Belmont School (Lower Hutt)

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School Context

Belmont School (Lower Hutt) is a Years 1 to 6 primary school. At the time of this review the roll was 396 children and 15% of learners are Māori with 4% of Pacific heritage.

The school’s vision: ‘Succeeding together – Mā te mahi tahi ka piki kōtuku’, guides all aspects of school life. The charter emphasises continuous improvement, with a focus on student progress and achievement. Four strategic goals document expectations that students will be active, successful learners; and that highly effective school organisation will support this.

The curriculum is guided by the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and the community values of innovation, diversity, fun and caring for each other. These values are expressed in every-day actions and interactions.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics and other valued outcomes, including termly progress of target students and wellbeing.

A gateway waharoa, Te Kōtuku, represents ‘how the school welcomes, embraces and celebrates all who come through the gates, honouring those who came before and looking forward to the future’.

In 2017, teachers and leaders have participated in the Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL) professional development programme, focused on writing. Other areas of focus have been acceleration of achievement and student wellbeing.

Belmont School is part of the Naenae Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako. Through this involvement the school is participating in a special education learning support trial.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

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

Achievement information shows that over time at the school, students increase their achievement. Almost all of the students leaving at the end of Year 6 are achieving well.

At the end of 2016, most students were achieving at high levels in reading and mathematics with the percentage of students achieving well in writing slightly lower. More girls than boys were achieving well in writing and more boys in mathematics. There was some disparity for the achievement of Māori and Pacific students in mathematics.

This information has led to the setting of appropriate, relevant targets for 2017. These have been supported by strongly aligned school processes.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Many students made accelerated progress in 2017. This includes approximately a quarter of all Year 2 to 6 target students in writing. Of this group of target students, more boys than girls made accelerated progress. Approximately a third of Māori target students made accelerated progress in mathematics. There is direct alignment between the areas of greatest acceleration and the school’s 2017 targets.

Leaders and teachers have a relentless focus on supporting all learners to achieve well and be successful.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

A sense of shared responsibility for the success of all children is clearly evident. The charter and strategic goals have a single focus on students and their learning. All school processes are closely aligned to these overarching goals. The principal regularly reports progress towards the goals to the board of trustees. Teachers and team leaders continuously focus on strategies to enhance and accelerate learning.

Trustees and leaders have robust conversations about and scrutinise achievement data to inform resourcing decisions. Assessment data is used to gain a deeper understanding of each child’s achievement and to extend their learning. Robust systems drive ongoing improvement in teaching and learning. Teachers demonstrate adaptive expertise that promotes the wellbeing, achievement and progress of all learners.

Partnerships with parents are responsive, with flexible school processes to meet the needs of the child. Maintaining existing relationships and establishing these with all new students and their families is a priority. Individualised communication with families is emphasised. Leaders and teachers work with families and whānau and external agencies to foster the learning of students with additional learning needs.

A schoolwide culture of inclusiveness recognises and appreciates that diversity is a cornerstone. Teachers differentiate their classroom practices to meet the needs of all students. There is an ongoing focus for each teacher on what is needed to meet the needs of the learners in their classroom.

The responsive curriculum has strengthened the role of students in leading their learning. The Belmont active learner traits embody this: learners connect; are resilient; are responsible; question; are resourceful; and reflect. The school’s use of digital devices enhance learning opportunities in a considered way. Ongoing curriculum development is grounded in the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Appraisal is a meaningful process that supports growth in professional practices and promotes positive student outcomes. Ongoing inquiry builds teachers’ understanding of learners and their own professional knowledge. Teachers benefit from responsive internal and external professional development.

A culture of high expectations is woven into teaching and learning, enhanced by supportive relationships. The principal works collaboratively and effectively with other senior leaders to develop and enact the school’s vision and values and to establish and focus on priorities for equity and excellence. There is a strong emphasis on building leadership across the school. Team leaders mentor and assist teachers to reflect on, inquire into and evaluate their practice.

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

Capability and collective capacity to do and use evaluation, and inquiry and knowledge building sustains improvement and innovation. The importance of student and community voice is recognised and valued. Further refining ongoing evaluation will increase clarity about the impact of strategies used to raise the achievement of target students.

The design of the new waharoa is significant in acknowledging the local area and beginning partnership with local iwi. Furthering cultural responsiveness to strengthen the curriculum for all is ongoing. Next steps are to: continue to build teachers’ knowledge and capability with the use of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori; and increase te ao Māori within the curriculum, giving priority to significant local knowledge.

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:

  • achieving outcomes for students that show consistently good levels of achievement

  • leadership and systems that ensure ongoing improvement in teaching and learning

  • direction setting by the board of trustees that focusses on students and their learning

  • evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building that sustain ongoing improvement and innovation.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, a development priority is in:

  • increasing te ao Māori within the curriculum, giving priority to significant local knowledge.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

About the school

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

2807

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

396

Gender composition

Boys 52%, Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 15%
Pākehā 62%
Samoan 4%
Indian 3%
Chinese 2%
African 2%
Other ethnic groups 12%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

14 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2013
Education Review June 2009
Education Review May 2006

1 Context

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

Belmont School is a Years 1 to 6 primary school in Lower Hutt. At the time of this review the roll was 323 students, with 53 learners identifying as Māori. The school takes full advantage of its natural surroundings and its close proximity to the Hutt River.

