Tokanui School - 15/09/2014

Findings

Students enjoy the benefits of strong support from the parent and local rural community. Local businesses and geographic features are used effectively by teachers as rich contexts for learning. Historically Tokanui students achieve well, particularly in reading and writing. Students who need extra support to succeed are very well supported and make accelerated progress. The principal and board lead and govern the school well.

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?

Students at Tokanui School enjoy the benefits of strong support provided by parents and the local rural community. The community provides financial help, sports coaching and student-learning support, especially in mathematics.

The school is in an isolated area of Southland with 86% of students travelling by bus to attend. The teachers and willing parents ensure that students’ education is not limited by this isolation. The spacious outside area provides students with a wide range of opportunities to challenge and extend their physical learning and play.

A new principal, deputy principal and teacher have been appointed since the 2011 ERO review. The school has a growing roll. The number of Māori students has also increased.

The nearby playcentre and school have close links. Senior students work with preschoolers on a regular basis and a transition programme prepares the way for children to move onto school.

Since the August 2011 review, the school has successfully improved aspects of assessment which were identified by ERO as needing to be reviewed. These aspects were:

  • building consistent assessment practices
  • monitoring the progress of students who are receiving extra help with their learning.

2 Learning

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

Historically, students at this school have achieved well in comparison with national expectations. The principal and board have identified the need to raise student achievement in some areas. School assessment information shows that students still achieve highly in reading and written language in relation to the National Standards. While overall achievement in mathematics is not quite as high as in the past, it is still on a par with other schools in Southland.

Findings

The principal, teachers and trustees use achievement information effectively. They set meaningful achievement targets that focus on accelerating the progress of specific cohorts of students.

Various strategies are used to support students who are at risk of not achieving to expectations. These strategies could be further strengthened by involving parents even more in discussions about how their child’s learning can best be supported, especially in mathematics.

Students who need an extra boost to catch up to their peers are placed in a special support programme. This is a very positive experience for students and accelerated progress is evident and tracked. The board is well informed about the programme and the impact it has on student progress and achievement.

The board is well informed about overall student progress and achievement. The principal’s reports to the board are well analysed and contain detailed information about groups of students (year levels, ethnicity and gender), and what teachers are doing to address identified issues.

Students’ reports are in plain language and clearly show parents where their child is at in reading, writing and mathematics, in relation to the National Standards.

Areas for review and development

Achievement information shared with the board could more clearly show how students who are being closely monitored are progressing at midyear. This would keep trustees better informed about the progress these students are making and the effectiveness of support programmes and classroom teaching and learning.

The principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that a strategic direction for the school is for students’ learning to become more self directed. Teachers could enable this by consistently providing students with specific written feedback about their learning. Students could also have a greater understanding of their achievement and involvement in their learning, such as contributing to decisions about their next learning steps.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning through interesting and authentic experiences.

Findings

Teachers are well supported to meet curriculum delivery and teaching expectations by detailed guidelines. The curriculum has a strong emphasis on school values and key competencies.

Local businesses and geographic features are used effectively by teachers as rich contexts for students’ learning. People within the local community also contribute their time and expertise to enhance students’ learning. Students’ interests in sporting activities and music are fostered within and beyond the school.

Teachers are quick to place an appropriate emphasis on areas of learning in response to identified needs from assessment information. Currently the emphasis is on mathematics. Students who need extra support to succeed, and their teachers, are effectively supported by specialist teachers within and beyond the school. Teachers have increased the use of ICT as a strategy to more fully engage students in their learning.

Teachers work collegially. They share strategies that may help students’ learning. Teachers and students also benefit from very able and skilled teacher aides.

Area for review and development

With the developing focus on more student-directed learning, it would be timely for teachers to seek students’ ideas and opinions about their learning and some aspects of school life that involve them. This was identified in the 2011 ERO review as an area for improvement.

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

Findings

Recent initiatives in response to the increased Māori roll are strengthening opportunities for Māori students. Teachers have increased their use of aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori in their classes. All students participate in kapahaka. A smaller group will represent the school at the Polyfest. In consultation with parents, achievement goals are set for students.

The board is mindful of the increase in the Māori roll and has appointed new staff with skills in te reo and tikanga Māori. These teachers support their colleagues to grow in competence and confidence in the use of te reo Māori in their classes.

Area for review and development

The board, principal and teachers need to develop a stronger understanding of, and strategy for, Māori success, as Māori. This includes showing how they are responding to areas of need identified in school-wide achievement data.

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.

Findings

The board’s response to the identified needs of students and staff is quick and shows a determination to improve outcomes for all students. Teachers and trustees are improvement focused and committed to taking part in ongoing professional development. Regular professional development for teachers and teacher aides from within the staff and from external providers is helping to build high quality practice and strategies to manage specific learning and behavioural needs.

The board surveys parents about their priorities for their children. The curriculum priorities reflect parent/community wishes.

The principal has established collaborative relationships among the new teaching team and with the community. She has pursued opportunities for teachers and students to join with other schools in the Southland area as a means of overcoming isolation and gaining new ideas to use for the benefit of students’ learning.

A next step is to improve the efficiency and rigour of curriculum review. The annual reports for reading, writing and mathematics could encompass a wider range of information that includes the extent to which Māori perspectives are integrated. This would contribute more usefully to a full review of each curriculum area.

Curriculum reports/reviews could also show links to:

  • current strategic focus areas such as developing student-directed learning
  • staff appraisal
  • teachers’ reflections and evaluations of units of work
  • professional learning and development
  • formal reviews (annual and cyclic).

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 enjoy the benefits of strong support from the parent and local rural community. Local businesses and geographic features are used effectively by teachers as rich contexts for learning. Historically Tokanui students achieve well, particularly in reading and writing. Students who need extra support to succeed are very well supported and make accelerated progress. The principal and board lead and govern the school well.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

15 September 2014

About the School

Location

Eastern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4030

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

117

Gender composition

Boys: 54% Girls: 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

85%

15%

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

15 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2011

April 2008

January 2005