Western Heights Primary School (Rotorua) - 11/06/2014

Findings

How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

Western Heights Primary School has sustained high performance since the 2010 ERO review. The teaching is highly effective in promoting students’ learning through a rich and exciting local curriculum. An effective partnership with parents, whānau and the school’s community supports a positive learning environment for all learners.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1. Context

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

Western Heights Primary School also known as Te Kura o Whakaahu, is located in the western suburbs of Rotorua. The school caters for Years 1 to 6 students and features three bilingual classes. The current roll of 424 students includes 90% Māori students and 3% Pacific students. There is a high number of students who stay at the school for short periods of time.

Since the last ERO review the management team has been restructured, there have been changes in the board of trustees, a sports complex has been built, the hall redeveloped and a playground constructed. The school enjoys a stable staff who access a wide range of professional development opportunities. The areas identified for review and development in the 2010 ERO report related to appraisal, student ownership of their learning and te reo Māori have been addressed.

The increase in roll numbers has resulted in the Ministry of Education establishing an enrolment scheme. This scheme limits the school from enrolling students from outside the designated zone. The school also hosts a Kea Street Special School satellite class and Reading Recovery Centre.

2. Learning

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

The school makes highly effective use of achievement information to manage positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Contributing factors include:

  • the appointment of a student achievement analyst to assist teachers to identify, collate and analyse student learning needs especially for students ‘at risk’ of not succeeding
  • prompt and detailed assessment of students, particularly transient students to determine their specific goals and targets, and design of a responsive programme to accelerate their achievement
  • an extensive variety of support programmes including the effective use of skilled teacher aides for students requiring extra support in their learning. These students have individual education programmes which are carefully monitored
  • class assessment information is well used by teachers to design appropriate programmes for groups and individual students
  • school-wide assessment data is informing board resourcing decisions, management of achievement targets and specific professional development and learning needs of teachers and teacher aides.

School-wide student achievement information for 2013 shows that students are achieving at or above National Standards in writing and mathematics and this is comparable to national averages. The school recognises that further raising student achievement in reading is an identified strategic goal, as well as reviewing and refining student achievement reports for parents.

The school can clearly show progress, and in many cases accelerated progress, of individual students in reading, writing and mathematics. However, it is challenging for Western Heights Primary School to report comparative achievement information for all students over time due to the highly transient nature of the student population.

3. Curriculum

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

Western Heights Primary School’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. ‘The Whakaahu Way’ is the school’s vision and model for effective classroom teaching. Developed in consultation with staff and community, this curriculum framework sets high expectations and guidelines for teaching and learning. ERO agrees with management’s intentions to further embed the school’s curriculum and extend its influence into the wider community.

A strong emphases is placed on the importance of a safe and inclusive culture that caters for students’ social, academic and wellbeing needs. They have opportunities to participate in a broad range of learning experiences within and beyond the school environment.

A comprehensive and well-managed pastoral care system assists students to enjoy school life and focus on learning. Students experience success within a caring, supportive school environment, underpinned by respectful and nurturing relationships amongst all stakeholders.

Teachers are highly committed to building their professional knowledge and capacity. They have extensive opportunities to attend relevant professional development targeted to the learning needs of students. There is a strong focus on teaching as inquiry where teachers are encouraged to reflect and refine their teaching practice.

ERO observed high levels of student engagement in many classrooms. Teachers use a variety of teaching strategies that assist students to understand more about their own learning. They know students and whānau well and respond to parent’s aspirations and students' learning styles.

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

Nearly all students at this school are identified as Māori. Western Heights Primary School effectively promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori. School-wide student achievement information for 2013 shows that Māori students make significant progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school has developed a culture that embraces the needs and aspirations of Māori students and their whānau. Management and teachers demonstrate this commitment through the natural integration of tikanga Māori in formal and informal routines and celebrations.

Western Heights Primary School has strong connections with to Ngāti Whakaue and the Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust. The trust actively supports the school by providing funding for additional support programmes and monitors the effectiveness of these programmes.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

Western Heights Primary School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance because:

  • there is a positive reporting history with ERO
  • governance is highly effective and trustees make good use of high-quality school self review information to set direction, make decisions and improve student outcomes
  • the experienced and well-informed principal is focused on providing the highest quality education for students
  • the skilled and knowledgeable executive management team have successfully established a strong strategic approach to achieving the school’s vision and values and are focused on improving teaching and learning
  • the school’s values, tone, climate, culture and community engagement and relationships provide a strong foundation for sustaining and improving student learning
  • Māori learners are actively engaged in their learning, progressing and achieving well and succeeding as Māori
  • the school places priority on the importance of a safe and inclusive school learning environment.

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.

Conclusion

Western Heights Primary School has sustained high performance since the 2010 ERO review. The teaching is highly effective in promoting students’ learning through a rich and exciting local curriculum. An effective partnership with parents, whānau and the school’s community supports a positive learning environment for all learners.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 June 2014

About the School

Location

Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number

2078

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

423

Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Cook Island Māori

Other

88%

8%

1%

3%

Special Features

Three te reo Māori medium classes

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

11 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

May 2007

October 2003