Timaru Christian School - 09/08/2017

Findings

Timaru Christian School provides Christian-based education. The school makes effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Children benefit from a broad and interesting, bible-based curriculum. They participate and learn in a caring, collaborative and inclusive learning community.

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?

Timaru Christian School provides Christian-based education. Children travel from around the Timaru region to attend. The roll is culturally diverse, including seven children with Māori and 14 with Pacific heritage. The school roll has increased. Additional staff have been appointed. In consultation with its community, the school now provides education from new entrants to Year 10.

The school vision of “Christ-centred learners with servant hearts”, and the key values of love and grace through servanthood, truth and perseverance, underpin the curriculum and practices within the school.

The school places importance on growing community and family/whānau partnerships. It belongs to a cluster of rural schools, the Timaru South Kāhui|Ako Community of Learning (CoL), and a network of Christian schools. A Christian preschool is located beside the school and most children transition to the school when turning five. The school is creating stronger links with the preschool to ensure smooth transitions.

School leaders and the Board of Trustees have made good progress in addressing the recommendations of the 2014 ERO review. The board now has a useful strategic plan, with a focus on raising student achievement and developing the special character of the school.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Student achievement patterns in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics show an upward trend over the last three years, with good levels of achievement for most students. However, there are some disparities in achievement between different groups in the school including boys, and in writing. 

School leaders and teachers have effective processes for identifying all children at risk of not achieving and provide well considered interventions to accelerate learning for those students. These have proved to be particularly effective for children in years one and two and a group of Year 8 children in 2016 who needed to accelerate their achievement in mathematics.

The school uses a range of assessment tools and guidelines for moderation to make reliable overall teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards. School leaders agree that the rigour of moderation practices can be strengthened by continuing to build all teachers capability in this area and continuing to work with other schools.

The board effectively uses learning information to make resourcing decisions to improve the learning of all students. Trustees set specific targets to lift achievement for some learners at risk of poor educational outcomes. The next step for trustees is to ensure these targets include all students at risk of not achieving, and to extend achievement expectations for others.

The principal and school leaders are taking an intentional approach to better respond to the language, culture and identity of the increased number of children with Pacific heritage in the school. They have seen a positive shift in the engagement and achievement of these children, and especially those in the senior school.

Teachers help children to set learning goals and know about aspects of their progress and learning. Leaders agree this is an area for continued development.

The board, leaders and teachers should:

  • strengthen moderation practices
  • extend targets
  • continue to grow children’s learning to learn capabilities.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is very effectively designed to promote and support children’s learning within a Christian world view. The school’s values and programmes are strongly aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum.

Children’s learning benefits from broad and interesting programmes, where they learn in and beyond the classroom. A key feature of the school’s curriculum, is the way children contribute to the life of the school and community through acts of service related to the value of servanthood. Children with additional learning needs, including gifted and talented, are well supported.

The recently developed Year 9 and 10 programme has been informed by extensive planning and research before starting in 2016. Children in Years 9 and 10 benefit from an integrated programme designed to prepare them with the necessary learning skills to transition to Year 11 at other schools.

School leaders and teachers regularly seek and respond to children’s opinions about many aspects of school life. This helps promote children’s sense of wellbeing and belonging in the school. 

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

Māori children achieve equitably in reading and mathematics, in relation to the National Standards, but not in writing. The school, led by the principal, is increasingly seeking ways to engage with Māori whānau and to value the bicultural nature of Aotearoa New Zealand and increase Māori perspectives in programmes and practices. Leaders agree this is an area for continued development. The board needs to consider what success as Māori means for its school.

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 board has undertaken professional development to clarify its roles and responsibilities. Trustees have a strong focus on student achievement. With the principal, they have set a clear direction for the school through a well-developed vision, and values. Trustees regularly review key aspects of the school’s operation and consult widely on this.

The principal and senior leader have effectively managed the school through a period of strong roll growth. They provide strong shared leadership and clear guidance to teachers to help promote consistency and effectiveness of teaching. An improved appraisal system is contributing to teacher growth and development. A next step is to more explicitly link expectations for accelerating student achievement in teaching as inquiry.

The principal is leading a culture of improvement and collaboration. She leads evaluation of curriculum areas and aspects of school operations. To be more effective, internal evaluation needs to:

  • prioritise specific areas for improvement
  • include deep investigation and rigorous sense-making processes
  • use relevant information at student, classroom teacher and school levels to promote improvement.

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

Timaru Christian School provides Christian-based education. The school makes effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Children benefit from a broad and interesting, bible-based curriculum. They participate and learn in a caring, collaborative and inclusive learning community.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

9 August 2017

About the School 

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

1611

School type

Area School (Years 1-10)

School roll

102

Gender composition

Boys: 52%

Girls: 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific
Asian
Other

7%
60%
12%
9%
12%

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

9 August 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Supplementary Review

May 2014
March 2011
February 2008