Bluestone School - 19/06/2014

Findings

Bluestone School continues to provide students with high quality education within a safe and inclusive environment. The school’s curriculum provides interesting and challenging learning opportunities. Students’ individual learning needs are identified, well catered for and closely monitored. The school is effectively governed. The strong leadership team works collaboratively with staff and the board. There is a highly reflective culture that ensures ongoing improvement for student learning and wellbeing.

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

1 Context

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

Bluestone School caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The school provides an inclusive environment for students from a range of different cultures and learning needs. School building developments have resulted in a school environment that supports students’ learning well. Students are effectively supported when they enter the school and when they move on to high school.

The school roll has grown and the board is currently putting a zoning process in place. The board governs the Timaru Technology Centre that serves the wider Timaru district.

2 Learning

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

High quality class programmes based on well analysed achievement information support students to engage and progress in their learning. Teachers use assessment information well to plan specific programmes that meet the needs of individuals and groups of students. Their judgements about learning are consistent across teaching teams.

Students set learning goals alongside parents and teachers and these are used regularly to evaluate progress. Students with particular learning needs are well identified and programmes are adapted to make sure they can learn at the appropriate level. Students are regularly surveyed about their learning and learning success is celebrated.

School-wide achievement information is very well analysed. Reasons for improved achievement levels are identified, and recommendations for further improvements are made. Achievement information shows that most students achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. There has been significant progress made over the last three years, particularly in mathematics and writing. Information shows that Māori students achieve at similar levels to other students. Achievement levels are similar to other schools in the Timaru area.

The board sets specific targets to accelerate the progress of students who are not achieving at an appropriate level. Leaders have identified the need to further develop understanding and use of the digital school management system for monitoring student progress and achievement at whole-school and class levels.

3 Curriculum

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

Students benefit from a well developed and documented school curriculum that provides them with a wide range of learning opportunities. Expectations for students’ learning outcomes and the teaching approaches that will achieve them are clearly identified. Priority is given to high quality teaching in literacy and mathematics. Programmes in music and the arts give students very good opportunities to extend their interests and skills. Students are also encouraged and supported to participate in environmental projects, community initiatives and programmes that challenge their fitness, skills and endurance. There is a strong focus on rewarding effort and success.

Leaders have identified that the next steps in the development of the school’s curriculum are to carry out a review of the curriculum and ensure that:

  • appropriate assessment guidelines for integrated studies are extended
  • there is good balance and coverage across all learning areas
  • opportunities for senior students to participate in a broad range of challenging activities are extended.

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

There is strong school-wide support for Māori students to achieve as Māori. The board is implementing an achievement plan that includes improved communication with whānau and iwi.

The board and leaders use expertise within the school staff to support trustees, and to lead staff professional development in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. Very good use has been made of Ministry of Education resources to build understanding of best practice in Māori learning and teaching.

Many students participate in kapa haka groups that perform within and outside of the school. This is providing leadership opportunities for Māori students. It also gives all students the opportunity to learn more about Māori culture.

A further step to support Māori success as Māori could be to consider how Māori views of giftedness can be recognised within the gifted and talented programme.

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.

Trustees have undertaken training to make sure they have very good understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities. They have a comprehensive strategic plan that gives clear direction for school development. Strategic goals and annual planning focus well on students' learning, wellbeing and a safe and supportive learning environment for students. Trustees are kept well informed about students’ progress through detailed principal reports. The board’s next step is to carry out a review of the strategic plan through further consultation with the parent community.

The principal effectively leads the senior leadership team. Team leaders work closely with senior leaders to make sure students’ and teachers’ learning and wellbeing are supported. Leadership strengths are well used at all levels and there are suitable opportunities for teachers to grow their leadership skills.

There is a thoroughly planned approach to self review that is responsive to changing needs. Leaders and teachers have effectively used external advisors to further develop school review. Reflective practices that aim to improve learning and wellbeing for students are evident and supported at all levels. Students are given opportunities to be involved in school improvement through their student council.

Teachers’ appraisal processes are robust and focus well on improving teaching practices. Teacher self review provides a sound basis for school wide review. Teachers are supported by a well planned professional development programme. Leaders want to further strengthen and embed teacher inquiry practices, and to evaluate their effectiveness in improving learning for students.

Parents are encouraged to be involved in a learning partnership with their children. They are included in setting learning goals and in monitoring progress at student parent conferences. The school seeks parents’ views and opinions through surveys. Parents are kept well informed through regular newsletters. Parents also have many opportunities to be involved in school activities.

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

Bluestone School continues to provide students with high quality education within a safe and inclusive environment. The school’s curriculum provides interesting and challenging learning opportunities. Students’ individual learning needs are identified, well catered for and closely monitored. The school is effectively governed. The strong leadership team works collaboratively with staff and the board. There is a highly reflective culture that ensures ongoing improvement for student learning and wellbeing.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

19 June 2014

About the School

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

2113

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

564

Gender composition

Girls 48%; Boys 52%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Other ethnicities

81%

10%

3%

6%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

19 June 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

August 2009

June 2006