The strong commitment to the school vision “Mā te mahi tahi ka piki kōtuku – succeeding together” permeates all aspects of school life. School leaders and teachers effectively promote good communication and learning partnerships with families, whānau and the community.

The school's welcoming environment and positive tone support all students' learning. Teachers respect and value learners' language and cultural identity, including that of Māori and Pacific students.

Continued involvement of school personnel in local professional clusters and learning communities has benefitted students and their families. Teachers and school leaders have increased their understanding of curriculum, moderation and teaching.

2 Learning

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

Students at Belmont School gain a high level of success. Most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Those in Year 6 experience the highest levels of achievement across all three areas. Girls are outperforming boys in reading and writing. Māori students are achieving higher levels than their peers in reading and mathematics. Pacific students' achievement is individually monitored.

School leaders efficiently gather student achievement data that provides a strong basis for effective strategic decision making and the setting of appropriate school priorities. Leaders have identified that improving student achievement in writing is an ongoing schoolwide focus.

Teachers use a range of valid, reliable assessment tools to determine student achievement levels. Close tracking, monitoring and analysis of student achievement and progress provide teachers with useful information for making decisions about teaching and learning. Gathered data is used effectively to identify and cater for students not achieving to expectations, and those with special needs. Appropriate additional support is provided for students who need to learn at a faster pace through programmes and interventions in reading, writing and mathematics.

Moderation of assessment takes place within the school and between schools to effectively support accurate overall teacher judgements of student attainment in relation to the National Standards. Teachers share useful information at key times to support students' smooth transitions into, within and out of the school.

Well-considered and effective processes support informative reporting to parents. Staff use a range of strategies to report student progress and achievement. Student voice is valued and included. Parents receive clear, specific information about children’s strengths, key competencies and next steps for learning.

ERO identifies, and the school agrees that the next step is to continue to build teachers' capacity to evaluate the effectiveness of their own practice. This should further strengthen their use of analysed assessment information to measure the impact of teaching on student learning – engagement, progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The Belmont School Curriculum provides students with a valuable range of experiences and opportunities for learning. It is firmly based on The New Zealand Curriculum and there is a suitable emphasis on promoting the key competencies. The present focus is on students developing as self-regulated learners. Teachers establish and express high expectations for learning.

The curriculum appropriately gives priority to literacy and mathematics. The school vision and values underpin all aspects of school culture and are evident in practices within the school. The inquiry learning model successfully promotes integration of all learning areas. Authentic contexts for learning reflect the school’s locality, environment and student interests.

Teachers and students are increasingly collaborative in their approach to planning and sharing the purpose of learning. Prior learning is usefully revisited and students have a clear understanding of what is needed to be successful. The positive classroom environments support students to be actively and fully engaged in their learning.

Respectful and reciprocal relationships form a strong basis for learning. Teachers use a wide range of strategies to motivate learners and support positive outcomes for students. Effective approaches are used to promote students' responsibility for their own learning. Students support each other well by providing useful feedback and next steps for learning.

Teacher professional learning and development is well planned and considered, and tailored to respond to the needs of students. It appropriately supports the school’s strategic priorities. Involvement in a cluster schools' learning community has been valuable in supporting the development of school systems and practice.

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

Māori students achieve well academically. Te reo Māori is used at times in classrooms and teachers are increasingly using authentic cultural contexts. Some staff are participating in relevant professional learning to develop their understanding of te ao Māori. The school reports and celebrates Māori students' success and achievement.

Whānau engagement through planned hui should continue to provide information to support the school to develop culturally responsive curriculum expectations. Setting clear curriculum expectations should provide a basis for evaluation and strengthen the school’s understanding of how the curriculum promotes success for Māori as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Senior leaders provide strong direction for the school through strategic goals and planning. They successfully involve the community in determining the school’s vision. They are reflective and use achievement information to develop teaching and learning. They articulate high expectations for learning and achievement. Opportunities are provided for leadership across the school and in the wider education community.

Self review is purposeful, using information from a range of sources to reflect on practice and decision making. Trustees receive regular, detailed information about student achievement. This enables them to make appropriate decisions about resources, personnel, interventions and strategic priorities.

New trustees, recently elected, are being up-skilled to support their understanding of their governance roles.

ERO and school leaders agree that next steps are to clearly articulate expectations of the school curriculum and to strengthen evaluative practices.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

30 October 2013

About the School

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

2807

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

323

Gender composition

Male 53%, Female 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other European

Other ethnic groups

75%

17%

2%

2%

2%

2%

Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

30 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

May 2006

June 2003