Balclutha School

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Findings

Balclutha School has made progress in improving its conditions to support equity and excellence for students. Leaders and teachers are now better placed to critically analyse, evaluate and report on the sufficiency of students’ progress. The board, leaders and teachers should continue to focus on raising student achievement, particularly so for boys.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Balclutha Schools’ performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Balclutha School provides schooling for students in Years 1 to 8, in the town of Balclutha. The current roll is 164 students, including 28 who identify as Māori. It continues to be a host school for a number of Ministry of Education specialist staff and contracted services for the South Otago Region. It is an active member of the Big River Community of Learning (CoL)|Kāhui Ako. The principal is a co-principal of the CoL. The assistant principal is an across-school leader.

This report evaluates Balclutha School’s progress in addressing the areas for review and development that were identified in ERO’s August 2017 Education Review report.

Since ERO’s August 2017 report :

  • ERO has maintained ongoing involvement with the school

  • an acting deputy principal has been appointed along with several new teachers

  • staff have engaged in specific professional learning and development to accelerate student achievement in literacy and mathematics

  • the school roll has increased

  • most trustees are new and the board chair has changed

  • there has been extensive redevelopment of the outdoor play area.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The August 2017 ERO report recommended the following areas for development:

  • capability to undertake rigorous internal evaluation at all levels of the school

  • achievement targets that are inclusive of all students who need to make accelerated progress in writing, reading and mathematics, and more frequent reporting to the board about students’ progress towards meeting these targets

  • systems and practices to monitor and analyse the rates of progress students are making, and evaluating the sufficiency of this progress

  • school-wide understandings and practices to enable students to have more involvement and agency in their learning

  • policies, procedures and schedules to support ongoing review, including compliance of teacher and principal appraisal and appointment procedures with current requirements, and more robust processes to ensure policies and procedures are being implemented as intended.

Progress

The school’s internal evaluation is now appropriately focused on improving outcomes for students. This is well supported by teachers’ inquiries which examine the impact of their teaching on students’ achievement and progress. Leaders have formalised key questions to guide internal evaluation. These should continue to be used widely to inform decision making.

Leaders and teachers are making greater use of students’ progress and achievement information to measure the impact of approaches and programmes. Teachers are using data better to identify students who are not making sufficient progress. They are engaging in critical reflection about the impact of teaching on students’ learning with their teacher colleagues within and beyond the school. The Big River CoL is providing a forum for this.

Good progress has made in developing and using improved systems to evaluate and report interim student achievement and progress. A schoolwide system has been developed and implemented to support regular collection, analysis and reporting on the achievement and sufficiency of progress of all students in reading, writing and mathematics. Senior leaders are providing useful support for teachers to ensure consistency and understanding of these new systems. Guidelines outlining expected progressions across the years in reading, writing and mathematics, support teachers in their monitoring of students’ learning. There is regular and close scrutiny of individuals’ progress, including those with additional learning needs.

Leaders and teachers have maintained useful systems to ensure the reliability of students’ achievement information. There is more frequent and timely reporting to the board and subsequent scrutiny of the progress and achievement of students, including those targeted for acceleration.

The board has set specific targets to reduce disparity for boys’ achievement in reading and writing. At the time of this report there is emerging evidence of decreasing overall disparity for boys’ and girls’ achievement. Teachers have continued to use deliberate strategies to support students in this area. They use a range of strategies to better engage boys in literacy learning and identify barriers to this.

The school is in the early stages of specifically focusing on students taking responsibility for aspects of their own learning (student agency).

Improved systems, procedures and practices to support the timely review of policies and procedures are in place. Teacher and principal appraisal documents and appointment procedures reflect current requirements.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is becoming better placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Leaders and teachers should embed a consistent school-wide understanding of sufficiency of students’ progress.

Leaders and teachers should continue to specifically focus on the teaching strategies that work, to raise achievement and accelerate progress, particularly for those students whose progress needs to be accelerated.

The board, leaders and teachers should continue to concentrate on reducing the disparity between boys’ and girls’ achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, as a high priority.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

Conclusion

Balclutha School has made progress in improving its conditions to support equity and excellence for students. Leaders and teachers are now better placed to critically analyse, evaluate and report on the sufficiency of students’ progress. The board, leaders and teachers should continue to focus on raising student achievement, particularly so for boys.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Balclutha Schools’ performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

6 March 2020

About the School

Location

Balclutha

Ministry of Education profile number

3710

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

164

Gender composition

Female 90

Male 74

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/Pākehā
Pacific
Asian
Other ethnic groups

17%
60%
8%
2%
13%

Review team on site

November 2019

Date of this report

6 March 2020

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

August 2017
March 2014
February 2011

Summary

At the time of this review Balclutha Primary School had a roll of 151 children in years 1 to 8. This included 34 Māori children, and another 18 children from ethnicities other than New Zealand European.

The school is a host school for a number of Ministry of Education specialist staff and contracted services serving the South Otago region. The school is a member of the Big River Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako.

Since the last ERO review (2014) the school has experienced a falling roll and reduced staffing. The principal has recently been appointed to the position of executive principal for the Big River Community of Learning for two days a week. Consequently the deputy principal has been appointed as co-principal of the school. There have been a number of other staff changes. Teachers have participated in a three year Ministry of Education Accelerated Literacy Learning (ALL) project to improve the quality of writing instruction.

