Viscount School - 11/03/2013

1 Context

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

Viscount School in Mangere, Auckland, has a large, predominantly Pacific, roll with Samoan and Tongan students comprising the largest ethnic groups. Fifteen per cent of the students are Māori. Considerable numbers of students speak English as a second language. An enrolment zone, in place since 2010, has helped to control roll growth.

School leaders and staff work collaboratively to promote students’ learning. A focus on teaching and learning prevails across the school. Students learn in purposeful and positive classroom environments. Teachers are involved in promoting students’ strengths in the arts and sport. Senior leaders view these areas as opportunities for students to experience success that will encourage them to achieve in other learning areas.

Relationships between teachers and students are generally positive and respectful. Students are focused on and engaged in their learning. They are expected to accept responsibility for their own learning and for helping others to learn. In all classes, plenary sessions and reflections keep students focused on the school’s obligations and values.

Senior leaders are trialling some streamed classes in Years 5 to 8. At other year levels, mixed ability classes remain. The principal and board of trustees are yet to consult with the whole school community on the impact of this trial on the engagement and learning of all students.

While the positive learning culture in classrooms noted in previous ERO reports continues to be evident, this report finds that there has been a limited response to the recommendations and areas for improvement noted in the 2009 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

Viscount School makes good use of achievement information to make decisions about class placements and to identify students who need further support. Senior leaders analyse data provided by teachers to identify achievement levels of students in reading, writing and mathematics and to monitor the progress of individual students. Teachers identify students with special needs early and provide appropriate support.

Teachers support student learning with programmes that develop skills and provide students with the language of learning. School-wide implementation of formative assessment practices could further develop student ownership of learning. Teachers could also involve students more closely in evaluating their learning so that students are able to identify and plan the next steps required to achieve their learning goals.

Discussions of student achievement at syndicate meetings provide valuable opportunities for teachers to share their practice and learn from each other. Planning strategically for these discussions and formally documenting agendas, key points covered and decisions reached would assist team leaders and teachers to review and reflect on their progress towards meeting school priorities.

Senior leaders have undertaken some reviews of teaching and learning. They could now review the effectiveness of teaching programmes by considering current best practice, relevant educational research, and by consulting teachers and students.

Teachers assess student progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. Senior leaders must now ensure that teachers report to parents on student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards after 1, 2 and 3 years at school.

It is also timely for teachers and senior leaders to deepen their understanding of National Standards assessment in terms of using a range of assessment tools and making overall teacher judgements (OTJs) in mathematics. Reports to parents should include all the required elements of the National Standards.

School leaders used the school’s National Standards data to identify low levels of student achievement in writing and have appropriately made writing the focus of the 2012 professional development programme. This development focus could be enhanced by:

  • setting specific and measurable student achievement targets to assist in evaluating the success of professional development programmes
  • ensuring teachers know and understand specific strategies to use in accelerating the progress of students.

3 Curriculum

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

Viscount School’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning well.

Senior leaders commit time and energy to ensure that classroom teaching programmes are consistent across the school. This is particularly so in reading and inquiry, where learning foundations are well established. They provide an induction programme and professional development to support the implementation of the school curriculum and ensure teachers have a good understanding of school expectations and programmes.

Senior leaders have embedded the school’s inquiry model effectively into classroom practice so that it has become a cornerstone of the school curriculum. Teachers use this clearly documented model to lead class inquiries. Senior leaders must be assured that students have opportunities to explore the specific approaches and knowledge that are integral to science, social studies and technology to further promote critical thinking.

Teachers, particularly in senior classes, use information and communication technologies (ICT) to support the inquiry approach. Students use a variety of formats to record and present their learning. Teachers and students are supported by a well resourced library. A teacher librarian leads the Information Literacy Programme.

Specialist teachers provide students with a range of good quality learning opportunities in the arts and in sport. A formalised career education and guidance programme could further support Year 7 and 8 students to achieve the future pathways the school expects for them.

Provision for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is integrated into classroom programmes. Funding provided for specific ESOL students could be used to develop programmes to meet their individual language learning needs.

Teachers participate in an appraisal process. This process could be strengthened by involving teachers more in reflection on their teaching practice. It would be helpful to relate professional goals to specific improvements that impact on students’ learning and achievement.

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

The school does not have specific programmes and initiatives to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. Māori students speak positively about their experience at Viscount School. They are also clear about their desire to have more te reo Māori in classes and for their culture to be more clearly reflected in the school environment.

Some classes benefit from te reo Māori being taught regularly and integrated incidentally across the curriculum and the school day. The development and use of a sequential learning programme for te reo Māori would support teachers and give them confidence to include te reo more in their classroom programmes.

Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education strategy for Māori education, has been considered by the board. However, areas for development in the 2009 ERO report relating to Māori initiatives have not been progressed. It would be timely to connect and consult with the Māori community to explore options to raise the profile of te ao Māori in the school.

Teachers could find it helpful to use Tātaiako, the Ministry of Education resource to support the implementation of Ka Hikitia, to develop a deeper understanding of teaching and learning for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has the capacity to sustain its current performance. However, improved self review and a greater response to ERO’s external reviews are required to improve the quality of governance and the school’s performance for the benefit of all students.

The trustees bring a range of experiences to their roles as board members. Several trustees have served consecutive terms on the board. The board should consider ways to encourage greater community participation in school governance roles.

To fulfil its governance role more effectively, the board must maintain a planned programme of regular, well attended meetings.

The board of trustees, with the principal, should strengthen the school’s governance and self review by ensuring:

  • written and timely reports against measureable student achievement targets and other school priorities are received throughout the year
  • effective review of the use of budget allocations especially in the areas of teacher professional development and ESOL funding
  • the health and safety of students and staff is monitored, especially in terms of hazards in the workplace

The ongoing review of policies, identified by ERO as an area for improvement in 2009, has not yet been formally completed. The board should develop a documented cycle of review so trustees and staff have regular opportunities to review their processes. Trustees need to be confident that processes and guidelines established for the school are being followed and that, where there are no guidelines in place, robust procedures are developed and implemented.

Following the on-site stage of this ERO review the board of trustees developed a suitable action plan to address the areas identified for improvement in this report.

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.

To meet its legislative obligations the board of trustees must:

  • in consultation with the school’s Māori communities, develop and make known to the school’s communities, policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students[National Education Guidelines 1993, National Administration Guideline 1(e)].

In order to improve practice, the board of trustees and school leaders should:

  • document processes for managing student behaviour positively so that students are not withdrawn from class for extended periods of time
  • develop strategies for consulting with and reporting to the school’s Pacific community

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

11 March 2013

About the School

Location

Mangere, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1546

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

764

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Samoan

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

Other Pacific

Other

15%

2%

37%

28%

11%

5%

2%

Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

11 March 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

December 2009

November 2006

February 2003