Whangarei Adventist Christian School

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Education institution number:
4154
School type:
Full Primary
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
31
Telephone:
Address:

82 Whau Valley Road, Whangarei

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Findings

Whangarei Adventist Christian School has undergone a period of improvement. Teachers provide appropriate programmes of work. Students are well engaged, and older students are taking responsibility for aspects of their learning. The board is developing its capability to more effectively govern the school.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Whangarei Adventist Christian School is a small integrated primary school in Whangarei. It provides Adventist special character education for students in Years 1 to 8.

This is the second consecutive longitudinal ERO review process for the school. Since the 2015 ERO review, the school has experienced fluctuations in roll numbers and staffing entitlements. A new principal was appointed in December 2016.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

Priorities identified for review and development during ERO’s 2015 review included strengthening:

  • professional leadership to establish high standards that are shared across the school
  • teaching practice that supports students to learn and to know about their progress
  • governance to ensure the school meets its statutory obligations.
Progress

The school has made good progress in addressing some of the areas identified for review and development. Improvements made to teaching and learning are substantial. The roll growth indicates the Adventist community’s renewed confidence in the school. Governance remains an area for development.

The principal has focused on improving the learning culture for students. Teachers now have higher expectations of children’s output in the classroom. They provide appropriate learning opportunities for children. Teachers promote student behaviour that is likely to be conducive to their learning. As a result of these good practices, children are better engaged in class programmes.

Newly introduced assessment processes have increased the accuracy of information about children’s learning, and support the overall dependability of student achievement data. Older students have a good understanding of their levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. They use this knowledge to plan for their next steps in learning. Parents receive appropriate written reports about their children’s progress and achievement.

Teachers foster independence in students. Older students manage elements of their own timetable and learning. Students explore aspects of their interests using the school’s inquiry approach. They are increasingly presenting their learning to their peers and parents to conclude a project.

Online programmes designed to support reading and mathematics learning engage students well. Teachers use informative summaries from each child’s use of these programmes to monitor and track their progress.

Key next steps

In order to continue to improve teaching practice and learning opportunities, key next steps include:

  • reviewing and documenting the school curriculum to formalise the emerging teaching practices and priorities, and to embed them school wide
  • continuing to strengthen the processes for monitoring children’s progress, and those that promote children’s understanding of their own achievement.

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 better placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Effective leadership is driving school improvement. The principal has confidently prioritised and addressed many of the areas identified for improvement in the 2015 ERO report. In addition to the significant improvements to teaching and learning, aspects of management including the administration systems, record keeping and management of resources have also been improved.

The growing roll resulted in the appointment of a second teacher. This has helped teachers to extend the range of opportunities that they plan for students and to further develop the school culture.

Internal evaluation processes are not yet being used to improve school operations. As the school re-establishes as a two teacher school, it is important to develop internal evaluation processes. These processes should be developed and used at the classroom, school and governance levels to determine the effectiveness of programmes, initiatives and practices in promoting positive outcomes for students.

The board is still developing its capability to effectively govern the school. While trustees meet regularly and are committed to the school, their understanding of the extent of their governance role is still developing. They have continued to focus on reviewing policies and have had some involvement in strategic planning. It is timely for trustees to undertake training as a board to support them to effectively govern the school. 

Key next steps

In order to continue to improve the school’s performance, key next steps include:

  • establishing internal evaluation processes to determine the effectiveness of programmes, initiatives and practices in promoting positive outcomes for students
  • trustees increasing their capability to more effectively govern the school.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that trustees use support from the Ministry of Education and New Zealand School Trustees Association to continue building their capability to more effectively govern the school.

Conclusion

Whangarei Adventist Christian School has undergone a period of improvement. Teachers provide appropriate programmes of work. Students are well engaged, and older students are taking responsibility for aspects of their learning. The board is developing its capability to more effectively govern the school. 

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

Julie Foley
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

19 February 2018

About the School 

Location

Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

4154

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

29

Gender composition

Girls       17
Boys      12

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
African
other

10
10
  3
  6

Review team on site

December 2017

Date of this report

19 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2015
September 2013
December 2010

Findings

Whangarei Adventist Christian School is a small integrated school on the outskirts of Whangarei. The school’s special character is evident across all operations. Teachers plan collaboratively, and have strengthened their bicultural practices. The principal and the board must provide more effective leadership and governance to support school improvement. 

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

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

Whangarei Adventist Christian School is a small state integrated school in the Whau Valley area of Whangarei. It provides special character education for students in Years 1 to 8. The school currently operates two classrooms, although students often work and learn together as a mixed age group.

Many families choosing to enrol their children at this school have connections with local Seventh Day Adventist Church communities. Adventist Christian values and beliefs permeate all aspects of the school day. The school roll has declined over recent years and this is an ongoing concern for the board.