Limited progress has been made in the areas identified for development in the school’s last ERO review. Most of these areas have been re-identified in this report and now need to be urgently addressed.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school effectively responds to some children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. Leaders and teachers need to find more effective ways of accelerating the progress of boys in writing.

The school has a positive and inclusive school culture and broad curriculum. Access to good quality professional development means teachers have been well supported to develop their teaching practices.

The school does not have robust internal evaluation processes for identifying the areas that need development to address and overcome barriers to achieving equity and excellence for all children. There is an urgent need to develop effective internal-evaluation practices at all levels of the school. This includes a need for better whole school monitoring and analysis of student progress and achievement information. This will support trustees, leaders and teachers to better evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken to raise achievement.

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

Equity and excellence

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

The school has effectively responded to some but not all children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Māori children achieve equitably in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards.

The school’s achievement information for the last three years shows:

  • most children achieve at or above the National Standards in mathematics (more than 80%) and reading (more than 74%)

  • the proportion of children achieving at expected levels in writing has varied significantly from year to year

  • the proportion of boys achieving at or above the National Standards in writing has fallen over the last three years and is significantly lower than girls.

Planned actions in 2015 and 2016 to accelerate the progress of some children not achieving at expected levels in writing were successful.

Children with complex and additional needs are very well supported to make progress against their individual goals.

Teachers employ appropriate assessment and moderation practices to support the reliability of their judgements about children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. This has included taking opportunities to moderate with other schools.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

Some school processes are effectively enabling the achievement of equity and excellence.

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

A positive and inclusive school culture effectively supports children to feel confident and supported in their learning. The board, principals and teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to providing equal opportunities for children with additional needs to learn. This includes children having their learning and success well supported by external agencies and specialist teachers.

A broad curriculum, which makes good use of learning in contexts outside the school, effectively supports children’s engagement, learning, and development of valued life skills. Children have equitable opportunities to develop digital literacy which is well integrated across all learning areas.

Teachers, including beginner teachers, are well supported to build their professional capability through access to relevant professional development. In recent years they have developed their understanding of effective assessment and teaching of writing. Teachers collaborate very well with each other and with teachers in other schools to share good practices.

Teachers’ strengths are acknowledged, used and further developed. They have meaningful opportunities to build their leadership skills and to lead in various ways.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

The school does not have robust internal evaluation processes for identifying the areas that need development to address and overcome barriers to achieving equity and excellence.

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Trustees and leaders need to urgently address the following areas:

  • ensure school achievement targets focus on all children who need to make accelerated progress to be at expected levels

  • develop systems and practices for monitoring and analysing the rates of progress of all children to ensure they are making sufficient progress

  • ensure the board receives interim reporting about children’s progress and achievement against the National Standards to better support timely intervention

  • build capability at all levels of the school to undertake rigorous internal evaluation to inform school improvement and plans to raise achievement

  • inquire into the reasons for growing disparity in boys’ achievement in writing (and reading) and develop approaches to more effectively accelerate their progress

  • develop school-wide understandings and practices for supporting children to have more involvement and agency in their learning.

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

  • 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. 

Actions required

ERO identified non-compliance in the following areas:

  • maintenance of an ongoing programme of internal evaluation in relation to the school’s policies, plans and programmes, including evaluation of information on student achievement [ NAG 2b]

  • an appraisal process for teachers and principal that meets the requirements of the New Zealand Education Council [Education Act 1989, S 31]

  • appointment procedures that ensure the requirements for safety checking of staff have been carried out [Vulnerable Children Act 2014].

In order to address these the board must:

  1. develop and implement policies, procedures, schedules and frameworks to support an ongoing programme of self review

  2. ensure teacher and principal appraisal is compliant with the requirement for staff to demonstrate all practicing teacher criteria in each 12 month period

  3. review and update the school’s appointment procedure to include appropriate safety checking procedures and ensure these are followed.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • develop more robust processes for ensuring policies and procedures are being implemented as intended.

Going forward

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

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. However there is disparity in achievement for boys in writing.

Leaders and teachers need to:

  • develop and implement approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child

  • improve the school conditions that support the acceleration of children’s learning and achievement.

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate learning for children

  • better monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and children’s progress

  • discuss the school’s progress with ERO.

ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop to support the school to develop effective planning and monitoring processes to support equity and excellence for all children. 

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

Recommendations

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education and New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the school in order to bring about the following improvements:

  • develop capability to implement an ongoing programme of self review in relation to the school’s policies, plans and programmes, including evaluation of information on student achievement (Nag 2b)

  • improved analysis of achievement and progress information to evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken to raise achievement and accelerate progress.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

9 August 2017

About the school 

Location

Balclutha

Ministry of Education profile number

3710

School type

Full Primary

School roll

151

Gender composition

Girls: 80

Boys: 71

Ethnic composition

Māori 23%

Pākehā 65%

Pacific 2%

African 2%

Other 8%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

9 August 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review March 2014

Education Review February 2011

Education Review January 2005