Birchwood School - 05/08/2014

Findings

Birchwood School has a positive culture that fosters students’ sense of wellbeing and belonging. The school’s values effectively support student learning through providing an inclusive curriculum. Effective use of achievement data and celebration of progress results in positive changes for learners. The school is well governed, led and managed.

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

1 Context

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

Birchwood School in Stoke (Nelson) caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The student total roll is relatively stable. However, recent trends show that an increasing number of students arrive from, or move to other primary schools. The school’s well organised and well resourced support and enrichment programmes enable staff to be responsive to the needs of all students.

The school’s values and positive and inclusive culture, known as the ‘Birchwood Way’, foster students’ sense of wellbeing and belonging. This positive culture has been developed and sustained over time.

The school shares the grounds with Birchwood Kindergarten. Senior leaders, teachers in the junior school and the kindergarten have well developed processes that support students and their families transitioning from kindergarten to school.

The board, senior leaders and teachers have been highly responsive to recommendations made in the 2011 ERO report. This includes the development of a robust appraisal system that supports teachers to reflect and continually improve practices, improved assessment practices and increased opportunities for students to make choices in their learning.

2 Learning

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

The senior leaders and teachers effectively use achievement data to make positive changes for learners. The school’s data shows most students achieve at and above the National Standards in reading. Groups of students in some year levels, including boys and Māori students, do not achieve as well as their peers in writing and mathematics. Students are carefully identified for learning support and enrichment programmes. These programmes have enabled some groups of students, particularly boys, to make significant progress in writing. Well focussed professional development has supported teachers to use student assessment effectively, and to apply suitable teaching practices that engage and help students to learn.

Learning, progress and achievement are valued and well celebrated. Students have good opportunities to be involved in goal setting and planning their own learning.

Senior leaders and teachers are working on ways to strengthen the processes teachers use when making judgements about student achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum provides a wide range of relevant learning experiences through contexts that effectively promote and support student learning.

The curriculum is well documented and all learning areas identified in the New Zealand Curriculum are well covered. Clear guidelines and well established systems guide teaching and learning.

Integrated school-wide themes provide suitable experiences for different age groups. Topics integrate the school’s values, use of ICT and te ao and te reo Māori. Students from different year levels work together in buddy programmes. Students are extended and challenged to follow their cultural interests, gifts and talents. Their opinions about events and activities are valued by senior leaders and teachers.

The senior leaders have identified that in order to further develop the curriculum they need to review how well each learning area is resourced and taught.

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

The school has an inclusive curriculum that supports Māori students to succeed as Māori. The school’s values are closely linked to the values of Māori. Programmes show good integration of these values, Māori concepts and themes. Students learn waiata and some basic te reo Māori. A teacher who has responsibility for leading Māori provides professional support for teachers to increase their use of te reo Māori in the classrooms.

Achievement information shows Māori students achieve above other Māori students nationally in reading, and at similar levels to other Māori students nationally in mathematics and writing.

The school is working with neighbouring schools to find ways to strengthen relationships with whānau and share resources that support Māori students’ success as Māori.

The senior leaders have identified that the next step to further strengthen learning outcomes for Māori to succeed as Māori is to facilitate a parent hui to gather and implement the aspirations for their children.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

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

The board provides effective governance. Trustees are open to new ideas, and are focused on ensuring that the school supports teachers in their work to help students to learn.

The board, principal and senior leaders have high expectations and provide strong professional leadership. Trustees are knowledgeable and have a clear understanding of their governance roles within the board. Teachers are given good opportunities to improve through professional development and to take on leadership roles.

Senior leaders and teachers work collaboratively to discuss and plan ways to accelerate student progress. Support staff members are valued, participate in professional development and work effectively to assist with improving student learning outcomes. There is a high level of community support and parent participation in the school.

A school-wide culture of ongoing reflection and self review contributes effectively to continuous improvement. Analysis of data by individual teachers, teams and the senior leaders has been well developed since the 2011 ERO review. The trustees and principal and senior leaders are continuing to refine how the data and trends and patterns of student achievement is reported to the board.

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.

Conclusion

Birchwood School has a positive culture that fosters students’ sense of wellbeing and belonging. The school’s values effectively support student learning through providing an inclusive curriculum. Effective use of achievement data and celebration of progress results in positive changes for learners. The school is well governed, led and managed.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

5 August 2014

About the School

Location

Stoke, Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

3182

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

242

Gender composition

Girls 56%; B0ys 44%

Ethnic composition

NZ Pākehā/European

Māori

Others ethnicities

85%

14%

1%

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

5 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2011

October 2007

January 2005