Vauxhall School - 15/01/2010

About the School

Location

Devonport, North Shore City

Ministry of Education profile number

1541

School type

Contributing Primary (Years 1 to 6)

Teaching staff: Roll generated entitlement Number of teachers

19.42 16

School roll

285

Gender composition

Boys 52%, Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā/NZ European 72%,

Māori,4%

Chinese 2%,

Indian 2%,

other Asian 4%,

other European 16%

Special features

Base school for Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour

Review team on site

November 2009

Date of this report

15 January 2010

Previous ERO reports

Education Review December 2006

Education Review April 2004

Accountability Review November 2000

Assurance Audit February 1997

Effectiveness Review June 1994

Review June 1992

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Vauxhall School has a history of positive ERO reports. This well established school is situated in Devonport and provides education for children from Years 1-6. A strong culture of self review operating at all levels of the school contributes to ongoing school-wide improvement.

Children benefit from a well resourced school and high quality teaching. They are motivated and engaged in their learning and enjoy positive relationships with their teachers and peers. Children appreciate the range of experiences provided for them, including an emphasis on the arts. Children’s learning is further enhanced by strong parental involvement. The majority of children, including Māori children, achieve at or above expected levels for their age in literacy and numeracy.

The school is very successfully led by the principal and school leadership team. Teachers plan and work collaboratively in teams to ensure that variable classroom spacing and programmes meet children’s learning needs effectively. High quality planning and authentic contexts are evident in all aspects of the curriculum.

In partnership with a collegial and cohesive staff, school leaders have developed an inquiry learning model that focuses teaching at all levels to support the development of children’s thinking skills. The model enables children to know how to achieve success and how to identify the next steps in their learning. Ongoing professional learning and development has helped staff to develop a shared understanding of the curriculum model.

Trustees bring strong governance skills to the school. They are supportive of the principal and teachers. The board is well informed about student achievement and contributes effectively to the school’s self-review processes.

Future Action

ERO is very confident that the board of trustees can govern the school in the interest of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report. ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four to five years.

2. The Focus of the Review

Student Achievement Overall

ERO’s education reviews focus on student achievement. What follows is a statement about what the school knows about student achievement overall.

School leaders use a wide range of assessment tools to collect information about student achievement in reading, writing and numeracy. This information is well analysed and is reported to the board of trustees, parents and the community. The school’s assessment information indicates that the majority of children achieve at or above expected levels in these key learning areas. By the end of Year 6, the large majority of children are achieving at or above expected levels in literacy and numeracy.

Teachers and school leaders make good use of information to identify individuals and groups of children who are not achieving, or who need further challenge in their learning. The flexible grouping system adopted in each syndicate is effective in meeting children’s changing learning needs. Some literacy and numeracy groups are designated as accelerate or are differentiated according to children’s learning needs.

School leaders appropriately separate out and track the data for a group of children who have remained at Vauxhall School since enrolling as new entrants. Analysis of their progress over time is reported to both parents and the board. This reporting provides school leaders and the board with valuable information for future decision making and resourcing.

Teachers share with parents what they know about children’s progress and achievement in formal reports. Student reports should indicate the curriculum levels at which children are achieving. Reports could be further improved by showing curriculum expectations in relation to year levels. The school celebrates many other forms of student achievement. Assemblies and school newsletters highlight student successes in the arts and sporting endeavours.

The entry levels and progress of new entrant children are well tracked by teachers. However, school leaders should review processes for analysing and reporting on achievement data for Year 1 children to better inform the board about the types of early and targeted interventions some children may need.

School Specific Priorities

Before the review, the board Vauxhall School was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the school to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the board of trustees. This discussion focused on existing information held by the school (including student achievement and self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to the achievement of the students at.

ERO and the board have agreed on the following focus area for the review:

  • the quality of teaching and learning with an emphasis on inquiry learning.

ERO’s findings in this area are set out below.

The Quality of Teaching and Learning with a focus on Inquiry Learning

Background

in acontract for a local cluster of schools, as part of the Extending High Standards Across Schools (EHSAS) initiative.The school has developed its inquiry-based learning framework over recent years. Professional development undertaken by teachers has led to innovations in developing inquiry learning approaches. Support for teachers has included external facilitation and participation

The 2006 ERO report recommended that the school investigate how the variable teaching spaces could be used to maximise opportunities for student learning and achievement. ERO also recommended that consideration be given to how best to use the varying skill levels of teachers. Since the 2006 ERO report, teachers have completed action research on effective teaching practices in variable space classrooms.

Milestone reports for the EHSAS initiative provide some information on what has been achieved. The board of trustees and school leaders considered it was now timely to receive an independent external evaluation of the impact of the school’s inquiry-based model. The board and ERO therefore agreed that the school-specific focus of this review would be the quality of teaching and learning, with an emphasis on inquiry learning.

