Weedons School - 04/10/2012

1. Context

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

The board, school leaders, teachers, parents and the wider rural community work well together to create a positive and supportive place for students to learn and experience success.

Teachers have established relationships with other similar schools to share information and resources to extend their students’ learning experiences.

Property developments, including a new classroom, a dedicated teaching space for music, and a playground for senior students, have been completed since the August 2009 ERO review.

The board, school leaders, and teachers responded appropriately to the previous ERO report by improving how they teach writing and the useful review of different aspects of school practices.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The school reports that most students achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Student achievement is highest in reading, followed by mathematics. In 2012 the school has focused on lifting achievement in writing for all students. A report in July 2012, indicates that most students identified in the school’s annual achievement targets have made good progress in their learning. The school continues to closely monitor some Year 4 and Year 6 students who need to show more progress in mathematics. School leaders have identified the teaching of mathematics as an area to focus on in 2013.

Areas of strength

Teachers make good use of their considerable knowledge of their students to plan appropriately to meet students’ different needs. Students are effectively grouped for specific instruction in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers closely monitor the progress of all students and give particular attention in their planning to promoting the achievement of students who are not achieving as well as expected. These approaches are helping to ensure that students remain focused and engaged in their learning.

Effective assessment practices are helping teachers make increasingly accurate judgements about students’ progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. Teachers use a range of reliable assessments to identify students’ strengths and gaps in learning. Teachers regularly work together, and at times with other schools, to compare their judgements and increase the accuracy and consistency of student achievement information.

Good systems exist for sharing student achievement information among teachers as students move from class to class. This process allows teachers to quickly respond to students’ strengths and needs at the beginning of each year.

Students set and assess personal learning goals. They are increasingly using assessment criteria to know how well they have achieved and what they need to learn next.

Written reports to parents give them detailed information about their child’s progress and achievement, particularly in reading and writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards.

Students with particular learning needs are very well supported by:

  • early identification of their specific needs
  • the development of targeted action plans for individual students
  • a comprehensive range of additional support programmes and resources
  • regular monitoring of their progress.

Areas for review and development

The quality of the school’s annual targets could be strengthened. Improvements should include:

  • making all the targets measurable and more clearly identifying the progress that teachers want students to make
  • developing action plans that more fully identify the steps that will be taken to lift achievement
  • identifying what successful outcomes will look like.

The principal and teachers have identified that reports to parents need to be extended to include other areas of the curriculum beyond reading, writing, mathematics and skills for learning.

The process for evaluating the effectiveness of learning support programmes should be more systematic. The principal provides the board with some information about learning support programmes but this could include a more in-depth analysis of how well the additional support is accelerating students’ learning.

3. Curriculum

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

The curriculum is effectively promoting student learning, particularly in reading, writing and mathematics.

Areas of strength

The strong emphasis on school values is having a positive impact on students’ attitudes and approaches to learning. Caring and respectful relationships exist among students and between students and teachers. Older students take an active role in supporting younger students.

The school gives suitable emphasis to teaching and learning in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers also plan programmes that take account of students’ interests and life experiences. Students have good opportunities to engage in a wide range of enjoyable learning experiences within and outside the school. Significant emphasis is being given to providing senior students with more challenging and motivating activities to promote their leadership skills and independence.

Expectations for teaching and learning are well defined. School leaders and teachers have made good use of recent professional development in writing to identify the teaching practices that should be used to improve student outcomes in writing. School leaders have useful systems in place to effectively monitor the quality of teaching, planning, assessment and evaluation. Teachers are increasingly seeking feedback from students about how well teaching programmes are meeting students’ needs. Teachers use this information, where necessary, to make changes to their practices.

School leaders and teachers continue to review aspects of the curriculum to make ongoing improvements for the benefit of students. A useful framework and review format are helping teachers focus their investigations and reflections on the quality of teaching and learning. A collaborative approach is encouraging teachers to share ideas and seek feedback from their colleagues.

Areas for review and development

School leaders and teachers have made a number of changes to curriculum programmes since the last review. The school’s curriculum documents do not yet include these developments in sufficient detail. Other requirements of the curriculum could be more clearly defined, such as:

  • how bicultural learning will be given greater prominence in teaching programmes
  • how the school will identify, respond to and monitor the progress of gifted and talented students over time
  • the approach teachers should use in planning and teaching in curriculum areas other than English and mathematics
  • how careers education for Years 7 and 8 will be planned and taught.

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

The school is in the early stages of understanding the most effective ways to promote educational success for Māori students as Māori.

The principal is taking a leading role in raising the awareness of teachers and the board about ways to support Māori students and give greater prominence to their language, identity and culture. The school recognises the importance of providing a curriculum that acknowledges New Zealand’s bicultural heritage. The school’s kapa haka group has been reinstated for senior students and a te reo Māori programme was introduced in 2012 for all students.

The principal has made contact with parents of Māori students to find out what they want the school to do to support their children. The board now needs to ensure that the parents of Māori students are also consulted about the setting of annual targets.

The achievement of Māori students is reported to the board. However, a deeper analysis of this information would give the board, school leaders and teachers better information to use in continuing to raise the achievement of these students.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is in a good position to sustain and improve its performance.

The principal and other school leaders provide ongoing direction and support for staff. School leaders have a key role in leading professional learning and development. The team approach to school improvement is appreciated and valued by staff.

The board has increased its focus on students’ progress and achievement. Additional funding is provided to keep junior classes smaller and ensure that learning-support programmes are maintained. A board member has been given the specific responsibility of liaising with the principal about the curriculum and, in particular, student achievement. This is strengthening the board’s understanding of achievement and curriculum developments.

Area for review and development

Board members recognise that they would benefit from further training in aspects of governance. ERO recommends that this training includes a focus on strategic planning and the role of the board in this process.

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
  • 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

4 October 2012

About the School

Location

Weedons, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3585

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

145

Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

British

Other Ethnicities

85%

11%

3%

1%

Review team on site

August 2012

Date of this report

4 October 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2009

February 2006

February 2003