Viscount School - 20/10/2016

1 Context

Viscount School, located in the multicultural community of Mangere educates children in Years 1 to 8. Ten percent of children identify as Māori. Most children are of Pacific heritage. The school has a large number of children who are bilingual, speaking home languages other than English. The school receives significant funding to support English for speakers of other language (ESOL). Each year, the school enrols a significant number of new children and others depart the community. Recently, the school has completed the construction of a modern learning classroom block for four classes.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are: 'to cultivate students' knowledge, skills, strategies and habits of mind that are necessary for successful learning'. The vision is to help children 'be successful learners, developing a set of personal values and a sense of social responsibility'.

The school’s achievement information shows that over the past three years Māori children achieve better than other children. In reading, 80 percent of Māori children achieve at or above National Standards. In writing, 45 percent of Māori children achieve at or above National Standards. In mathematics, over 55 percent achieve at or above National Standards.

Overall school achievement information shows that for the past three years approximately 75 percent of children have achieved at or above National Standards in reading. By 2015 in writing, just over 40 percent of children have achieved at or above National Standards. In mathematics, just over 60 percent of children are achieving at or above National Standards.

School information highlights achievement concerns for children in Years 4 to 8. The school has set targets to raise the achievement of this group in mathematics. While gains of 10 percent in writing are evident in 2015, many children remain below the national standard. Improving achievement in writing is not targeted in the school charter.

Boys consistently achieve below the level of girls. Many children of Pacific heritage require further support to reach higher levels of success. These patterns of low achievement have continued over the past three years. The school now needs to set achievement targets for both groups.

The school analyses the achievement data of children who remain at the school over longer periods of time compared to children who have more recently joined the school. It shows that the longer children remain at the school, the more likely they are to achieve better, especially in Years 1 to 4. This trend is useful information for leaders and teachers to prioritise accelerating student learning from the moment children enrol to increase their success.

The school moderates overall teacher assessment judgements internally using exemplars. Judgments are also moderated with other schools. To strengthen the dependability of their overall assessment judgements, further engagement in external networks would be timely and useful.

The school has a useful range of observational and classroom-based assessment practices in reading and writing. They have not yet used a suitable range of external tools to inform overall teacher judgements. ERO has recommended this in previous external evaluations. In mathematics, a better range of assessment practices are used. The school could use additional external tools to evaluate student achievement across mathematics strands especially for Years 4 to 8.

Since the 2013 ERO review, teachers have completed school-based professional development in reading, writing, inquiry and mathematics. They have participated in external professional development to improve writing and to promote learning through digital technologies. Last year, student achievement in writing increased by ten percent. Further improvement is still required.

The school has continued to use several intervention programmes to promote student learning. Leaders have continued to develop links and partnerships with educational services to support children with additional learning requirements. They have employed a Social Worker in School (SWiS) to help children and their families. An evaluation of how well these initiatives are accelerating learning for individuals or groups of children has not been undertaken.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has been somewhat effective in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement require acceleration. The school does not yet have any in depth evaluation to highlight practices that are successful in promoting accelerated outcomes for Māori children.

Some Māori children remain below and well below National Standards especially in mathematics and writing. Māori children are targeted for acceleration by some teachers. However, specific plans to support Māori children make accelerated progress are not yet in place school-wide.

To accelerate the progress of Māori children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes, the board, school leaders and teachers should consider:

  • developing a shared understanding of teaching practices that accelerate student learning and Māori children's learning in particular
  • setting more specific Māori student achievement targets and aligning targets to appraisal goals through all levels of the school
  • participating in educational networks that help inform teachers about teaching practices that best accelerate Māori children's progress
  • designing culturally relevant learning contexts for Māori and other children
  • increasing children's agency and efficacy as learners
  • working more closely with whānau to develop school tikanga and consultation practices that inform policies, plans and targets that result in accelerated student achievement outcomes
  • improving school systems for internal evaluation, and effective reporting to the board on Māori student progress and achievement.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is partially effective at responding to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The school's response is most effective in reading. There are many children who need further support in writing and mathematics. Strategies to accelerate learning in mathematics and writing should be developed.

Teachers monitor target children's progress in their class programmes and work together to meet individual children's learning requirements. Documentation could more consistently highlight the progress of children and evaluate what worked best to accelerate their learning.

The school identifies children with additional learning requirements well. It accesses support for these children through external agencies and other educational organisations. Leaders design a variety of intervention programmes and collect progress data. 2016 mid-year data shows some children make accelerated progress.

Specific outcomes for ESOL children receiving programmes funded by the Ministry of Education should also be evaluated and reported to the board. ERO has previously recommended this be undertaken. All staff should have access to high quality ESOL professional development, including support from ESOL qualified professionals. This could complement the school's focus on reading and oral language development.

More formal evaluation and reporting on the success of intervention and support approaches would enable the board to use this information to make effective resourcing decisions. The school should develop its evaluation and reporting processes with some urgency and act on the findings to accelerate student progress and learning outcomes.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

School leaders have continued to promote the Viscount Learning Community (VLC) philosophy to create a positive and settled school learning environment. The VLC approach supports respectful relationships between children and with many teachers. Senior students ERO spoke with clearly understood the value and responsibilities of being part of the VLC. They were focussed on learning and had high expectations for their future.

Physical education and sport promote student success and excellence at Viscount. Children are proud of the school's sporting achievements and this helps inspire pride and promotes children's strong sense of belonging. It is timely that leaders now increase their focus on promoting more equitable outcomes for children in other areas to better enact the school's vision, values and goals.

