Te Kura o Otangarei - 05/10/2015

Findings

Te Kura o Otangarei is working well with external support and is making some good progress to improve outcomes for students. The school now needs to promote effective teaching and behaviour management practices consistently throughout the school. ERO will continue to support and evaluate the school’s progress.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Te Kura o Otangarei is located in the northern part of Whangarei city. The school caters for students from Years 1 to 8. One feature of the school is that students have an option of learning in an immersion, bilingual or mainstream programme. All students are Māori and are mainly of Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua and other northern hapu and iwi descent.

At the time of ERO’s February 2013 report the principal had been appointed for only two terms. He had identified as a priority the need for the school to develop a behaviour management strategy to increase students' engagement in learning, and to improve their progress, achievement and success.

The 2013 ERO report recognised that many staff and board members had given long service to the school and were dedicated to improving learning for students. However it identified many areas for improvement including teaching and assessment practices, implementing the National Standards, and developing self review across all areas of school operations.

As a result of these 2013 review findings, ERO made the decision to return to the school over a 1 to 2 year period. Since this time, ERO has returned to the school on six separate occasions during 2013, 2014 and 2015 to evaluate the progress the school has made to address concerns.

Since ERO’s 2013 report staffing has remained consistent, except for the te reo Māori immersion unit where two new teachers began in 2013. Since term 4, 2014 the school has received support from a Ministry of Education (MoE) student achievement function (SAF) adviser who has worked with teachers mostly in the mainstream area of the school. Also during the past two years, trustees have been involved in professional development to improve their understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities. 

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

The school is building its capacity to address the priorities identified for review and development.

Priorities identified for review and development

  • Embedding effective teaching and learning practices
  • Developing and embedding self review across all school operations
  • Improving school-wide communication processes

Progress

Embedding effective teaching and learning practices

Teachers, particularly in the mainstream area of the school have benefited from the considerable support provided by the SAF adviser. These teachers are improving how they use student achievement information to inform teaching and learning programmes, and are improving their focus on target learners. They are also using more effective teaching practices and are improving their understanding of the National Standards. Over the past 18 months mainstream student achievement has improved in reading, writing and mathematics.

These improvements are the result of a more systematic approach to teachers’ professional learning that includes them:

  • engaging in regular discussion about and inquiring into their professional practice, including how they might respond to students’ individual learning needs
  • working together to moderate student achievement against the National Standards
  • developing a school-wide planning format.

Students in the digital technologies pilot class are engaging positively in their learning. This result is a positive sign for considering a whole-school digital approach to engaging students in learning, especially in writing. The school is now exploring how it might use digital technologies to further engage the community and support children’s learning.

Key next steps

School leaders are implementing accountability systems alongside school’s teacher appraisal process. These systems include purposeful and regular observations of teaching practice. Senior leaders now need to increase expectations for improved teaching practice and ensure that there is school-wide consistency in the use of effective teaching practices.

The school has worked with the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) strategy for the last few years. There are some examples where teachers are using this framework well and where students are beginning to respond to these strategies. Unfortunately there are examples of teaching where positive behaviour management strategies are not used and children’s wellbeing is at risk. An essential next step is to ensure that all teachers are implementing the PB4L strategies. This expectation would ensure a consistently managed and safer learning environment for students throughout the school.

It remains a concern that a high number of students in the immersion unit are underachieving in pāngarau, tuhituhi and panui. These immersion classes still require specific external support to develop effective teaching and assessment practices.

To embed teaching and learning practices throughout the school, senior leaders also need to continue supporting all teachers throughout the school to:

  • further improve how they use achievement information to identify, support and monitor the progress of students, and accelerate the progress of students who are not yet achieving at the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics
  • enhance learning opportunities, and improve progress and achievement, particularly for Year 7 and 8 students to assist their transition to secondary school.

Improving school-wide communication processes

The principal and senior leaders have made good progress in this area that includes:

  • improving communication systems across the school and making clear the expectations for the senior team and staff
  • developing a leadership and management action plan for the principal
  • improving the alignment between strategic and annual planning, and principal’s action plan for school improvement.

Key next steps

The principal and senior leaders recognise the need to continue providing visible school leadership, clear delegations of responsibilities and for review and reporting.

In addition school leaders have critical leadership roles in:

  • ensuring that all teachers engage consistently in professional learning groups
  • planning strategically for effective school-wide teaching and learning in technology and e-learning
  • reporting more regularly to the board of trustees about school-wide student progress and achievement to inform strategic planning, resourcing and decision-making
  • monitoring and evaluating the impact of teachers’ practice on student progress and achievement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school has improved its ability to sustain, improve and review its performance. However, it is still not sufficiently well placed in this key area of sustainable performance.

Findings

Embedding self review across all school operations

With MOE support, the school has developed a good framework for self review, focused on promoting staff input and positive outcomes for students. Key next steps to further improve school wide self review include:

  • continuing to build staff understanding and use of self review, including increasing expectations for written reports to be evaluative, rather than descriptive
  • the board developing its own self review framework to evaluate trustees’ effectiveness in their governance roles.

It is also timely now for the board of trustees to consult with the school’s community to review their philosophy and policy for bilingual and immersion learning. This consultation and review would support the board in ensuring that the immersion and bilingual units are appropriately resourced. It would also help to ensure that teachers receive appropriate professional development to support students’ specific language needs and acquisition.

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 meet its obligations the board must:

  • provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students.

[National Administration Guidelines]

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education provide appropriate advisory support for the Maori immersion unit to improve teaching practices and raise student achievement.

Conclusion

Te Kura o Otangarei is working well with external support and is making some good progress to improve outcomes for students. The school now needs to promote effective teaching and behaviour management practices consistently throughout the school. ERO will continue to support and evaluate the school’s progress.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

5 October 2015

About the School 

Location

Otangarei, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

1069

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

100

Gender composition

Girls       51
Boys      49

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Cook Island Māori
Australian
African

92
  2
  2
  2
  2

Special Features

Immersion classes

Review team on site

July 2015

Date of this report

5 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2013
May 2010
March 2009