Kokopu School

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School Context

Kokopu School is a full primary school (Years 1 to 8) located in a rural area in the Whangarei district. It has a roll of 112 students who are mainly of Pākehā and Māori heritage. There has been significant roll growth since the 2015 ERO review.

The school’s whakatauki is Ki te Ako me te Mahi – to learn and serve. The school’s vision is for children to be ‘inspired’: inquiring, nurtured, self-motivated, positive, involved, respectful, enthusiastic and dynamic’. Kokopu School values include whakaute e whanonga (respect and manners), kātaki me te mahi tahi (tolerance and co-operation), pononga e mana whaiaro (honesty and self-control), kawenga e tino rangtatiratanga (responsibility and independence). These values support the school’s strategic goals, and are desired learning outcomes for all students.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • outcomes related to student wellbeing
  • progress towards meeting the school’s strategic goals
  • health and safety.

Kokopu School is a member of the Ngā Kura mo te ako o Whangarei (Group 4) Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is increasingly achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students. Staff and the board continue to work collaboratively to decrease the current disparity in reading, writing and mathematics achievement for Māori children and for boys.

Since the 2014 ERO report, the school’s achievement data show that overall, the majority of children achieve at expected levels, with most girls achieving at or above expected levels of the curriculum in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school’s data show that by the time most children reach the end of Year 8, they achieve expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers target those children who are not yet achieving at expected levels. As a team, they regularly discuss children’s ongoing progress, and share strategies and approaches to strengthen teaching practice. The school works well with external agencies, and provides effective support for children with additional learning needs.

Professional learning for teachers in writing and mathematics is having a positive impact in promoting children’s motivation and confidence in learning. Teachers have success stories of children improving their writing and making good progress, despite continuing to achieve below expected levels.

Teachers would benefit from targeted professional support to clarify their understanding of accelerated progress and learning. Current teaching as inquiry approaches to address the needs of children who are at risk of not achieving should continue to be a priority for the school.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is not yet accelerating the learning of all those Māori and other children who are achieving below expected levels. School leaders continue to assess the provision for these students.

Improving children’s writing achievement is an ongoing and identified challenge for the school. This focus sits alongside the strategic goal to improve achievement for Māori children, and boys in reading, writing and mathematics.

In order to increase achievement parity between Māori and non-Māori children, the board and the principal recognise that more urgency is required to address the learning needs of Māori children. Strategies to support this work include:

  • explicit goals and achievement targets for Māori children in the board’s strategic planning
  • emphasising Māori children’s individual learning strengths and needs in teachers’ planning.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Students engage well in their learning. Teachers actively use strategies that support children to take more ownership of their learning. Students are encouraged to share their learning with peers, teachers and whānau.

School leaders and teachers actively engage with the community to maintain partnerships for learning and in the life of the school. They recognise and value the integral role that whānau have in supporting their children’s learning. Leaders and teachers are developing strategies to support children’s learning at home, and in the sharing and celebration of learning.

The principal builds relational trust at all levels of the school community. Leadership is collaborative, and improvement focussed. Teacher appraisal processes are strongly focused on learners, and on building the teaching team’s collective capacity. Professional learning is strategically planned to improve learner outcomes.

Teachers foster respectful and caring relationships with students. Tuakana teina interactions between students are a stand-out feature of the school, and are strengthened through the school’s house system. These relationships are having a positive impact on children’s wellbeing and learning.

The school curriculum strongly focuses on literacy and mathematics. Inquiry learning integrates other areas of the curriculum, with an increasingly strong focus on science. Children have many opportunities for education outside the classroom and co-curricular activities. These activities engage children and their families in learning, and in the life of the school.

The principal, teachers and board are strongly committed to strengthening their knowledge and use of te reo and tikanga Māori. They work collaboratively with local kaumatua to weave te ao Māori through the curriculum and the life of the school.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The principal is planning to review and redesign the curriculum in consultation with the school’s Māori community, whānau, staff and students. This development would enable the school to enhance learning programmes and practices to be more culturally responsive. Additionally the curriculum redesign is intended to provide greater opportunities for children to understand and lead their own learning.

It is timely for the teaching team to evaluate the validity and accuracy of the school’s student achievement information. Currently achievement reported to the board is reliant on the results of standardised tests. Teachers could make greater use of other evidence about children’s learning. This more holistic approach would value the professional judgements and knowledge that teachers have about individual children.

In order to reduce disparity of achievement between Māori and non-Māori children, teachers could continue to strengthen the learning partnerships they have with parents/whānau, especially with parents/whānau of children who are at risk of not achieving.

Trustees have identified the need to continue accessing useful and collective board training, and to plan for board succession. They plan also to evaluate the impact of their stewardship role in improving outcomes for Māori and all other children. Trustees and the principal agree that strategic planning should focus more specifically on improving outcomes for Māori children.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should continue to develop policies and procedures to ensure these meet all current legislative requirements.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • strong, capable leadership
  • an inclusive school culture
  • relationships with parents, and whānau Māori
  • collaborative staff who are improvement focused
  • a student-focused curriculum.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • continuing to build a culturally responsive curriculum to promote success for Māori children as Māori
  • strengthening partnerships with whānau that are focused on children’s learning
  • enhancing opportunities for children to understand and lead their own learning
  • improving the validity of achievement information
  • extending teachers’ skills in making professional judgements about children’s achievement
  • sustaining and refining internal evaluation processes and practices to improve outcomes for all priority learners, including Māori children.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in three years. ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.

