Wakefield School - 26/05/2014

1 Context

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

Wakefield School is a long-established, semi-rural school near Nelson. School facilities, such as a covered swimming pool, hall and library are shared with the community.

The school makes extensive use of the local and wider community resources, expertise and environment to enrich students’ learning experiences, particularly in sport, other outdoor pursuits and the arts.

A new principal was appointed at the beginning of Term 2, 2013. With staff, he is building on the many good aspects of the school’s past performance and managing a significant period of change to the way teachers teach and students learn.

Parts of the school are being remodelled in Term 1, 2014 to provide new teaching and learning spaces in line with the school’s goal of providing a modern, future-focused learning environment.

Parents continue to be valued as key partners in students’ learning. Communication with parents is being strengthened. They are kept well informed about new approaches and developments.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of achievement information to promote students’ learning.

Teachers know students well and seek the best ways to extend their learning. A range of reliable assessments and practices are used to identify students’ strengths and needs and plan programmes.

The school’s achievement information indicates that most students are achieving at or above the expected National Standards and have made good progress since 2011, particularly in writing and mathematics. Achievement at the school compares favourably with achievement in the Tasman region and nationally.

Students who have not reached the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics are closely monitored and supported to lift their achievement. Students with special abilities are challenged and extended in a range of ways.

Annual targets are set by the board for some groups of students that need to make faster progress.

Student achievement and progress are reported to parents at regular intervals throughout the year. Students are appropriately involved in this process. These reports provide parents with useful ways to support their children’s learning at home.

Areas for development and review

Students’ involvement in assessing and reporting their learning could be extended further. Teachers should consistently develop and share expected outcomes with students so that they can monitor their own progress towards these and know what they need to do to improve.

The quality and usefulness of the board’s annual targets could be strengthened by including more students who are not achieving at the expected National Standard.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum provides many rich and varied experiences that engage and motivate students and support their learning.

The school’s vision, values and expectations for successful learning, developed in consultation with the school’s community, are actively promoted and contribute to a positive school culture.

At the time of this review, the school’s curriculum was undergoing considerable redevelopment. This development was in its early stages. Changes have been made to the organisation of classes and programmes so that students have greater choice about what, where and how they learn. These changes, including the introduction of modern learning environments, are well considered, based on up-to-date research and are being introduced in a measured way.

Teachers focus on putting students at the centre of their learning by deepening their understanding and involvement in decision making. An inquiry-focused approach allows students to investigate areas of interest and lead their own learning. For example, a camp held on the school grounds and a market day were planned and organised by students.

Students’ views are sought and acted upon. Many students have already reported increased interest and engagement in their learning since the introduction of new approaches to teaching and learning. They also have increasing opportunities to support the learning of their peers and younger students.

Curriculum reviews have led to improvements in teaching practices especially in literacy and mathematics. Teachers have made numerous changes to their teaching to respond more effectively to students’ needs and strengths. Environmental education has been given greater emphasis in 2014. The school is well resourced with technologies to support learning and teaching.

Student wellbeing is strongly supported. The staff, chaplain and outside agencies work together to ensure that students are well cared for and able to engage successfully in their learning. Positive and supportive relationships provide students with a sense of security and belonging.

Areas for review and development

School leaders and teachers are aware of the importance of reviewing the impact of ongoing curriculum developments on teacher capability and outcomes for students. This process is underway and is needed to give assurance to the board, staff and parents that students are continuing to progress at appropriate rates in all aspects of their learning.

Other aspects that school leaders and ERO have identified need further development include:

  • giving greater prominence to a bicultural perspective
  • a stronger focus on recognising the increasing cultural diversity of students
  • identifying what students should know and be able to do in the wider curriculum (beyond literacy and mathematics) and how this will be assessed and reported.

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

Most Māori students achieve very well in reading, writing and mathematics. However, the board and school leaders recognise that more could be done to promote their success as Māori.

Positive actions taken have included:

  • using community expertise to learn the protocols for a pōwhiri to welcome the new principal
  • teachers developing, in partnership with whānau, individual learning pathways for some students
  • the board and staff having training in the Ministry of Education resources, Tātaiako and Ka Hikitia.

Areas for development and review

The board and school leaders recognise the need to extend consultation with Māori whānau and involve them more fully in actions most likely to support their children to succeed as Māori.

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.

Professional leadership is having a positive influence on recent school developments. The principal promotes a shared model of leadership. With other school leaders, he makes good use of current research and thinking about effective leadership and curriculum development to extend their capabilities. School leaders provide ongoing encouragement and support for teachers as they trial and adopt new practices.

Teachers actively support the school’s vision and goals. They share experiences and ideas so that good practice can be spread across the school. Regular reflection and inquiry into their teaching helps them identify what is working in the best interests of students and where change may be needed.

Wide-ranging professional development within and outside the school is extending teachers’ awareness and use of effective teaching practices.

Expectations for teaching effectiveness are high. A comprehensive appraisal process recognises teachers’ good practice and provides constructive guidance for raising the quality of teaching.

The board and principal work well together to continue to improve the school’s performance. Trustees have had training in various aspects of governance to ensure that they are well informed about their roles and responsibilities, as well as current curriculum developments. The principal regularly reports progress in achieving the school goals and objectives to the board.

The board seeks the views of parents, students and staff about a range of school matters and uses this information in its decision making.

Area for development and review

The board would benefit from having a deeper understanding of self review at all levels of the school. This should include reviewing its performance on a regular basis.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

26 May 2014

About the School

Location

Wakefield

Ministry of Education profile number

3234

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

250

Gender composition

Girls 47%

Boys 53%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

British/Irish

Other ethnicities

81%

9%

2%

3%

4%

1%

Review team on site

April 2014

Date of this report

26 May 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2010

September 2007

April 2005