Aberdeen School

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School Context

Aberdeen School is located in Dinsdale, near Hamilton city and is a large urban primary that provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. The school’s roll of 685, includes 200 Māori students. There is increasing cultural diversity in the student population. The school includes three bilingual learning environments for 81 students in Years 1 to 6.

Since the previous ERO review in 2014 a new principal and deputy principal have been appointed and there have been some changes to the teaching team. The school is part of the He Waka Eke Noa Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL). Teachers have undertaken a range of professional learning and development facilitated by the CoL.

The school’s vision is to empower students to be confident, connected and actively involved life-long learners. Core values of respect, cooperation, determination, responsibility and care are fostered throughout the school. The school aims to develop and empower the Aberdeen learner towards excellence in three key areas:

  • Mind – thinking, making meaning

  • Body – managing self, physical capacity

  • Spirit – relating to others, participating and contributing

The 2018 charter identifies key strategic goals of:

  • raising the achievement levels of Māori and Pacific learners

  • improving student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • planning a focused approach to student engagement.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics

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’s achievement information from 2015-2017 shows that the large majority of students, including students in bilingual classes, achieved at or above national expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2017 the data showed that girls achieved at similar levels to boys in mathematics and at higher levels than boys in reading and writing. There continues to be disparity in achievement for Māori and Pacific students in comparison to other groups in the school, and this disparity is significant in mathematics. Achievement levels have remained consistent over the last three years for all students.

Students with additional learning needs are well monitored and are making progress against their individual learning and development goals.

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

Leaders collated this information during the education review. The school is accelerating achievement for some Māori and other students who are at risk of underachieving. The school is able to show that approximately half of the students identified as at risk with their learning at the beginning of 2017, made accelerated progress in reading and mathematics, and in writing just over a third. Just over a third of Maori students made accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics. They now need to develop processes to regularly track and monitor rates of acceleration for all at-risk learners to evaluate teaching practices and to ensure children are on a trajectory to success.

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?

Leaders have developed a culture of high relational trust. There is a positive and inclusive approach to promoting the school’s bicultural dimension with parents, whānau and staff. Leaders focus on building teacher capability in response to achievement information about students whose learning needs acceleration. Well-developed expectations in core curriculum areas are used by middle leaders to promote consistency of teacher practice, and focus on accelerating achievement for at-risk learners. Leaders have established effective education networks, particularly within the CoL which is supporting equity and excellence for all students.

The board actively represents the school community. They have established a clear strategic direction that aligns with parent, whānau and community aspirations. There are positive working relationships between the board and leaders. Trustees scrutinise achievement information they receive to inform resourcing decisions. They are supportive of all initiatives to accelerate progress for students, including those whose learning is at risk.

Teachers provide productive learning environments to raise student achievement. They make use of a range of effective assessment tools to identify, track and monitor individual student’s learning needs, and in particular for at-risk learners. Teachers use a range of well-proven and innovative strategies to respond to these needs. There is a focus on behaviours and dispositions for learning, development of oral language and authentic contexts for learning. Teachers have a targeted approach to supporting improved outcomes for students.

Students learn in caring and inclusive learning environments. They benefit from warm and respectful relationships with their teachers. Students are encouraged to work cooperatively with their peers in ability and social groupings. There are many opportunities for students to be extended across curriculum areas, including sports, leadership and performing arts.

Students with additional learning needs are well supported. Systems for the monitoring and tracking of students are robust. A group of specialist teachers led by a knowledgeable special needs coordinator (SENCO) provide a range of effective interventions to respond to student needs. Parents are well engaged as partners in their children’s learning. Specialist teachers liaise closely with classroom teachers to provide support and improve programmes for all at-risk learners.

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

Aspects of internal evaluation practice need to be strengthened. There is a need to:

  • develop annual school-wide achievement targets that include all at-risk learners to show how effectively their progress is being accelerated

  • fully implement the new appraisal system and consolidate the teaching as inquiry process.

Further development is needed to strengthen student ownership of learning, particularly for students whose learning needs acceleration. This includes a consistent school-wide approach that supports students to understand their progress and specific next learning steps.

The school plans to review and revise their Māori education strategy in 2018 to strengthen bicultural practice. Priority should be given to;

  • deepening Māori content across all learning areas

  • reviewing the level of immersion and the opportunities for teachers in the bilingual unit to meet and plan together

  • strengthening the support for teachers to improve their Māori language fluency and knowledge and understanding of bilingual teaching strategies.

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.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a school-wide culture of high relational trust that supports equity and excellence for all students

  • effective governance practices that include clear strategic direction for the school

  • productive learning environments that focus on lifting student achievement of at-risk learners

  • an inclusive school culture that makes effective provision for children with additional learning needs.