Student progress and achievement

Practices for student peer and self-assessment against measurable achievement frameworks are well developed across a variety of learning areas, including the key competencies. The information gained strongly suggests that children are developing many important and significant skills and competencies through their inquiry learning processes.

Face to face conferencing on student progress and achievement in relation to the inquiry model provides opportunities for good reporting to parents.

Areas of good performance

Student participation. Children respond enthusiastically to the school’s inquiry learning approaches. Affirming relationships between teachers and children, and amongst children, result in a supportive environment. High levels of engagement motivate children to meet teachers’ expectations for their learning. Children can articulate their ideas and demonstrate good group processing skills when working together. This positive environment is conducive to children’s learning and social development. Children’s partnerships with each other and with their teachers help them to problem solve and plan together.

Student reflection and goal setting. Children reflect on and set goals for their next steps in learning. They can identify what they have achieved, and the specific next steps needed, by using assessment frameworks that they have developed with their teacher. Children also self and peer assess against the key competencies. They are familiar with the language of inquiry learning and are using their understanding of learning outcomes to achieve good results.

Impact of inquiry learningmodel. The inquiry model enables children of all ages to develop and use a range of strategies to achieve deeper levels of thinking. Currently, the inquiry approach is being used in literacy and the integrated learning topics. Teachers collaboratively plan authentic contexts that build on children’s prior learning. They use a range of strategies that give children opportunities to develop their own relevant questions and to articulate their ideas. Children’s research skills are enhanced through the use of inquiry skill models and graphic organisers that support the development of children’s higher order thinking skills. This model supplements the curriculum and helps children to think critically about the world around them.

Learning opportunities. Children enjoy a wide variety of learning opportunities and the school provides programmes to extend their talents and interests across the curriculum. There is a strong focus on the arts and children have good sporting opportunities. Other programmes include enviro-schools, Waterwise, girls’ science, and school-wide events involving the community. Children undertake leadership roles within classrooms and the school as a whole.

Learning environments. Children learn in well organised and supportive learning environments. Classroom environments with variable spacing enable teachers to work in teams to best meet the learning needs of targeted groups of children. Children can easily access resources to support their learning. There is a high standard of work in student books and displayed on walls.

Consistent approach to inquiry learning. Teacher planning for inquiry learning is consistent across the school. The school leadership team has captured the school’s inquiry model well diagrammatically and has developed comprehensive supporting documentation. Teachers receive ongoing professional development and plan collaboratively in cohesive teams. They participate in professional conversations and use achievement data and their own reflections to inform planning and to maximise children’s learning. As a result of focused teamwork, and clear expectations of best practice, the inquiry learning model is well embedded in the school curriculum.

Self review. The school has established a strong culture of self review at different levels, including:

  • teachers building their evaluative capacity through action research projects;
  • the teacher performance appraisal system that is clearly linked to school-wide goals;
  • review of curriculum areas;
  • surveying teachers and parents to establish their views on school operations;
  • teachers engaging in data analysis and discussing how children’s learning can be further supported; and
  • review of school policies and charter goals.

The school has built sound systems for self review that support ongoing, school wide improvement and positive outcomes for children.

Areas for improvement

Ongoing review of the inquiry model. To enhance the school’s existing good policies, procedures and practices, school leaders have identified that, as part of their self-review process, they should initiate a comprehensive and ongoing review of the inquiry learning model to ensure:

  • the application of the inquiry learning model in other curriculum areas;
  • the sequential development of higher order thinking skills across all year levels;
  • the continued development of children’s ability to reflect on their learning; and
  • consideration of children’s views about their learning.

Further integration of information and communication technologies (ICT). Further integration of ICT into the inquiry model is planned by the school leadership team and is identified in the school charter. Hardware has recently been purchased as a first step in providing tools that will further support children’s ability to gather, process, use and share their information and learning.

3. Areas of National Interest

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole to Government to be used as the basis for long-term and systemic educational improvement. ERO also provides information about the education sector for schools, parents and the community through its national reports.

To do this ERO decides on topics and investigates them for a specific period in all applicable schools nationally.

Vauxhall SchoolDuring the review ofERO investigated and reported on the following areas of national interest. The findings are included in this report so that information about the school is transparent and widely available.

Success for Māori Students: Progress

In this review, ERO evaluated the extent to which the school was familiar with the Māori Education Strategy – Ka Hikitia: Managing forSuccess and progress made since the last review in promoting success at school for Māori children.

The school reports it has discussed Ka Hikitia but has not yet made changes in the light of it.

Areas of progress

Reporting and analysis of data. Data about Māori achievement are analysed and presented to the board. Teachers monitor the progress and achievement of Māori children in their classes and syndicates. The principal is able to report that Māori children achieve at similar levels to those of other children in the school.

Consultation with families. The school communicates with the Māori community through regular newsletters and has sought parents’ views at school functions and in a recent phone survey. In response to this consultation, the board established a goal in the school’s 2010 strategic plan. This goal has enhanced the school’s responsiveness to parents’ aspirations for their children.