ERO’s 2013 report highlighted concerns with aspects of school management and governance. Concerns were also identified in curriculum implementation and the quality of teaching and learning. In addition, the report recommended the need to strengthen bicultural practices.

ERO has worked with the school since 2013 to support ongoing improvement. While there has been some progress in addressing these matters, there has been a lack of urgency by the board and principal in attending to many of the areas of concern.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

Strengthening assessment and reporting practices:

  • improving the validity of student achievement data
  • meeting requirements for reporting to parents in relation to National Standards
  • making better use of student achievement information in school decision making, goal setting and evaluation. 

Developing consistency of effective teacher practice:

  • consulting the school’s community about curriculum programmes
  • extending student ownership of learning across the curriculum.

Strengthening bicultural and local perspectives in the curriculum:

  • increasing teachers’ use of te reo and tikanga Māori in their practice
  • reporting on the progress of Māori students to the board and whānau.

Developing a working partnership to improve governance and management:

  • reviewing school policies and procedures
  • ensuring strategic planning documents guide school operations
  • undertaking regular self review and documenting plans for on-going improvement.

Progress

Students learn in attractive classroom environments. Teachers display information that can be helpful for students and can support their learning.

Teachers have participated in significant professional learning and development to promote greater student ownership of learning. They are also considering how effectively they make judgements about students’ progress and achievement. Students reflect on their efforts as a result of this new learning for teachers. The need to continue this work is ongoing.

A school curriculum that reflects both The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and Seventh Day Adventist special character has yet to be developed. This work is necessary to clarify what students should be learning. A well-considered curriculum would also provide guidelines for good quality teaching, and ways for student learning to be evaluated.

Good progress has been made in promoting bicultural contexts and local perspectives. A teacher provides expertise and leadership in promoting te reo and tikanga Māori. Aspects from te Ao Māori are integrated into other learning areas. Students visited a local marae during Matariki, and are increasingly using the protocols of whakatau to welcome visitors.

School leaders have consulted with whānau of Māori students. Aspirations that whānau have for their children have been shared with the school. These sharing opportunities appear to have been well received by parents.

School trustees and managers are working together more effectively. Trustees have undertaken training about aspects of school governance. The review and rationalisation of policies and procedures is underway.

The board has developed some self-review processes. For these processes to improve school performance, trustees must inquire into important matters and ensure that the review process is robust. Strategic and annual plans are not yet guiding school direction or school improvement. 

Key next steps

ERO is not confident that sufficient progress has been made to improve outcomes for students. In order to sustain recent initiatives and make ongoing improvements, the principal needs to provide professional leadership and priorities for:

  • developing a shared understanding about good quality teaching and learning
  • setting high expectations of teachers and students
  • strengthening the use of formative teaching practices
  • promoting greater student understanding of their progress and achievement so they can set appropriate goals and plan for their learning.

To promote good learning opportunities for students, teachers need to reflect on the impact of their teaching practice. These reflections should help teachers consider:

  • learning opportunities that better engage students
  • differentiated planning that appropriately supports and challenges students to achieve
  • making programmes more student centred and student-led.

To provide effective governance, trustees need greater accountability, reliable information and regular assurance that:

  • the school is consistently meeting its legal requirements
  • strategic and annual planning is effective, and that progress towards achieving the stated goals is reported.

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 not well placed to improve its performance. Progress has been made in addressing ERO’s concerns in the 2013 report. However, greater urgency and accountability is needed to establish and embed practices that promote better outcomes for students.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has provided support for the principal. Teachers have participated in professional development programmes to support curriculum development and to improve their knowledge of current teaching practice. Teachers speak positively of these opportunities and there has been some positive impact on classroom programmes.

It is essential that the principal and board provide effective leadership and governance to guide school improvement. Strengthening the principal’s appraisal process could be an important step in the improvement process.

The board, principal and teachers must build their capacity for critical reflection to support robust self review at all levels of school operations. 

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.

In order to meet legal obligations the principal and board must:

  • report to students and their parents on eachstudent’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards at least twice a year, in plain language.

National Administration Guideline2A (a)

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that urgent and ongoing MoE support is considered to assist the principal and board address the legislative, leadership and governance improvements identified in this report.

Conclusion

Whangarei Adventist Christian School is a small integrated school on the outskirts of Whangarei. The school’s special character is evident across all operations. Teachers plan collaboratively, and have strengthened their bicultural practices. The principal and the board must provide more effective leadership and governance to support school improvement.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

26 November 2015

School Statistics

Location

Whau Valley, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

4154

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

19

Gender composition

Boys      11
Girls         8

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Australian
African
Filipino
Korean

  5
  9
  2
  1
  1
  1

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

26 November 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2013
September 2010
December 2007