Rakaia School

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1 Context

Rakaia School is a rural school catering for children from Years 1 to 8.

Since the 2013 ERO review, there has been a roll increase which has resulted in a more diverse school population. A large number of these children are transient and have spent short periods of time in other schools. New classrooms have been built as a result of roll growth.

Changes to the leadership team include a new deputy principal and the senior teacher responsible for the junior school. New trustees have joined established board members and support the principal in meeting the school's objectives.

The school is a member of the local Community of Learning which includes early learning services and schools.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to learn and play together in partnership, strive for quality and be respectful of themselves, others and the environment.

The school’s achievement information shows that a number of children, including Māori and Pacific children, are not achieving at the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has programmes in place to support these children, including an experienced mathematics teacher and specific learning support for small groups or individual children. Evidence also shows that some Māori children have made steady progress over time in reading, and some Pacific children have made progress in writing and mathematics.

School leaders and teachers use achievement information to identify children's learning needs. Resourcing by the board enables learning support staff to assist children while the class teacher works closely with those whose learning needs are greatest. Teachers work in partnership with parents by sharing strategies, resources and ideas that will support children in their learning at home. The school has been involved in the Accelerated Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) programme. A teacher with strengths in the teaching of mathematics has been working with children at risk of not achieving. Increased achievement levels are evident as a result of this intervention.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is being proactive in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Teachers know the children as individuals. They actively encourage positive and respectful relationships. These clearly reflect the school's values which are closely aligned to the Māori concepts of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. Māori children are able to regularly hear and use te reo Māori alongside their teachers and peers. Older children are encouraged to care for younger children. Able and knowledgeable children (tuakana) willingly support other children (teina) who need help with their learning.

Teachers use a range of ways to assess Māori children’s learning. They effectively use this assessment information and their knowledge of each child to identify those at risk of not achieving. Programmes to specifically meet the learning needs of individual children are well managed by the teacher responsible for these initiatives. Regular team discussions ensure all teachers are familiar with and can support the needs and progress of individual children.

Positive partnerships have been built with Māori parents. Teachers share effective strategies and resources to enhance learning for children at home. These initiatives have their greatest effect on those children who spend more time at this school. The board has also provided resourcing to support both children and staff to learn te reo and tikanga Māori from a Māori tutor. There is also a kapa haka group.

The next step is for senior leaders and teachers to develop a shared definition of what acceleration of learning means. They need to clearly identify and report what the school is successfully doing to accelerate the progress of Māori children.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Teachers use similar approaches to respond to other groups of children whose learning requires acceleration. Ongoing discussions and sharing of effective strategies are used to children who have had several changes of school over time.

Achievement information indicates that the 74% of children achieve at or above the National Standards in reading and 70% in mathematics. Achievement information also shows that with targeted learning support, 89% of Māori children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, 64% in writing and at the standard in mathematics.

56% percent of Pacific children are achieving at and above the standard in writing and mathematics. Senior leaders and teachers are actively supporting children who are not achieving at the standard in mathematics.

The achievement targets for 2015 were not met. The school targets should be strengthened so that children are better supported to make the necessary accelerated progress in order to reach the National Standards. Senior leaders need to track and report more regularly to the board on the progress and acceleration of individuals and groups over time.

Internal moderation of teacher judgements about children's levels of attainment are ongoing. Further confirmation of the accuracy of these judgements could be strengthened by working with teachers at a similar level in neighbouring schools. 

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's organisational processes and practices successfully develop and enact the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

The curriculum has been reviewed and is presently being updated to more effectively reflect the school's values and vision. The school strongly promotes a whānau-like environment that is clearly evident in the positive interactions between children and staff. Teachers effectively use the values to support the emphasis on respecting others. This approach is building a more responsive environment for children and families whose cultural background differs from that of others.

Teachers provide children with a wide range of learning opportunities and experiences in and beyond the school. The increasing use of e-learning specifically supports children's independence in learning and greater confidence in researching information for themselves. Children are becoming more responsible in managing themselves and their learning. Senior students confidently select their learning focus areas and plan how they will gather information to meet their goals.

School leaders and teachers have developed strong links within the community to provide additional learning opportunities for children. The school maintains useful, ongoing relationships with local early childhood services and secondary schools to support children's successful transitions into school and on to high school.

The principal effectively uses the strengths of the team to lead and make collective decisions. Targeted professional learning and development is well-aligned to the school goals. School leaders actively promote collaborative practices including professional discussion and reflection to improve teaching and learning across the school.

Senior leaders work well as a team and have begun working with the staff to update a number of processes and procedures including internal evaluation, developing a more robust appraisal system and the staff manual.

The school leadership have identified that they need to complete and embed the curriculum and other recent initiatives. Bicultural aspects should be more visible in all areas of the school's programme, documentation and planning.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years.

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the board and senior leaders make sure that:

  • robust appraisal is used to increase teacher capacity and capability
  • greater emphasis is placed on accelerating the progress of children at risk of not achieving at the National Standards
  • planned and regular internal processes are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the school's curriculum and of the board's stewardship role. 

