Balclutha School - 06/03/2020

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