Bathgate Park School - 30/04/2014

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

As a result of a Ministry of Education (MOE) review of schools in South Dunedin, Bathgate Park School opened in 2012 as a Year 1 to 8 school. Since then, existing buildings have been upgraded to create a more attractive learning environment and a playground built for younger students. In response to parents’ wishes, the school opened a Māori language immersion class in 2013.

Over the past two years the roll has grown rapidly. Many students had attended two or three schools before arriving at this school. The school values and celebrates students' diverse cultural backgrounds. Each year, new teachers and support staff have been employed, including staff with Pacific and Māori backgrounds.

The principal and staff have worked hard to develop a positive school culture, pride in the new school and high expectations for behaviour. The school’s guiding motto is 'A.R.O.H.A.' and this is constantly talked about. This and the school values are very evident in the respectful way adults and children relate to each other.

Adults in the school ‘go the extra mile’ for children. Students who spoke with ERO were very enthusiastic about their school. They felt that adults in the school cared about them, their learning and wellbeing. The school provides students and their families with a range of practical support.

The school has a welcoming, open-door approach to parents and whānau. Parents and other community members often help in classrooms, with cultural and sports activities, special events and projects like the school-community garden.

Several MOE and health services are based at the school. There is also a technology block. Students from this and several other schools benefit from the technology resources and specialist staff.

Many of the areas for review and development in this report had already been identified by the school. This shows that the board and school leaders are well informed about what is going well in the school and what they need to do to improve.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Overall, teachers and senior leaders use assessment information well.

As a new Year 1 to 8 school, senior leaders and teachers have had to develop assessment guidelines, expectations and systems. This work continues.

Most of the students in this school have transferred from other schools. Presently, achievement against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics is low when compared with national figures. This means that many students need to make more than expected progress with their learning so that they can catch up.

An MOE advisor has been working with the school to lift student achievement. ERO, the board and principal see this as an urgent priority.

Most teachers know their students well as individuals and as learners. These teachers use assessment information well to plan for small group or individual instruction in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers are held accountable for their students’ progress in these areas. For example, they meet regularly with the principal to discuss how they are meeting the needs of their students and what difference they have made.

Senior leaders and teachers have worked hard to develop and implement school-wide assessment expectations and systems. Systems are now in place for identifying, monitoring and supporting students who need extra help with their learning. Students with special needs are also identified. The school works closely with outside agencies to support these students.

The board receives regular reports on student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. These reports include useful information about what teachers and senior leaders are doing to raise student achievement.

Senior leaders and members of the board work constructively with the MOE advisor and other experts to implement good assessment practices and raise achievement levels.

The next steps for this school are to continue to:

  • focus on raising student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • improve assessment practices
  • build teachers’ confidence in making reliable judgements about students’ achievement against the National Standards.

Senior leaders need to:

  • extend targets to raise achievement to include targets for writing and reading and targets for specific groups of students who need extra help
  • improve aspects of how they report on school-wide achievement
  • report on what difference any support programme or initiative has made.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

Students enjoy interesting and broad learning experiences. Most students show good levels of engagement in their learning and work in settled and well-managed classrooms.

Since opening in 2012, the school has had to develop its curriculum. This work continues.

The views and ideas of students, staff and parents continue to be gathered and acted on as the school develops its unique curriculum. This includes careful consideration as to what the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) principles will look like in this school.

There is a strong focus on caring for and growing the child as a whole person. Emphasis is placed on teachers getting to know each student, his/her strengths, interests and background. It also includes teachers recognising and valuing students’ cultural backgrounds, and encouraging students to be respectful and display A.R.O.H.A.

Within class time, teachers prioritise reading, writing and mathematics. Over time, these areas are being more purposefully woven into other learning areas. Strengths of the school are its performing and visual arts, and technology programmes.

Students spoke very positively about their learning at this school. They appreciated:

  • the broad range of learning experiences across the curriculum
  • that adults in the school care about them and their learning
  • that they have choice in their learning and are listened to.

The next steps are to:

  • complete the development of the school’s social science, science, health and PE curriculum
  • continue to implement the school’s expectations for teaching and learning
  • continue to build the confidence and capacity of staff to include Māori language and culture in mainstream class programmes
  • develop plans as to how the school will support students with special abilities and talents.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Over a third of the students identify as Māori. A small number of these students are in the Māori immersion class, Te Rakiatea. Others learn in classes across the school.

Overall, Māori students in this school achieve better than other groups of students in the school in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school leaders, staff and students value Māori language and culture. In a short time adults in the school have built a culture of manaakitanga (caring) and whanaungatanga (family-like relationships). This is evident in the widespread ownership of the school values - A.R.O.H.A.

The views and aspirations of Māori parents, students and community are valued and used to inform decision making. Adults in the school have worked hard to develop meaningful relationships with the parents and whānau of their Māori students. They feel welcome and are often involved in school activities.

Students seeking a Māori immersion learning context can join the Te Rakiātea class. This class provides a good quality programme of learning in te reo Māori for students from Years 1-8. It benefits from the active support of its parent-whānau group.

All students at Bathgate Park School have genuine opportunities for learning about Māori culture. This occurs within their classrooms and in whole-school activities. On these occasions, students and adults benefit from the modelling and leadership of the principal, teacher of Te Rakiātea and other staff.

The next step is for school leaders to support all teachers to confidently integrate te reo and tikanga Māori into classroom programmes.

How effectively does the school support Pacific students to be successful in their learning?

About 11% of students have Pacific origins. Most identify as Samoan and Tongan. For some, English is their second language.

Pacific students who spoke with ERO liked their school. They felt well supported, encouraged and safe.

The school has several Pacific staff, representing different island groups. This provides students with adults they can identify with and aspire to be like. It also helps Pacific parents feel more comfortable in the school.

Area for review and development

The school leaders recognise the urgent need to raise the achievement of Pacific students. The next steps are to:

  • develop comprehensive plans and targets to raise Pacific achievement
  • provide the board with regular reports on Pacific students’ progress and achievement
  • find more useful ways for talking and working with families of Pacific students about how the school can best support their children’s learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The present board has been in place since early 2013. This is the third board in three years.

The board, senior leaders and teachers are committed to raising student achievement and ensuring ongoing improvement in the school.

There are good relationships among the principal, other senior leaders, teachers and support staff. All these groups work as a team to make a difference for the students.

Some trustees have had many years experience on school boards. Trustees have benefitted from relevant learning about their governance role. They show a good understanding of effective governance. Good governance structures and practices are in place.

The principal and board often gather student, parent and teacher perspectives on what is going well and what could be done better.

Teachers have benefited from ongoing and purposeful professional development. They have found the appraisal system useful.

Areas for review and development

The next steps are to:

  • review and improve aspects of strategic and annual planning
  • consolidate the recent professional learning and ensure that it has a direct impact on lifting student achievement.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

30 April 2014

About the School

Location

South Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

647

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

194

Gender composition

Girls: 50%; Boys: 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

51%

34%

11%

4%

Special Features

Base school for Resource Teachers for Learning and Behaviour and Social Workers in Schools; site of Technology block used by this and other schools

Review team on site

February 2014

Date of this report

30 April 2014

Most recent ERO report

No previous ERO reports