Bulls School - 14/12/2016

1 Context

Bulls School is a Year 1 to 8 primary located in Bulls, Rangitikei. At the time of this ERO review, it had a roll of 185 students, of whom 29% are Māori and 5% Pacific. Roll numbers have slightly increased since the 2014 ERO review.

The principal, board and staff are strongly committed to lifting achievement and promoting equity and excellence for students.

In the last few years they have sought to redevelop the school's curriculum rationale and delivery to better foster student efficacy, personalise learning and promote culturally appropriate practice responsive to Māori learners. Changes seek to promote alignment between the school vision for student success and its curriculum practice.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history, and a stable leadership and teaching team.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to create collaborative, connected and active lifelong learners in a modern, innovative community school environment. PRIDE values defined as: positivity, respect, integrity, determination and excellence inform the shared values of the school. These underpin positive relationships and a settled tone.

The school’s achievement information shows that in 2015, most students achieved in relation to the National Standards in reading. In mathematics and writing, approximately two thirds of students achieved at or above the Standards. Since 2014, overall school achievement has remained at similar levels.

Māori students achieve similarly to their non-Māori peers in reading and writing and slightly lower in mathematics. Since 2013, Māori student achievement has improved in reading and declined in writing and mathematics. The school suitably tracks, monitors and reports the achievement of a small number of Pacific students.

Boys' achievement is higher than girls in mathematics and slightly lower in reading. The disparity in the achievement of writing is more significant, with results for girls exceeding those of boys.

Teachers gather an appropriate range of data to support the dependability of their National Standards' assessment judgements. Collaborative teacher practice supports a shared understanding of data and expectations for how this is used to inform their judgements.

Teachers moderate assessment judgments within the school and leaders have undertaken some external moderation with other schools. Leaders identify the need for further external moderation and the introduction of the Progress and Consistency Tool in mathematics in 2017. 

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school continues to strengthen its response to sustain improvement for Māori students whose achievement needs acceleration.

Annual achievement targets in reading and mathematics are developed collaboratively by staff. The targets include Māori students.

The actions to be taken to achieve the targets are broad. To strengthen the school's response, leaders and trustees should revise their targets and tailor more specific actions. Refinement of these targets should support the school to clearly identify, through internal evaluation, what factors promote success for some Māori learners or limit the achievement of others.

In addition, increasing the frequency of reporting to the board should strengthen trustees' knowledge of how effectively planned actions are accelerating Māori student achievement.

Leaders and teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to promoting culturally responsive practice that reflects Māori students' culture, language and identity. This is appropriate to promoting equity and excellence for Māori learners.

In 2016, the school has developed a Māori strategic plan, Nga Tūhononga. This identifies specific actions to guide the school's approach to achieving successful outcomes for Māori students and their whānau. There is clear alignment of the school’s vision, valued outcomes and the overarching goals of the Ministry of Education strategy, Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017.

Leaders are exploring how best to evaluate the impact of their planned actions. Approaching any evaluation through the lens of Māori learners whose achievement requires acceleration should provide useful information about the impact of changed practice on the achievement of students.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has a similar response to other learners whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Teachers gather an appropriate range of data to suitably identify students' learning needs. Regular discussions between teaching teams purposefully consider individual needs.

In 2016, the introduction of data boards has provided teachers with a visual way of tracking students' progress.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

Continued improvement of the evaluation of the school’s curriculum should strengthen leaders', teachers' and trustees' knowledge of the factors influencing the enactment of their vision, goals and targets. Organisational processes and practices are well aligned to achieve improvement in this area. 

Recent building developments have been designed to suit the delivery of the curriculum. Flexible learning environments have been implemented to increase students' active involvement in their learning. It is timely for the school to develop its internal evaluation of this initiative. Information should highlight success to date, determine limitations and guide future development.

In 2016, multi-sensory learning has been introduced to strengthen junior students' acquisition of early literacy skills. Data shows a positive impact on student achievement.

Staff have participated in professional learning and development to accelerate learning in mathematics. This initiative is well led, impacting purposefully on teacher practice. Implementation involves parents. Teachers’ individual development has been closely linked through their teaching as inquiry process, appraisal observation and classroom planning. Comparative data shows a positive impact on students' progress, with many showing accelerated achievement.

Mahi tahi has been introduced as a practical initiative. The aim is to strengthen the connection between learning contexts and students' development of the key competencies. Student interests form the basis for authentic learning experiences. As with other curriculum developments, leaders and teachers should develop a comprehensive rationale for this initiative. Clear expectations should provide a basis for evaluation to determine the impact on students, especially learners whose achievement needs acceleration.

Teachers demonstrate positive relationships with students to promote their inclusion. They implement a range of well-considered strategies to support student wellbeing. Students are provided with opportunities for leadership. The school gathers a range of information from students to consider their views.

Classroom observation provides leaders with a sound understanding of the quality of teacher practice. Teaching facilitates cooperative student learning. Environments are positive and productive. Instructional teaching is purposeful.

Collaborative leadership facilitates a strong culture of professional learning. Curriculum leadership is distributed across the school, building teacher capacity to facilitate improvements. Clear links between appraisal processes and teachers' inquiry into the effectiveness of their practice demonstrate purposeful alignment to the school’s curriculum priorities.

Trustees continue to develop their collective understanding of stewardship after a number of changes at the last board election. Succession is well considered with an experienced trustee has been coopted to support transition.

The board and leaders appropriately seek the views and opinions of the community. Strategic goals reflect school priorities. Annual planning identifies a number of actions and expected outcomes. Trustees should refine these actions and align expected outcomes as a basis for improving internal evaluation.

The school develops purposeful educational partnerships. Useful connections are established between early childhood services and other schools. Being part of the Rangitikei Community of Learning (CoL) is building on the school's existing partnerships and is an opportunity to develop shared expectations and practices.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

The school has undertaken ongoing curriculum development, promoting practices and philosophies aligned to the enactment of the school vision. Leaders and teachers are highly reflective, considering the impact of these changes on student learning, engagement and achievement.

ERO identifies, and school leader agree, that it is timely to develop a greater knowledge and application of effective internal evaluation in relation to these curriculum developments. Determining the purpose, structure and timing of evaluative inquiry should assist the school to gain a comprehensive and valuable knowledge of the curriculum practices and actions that are most effective in achieving equity and excellence for all students.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

7 Recommendation

As next steps the school should:

  • further develop greater knowledge and application of effective internal evaluation
  • refine targets and tailor actions for raising the achievement of Māori students whose learning needs to be accelerated
  • continue to strengthen moderation practice to support the dependability of National Standards' assessment judgements.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

14 December 2016 

About the school

Location

Bulls

Ministry of Education profile number

2343

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

185

Gender composition

Male 53% Female 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

29%

64%

5%

2%

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

14 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2014

May 2009

August 2006