Cultural initiatives. Māori children report that they enjoy school and that they are encouraged to have pride in their culture. Pride is fostered by initiatives such as marae visits and learning about culturally significant topics. Some staff members are role models for children and able to assist in Māori protocol, such as kapa haka. These initiatives contribute positively to the development of children’s self esteem and learning.

Te reo me ōna tikanga Maori. Teachers have developed a progressive, sequential teaching programme of te reo and tikanga Māori. They have undertaken professional development to improve their skills in the delivery of te reo and are developing confidence in using te reo in their classroom programmes.

Areas for further improvement

Realising strategic goals. School leaders and trustees recognise the importance of reflecting Mäori values as part of the school culture. In 2010, teachers plan to include te reo and tikanga Māori in contextual learning topics, such as the arts and the enviro-schools programme. The principal, school leaders and key staff should now consider the provision of continued teacher professional development in this area.

The Achievement of Pacific Students: Progress

The very small number of Pacific children attending the school does not allow for accurate conclusions to be drawn about the Pacific group against nationally referenced assessment information. However, the progress and achievement of Pacific children is monitored closely by school leaders and collated data indicate that they achieve as well as other children in the school.

Preparing to Give Effect to the New Zealand Curriculum

Schools are currently working towards implementing The New Zealand Curriculumby February 2010. During this review ERO investigated the progress Vauxhall School is making towards giving full effect to the curriculum as part of its planning, organisation and teaching practice.

ERO found that school leaders and teachers at Vauxhall School are giving full effect to The New Zealand Curriculum in their planning, organisation, and teaching.

Including Students with High Needs

During this review ERO investigated the extent to which the board and school leadership team of Vauxhall School provide an inclusive education for children with high needs. This included collecting evidence about the school’s policies, processes and practices to support the enrolment and induction of children with high needs and to support their participation and achievement at school. The information collected during this review will contribute to information that will be reported in a national education evaluation report.

Prior to a review, a board of trustees and principal attest in the Board Assurance Statement that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal requirements including those detailed in Ministry of Education circulars and other documents.

The board of Vauxhall School was asked to attest to whether it had ‘ensured that teachers of children with disabilities, and other contact staff, have a sound understanding of the learning needs of children with disabilities and, where necessary, have put in place support systems centred on each individual with disabilities.’ The board was also asked to attest that ‘policies and procedures that relate to children who have special education needs are implemented without discrimination’.

ERO’s findings confirm these attestations.

4. Board Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Vauxhall School Before the review, the board of trustees and principal ofcompleted an EROBoard Assurance StatementandSelf-Audit Checklist. 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; and
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);
  • physical safety of students;
  • teacher registration;
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and
  • attendance.

Compliance

ERO’s investigations did not identify any areas of concern.

5. Recommendation

ERO and the board of trustees have developed the following recommendation:

  • that the principal and school leaders review and continue to extend the effective teaching and learning practices that underpin the integrated inquiry learning model.

6. Future Action

ERO is very confident that the board of trustees can govern the school in the interest of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report. ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four to five years.

To the Parents and Community of Vauxhall School

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Vauxhall School.

Vauxhall School has a history of positive ERO reports. This well established school is situated in Devonport and provides education for children from Years 1-6. A strong culture of self review operating at all levels of the school contributes to ongoing school-wide improvement.

Children benefit from a well resourced school and high quality teaching. They are motivated and engaged in their learning and enjoy positive relationships with their teachers and peers. Children appreciate the range of experiences provided for them, including an emphasis on the arts. Children’s learning is further enhanced by strong parental involvement. The majority of children, including Māori children, achieve at or above expected levels for their age in literacy and numeracy.

The school is very successfully led by the principal and school leadership team. Teachers plan and work collaboratively in teams to ensure that variable classroom spacing and programmes meet children’s learning needs effectively. High quality planning and authentic contexts are evident in all aspects of the curriculum.

In partnership with a collegial and cohesive staff, school leaders have developed an inquiry learning model that focuses teaching at all levels to support the development of children’s thinking skills. The model enables children to know how to achieve success and how to identify the next steps in their learning. Ongoing professional learning and development has helped staff to develop a shared understanding of the curriculum model.

Trustees bring strong governance skills to the school. They are supportive of the principal and teachers. The board is well informed about student achievement and contributes effectively to the school’s self-review processes.

Future Action

ERO is very confident that the board of trustees can govern the school in the interest of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report. ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four to five years.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, www.ero.govt.nz.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

General information about reviews

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve educational achievement in schools; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on student achievement and build on each school’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on three review strands.

School Specific Priorities– the quality of education and the impact of school policies and practices on student achievement.

Areas of National Interest– information about how Government policies are working in schools.

Compliance with Legal Requirements– assurance that this school has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a school is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this school.