Westown School - 29/09/2014

Findings

Westown School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The curriculum purposefully promotes student learning, engagement and inclusion. Positive relationships are evident. Significant progress occurs in students' first years of school. Further developing teachers’ evaluative capacity for reviewing teaching and learning is a next step.

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

1 Context

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

Westown School provides education for students from Years 1 to 6. It is situated near Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth’s western suburbs. At the time of the review, there were 154 students on the roll. Māori and New Zealand European/Pākehā attend the school in similar numbers. There is a small group of Pacific and Asian learners.

A new deputy principal and two new teachers have been appointed since the 2011 ERO review. The experienced principal and many teachers have been in their current roles for some time.

Westown School is an established part of its community. Many parents actively contribute in ways that support students learning and the school. Students learn in attractive classrooms in a wellmaintained physical environment.

The school’s vision, ‘Together we care’, is strongly evident and enacted in school learning and activities.

Leaders and teachers have made appropriate and positive progress in addressing the areas for review and development identified in the November 2011 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

Leaders and teachers gather and analyse an appropriate range of reliable achievement information. They make good use of this information to set targets to promote student progress and achievement, and to develop plans to improve teaching and learning.

Analysed and reported assessment information identifies that promoting the achievement of boys is a priority. Leaders should consider reviewing the achievement targets to more clearly identify students who require increased rates of progress to meet the National Standards.

Many students enter school requiring specific teaching to develop skills in literacy and mathematics. Reported data shows that most students make positive gains, with many progressing at greater rates, in relation to National Standards, in their first three years at school. Data for 2013, shows that many students at the end of Year 6 are at National Standards' expectations.

Teachers use achievement information well to group students with similar needs, and to monitor and report their ongoing progress. They work collaboratively to develop and make visible information that helps students to know about their learning progress and next steps. Leaders have identified that further developing student-led learning and assessment practices is a next step. ERO affirms this direction.

The wellbeing and learning of children with special needs are closely monitored. Their needs are responded to through a wide range of interventions, initiatives and strategies. Clear processes support leaders to know about the impact of these programmes and strategies on these students' learning outcomes. Learners of the English language are well supported through suitable programmes and teaching.

Parents have regular opportunities to discuss their children’s wellbeing, progress and achievement. Written reports provide information on children’s learning levels, next steps and ways that families can support learning at home.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum purposefully promotes student learning, engagement and inclusion. There is a clear vision and values, and alignment to The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies. Priority is given to literacy and mathematics, and to supporting students’ social and emotional development. The junior school has a clear emphasis on promoting oral language and early literacy.

Expectations for learning and behaviour are clearly articulated and evident across the school. Students experience positive relationships and interactions with teachers and staff.

Students benefit from the broad curriculum through involvement in a wide range of sporting, cultural, academic, leadership and social experiences. Information and communication technologies are used as a tool to enhance learning.

A well-established and useful process is in place for teachers to formally inquire into the effectiveness of their strategies to promote progress for targeted students. Ensuring this process is embedded school wide is a next step.

School leaders have clear understanding of the effectiveness of teaching practice. Teachers use a very good range of effective strategies to promote student learning. These include sharing the learning purpose, the use of modelling books, providing authentic contexts for learning and the use of questions to promote thinking. There are high expectations for the quality of work. Students are well engaged in learning.

The planned review of the curriculum is timely, and gives an opportunity for leaders to consider how the curriculum can more meaningfully reflect the range of cultures in the school.

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

The principal is involved in a local Māori achievement cluster. A plan has been developed to increase success for Māori, as Māori. This provides a useful framework to support directions and actions to build teacher capability and strengthen parent and whānau links. Leaders and teachers continue their work with Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners.

Regular hui occur for whānau to share their ideas with the school and receive relevant information. Many whānau are positively engaged in supporting school initiatives and taking an active role in cultural activities. There is a wide range of opportunities for Māori students to have school wide leadership roles. Many students are making positive progress in their learning and experiencing success across the curriculum.

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. Leaders, teachers, and trustees have a clear focus on ongoing improvement. A positive climate and culture is evident school wide. Many parents and whānau are actively involved in the life of the school.

Leadership provides clear direction and is strongly focused on students’ wellbeing and success. An extensive range of suitable and appropriate programmes is in place to promote positive outcomes for students, their families and whānau. Leaders promote many ways for staff to share their strengths and interests to support the school.

Trustees continue to develop their knowledge and understanding of effective governance. They receive relevant information about student achievement, curriculum, and programmes to assist them in making decisions about staffing, resources and interventions.

The appraisal process is a useful model to support teachers to grow and develop their teaching and learning practice. Supporting consistent understanding of how effectively the school achieves the goals through its planned actions is a next step. This includes more clearly identifying the outcomes of these actions through school planning processes.

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

Westown School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The curriculum purposefully promotes student learning, engagement and inclusion. Positive relationships are evident. Significant progress occurs in students' first years of school. Further developing teachers’ evaluative capacity for reviewing teaching and learning is a next step.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

29 September 2014

About the School

Location

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

2266

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

154

Gender composition

Female 53%,

Male 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

44%

43%

9%

4%

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

29 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2011

November 2009

October 2006