Julie Foley
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

1 May 2018

About the school

Location

Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

1036

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

112

Gender composition

Girls       52%
Boys      48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
other

  31%
  67%
    2%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

1 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review Education Review

  May 2015
  June 2012
  December 2010

1 Context

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

Kokopu School is a small, rural school near Whangarei. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8 in three multi-year level classrooms. The school’s aim is to maintain smaller classes while managing the recent positive roll growth. Twenty four percent of the student roll identify as having Māori heritage.

Teachers take advantage of the school’s rural environment in curriculum programmes and by offering healthy outdoor living opportunities for students. The school collaborates with a cluster of small schools for sporting events and to moderate assessment data.

The school board of mainly newly appointed trustees is led by an experienced and newly appointed board chair. Trustees support the principal as leader of the school.

ERO worked with the school during the two years prior to the 2012 ERO report. This current review finds that the school responded positively to the priorities for further development made in that report. The principal and board have developed performance management processes for the principal and staff which include teachers reflecting on the effectiveness of their teaching practice. The board has also reviewed the school’s provision for careers advice and guidance for students in Years 7 and 8.

2 Learning

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

Kokopu School uses student information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement and progress. The school’s achievement information identifies that 70 percent of all students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. This is comparable to local, regional and national levels of achievement.

The school uses a wide range of school-based and national assessments to track student progress. Teachers use standardised tools and they moderate results with other schools to help them make robust judgements about each student’s achievement. School leaders could review the usefulness of the wide range of assessment information they gather.

Students experience positive relationships with teachers and their classmates. Most students engage well in their tasks and some students are beginning to develop skills to track their own learning journey. The principal is aware of the need for students across the school to develop these skills.

The school uses a range of strategies, including external agencies, to work closely with students whose achievement is not yet meeting the National Standards. Teachers know the students well and are catering for their individual learning needs. The board acknowledges the need to be assured of the effectiveness of programmes implemented to support accelerated progress for students yet to achieve national standards.

Student progress is monitored and reported regularly to the board during each year. The board would benefit from being made more aware of the progress that students make over their time at the school. This knowledge would enable trustees to make resourcing decisions to promote higher levels of achievement.

The school goal is for all students to achieve the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Trustees set relevant targets to increase the number of students achieving National Standards. Teachers focus on meeting these goals over the year. The outcomes of these goals could be shared more clearly with the community in the school’s charter.

Parents receive useful oral and written reports about their children’s progress over the year. Students, their parents and teachers together develop appropriate learning goals. Teachers could work more closely with parents throughout the year in partnership to support students’ learning progress.

3 Curriculum

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

Kokopu School’s curriculum is effective in supporting and promoting student learning. The curriculum is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and the NZC learning areas are reviewed annually. The curriculum offers students a good balance of academic and education experiences outside the classroom. Students also have a range of leadership options available to them.

The curriculum was designed in 2011 in line with NZC. It is timely now to review the school’s curriculum design to this community and to the future direction of education. The school, together with its community could review the school’s vision and mission statements to guide the curriculum design.

The principal has identified as a priority for development the need to support students to take greater ownership of their own learning. This could include more regular discussions with students about their preferences for the way they like to learn.

Teachers have access to appropriate professional learning opportunities aligned to the school wide goals. Teachers implement a variety of strategies to encourage tuakana teina relationships between students that benefit their learning.

The principal encourages teachers to critically review the effectiveness of their teaching practices to improve students’ progress and achievement. This good practice could help to increase consistency of teaching practice school-wide.

The board has an increased emphasis on providing information and communication technologies for students. Teachers demonstrate an understanding of the place of digital tools to enrich and enhance students’ learning.

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

Kokopu School is beginning to implement effective strategies to promote educational success for Māori students as Māori.

The principal is committed to growing teacher and student understanding of and capability in bicultural practices. The school has begun to include tikanga Māori protocols in formal school occasions. Students have some opportunities to learn basic te reo Māori and some tikanga Māori in learning programmes. The principal is proactively increasing his personal te reo and tikanga Māori knowledge and is modelling this to staff.

The school’s achievement information indicates that Māori achievement is not as high as for other students in the school. Māori student achievement is reported to parents and whānau individually and the board is yet to formally report to the school’s Māori community on Māori student achievement. The board should develop learning partnerships with whānau and the Māori community to improve students’ ongoing progress.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Kokopu School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The board of trustees have participated in governance training. They have a good understanding of aspects of their role and they continue to familiarise themselves with other governance aspects. Trustees acknowledge the benefit of continuing to participate in external training opportunities.

The board is developing the school’s self review processes. Trustees regularly review the school’s policies and procedures. The board recently consulted with the community to inform the current school charter and direction. They could now develop indicators of best practice to review the effectiveness of systems and goal progress against these indicators.

The principal has a divided role between being the leader of the school and a classroom teacher with the majority of his time spent in class. During the review ERO discussed with the board the value of releasing the principal more to professionally guide and monitor the quality of teaching and learning across the school.

A useful teacher appraisal process meets statutory requirements. The board would be well advised to insert the Kokopu School code of professional conduct into teachers’ performance appraisals. This would help the board to clarify their expectations of all staff.

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

Kokopu School is a small rural school and students enjoy curriculum programmes that take advantage of this environment. The majority of students achieve National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students benefit from frequent education experiences outside the classroom. Teachers know and cater well for individual students’ wellbeing and learning needs.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 May 2015

About the School

Location

Kokopu, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

1036

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

59

Gender composition

Girls 32

Boys 27

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 41

Māori 15

other 3

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

15 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2012

Education Review December 2010

Education Review October 2007