Waitoki School - 09/10/2015

1. Context

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

Waitoki School is a small rural school north of Auckland that provides education for students in Years 1 to 8. Māori students make up 12 percent of the roll.

Most of the teaching staff have worked together at the school for several years and have good knowledge of the families and local community. During the past three and a half years the school has had two new principals after the previous principal had been at the school for over twenty years. The current principal has just completed his first year in this role. He has recently resigned to take up a principal role in Rarotonga at the beginning of 2016.

The school’s 2012 ERO report noted the positive family-focused culture. This continues to be a feature of the school. The past three ERO reports have recommended that teachers develop approaches that support students to know how well they are achieving and that challenge, enrich and deepen their thinking and learning. While an external adviser has supported teachers to make some progress towards addressing this recommendation it continues to be a key development priority for the school.

2. Learning

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

The school is continuing to develop its use of achievement information to provide relevant learning programmes that extend students’ learning. Current school data indicate that student achievement compares favourably with local, regional and national levels of achievement in National Standards.

The school’s charter achievement targets are appropriately focused on the progress of students who are yet to achieve the National Standards. Teachers with target students in their class have an appraisal goal focusing on the progress of these students. This good practice builds teacher accountability for supporting these students to make accelerated progress.

Teachers use a wide range of appropriate assessments to guide their overall judgements about each student's achievement. The principal has introduced an assessment tool that should guide teachers to more explicitly address students’ identified learning gaps. Teachers have opportunities to compare and discuss their assessments as a staff. There are also plans to moderate assessment with teachers from a local school.

Teachers are collaborative and share their knowledge of students to support them to achieve. Students with additional learning requirements benefit from inclusive practices and the small community-centred school environment.

In some classrooms students are confident learners and engage actively in their learning. Teachers are developing their feedback to students about what they are doing well and how they could improve their learning. As this approach becomes more consistent it will support students to talk about and evaluate their own learning and achievement. Students could also give feedback to other students about their learning.

Teachers provide parents with relevant information about their children's learning. Parents have regular opportunities to discuss their children’s achievement and to work with teachers to support students’ progress.

3. Curriculum

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

The school is developing a local curriculum that promotes the values, principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The school’s mission statement is to ‘empower students to achieve as confident, responsible life-long learners’. This statement, alongside the school’s charter aspiration, ‘one size fits one’, could guide teachers' review and use of the school’s curriculum.

Class programmes appropriately emphasise literacy and mathematics, particularly in the junior classrooms. School-wide topics offer students opportunities to present and hear different perspectives about what they are learning at school assemblies. Integrated units of work are helping students to make connections across the different learning areas. Students are benefitting from an increasing emphasis on the arts and physical education. They enjoy a broad range of curriculum opportunities that include their choice of electives that are run by parents and teachers.

Years 7 and 8 students travel to a local secondary school for technology programmes. The board and parents are currently developing a ‘technology shed’ on the school grounds that will provide facilities for a range of technology and arts programmes for all students. The principal acknowledges the requirement to provide a careers programme for Years 7 and 8 students. He is also considering how to provide opportunities for these older students to learn an additional language.

Tuakana-teina relationships are evident in the inclusive, supportive relationships between older and younger students. Senior students have opportunities to take leadership roles and act as peer mediators. Student perspectives are increasingly included in learning programmes. Students could also play a key role in evaluating teaching developments and programmes.

The principal plans to promote relevant teaching practices that:

  • encourage students to become creative thinkers and problem-solvers
  • develop students’ skills for learning through inquiry
  • integrate e-learning across the school.

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

The principal and teachers have introduced some strategies to raise the profile of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school. Waiata are a regular and valued part of school assemblies. A focus on the Treaty of Waitangi is included in teaching programmes at the beginning of each year. This year te reo Māori has been promoted through the class release teacher programme.

Māori students comprise 12 percent of the student roll. The school’s information indicates that they achieve well compared to national and regional levels of Māori achievement in National Standards.

The board has endeavoured to find ways to consult with the Māori community as a group. The principal acknowledges that meaningful consultation with whānau could best be done through connecting with individual whānau.

The principal has identified relevant priorities to promote Māori students’ language, culture and identity in the school. These include:

  • building students’ and teachers’ confidence and competence in learning te reo and tikanga Māori
  • further consideration of Ka Hikitia-Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017 and Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, to guide teaching approaches and school practices.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain the progress made in teaching practice to improve students’ learning. The current principal was appointed with the challenge of continuing the momentum of change that the previous principal had initiated. He has established confident, trusting relationships with students, staff, the board and community. This should help the school continue to move forward in its direction to equip students to become ‘confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners’ (NZC).

The board maintains a well resourced environment for students and staff. Trustees work as a team and have a good understanding of their responsibilities on the board. They bring complementary skills and experience to their roles. Trustees seek and value the perspectives of the school’s community. The school enjoys high levels of community involvement in school life, fundraising and property maintenance.

The board and the previous principal reviewed the school charter through consultation with students, staff and the parent community. The strategic plan provides an appropriate pathway for the development of teaching approaches that reflect the NZC. More regularly reviewing progress against annual and strategic goals would help to achieve and consolidate these goals. The board and staff could now develop greater coherence between the school charter, curriculum, learning programmes and teacher appraisals.

Teachers’ appraisals are appropriately linked to the Practising Teacher Criteria. The principal recognises the value of teachers reflecting more deeply on the impact of their teaching practices on students’ engagement and development as learners. Teachers should also maintain records of their own professional learning as part of evidence for the endorsement of their practising certificates.

Provision for international students

For the past three years the school has received payment for hosting groups of international students for two weeks at a time. If this is to continue the board should become a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established undersection 238F of the Education Act 1089.

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 improve current practice the board should ensure that minutes of board meetings better reflect the range of trustees’ discussion and decisions.

Conclusion

Students benefit from the school’s positive and inclusive culture. They achieve well in literacy and mathematics. Teachers are developing practices to build students’ knowledge about their learning and how they learn. An important priority for the school is to design a curriculum that reflects the school charter, The New Zealand Curriculum, and the local community.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

9 October 2015

About the School

Location

Waitoki, Kaukapakapa

Ministry of Education profile number

1558

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

93

Number of international students

Group of short-term students

Gender composition

Boys 58

Girls 35

Ethnic composition

Māori 11

Pākehā 82

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

9 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2012

Education Review August 2010

Education Review June 2007