. A strong sense of school family exists and is spoken about. Good connections with Pacific families support effective home school partnerships with this group of students and their families. Enrolment of Māori students has increased since the 2012 ERO review.

The board strategically governs the school and has very good governance capacity. Its members reflect the diverse school community. Since the 2012 ERO review a new associate principal and deputy principal have joined the principal on the leadership team. They work collaboratively with the board to guide the strategic direction of the school.

There has also been increasing pressure from the wider community since the 2012 ERO review to extend opportunities for student placements in the school. The board and principal continue to consider this matter.

2. Learning

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

The school uses student achievement information well to gain useful information about student learning. Senior leaders and teachers have focused on strengthening school assessment processes to ensure decisions about student learning are relevant and meaningful. They also recognise that there is more work to do in this area, especially in relation to overall teacher judgements about student progress and achievement to ensure that these judgements are reliable and consistent. Senior leaders and ERO agree that working with schools in the two local clusters that the school is part of, could be beneficial for further strengthening assessment practices.

Students are engaged in their learning and are motivated to succeed. They see themselves as capable learners and have a good understanding of what they are learning. They actively make decisions about how to improve their work and are encouraged by teachers to do so. Students also support the learning of their peers. Their enjoyment of learning is well supported by the schools’ developing culture of students as inquirers.

The school has inclusive and responsive practices to support students with special learning needs. Teachers and teacher aides have a shared commitment and responsibility for student progress. This helps to ensure students participate well in learning programmes and classroom activities.

The school’s professional learning and development (PLD) programme for teachers in the teaching of mathematics is helping them to increasingly share skills and knowledge with students. Senior leaders identify that supporting all teachers to consistently use new practices linked to this PLD is a current priority.

Information the school collects shows that many students are achieving well in National Standards, and that achievement in reading considerably exceeds achievement in mathematics and writing. This achievement information compares well with that of other local schools. It sits above those for similar schools nationally in both reading and mathematics, while writing levels are a little lower than national averages.

The school also identifies some gender-based achievement differences, with girls overall performing at significantly higher levels than boys. Data further indicates the school’s need to progress the overall achievement of Māori students, so that success levels for these students are consistent with whole school data, particularly in writing and mathematics. Senior leaders and teachers recognise the need for continuing reflection on, and development of, teaching and learning programmes to ensure all students are well placed to be successful learners.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum reflects school values and the special character of the school. Students have opportunities to lead, to give service and to contribute to the life of the school. These opportunities affirm and celebrate the language, culture and identity of Māori, Pacific and students from other cultures.

There is a strong focus on developing literacy and mathematics across the school. Teachers are beginning to inquire into their own practice to further meet the needs of individual students, with students actively supported to input into curriculum implementation.

Students have good access to technology and digital devices are thoughtfully used across the school to further student learning. Students understand the wider applications of digital devices and use them well.

Senior students in years 7 and 8 learn in a large modern learning environment and teachers are continuing to develop teaching and learning strategies to make best use of this environment. Students respond well and clearly enjoy the autonomy they have to self-manage in this space.

Senior leaders have also identified, however, that the school’s curriculum requires significant review to ensure it provides students with meaningful, relevant and challenging learning experiences. Next steps include planning and implementing a curriculum that:

  • promotes students’ higher order thinking, providing them with greater scope for challenge innovation and curiosity
  • deepens teachers’ professional knowledge and data analysis skills to enable them to lead students towards a more independent, self-managed style of learning at all year levels.

Senior leaders also agree that ongoing teacher PLD should continue to foster the school’s capability to deliver a responsive curriculum that caters effectively for all learners, and especially boys and Māori.

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

The school is committed to increasing its capacity to promote the educational success of Māori as Māori. As part of its strategic appointment planning for 2015, it has recruited two staff who are speakers of te reo Māori. This has had a positive effect on the teaching of te reo across the school and supported the development and growth of kapa haka. Students enthusiastically participate in powhiri and kapa haka.

Māori students are represented across all achievement bands. The school has a commitment to improving outcomes for Māori learners and ensuring their ongoing success. School leaders understand the current priority is to focus on lifting Māori levels of achievement so that they align better with the achievement levels of the whole school population.

The school incorporates aspects of the Ministry of Education’s strategies for promoting success for Māori students and the enhancement of cultural competencies for teachers. As part of continuing work in this area, the school acknowledges that more regular hui and improved communication with whānau Māori could help build more educationally powerful connections and learning partnerships based on parents’ goals and aspirations for their children.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain current strengths and improve performance.

The board provides effective governance to help ensure its accountabilities are met. Its decision making is strategic and forward thinking. There is a shared vision between the board and school leaders, and they enjoy a strong working relationship. The board is well informed about curriculum developments and student achievement, and supports ongoing development in these areas. Trustees’ and senior leaders continue to work strategically on staffing matters and promoting the quality and consistency of teaching and learning across the school.

The principal is collaborative and actively seeks to promote and grow leadership across the school. The leadership team is committed to leading change. It uses self review and reflection to identify areas for school development and improvement.

Teacher appraisal systems are developing well and the principal is externally appraised. Senior leaders have identified that teachers’ could now benefit from the use of more collegial approaches to support their appraisal inquiries.

In order to further build its governance capability, the board has identified the need to:

  • embed evaluative self review across all levels of the school to promote ongoing improvement
  • ensure best practice processes underpin employment matters.

The school continues to build relationships and engage parents and whānau in ways that support their children’s learning. The school, church and community work together to create positive opportunities and improved outcomes for all children.

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

Students benefit from learning in a family-like environment and are responding well to a curriculum that is becoming increasingly student centred and based on modern teaching and learning practice. Senior leaders and the board are committed to ongoing school development and are responsive to the needs of their community.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

10 November 2015

About the School

Location

Papatoetoe, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

4140

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

292

Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 9%

Pākehā 4% 

Cook Island Māori 30%

Samoan 25%

Tongan 20%

Indian 3%

Filipino 2%

Niue 2%

Other 5%

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

10 November 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2012

Education Review October 2009

Education Review August 2006