School leaders should ensure children experience the breadth and depth of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The school's curriculum is only partially effective and the school's curriculum policy should be updated through consultation with the community and children. While some specialist curriculum teaching is available, children identified they would benefit from more opportunities to learn about science, the arts and technology.

Developing a more culturally relevant curriculum is also urgently needed for the school to meaningfully engage children and affirm their language, culture and identity. Children would benefit from a curriculum that offers greater personal challenge and choices within diverse contexts that best reflect the NZC principles and values.

The school has engaged in professional development in taha Māori and did initiate developments. However, these initiatives have not been sustained. Developing and implementing a well-structured te reo Māori me ona tikanga programme school-wide is required. This would help teachers deliver a more bicultural curriculum in line with the Tiriti o Waitangi curriculum principle. This could complement the focus on promoting second language learning.

Career education for Years 7 and 8 children has been improved through relevant external professional development. These children would benefit from further opportunities to explore potential career interests to help prepare them for secondary education and their future.

Some staff are able to communicate with families in their home languages and contribute to successful home-school communication. Ensuring school reports to families are clear about how parents can help at home and using plain language is required.

The board has very good links with the local community. Trustees recognise the value of communicating with families in their home language. They have identified that by using their own bilingual strengths, community meetings could be even more successful in engaging families in their children's learning.

The board is committed to supporting the school to ensure the best outcomes for children. However, trustees are currently not well informed about children's learning in order to make the best school resourcing decisions and set specific student achievement targets. Trustees require ongoing external training and support to evaluate student achievement information and set strategic directions.

The board requires external intervention to meet its legal responsibilities and become up to date with government priorities and legislative change. The board is yet to implement policy review or a work plan, both of which have been recommendations in successive ERO reviews.

Health and safety delegations are not clearly reported or documented in board operations. The board does not receive adequate reports to provide it with assurance of a safe physical and emotional school environment for staff or students.

There are a number of matters relating to the board's role as a good employer that are of concern.

  • Personnel management and employment practices are not well documented.
  • Police vetting is not up to date.
  • Non-registered teachers require a limited authority to teach (LAT).
  • Appointment procedures are not adequate to manage risk.
  • Performance management is not robust. Improved processes with documentation are required to meet current requirements for practicing teacher endorsement.
  • A more robust process for principal appraisal is required including a performance agreement. High quality and well considered external appraisal of the principal and senior leadership team would be appropriate to help the board manage its role as a good employer.

Over the past three years, the school roll has decreased, posing ongoing financial challenges and risks for the board. A review of job descriptions, staff responsibilities and unit allocation would be useful to help the board manage school staffing and finances.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • have not yet adequately built their knowledge of the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet adequately established necessary conditions to effectively accelerate learning and achievement
  • are not well placed to achieve and sustain accelerated achievement for all children who need it.

Trustees agrees that useful next steps for the school would include ongoing external support to improve stewardship and build their confidence and capability to enact their roles.

Further external intervention to ensure effective school management is also required in regards to personnel and employment practices, appraisal, health and safety, finance and accelerating student achievement.

The school is not using internal evaluation effectively to improve its performance. Considerable external support is required to support leaders to develop evaluative thinking and robust review processes that accelerate learning and outcomes for children.

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

During the course of the review ERO identified seven areas of non-compliance. In order to address these, the board of trustees must:

  1. develop a programme of self-review that enables the board to be assured about the effectiveness of its own and school operations,
    [National Administration Guidelines 2(b)]
  2. consult with the school's Māori community
    [National Administration Guidelines 1 (e)]
  3. consult with the community and adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum
    [Education Act 1989, Section 60B]
  4. ensure that the principal is appraised each year in accordance with Ministry of Education requirements and ensure that the principal has a signed annual performance agreement
    [National Administration Guidelines 3; NZ Gazette and relevant Collective Employment Agreement]
  5. ensure non-teaching and unregistered staff are police vetted
    [Education Act 1989, s 78c,d; Vulnerable Children Act 2014]
  6. ensure a school-wide hazards identification system is implemented and maintained
    [Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, s7]
  7. develop and implement personnel management policies and procedures to meet good employer obligations
    [National Administration Guidelines 3: State Sector Act s77].

In order to improve practice, the board should:

  • receive regular evaluative reports on health and safety matters including patterns and trends of attendance, accidents, illness, hazards, evacuation drills
  • make plans for crisis management including lock downs and disaster planning
  • implement student and staff wellbeing surveys to help provide assurance of a safe emotional and physical environment
  • ensure property is well maintained including adequate heating and sun shade protection
  • ensure school trips include the appropriate risk analysis and management documentation and update the EOTC policy
  • improve board operations including the use of in committee minutes
  • ensure the provision of a documented and actioned complaints process
  • ensure student behaviour management policies and procedures are well documented
  • update the appointment policy to meet current requirements.

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education considers intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the following improvements:

  • governance and board administration
  • personnel and employment practices
  • financial management
  • health and safety
  • student achievement.

ERO recommends that the board access New Zealand School Trustees Association support to assist with the following improvements:

  • board administration and governance including policy framework
  • human resources management. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

20 October 2016

About the school

Location

Mangere, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1546

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

623

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

Niue

other Pacific

other

10%

37%

34%

12%

3%

1%

3%

Review team on site

July 2016

Date of this report

20 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2013

December 2009

November 2006