Aberdeen School - 23/04/2018

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