Waltham School - 13/01/2014

1. Context

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

Waltham School provides education for students in Years 1 to 8 from many different cultures and backgrounds. Almost half of the students have Māori or Pacific heritage. Many students do not have English as their first language. Staff recognise and value students’ first languages. They create a welcoming and accepting environment that effectively fosters students’ wellbeing and sense of security. The classrooms and school grounds are attractive, inviting and well maintained.

The school benefits from strong support from the local and wider community. An early childhood centre is sited next door to the school. Transition of children to the school at five years of age from this centre and others is well organised. It is managed sensitively to respond to the individual needs and circumstances of children and their families.

Parents and whānau are actively encouraged to be involved in school programmes and events. Their views are regularly sought and acted on. Feedback from the parent community in 2012 and 2013 was extremely positive about the school leadership, teaching and overall performance of the school.

The school has addressed the recommendations in the 2010 ERO report by improving long-term planning and making student achievement targets more challenging.

The student roll has risen since the Canterbury earthquakes. The roll changes often throughout the year as families move in and out of the community.

2. Learning

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

The school is making increasing use of reliable achievement information to promote students’ learning. School leaders and teachers are focused on raising the achievement of students, especially those who are currently achieving below or well below the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

At the end of 2012, just over half of all students were achieving at or above the National Standards. Māori students as a group were achieving at similar levels to their Pākehā peers. Pacific students achieved at lower levels.

While many students start school at five years old with low levels of literacy and numeracy understandings, regular monitoring and reporting shows that they make good progress, particularly in their first two years.

Specific and useful guidelines assist teachers in assessing and reporting on student achievement in a consistent manner. Student achievement is gathered and reported on in all curriculum areas. Teachers use this ongoing assessment information to plan to meet the different needs of students, particularly in reading, writing and mathematics.

Students who need to make faster progress in order to achieve at the expected levels for their age are closely monitored and supported. Teachers develop specific learning plans that identify students’ needs and the extra support that will be provided. Teacher aides make a considerable contribution to the success of some of these additional programmes.

Teachers make it clear to students what they are learning about and what successful learning looks like. Students regularly assess their own achievements and progress. They also set and monitor individual long-term learning goals.

The school gives parents many opportunities to be involved in their children’s learning. Students report their progress and achievement to parents at twice-yearly conferences. Written reports clearly show how students are achieving and progressing in relation to the National Standards and students’ long-term goals.

Student behaviour has steadily improved over time. A restorative approach is helping students to understand and take responsibility for the way their behaviours affect others.

Student welfare is a school priority. A well-organised pastoral care system makes good use of the expertise of staff and other agencies to provide additional support for students as needed.

Areas for development and review

School leaders and teachers are aware that aspects of planning, assessment and evaluation need further development to ensure that teachers make the best use of achievement information and students continue to make suitable progress.

3. Curriculum

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

The well-designed curriculum takes appropriate account of students’ strengths and needs. The vision and values that focus on high expectations, respect and readiness to learn are well known and strongly promoted throughout the school.

The well-established teaching team knows the students well. The staff focus on providing students with positive and productive learning experiences.

Teachers give suitable emphasis to literacy and mathematics programmes.

Students are also provided with many other rich and varied experiences that engage them in learning and extend their thinking and problem-solving skills.

A positive tone in classrooms and the playground reflects the high and consistent expectations teachers have for learning and behaviour.

Students support the learning of their peers in a range of ways. A buddy class approach helps older students work in constructive ways with younger students.

Area for development and review

The school leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that further development of the school’s curriculum is needed to build on the many positive features already in place and more accurately reflect some of the existing good practices.

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

The school continues to develop its capacity to promote educational success for Māori students as Māori.

Some positive actions taken have included:

  • the school responding positively to the views of Māori whānau by establishing a relationship with a local marae
  • a cultural group performing regularly at school and community events and festivals
  • an annual cultural award recognising the significant contribution of a Māori student to the school
  • the development of a Māori development plan
  • setting targets to lift the achievement of Māori students.

Areas for development and review

School leaders and teachers should now give priority to:

  • increasing consultation with Pacific families to find out about their aspirations for their children
  • continuing their efforts to lift the achievement of Pacific students.

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.

School leaders are strongly focused on making ongoing improvements to the quality of teaching and learning. They promote a positive staff culture. The contribution of each staff member is valued and used to benefit students’ learning.

The principal ensures that staff receive well-planned and ongoing professional learning that focuses on the school’s priorities.

The board and principal work together well to achieve the school’s goals and targets. The school’s charter targets are challenging and give appropriate emphasis to raising the achievement of groups of students most at risk.

Trustees are committed to continuing their association with the school even though most trustees no longer have children attending.

The board, through various sources of funding, ensures that all students and staff have the best opportunities to learn and teach.

The board has effective systems for monitoring and meeting all legislative requirements.

Areas for development and review

Reports to the board should include more regular information about student progress, achievement and students’ views about their learning.

The board would benefit from ongoing training in self review to extend trustees’ understanding of effective review practices at all levels of the school.

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

13 January 2014

About the School

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

3581

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

160

Gender composition

Boys 52%; Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other ethnicities

41%

27%

17%

9%

6%

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

13 January 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

December 2010

November 2007

October 2006