Next steps

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

  • school-wide target setting and reporting to include all at-risk learners

  • practices that enable students to monitor and make decisions about their learning journey

  • internal evaluation to strengthen school-wide bicultural practice.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

23 April 2018

About the school

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1680

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

685

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 54%
Māori 29%
Pacific 6%
Indian 4%
Other 7%

Provision of Māori medium education

Yes

Number of Māori medium classes

3

Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)

81

Number of students in Level 3 MLE

57

Number of students in Level 4a MLE

24

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

23 April 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2014
Education Review April 2010
Education Review May 2007

ERO has also published an exemplar report on Aberdeen School: Exemplar Review - Aberdeen School - June 2018

Findings

Students are well supported by a team of dedicated teachers in an attractively resourced learning environment. Teachers have rich knowledge about students and provide many opportunities for parents to be informed about their child’s learning and all-round development. Students make strong progress and are well prepared to engage in future education.

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?

Aberdeen School is a large urban contributing primary, located in the Hamilton suburb of Dinsdale. It provides education for approximately 700 students in Years 1 to 6. While the make-up of the school’s roll continues to be predominantly Pākehā/European, it is becoming increasingly multi-cultural. The proportion of students who are of Māori descent is increasing and is currently 27%. The board and senior leaders are responding positively to these demographic changes.

Since the previous ERO review in 2010 there have been very few changes to staffing. The experienced principal is providing clear direction for the school community. He leads a strong school-wide focus on raising student achievement and is well supported by board and staff. The school is responsive to the changing composition of its student roll, and this is evidenced through an inclusive school culture that recognises and values cultural diversity. There have been several initiatives to raise the profile of biculturalism in the school environment and the curriculum. Several art works reflecting te ao Māori, and local geographical features have pride of place at the school’s entrance.

The leadership team which includes the deputy principal, literacy leader, mathematics leader and the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO), work collaboratively to support and promote student learning. They are providing sound leadership for staff about teaching and learning in response to the evolving needs, abilities and interests of students at the school.

There is a high level of commitment to continuous improvement, and the board works closely with the principal to plan strategically for school development. A recent and current board initiative is to review the school’s vision for learning and teaching, placing greater emphasis on excellence. The board, together with staff, provides a safe and well-resourced environment for learning and teaching.

Aberdeen School has a positive reporting history with ERO. It continues to enjoy a high level of engagement with, and support from, its parent community that enriches the all-round learning and development of students at the school. The Parent Teacher Association is a very proactive group, which is instrumental in engaging with the community and contributing to the school’s positive profile.

2 Learning

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

School-wide systems and practices for the management and use of assessment are well embedded. Effective use is made of student achievement information to support and extend student learning at all levels of the school. A range of standardised/nationally referenced assessment tools is used at key points throughout each year to track the achievement and progress of students in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school’s leaders of literacy and mathematics collate and analyse achievement information for mid and end of year reporting, and at other times as requested. This information forms the basis of clear and concise reports to the board, assisting trustees to make informed decisions about school-wide planning and resourcing. School leaders identify achievement trends and patterns for year level, gender and ethnic groups, and advise the board about achievement targets for students who are achieving below expected levels (priority learners), annually. These target groups are closely monitored and progress reports are made to the board during the year.

Senior leaders (literacy and mathematics) work closely with the school’s SENCO to identify students who are ‘at risk’ of not achieving the expected level/standard (priority learners). Additional learning support is provided for individuals and groups at all year levels. Currently, the Mathematics Support Teacher (MST), who is also the Mathematics Leader, is working in depth with target groups to accelerate their progress in relation to National Standards. She liaises closely with the classroom teachers of these students, as well as the parents to support these learners. Māori students and boys in particular, are well represented in these groups. Similar small group reading/literacy support is provided for identified students, particularly in the junior school.

The designated team leader for each year level is responsible for sharing collated data with the teachers in their team. Patterns and levels of achievement are discussed and there is an expectation that teachers will differentiate the learning for students. Senior leaders now need to work more closely with team leaders on the diagnostic interpretation of assessment information. Consistent use of this information to plan more explicitly to meet the identified needs/strengths of students in their classes is likely to raise and accelerate achievement, particularly in writing.

The school has robust achievement data to show patterns of achievement and progress of students over successive years (2012-2014). At the end of 2013, the significant majority of all students were achieving the National Standards in reading and mathematics. In writing, the percentage achieving the standard was lower than that for reading and mathematics, despite writing being the professional learning and development (PLD) focus for teachers throughout 2012/13. School leaders acknowledge the need to improve leadership for learning in this curriculum area, and recognise that the successful strategies of the mathematics PLD now need to be adopted for further teacher development in writing in 2015.

A notable trend in school-wide data, identified by leaders, is the lower levels of literacy progress and achievement in some Junior classes. However, historical data indicates that student achievement levels track up through the middle school (Years 4/5), and by the end of Year 6 almost all students are at and above the National Standard in reading, and most in mathematics and writing.

