Belmont School (Lower Hutt) - 14/12/2017

School Context

Belmont School (Lower Hutt) is a Years 1 to 6 primary school. At the time of this review the roll was 396 children and 15% of learners are Māori with 4% of Pacific heritage.

The school’s vision: ‘Succeeding together – Mā te mahi tahi ka piki kōtuku’, guides all aspects of school life. The charter emphasises continuous improvement, with a focus on student progress and achievement. Four strategic goals document expectations that students will be active, successful learners; and that highly effective school organisation will support this.

The curriculum is guided by the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum and the community values of innovation, diversity, fun and caring for each other. These values are expressed in every-day actions and interactions.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics and other valued outcomes, including termly progress of target students and wellbeing.

A gateway waharoa, Te Kōtuku, represents ‘how the school welcomes, embraces and celebrates all who come through the gates, honouring those who came before and looking forward to the future’.

In 2017, teachers and leaders have participated in the Accelerated Learning in Literacy (ALL) professional development programme, focused on writing. Other areas of focus have been acceleration of achievement and student wellbeing.

Belmont School is part of the Naenae Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako. Through this involvement the school is participating in a special education learning support trial.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Achievement information shows that over time at the school, students increase their achievement. Almost all of the students leaving at the end of Year 6 are achieving well.

At the end of 2016, most students were achieving at high levels in reading and mathematics with the percentage of students achieving well in writing slightly lower. More girls than boys were achieving well in writing and more boys in mathematics. There was some disparity for the achievement of Māori and Pacific students in mathematics.

This information has led to the setting of appropriate, relevant targets for 2017. These have been supported by strongly aligned school processes.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Many students made accelerated progress in 2017. This includes approximately a quarter of all Year 2 to 6 target students in writing. Of this group of target students, more boys than girls made accelerated progress. Approximately a third of Māori target students made accelerated progress in mathematics. There is direct alignment between the areas of greatest acceleration and the school’s 2017 targets.

Leaders and teachers have a relentless focus on supporting all learners to achieve well and be successful.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

A sense of shared responsibility for the success of all children is clearly evident. The charter and strategic goals have a single focus on students and their learning. All school processes are closely aligned to these overarching goals. The principal regularly reports progress towards the goals to the board of trustees. Teachers and team leaders continuously focus on strategies to enhance and accelerate learning.

Trustees and leaders have robust conversations about and scrutinise achievement data to inform resourcing decisions. Assessment data is used to gain a deeper understanding of each child’s achievement and to extend their learning. Robust systems drive ongoing improvement in teaching and learning. Teachers demonstrate adaptive expertise that promotes the wellbeing, achievement and progress of all learners.

Partnerships with parents are responsive, with flexible school processes to meet the needs of the child. Maintaining existing relationships and establishing these with all new students and their families is a priority. Individualised communication with families is emphasised. Leaders and teachers work with families and whānau and external agencies to foster the learning of students with additional learning needs.

A schoolwide culture of inclusiveness recognises and appreciates that diversity is a cornerstone. Teachers differentiate their classroom practices to meet the needs of all students. There is an ongoing focus for each teacher on what is needed to meet the needs of the learners in their classroom.

The responsive curriculum has strengthened the role of students in leading their learning. The Belmont active learner traits embody this: learners connect; are resilient; are responsible; question; are resourceful; and reflect. The school’s use of digital devices enhance learning opportunities in a considered way. Ongoing curriculum development is grounded in the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Appraisal is a meaningful process that supports growth in professional practices and promotes positive student outcomes. Ongoing inquiry builds teachers’ understanding of learners and their own professional knowledge. Teachers benefit from responsive internal and external professional development.

A culture of high expectations is woven into teaching and learning, enhanced by supportive relationships. The principal works collaboratively and effectively with other senior leaders to develop and enact the school’s vision and values and to establish and focus on priorities for equity and excellence. There is a strong emphasis on building leadership across the school. Team leaders mentor and assist teachers to reflect on, inquire into and evaluate their practice.

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

Capability and collective capacity to do and use evaluation, and inquiry and knowledge building sustains improvement and innovation. The importance of student and community voice is recognised and valued. Further refining ongoing evaluation will increase clarity about the impact of strategies used to raise the achievement of target students.

The design of the new waharoa is significant in acknowledging the local area and beginning partnership with local iwi. Furthering cultural responsiveness to strengthen the curriculum for all is ongoing. Next steps are to: continue to build teachers’ knowledge and capability with the use of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori; and increase te ao Māori within the curriculum, giving priority to significant local knowledge.

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:

  • achieving outcomes for students that show consistently good levels of achievement

  • leadership and systems that ensure ongoing improvement in teaching and learning

  • direction setting by the board of trustees that focusses on students and their learning

  • evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building that sustain ongoing improvement and innovation.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, a development priority is in:

  • increasing te ao Māori within the curriculum, giving priority to significant local knowledge.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in four-to-five years.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

About the school

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

2807

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

396

Gender composition

Boys 52%, Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 15%
Pākehā 62%
Samoan 4%
Indian 3%
Chinese 2%
African 2%
Other ethnic groups 12%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

14 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2013
Education Review June 2009
Education Review May 2006