Bluestone School - 08/05/2018

School Context

Bluestone School is a large urban school in Timaru. At the time of the review there were 485 Years 1 to 8 students at the school. The board governs the Timaru Technology Centre that serves the wider Timaru district. 

The school’s vision is ‘inspiring creative, lifelong learners’. Its valued outcomes are for students to succeed academically, and develop attitudes and skills of self-management and good citizenship.

To support these outcomes, the school’s current strategic goals are to:

  • improve Māori student achievement levels
  • enrich the whole school culture
  • start the implementation of the digital technologies curriculum
  • enhance the Year 7 and 8 students’ engagement in their learning.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets in reading, writing and mathematics, and intervention programmes.

Since the last ERO review in 2014 the school has opened a bilingual class and has some new trustees on its board. In late 2017, the school introduced a whole-school programme to enhance school culture.

The school is part of the Timaru South Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning. 

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?

For most of its students the school is effectively achieving equitable and excellent outcomes.

Over the last four years achievement reports show that:

  • most students (between 75% and 80%) are achieving at or above expectations in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement levels for Pacific students have lifted in reading and writing
  • leaders and teachers are aware there are groups of students not achieving equitable learning outcomes.

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

The school is effective in accelerating the learning for many of those students who need to make accelerated progress.

Over the last four years, most students needing to make accelerated progress did so. The proportion of Māori students making accelerated progress in mathematics and writing was higher than for non-Māori.

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?

Trustees, leaders and teachers have an ongoing commitment and processes in place for all students to feel safe at school and succeed in their learning.

Students learn in a positive and inclusive school culture. Teachers, leaders and trustees are proactive with initiatives to ensure the wellbeing of students. The school’s values of honesty, excellence, aroha, respect and tolerance (HEART) are highly evident throughout the school. Consistency of expectation provides security for the students. The many valuable leadership opportunities contribute to students’ sense of belonging and ownership. 

Students experience a broad and rich curriculum. The school’s curriculum is well based on the New Zealand Curriculum and the school’s valued outcomes. The curriculum’s design and enactment is very responsive to the interests and needs of students. Trustees, leaders and teachers are carefully increasing the cultural responsiveness of the curriculum, including the introduction of a bilingual class.

Students’, particularly the senior students, know about their learning and benefit from highly effective teaching. Teachers use a range of intentional teaching strategies. They plan purposefully to provide for the needs of students and to develop their independent learning skills. Teachers monitor progress closely to evaluate the impact their teaching is having on student outcomes.  Teachers are well supported by: 

  • relevant professional learning and development
  • school expertise
  • a strong appraisal process that includes a well-designed process of teachers examining their own practices.

A range of well-tailored interventions support students who need extra help. Experienced and trained learning assistants provide well-planned support for identified students and interventions.

There is strong professional leadership across the school. Leaders ensure school targets and goals are clearly known with appropriate practices and systems in place to support their achievement. Clarity and coherence of systems and practices help students make smooth transitions between year levels. Leadership at various levels encourages collaboration between staff and sustains the established systems. Teachers with particular expertise and strengths are recognised and used to lead learning. Effective strategies are put in place to build the school’s leadership capacity and to support continued upskilling of all teachers.

School leaders employ robust processes of internal evaluation for improvement. They are successfully building teachers’ ability and belief that they can make a difference to students’ learning and progress.  There is good resourcing of expertise and staffing to support initiatives. New knowledge is well disseminated across the staff to promote innovations and improvements. Appropriate adjustments are made in response to achievement and progress information. 

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

Leaders and trustees could refine the wording of their annual achievement targets to ensure clarity of what is needed for all students to make accelerated progress.

Leaders and teachers could further extend the analysis of learning information to know about and report to the board of trustees and community on the rate/sufficiency of progress of 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 school leadership and collaboration
  • robust internal evaluation for improvement.

Next steps

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

  • knowing about the sufficiency of progress of all students so that appropriate responses/adjustments can be made.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

8 May 2018

About the school 

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

2113

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

485

Gender composition

Boys      58%
Girls       42%

Ethnic composition

Māori    12%
Pākehā  79%
Pacific   2%
Other     7%

Provision of Māori medium education

Yes

Number of Māori medium classes

1

Total number of students in Māori medium (MME)

22

Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)

22

Number of students in Level 1 MME

Number of students in Level 2 MME

Number of students in Level 3 MLE

22

Number of students in Level 4a MLE

Number of students in Level 4b MLE

Number of students in Level 5 MLE

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

8 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Reviews           2014
                                             2009
                                             2006