Balfour School - 22/05/2018

School Context

Balfour School is a rural primary school catering for children from Years 1-6 in northern Southland. At the time of this review the roll had increased to 96 students. The school has small numbers of children from a range of ethnicities. A number of these children are second language learners.

Since the last ERO education review (2015) the school has appointed new staff, including a principal. The Board of Trustees has an experienced board chairperson and members who are focussed on board sustainability.

The school has responded positively to the recommendations in the last ERO report. Teacher appraisals now reflect school priorities and targets to raise achievement and there have been recent reviews of the school’s curriculum documents.

There is strong support for the school within the community. A playcentre and Plunket are attached to the school providing continuity in learning for young children.

The school’s vision for children is that they are equipped with the skills, attitude and knowledge to face tomorrow’s challenges confidently, with respect, responsibility, kindness and honesty.

To support these outcomes, the school’s strategic goals are to improve student achievement to develop and maintain effective curriculum programmes for all students with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy.

School leaders regularly report to the board on:

  • children’s achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress in meeting the school targets
  • the wider curriculum e.g. information technology and arts. 

The school belongs to the Fiordland, Northern Southland Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning (CoL).

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 is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for most children. A high level of achievement and progress of children in reading and mathematics has been maintained through a period of leadership and staffing changes.

School information shows that most students have achieved at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. It also shows that some groups of students are not achieving equitable learning outcomes. The school is currently targeting raising boys’ writing achievement. The school has good processes in place for monitoring and supporting students who require extra support to achieve excellent outcomes.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

School leaders and staff have a strong focus on supporting children whose learning needs acceleration. They have consistently succeeded in accelerating learning for most children who need to make additional progress.

School information shows that:

  • most students are achieving at or above expectations in reading and mathematics
  • most girls are at or above expectations in writing
  • most Māori learners achieve at or above expectations in mathematics and reading.

There is disparity evident in achievement results for boys’ writing and some disparity in mathematics for boys. This is well identified by leaders and teachers and targeted is for focused improvement.

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?

The school’s leadership has effectively established systems and practices to better support positive outcomes for all children. A strong focus has been placed on establishing consistency across the school, in particular with the delivery of curriculum and with close monitoring of children’s progress and achievement.

The school’s vision and values are highly evident in interactions in and out of classrooms. Children are confident and well informed about their learning. Teachers maintain a strong link between children’s learning and involvement with the local community.

Teachers have been supported to quickly identify children who need to accelerate their learning. Their rates of progress are regularly monitored, reviewed, reported on and used to inform future planning. Teachers effectively use external expertise and special programmes to support improved learning outcomes. This includes English as Second Language learners and learners with high and complex needs.

The new principal and curriculum leaders are effectively building teachers’ professional practice. Teachers work collaboratively and share information and data to inform professional conversations for promoting children’s learning.

Learning networks formed with other schools provide further opportunity for high quality professional development, enhancing moderation practices and sharing good practice in teaching and learning.

The school is well managed. The board is regularly informed about students’ progress and achievement. Trustees use this information to inform decisions made for school improvement. They regularly seek the views of staff, students, parents and whānau.

A strength of the school is a deliberate focus on building meaningful connections with children and their families, whānau and the wider community. A recent initiative with parents of children requiring acceleration with their learning was highly successful. The expertise of parents and adults external to the school is regularly sought.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school trustees, leaders and teachers need to strengthen bicultural learning for all by consistently modelling, promoting and integrating the Māori language, culture and identity. This should include a review of:

  • the board’s leadership, documentation and processes regarding bi-cultural practices
  • how leaders and teachers integrate Māori language, culture and identity into their planning, daily practices and self-review /internal evaluation
  • how well specific teaching practices and innovations are improving learning outcomes for all students. 

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:

  • effective leadership focused on supporting children’s learning, engagement and development
  • a culture of respect and collaboration
  • the building of professional practice.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • promoting Māori language, culture and identity and bi-cultural learning for all
  • continue to strengthen and embed effective internal evaluation that best promotes positive outcomes for all learners. 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

22 May 2018

About the school 

Location

Balfour

Ministry of Education profile number

3932

School type

Contributing

School roll

96

Gender composition

Girls 39: Boys 57

Ethnic composition

Māori        8

Pākehā    79

Pacific       3

Asian         6

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

22 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review       March 2015

Education Review        October 2011

Education Review       June 2009