Ashbrook School - 15/02/2017

Findings

The school has made good progress in strengthening aspects of governance and developed a collaborative approach to professional leadership. Professional learning and development for teachers has been aligned to school improvement. Children demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and cultural identity. Strengthening significant aspects of school operations and practice is an ongoing need.

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?

Ashbrook School is a full primary school in Opotiki. It caters for 135 children and most whakapapa to Whakatōhea. The school offers both auraki (English medium) and rūmaki (Māori medium) classes. The school is well supported by its community. Parents, whānau, trustees and the staff have strong relationships and connections to the school.

This ERO review follows an Education Review early in 2014. The 2014 review identified the need to strengthen a significant number of key areas of school operations and practice.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

  • governance
  • professional knowledge and leadership
  • self review
  • the curriculum
  • student achievement
  • performance management and appraisal.

Progress

Trustees have improved their school governance knowledge and practice. They have undertaken a wide range of training, and with support from the principal, they have produced a useful governance manual. The board chair is providing leadership and continuity for new trustees elected in 2016. The school charter includes a shared vision for learners at Ashbrook School, targets to raise achievement and schedules for policy review and reporting school-wide student achievement. Students are clearly at the heart of governance decisions. They learn and play in an attractive, well-resourced, and interactive school environment.

The principal and lead team are developing a collaborative approach to professional leadership and knowledge building. Since ERO’s 2014 review the principal has undertaken a range of professional learning opportunities and accessed mentoring from more experienced school leaders to support his development as a new and first-time principal. During 2016 the lead team have benefitted from support and professional critique provided by a mentor with experience in school leadership and Māori medium education. School leaders have strong community links and relationships. They have successfully strengthened children’s wellbeing, sense of belonging and cultural identity as Whakatōhea.

The Ashbrook School curriculum sets a clear vision and valued outcomes for learners. The curriculum has been reviewed and now reflects aspects of te ao Māori, and identifies some useful guidelines for teachers, particularly in the areas of te reo Māori and mathematics. Professional learning and development in literacy, mathematics and te reo Māori has assisted aspects of curriculum development. Teachers make good use of local contexts to provide interesting and authentic learning opportunities for children. In response to whānau aspirations, the school introduced a rūmaki class, from new entrants to Year 3, in 2016. A feature of the school’s curriculum is the supportive and inclusive culture where children are encouraged to participate and be successful in a wide range of sporting and cultural activities and events.

School leaders are developing useful systems to track children’s progress and achievement. They use this system to monitor groups of children and to regularly report their progress to the board. Achievement information is also being increasingly used by the lead team to engage teachers in discussions about their classroom practice. The introduction of achievement books in 2016 is supporting children and their parents to better understand levels of achievement in relation to National Standards.

The appraisal process introduced in 2016 has been effective in highlighting aspects of accountability for leaders and teachers. The process involves all members of the leadership team and involves teachers in conversations about their own learning and practice.

Key next steps

Targeted action to accelerate achievement: Trustees and school leaders need to refine school targets to more specifically focus on, track and monitor those children who are well below or below National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga.

Māori immersion education: In order to sustain and build on this recent development it is important to develop a specific plan for the ongoing provision of Māori medium education, which includes implementing Te Marautanga o Aoteoroa and aligned to assessing student achievement using Ngā Whanaketanga.

Professional leadership: The principal and lead team need to strengthen the leadership of learning across the school. Important priorities for this team are to develop effective systems and practices to:

  • build teacher knowledge and capability in relation to ‘best practice’ in both English and Māori medium settings
  • ensure teachers make better use of assessment and achievement information to more specifically respond to the learning needs of all children
  • continue to support teachers to be able to make more reliable overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga
  • strengthen curriculum design and implementation, including learning pathways particularly for literacy and te reo matatini
  • consult with whānau to ascertain their aspirations for their children
  • fully implement a robust and regular appraisal system
  • develop leaders’ and teachers’ collective understanding and capability to implement self-review practices that will ensure systematic and sustainable school improvement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Ashbrook School requires continued development to sustain and improve its performance. The school will need to continue to review and strengthen self-review practices and processes, build on teacher capability, and continue to promote and accelerate children’s progress and achievements.

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.

The board of trustees needs to develop and implement policies and practices to ensure that:

  • an on-going programme of self review is maintained
    [NAG 2 (b)]
  • assessment practices and gathered information are sufficiently comprehensive and robust to enable teachers to accurately evaluate children’s progress and achievement
    [NAG 1 (i) and (ii)]
  • teaching and learning strategies are implemented to address the specific needs of children
    [NAG 1, 4]
  • a system is fully developed and implemented for regular appraisal.
    [s77 State Sector Act 1988; NZ Gazette and relevant Collective Employment Agreement]

To improve child-safety practices, the school needs to implement processes to effectively identify, monitor and follow up unexplained daily absences.

4 Recommendation

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

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support to the board in order to bring about the following improvements:

  • self review
  • assessment and teaching practice
  • appraisal
  • Māori immersion education
  • professional leadership
  • accelerated achievement for learners at risk.

Conclusion

The school has made good progress in strengthening aspects of governance and developed a collaborative approach to professional leadership. Professional learning and development for teachers has been aligned to school improvement. Children demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and cultural identity. Strengthening significant aspects of school operations and practice is an ongoing need.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

15 February 2017

About the School 

Location

Opotiki, Bay of Plenty

Ministry of Education profile number

1689

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

135

Gender composition

Girls       70
Boys      65

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Samoan
Cook Island
Japanese
Tongan
Indian
Niue
Other

106
  11
   5
   3
   2
   2
   1
   1
   4

Special Features

Level 2 rūmaki (Māori medium) Years 1 to 3

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

15 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2014
May 2011
May 2008