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer - Southern/Te Waipounamu

2 March 2017

About the school 

Location

Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3480

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

208

Gender composition

Girls 53%; Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Tongan

Cook Island

Fijian

Filipino

Other ethnicities

65%

16%

7%

1%

2%

7%

2%

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

2 March 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

August 2013

June 2010

February 2007



1 Context

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

Students’ learning is well supported by the school's vision and values. These are very well integrated into the school’s culture and curriculum and highly evident in the positive relationships throughout the school community. The school’s strong partnership with the community and local businesses is supporting real-life learning opportunities for students.

The school’s attractive and well-resourced outdoor areas and classroom environments are valued by students, staff and the board. They are used effectively to promote student learning.

Rakaia School has a steadily increasing roll that includes a growing number of students from other cultures and students who stay at the school a shorter time. The school continues to work towards meeting the needs of its changing student population.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to support students.

Findings

Annual student achievement targets are based on reliable student achievement information. This shows that nearly three quarters of all students are achieving at or above National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers and senior leaders effectively use student achievement information to set appropriate school-wide targets to accelerate the progress of identified students. They regularly track students’ rates of progress. Identified groups of students are very well supported by a well-organised support programme. Classroom programmes are effectively supported by skilled teacher assistants.

Trustees are getting very good quality information about students' learning that assists them in their decision-making about directions for the school.

Teachers use a range of successful approaches to foster students' interest in learning and engage them in their classroom programmes. They regularly evaluate their teaching practices and programmes to further improve the consistency of teaching and learning across the school.

Areas for development and review

Students set learning goals and are identifying their next learning steps. To further increase engagement and improve achievement:

  • students could be more aware of their progress and achievement as shown through the assessments undertaken throughout the year
  • reports to parents could more clearly show students' next steps for learning and how parents can support learning at home.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

Findings

In addition to the school vision and values there are several other particularly strong aspects to the school curriculum. They are:

  • e-learning. The use of information and communication technologies is increasingly becoming a natural way of learning and is highly valued by students and staff
  • comprehensive planning for the year. This shows what student will learn and how the learning will be approached by teachers
  • a structured approach to developing students' thinking. Teachers assist students through skilled questioning.

Teachers share the purpose of lessons with students and classroom displays provide useful support for students' learning and a way of sharing their successes.

The board and staff members work hard to provide a wide range of good-quality learning experiences and are very aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of its rural setting for students.

Young children beginning in the new entrant classroom benefit from a gradual and supportive transition to school.

Teachers have a good understanding of the importance of building positive relationships with students and their families. Surveys show parents appreciate this. ERO observed respectful relationships at all levels of the school.

Area for development and review

With the introduction of several new initiatives over the last few years, the principal and ERO agree that it is timely to review the school curriculum to ensure it reflects school expectations in a balanced and manageable way. This should include further opportunities for student decision making about their learning and approaches for celebrating the increased levels of cultural diversity within the school.

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

The school is working towards promoting educational success for Māori as Māori.

Findings

Units of work show some integration of Māori concepts and themes. Students learn waiata and some basic te reo Māori. A teacher who has expertise in te reo and tikānga Māori has been helpful in raising the awareness of the Māori culture in the school. Students who are Māori are achieving at higher levels than their school peers in mathematics and less well in reading and writing.

Areas for development and review

The principal and board continue to seek external support to help build teachers’ knowledge and understanding of te reo and tikānga Māori in an ongoing manner. Next steps are to:

  • investigate other ways to promote te reo Māori and bicultural approaches in the school
  • set specific targets for raising achievement for Māori students in reading and writing.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Findings

The board provides effective governance. Trustees are open to new ideas, ask searching questions and are focused on ensuring that Rakaia School is a good place for staff to work and for students to learn.

Trustees take their roles seriously and have undertaken professional development to increase their understanding of school governance. This has resulted in a growing understanding of the value of self review and the development of a useful schedule to review important aspects of school operations.

The principal provides good-quality leadership. He competently shares the school vision and direction. Trustees and staff members appreciate his strategic approach and clear communication.

The teacher appraisal process is comprehensive, linked to the school’s targets and provides teachers with useful next steps to improve students’ learning and achievement.

The staff benefit from professional development. The board and principal see this as a priority towards raising student achievement. Evidence of this can be seen in the range of strategies teachers are using to engage students in learning.

Teachers are given good opportunities for leadership. They work collaboratively to discuss and plan ways to accelerate student progress. Support staff are valued, participate in professional development and work effectively to assist with student learning outcomes.

Areas for development and review

The principal and ERO recognise the school’s annual goals for raising student achievement can be further strengthened by:

  • ensuring teachers know which students have been identified in annual goals and specifically plan for these students’ progress early in the year
  • detailing in action plans the specific teaching approaches and other interventions to be used and evaluating the effectiveness of these.

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 three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

6 August 2013

About the School

Location

Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3480

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

163

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Filipino

Other Pacific

Other ethnicities

69%

11%

11%

8%

1%

Review team on site

June 2013

Date of this report

6 August 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

June 2010

February 2007

June 2005