Clutha Valley School - 14/10/2014

Findings

This school has a caring, family-like culture and a strong focus on learning. Students progress and achieve well against the National Standards. New students, including migrants, quickly settle and are very well supported. Students benefit from good to high quality teaching. Modern learning approaches include student-led learning and purposeful use of technology.

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?

Clutha Valley School is a rural, Year 1 to 8 school. As a result of recent growth in the dairy industry the school has become much more culturally diverse and has a number of students who speak English as a second language (ESOL). It also has students come and go during the school year.

The board, staff and parents work hard to support new students and their families. For example, the Parent-teacher group makes contact with each new family and the school organises English and other classes, as well as social gatherings for migrants. New students quickly settle, feel welcome and well supported in their learning. Other students told ERO that “it’s great to have different cultures” in their school.

The school has a very positive, family-like culture. Students describe it as a safe and friendly place, where they enjoy their teachers and learning. ERO observed respectful and caring interactions between adults and students and between students.

The principal and teachers encourage parents to be involved in their children’s learning. Parents/whānau and the wider community in turn, support the school in a variety of ways. For example, they raise significant funds for resources, help with sports and often attend school events.

A playcentre is on the school grounds and children and parents visit and join in with school activities. This relationship plus a transition programme help five-year olds prepare for and settle into school.

The school is part of a cluster of local schools. These schools work closely with each other to access professional learning, share new developments and trial new initiatives.

Over the last four years, the school has gone through significant change, including an unsettled period in 2011 and 2012. During this time, the board and school leaders worked constructively with a Limited Statutory Manager. This has resulted in positive changes. Three new teachers and a new Deputy-Principal have been appointed. The school has made good progress in addressing the recommendations in the April 2013 ERO report. These relate to improved governance, management, teaching and assessment practices.

2 Learning

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

Teachers, school leaders and the board make very effective use of achievement information to inform their decisions about supporting students to be successful in their learning.

Students achieve well against the National Standards. In 2013, 81-85% of students achieved at or above for reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students achieve at similar levels. Teachers and the principal monitor closely any students who are below expected levels. They inform and work closely with parents, and quickly put in place extra support.

As students move through the school, they show increasing understanding of their achievement, next learning steps and progress. They regularly assess their own and their peers’ work against criteria they have helped to develop.

Teachers make very good use of assessment information to plan and resource classroom programmes. They are quick to assess and respond to the needs of new students. Teachers know their students very well as learners and individuals. Useful assessment guidelines and systems contribute to the school’s effective assessment practices.

School-wide assessment information is well analysed to identify trends and/or emerging concerns. As a result, the board gets useful information that helps them make timely and appropriate resourcing decisions. The board expects and gets information on the impact of any special interventions/programmes.

Area for review and development

School leaders need to review their student achievement targets. Presently, there is a very large group of students achieving at the National Standards in literacy and mathematics and some students who are below who are not in target groups for improvement.

3 Curriculum

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

The desired principles, values, and competencies are clearly stated and evident in the school’s curriculum. Students enjoy a broad curriculum and the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways.

Students show high levels of interest in their learning, make good progress and show pleasing levels of achievement. The school is well resourced.

The school’s curriculum priority is to create a modern learning environment where students take increasing responsibility for their learning and confidently use technology. Teachers have accessed relevant professional development. They believe, and ERO agrees, these priorities need to be consolidated and built on.

Students learn in settled and visually attractive classrooms. They know how to work well independently and with each other. Students’ opinions and ideas are valued. They are often asked to comment about what went well, or didn’t, with their learning. As they move through the school, they have increasing say in what and how they learn.

Students benefit from purposeful, well-paced learning in literacy and mathematics and good to high quality teaching. Teachers are expected to regularly evaluate their work and what difference they make for their students. Evaluations of completed units often include students’ views and well- considered next steps.

The school has spent significant funds updating its technology resources. Teachers make very good use of ICT as a teaching and learning tool. ERO observed innovative use of technology, especially in the senior class.

Adults in the school are determined that no child is disadvantaged or misses out on learning opportunities. ESOL students benefit from intensive individual and small-group support. Teachers and support staff value the cultural knowledge and experiences these students bring.

The board gets regular reports about each curriculum area. These often include useful suggestions for the staff and board about what could be done better.

Area for review and development

School leaders and teachers need to review:

  • the quality and depth of the Māori language programme and the inclusion of Māori perspectives in students’ day-to-day learning
  • guidelines and provision for students with special abilities and talents.

The curriculum guidelines for each subject area need to be reviewed to ensure that they reflect the school’s changing context and priorities.

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

Māori students achieve well against the National Standards. Any student who needs extra help is quickly noticed and given learning support. The board sets specific targets for Māori students and gets regular information about how well students are progressing to achieve these.

Senior Māori students in the school spoke very positively about their teachers, their learning and the friendliness of the school. Core Māori values, such as whānaungatanga (family-like relationships) and manakitanga (caring and hospitality) are very evident.

Senior leaders and teachers have identified that they need to find better ways to gather the views of Māori parents about how well the school supports their children’s learning and how it could best value Māori language and culture.

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.

Over the last four years, Trustees have worked extensively with an external advisor and sought other advice about their roles. They are now confident and competent in their governance roles. The board now has a useful governance framework, guidelines and systems.

The school’s charter clearly identifies its priorities for the future. Long (strategic) and short-term (annual) plans give easy to follow direction to staff. ERO noted very good alignment between what happens in the school and these plans.

The board receives from the principal, regular and detailed information about student achievement, school operations and learning programmes. Trustees use this information to make well-informed resourcing decisions.

Trustees have a good understanding of the importance of regular review of different aspects of school operations and programmes. Useful guidelines and systems support these effective self- review practices.

Teachers work very well as a team, helping each other and sharing resources. The senior leadership team have implemented well-designed systems to support teachers’ day-to-day work and effective teaching practice. This includes a comprehensive appraisal system.

Area for review and development

  • The board needs to regularly gather information about:
  • parent and staff opinions about the school
  • students’ physical and emotional wellbeing.

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.

There is a strong focus on students’ wellbeing and safety at school. In the future, better systems are needed to ensure that police vetting of all staff is carried out in a timely way.

Conclusion

This school has a caring, family-like culture and a strong focus on learning. Students progress and achieve well against the National Standards. New students, including migrants, quickly settle and are very well supported. Students benefit from good to high quality teaching. Modern learning approaches include student-led learning and purposeful use of technology.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

14 October 2014

About the School

Location

Clutha Valley, South Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3724

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

95

Gender composition

Boys: 53 Girls: 42

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Filipino

Sri Lankan

European

Pacific

Indian

African

55

14

8

6

6

2

2

2

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

14 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Arotake Paetawhiti Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2013

June 2011

September 2008