The achievement and progress of Māori students is targeted and carefully tracked. While some shifts have been made, overall, the level of achievement for students in this group is consistently tracking slightly below that of their Pākehā/European peers.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively promoting and supporting student learning. Since 2010, considerable work has been ongoing in the core curriculum areas of reading, writing and mathematics. School leaders have worked collaboratively with teachers to develop and document explicit guidelines and practices for assessment and teaching in these areas. An external facilitator was employed by the board in 2012/13 to support the work of the literacy leader and all teaching staff in the development of the writing curriculum. While teacher capability has increased it remains variable across the school, and leaders recognise the need to strengthen guidance and support to further develop the quality of teaching in writing.

Teachers are benefitting from current professional learning and development in mathematics. ERO observed group teaching across the classes, clear individual and group learning goals, and teachers’ recall and use of prior learning. Students are being encouraged and supported to articulate problem solving strategies. There is an expectation (as part of this model for PLD), that teachers will reflect on the effectiveness of their practice, using student achievement information as an indicator (teaching as inquiry). There are many opportunities at team level to share effective practice, and the MST is engaging in some coaching of teachers to model and build teacher confidence and expertise in this curriculum area.

The school’s present curriculum design takes an integrated approach to delivering programmes in the other subject areas of The New Zealand Curriculum (TNZC). As part of the school-wide Māori Education Strategy, in term one each year, contexts for learning and teaching that promote the culture, language and identity of Māori students are the focus for learning and teaching. The deputy principal is working with all staff to support their understanding of bicultural education, using the Ka Hikitia, Māori Education Strategy document.

Parents and students appreciate the scope of the schools’ curriculum. It provides opportunities for students to pursue an interest, to extend their learning and be challenged through the arts, sports and physical education and education outside the classroom (EOTC). The school’s house structure is a feature of its safe and inclusive culture, and provides many opportunities for students to take responsibility, assume leadership roles and learn about responsible citizenship.

Agreed priority for continuing development:

To plan and implement an inclusive curriculum review process with a view to:

  • clarifying agreed best practice for teaching and learning across all year levels (cohesion)
  • developing shared expectations for teachers
  • clarifying and documenting learning progressions for all year levels (continuity)
  • clarifying the place of information and communication technologies to enhance learning and teaching
  • maintaining the current emphasis on New Zealand’s bicultural heritage
  • including all principles of the TNZC, in keeping with the school’s vision for learning
  • This process should be well planned, integral to the school’s strategic plan, include parent voice, and result in high levels of understanding and ownership of the school’s curriculum.

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

Strong Māori role models are contributing to the promotion of educational success for Māori students across all levels of the school. There is Māori representation on the board and the staff, and across the school community there is a willingness to engage in initiatives to raise the achievement of Māori.

There is a proactive whānau group that meets regularly. A high level of liaison between this group and the board of trustees is leading to the progressive implementation of agreed goals for development in the strategy plan for Māori education.

Currently, there are two bilingual classes, with the development of a third class currently underway. A successful mentoring programme, led by the kaiako and tamariki from these classes, supports students and the teachers in the general classes to become more confident in the use of Māori language. Māori cultural protocols are being increasingly observed. A vibrant kapa haka group, noho marae experiences and pōwhiri are evidence of the school’s realisation of its plan to raise the profile of Māori students and their whānau in the school community.

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 because:

  • the board is governing effectively
  • there are well-embedded systems for self review and reporting
  • student achievement information is well managed and used to inform decision making
  • the leadership team is reflective and focused on continuous improvement
  • there is a strong and shared focus on raising student achievement and teachers demonstrate a high level of commitment
  • the board makes comprehensive provision for priority learners
  • there is a planned approach to engaging Māori students and their whānau in initiatives to promote success
  • there is ongoing, targeted professional development for teachers, designed to build their capability
  • the school’s environment for learning is safe, inclusive and well resourced
  • there is a high level of parent/community engagement with the school.

In order to strengthen sustainability, ERO and the school leaders have agreed on the following priority areas for development:

  • Build capability within the wider leadership team, including team leaders. This is necessary to empower all leaders to effectively lead learning across the school, contributing to consistent and cohesive teaching practice.
  • Review and make more robust, the school’s performance management systems and practices, with particular emphasis on processes for appraisal and attestation.

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.

The board must ensure that the principal implements a robust attestation process for all teaching staff against the relevant Professional Standards, annually.

[Teachers’ Collective Employment Contract; S 77c State Sector Act 1989]

Conclusion

Students are well supported by a team of dedicated teachers in an attractively resourced learning environment. Teachers have rich knowledge about students and provide many opportunities for parents to be informed about their child’s learning and all-round development. Students make strong progress and are well prepared to engage in future education.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

3 December 2014

About the School

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1680

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

698

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Indian

Other

Pacific

Asian

58%

27%

4%

4%

4%

3%

Special Features

Two bilingual classes

Review team on site

September 2014

Date of this report

3 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2010

May 2007

February 2004