Avon School - 01/02/2021

Findings

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Avon School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

1 Background and Context

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

Avon School, in Stratford, caters for 56 students in Years 1 to 8 of whom 25 identify as Māori.

The June 2018 ERO report identified significant areas for improvement. Over the past two and a half years the school has participated in an ERO evaluation process to support improvement. During this time, trustees and staff accessed some appropriate external professional learning and development (PLD) to support them in their roles and practice.

In the past six months the school has appointed a new principal. The school’s vision continues to be ‘Reach for the Stars’ and is supported by the STAR values: self-management, teamwork, aroha, respect and success.

This ERO report evaluates the progress made and how well placed the school now is to sustain continuous improvement.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO identified the need to improve aspects of governance, school practice and operation to promote positive learning outcomes and accelerate the progress of all students. Areas of focus to support this have included:

  • developing and implementing an action plan to systematically address the areas for further improvement
  • continuing to develop assessment practices that provide clear information about achievement and progress and using this to inform decision making
  • building teacher capability to improve effective practices through rigorous appraisal and inquiry
  • building on Ministry of Education professional learning to strengthen internal evaluation practices and use these to determine the impact of the curriculum on responding to children’s cultural and learning needs
  • accessing support from New Zealand Trustees Association for new trustees to support effective strategic decision making and target setting for improvement.

Progress

Teachers use appropriate assessment tools to inform achievement judgements and track student progress. There is still a need to build teacher capability to analyse, understand and use student achievement information to clearly identify student needs, and inform planning and teaching to promote positive learning outcomes.

School-reported term 4 2020 achievement data indicates that just under half of students across the school are achieving at or above expectation. This is substantially lower than end of 2019 information. Disparity exists for years 5 and 6 students in reading, writing and mathematics, for Māori learners in mathematics and girls in reading and mathematics. This data is being used to identify priority groups for 2021. A next step is to ensure that trustees receive and consider regular reports about student achievement, progress and wellbeing to inform their decision making.

Teachers use deliberate strategies to engage students in learning. Respectful, reciprocal relationships support belonging and wellbeing of students. Positive learning environments allow for focused instruction and students to work in groups and independently.

A process is in place to guide teachers to reflect on their practice. Teacher inquiry is part of the capability-building process for leaders and teachers. The newly appointed principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that leaders and teachers need to understand, and use, internal evaluation to determine what is working well, for whom and what changes are needed for improvement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school needs to grow its capacity to sustain, improve and review its performance. The newly-appointed principal is beginning to build up knowledge of existing school systems and processes.

Key next steps

School leaders, trustees and ERO agree that there is a need to review and develop appropriate systems and processes to:

  • inform strategic direction

  • support building effective leadership and teacher capability

  • build trustees’ capability to support understanding and knowledge about roles, responsibilities, and legislative responsibilities focusing on their core business of student learning, achievement, progress and wellbeing

  • support trustees, leaders and staff to have a clear understanding of policies and procedures that guide practice and operation, giving priority to those related to personnel, health and safety.

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.

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should strengthen the following aspects of policies and procedures:

  • completing, recording and reporting earthquake, fire and lockdown drills

  • documentation of in-committee minutes

  • completing all documentation related to excursions outside of the classroom

  • tracking and recording complaints

  • Internet safety and security, including cyber bullying

  • recording and reporting stand down and suspensions

  • development of principal performance agreement

  • ensure that board meeting minutes accurately record detailed information of what is discussed and what has informed decision making.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under section 171 of the Education and Training Act 2020 in order to bring about improvements in:

  • undertaking governance and leadership roles and responsibilities

  • developing processes to support the school to meet its statutory obligations.

Conclusion

Teachers use deliberate strategies to engage students in learning. Respectful, reciprocal relationships support belonging and wellbeing of students. Positive learning environments allow for focused instruction and students to work in groups and independently. The newly appointed principal is beginning to build up knowledge of existing systems and processes. The school needs to grow its capacity to sustain, improve and review its performance.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Avon School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

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.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

1 February 2021

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.