Colwill School - 01/08/2014

Findings

School leaders, staff and trustees are focused on raising student achievement. The wellbeing of students and positive partnerships with families and the wider community are recognised as key to learning. The school’s curriculum reflects this and promotes and supports student learning well. Integrating Māori and Pacific perspectives into programmes is helping to create meaningful contexts for student learning. Significant change in recent years has strengthened teaching, leadership and governance practices. The school's inclusive culture fosters strong community links.

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?

Colwill School, located in Massey, Auckland, provides education for students from Years 1 to 8. The school caters for a diverse community, with many students speaking English as a second language. The school’s Pacific roll has increased significantly in recent years. The school has developed strong links with its community to facilitate effective partnerships for learning. The well established community ‘Hub’ situated in the school grounds provides a wide range of services and support for students, families and the wider community.

Positive relationships and a strong focus on student well being contributes to students’ sense of belonging and engagement in learning. Students and families have been involved in many improvements to the physical environment, which reflects the cultures of the community. The well tended grounds are respected by students and provide attractive areas for learning, performance, and play.

At the time of the 2011 ERO review the newly elected school trustees were supported by a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) to assist them in establishing effective governance practices. The LSM role ended in December 2011. Since then the school has continued to strengthen its leadership and governance capability. Significant developments have been implemented in response to the changing school context and increased community involvement. The school has responded very positively to recommendations from the 2011 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

The school is using achievement information increasingly well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school promotes strong links between student well being and learning, and a continuing focus on pastoral care is evident. Student attendance levels have improved significantly in recent years and high levels of student engagement in learning are a notable feature of the school.

Students work in settled, learning-focused environments. They participate well in classroom activities, and are able to work independently and co-operatively. They enjoy positive relationships with their peers and teachers. Teachers use a variety of strategies to build students’ understanding and ownership of their learning. School leaders are now focusing on consolidating these good practices to further promote the consistency and quality of teaching practice across the school.

Well considered external professional development for teachers has improved the use of achievement information. This external support is now being reinforced by good school systems and ongoing review of assessment processes. Senior leaders are continuing to extend the analysis and use of achievement data. They set appropriate school targets for improvement. Public Achievement Information (PAI) about student achievement nationally, regionally and on a more local basis is used by senior leaders and the board to inform their analysis and decision making.

Teachers use a wide range of assessment tools to track and monitor student progress and achievement. They use this information to make overall judgements about student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards. They moderate their judgements within the school and with other schools to help ensure these judgements are reliable.

Teachers have also developed effective systems for using progress and achievement information to guide programme planning for individuals and groups of students. Good support is provided for students requiring additional learning support, and for students who are new learners of the English language. Specialist and support staff are provided with relevant training. Additional support from external agencies is accessed as appropriate. The school works closely with the families of students receiving additional support.

School leaders acknowledge a sense of urgency in raising student achievement in order to reach government targets of 85% of students achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics by 2017.

School achievement information currently indicates that over sixty percent of all students achieve at or above the National Standard in mathematics. Approximately fifty per cent achieve at or above the standard in reading and writing. The school has identified the need to improve the achievement of Pacific students, in particular. The progress and achievement of both Pacific and Māori students is well monitored, and teachers and leaders continue to consider ways to accelerate the progress of both groups.

The board receives regular, comprehensive information about student achievement in relation to the National Standards. Parents receive clear reports about their child’s progress in relation to the National Standards.

The school is now well positioned to extend the use of achievement information through more indepth analysis and evaluation. ERO and school leaders agree that next steps should include:

  • exploring ways to use assessment data for more evaluative analysis and reporting, including evaluation and reporting on the effectiveness of learning interventions on student progress
  • tracking and reporting on the long-term progress of specific groups of students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning well. It is closely aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). An emphasis on reading, writing and mathematics is evident and supports the school’s focus on raising student achievement in these areas.

School curriculum documents provide clear and comprehensive guidelines for teachers. They also reflect key aspects of the vision, values, principles and key competencies of the NZC. Teachers are increasingly using inquiry teaching and learning approaches and are integrating learning areas to develop meaningful contexts for learning.

Māori and Pacific perspectives are evident in curriculum programmes. Students have opportunities to take on leadership and responsibilities, and to pursue areas of interest. Teachers are continuing to strengthen student voice in learning programmes.

Good professional development and performance management processes help to guide curriculum and teacher development. School structures encourage teacher reflection and inquiry into practice. School leaders are continuing to formalise and extend these practices through further development of teacher appraisal processes.

The curriculum reflects the school’s strong partnerships with parents and the wider community. The importance of supporting students well as they transition into the school and when they move on to secondary school is well recognised. Staff are developing effective processes in this area. These include having a close liaison with the local Samoan preschool and continuing work to extend the ways in which senior students are supported to begin their secondary schooling.

Staff are beginning a review of the school’s curriculum programmes and documentation to better reflect recent developments. This review will include exploring ways to strengthen teachers’ understanding of integrated and inquiry learning strategies, and extending the use of Ministry of Education resources such as Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success for Māori Students and The Pacific Education Plan to inform curriculum development.

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

School leaders and the board have developed effective relationships and communication with Māori parents and community. They have consulted informally and formally to gain whānau voice and input into school policy and learning programmes, and to develop purposeful and reciprocal partnerships.

Teachers support students’ wellbeing and encourage them to be proud of their Māori language, culture and identity. There are opportunities for Māori students to take on leadership roles in kapa haka and other school activities.

Over the last three years Māori students have generally achieved below the National Standards in reading and writing. The school is aware of the need to accelerate and improve student achievement for Māori students. Although the numbers of suspensions, stand-downs and exclusions over the last three years are low, the board and senior leaders should continue to explore strategies to address the high proportion of Māori students represented in these statistics.

Staff are about to begin a long-term professional development programme to increase their confidence and capability in the use of te reo me ōna tikanga Māori. This professional development should strengthen the school’s capacity to support Māori students to achieve successfully and confidently.

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.

The board, principal and teachers are committed to improving outcomes for students, with a particular focus on ensuring student wellbeing and raising their achievement. The principal and board chair have a clear direction for the school and are managing change processes well. Senior leaders have a shared understanding of school vision and direction and are developing clarity and confidence in their leadership roles.

Since 2011 there have been some changes in the elected board members. Current trustees include Samoan and Māori representatives. New trustees are well supported through good induction processes and clear documentation. All trustees continue to access training and guidance about their governance role. Trustees’ increasing understanding of governance roles and practices means the board is now well placed to continue to grow its evaluative capacity.

Resources from the New Zealand School Trustees Association and the Ministry of Education provide a framework for governance. The school’s charter, strategic and annual plans are used to guide programmes and practices. The board is currently implementing a new model for policies and procedures. ERO endorses the board’s intention to continue to refine this model to reflect their processes for assurance and accountability.

The board and school leaders have strong links with their community and use a variety of strategies to gain insight into community perspectives. They have made good use of the Pacific Education Plan to inform school policy and practice, and now plan to use the Ministry of Education’s Māori strategy Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success in a similar way. They acknowledge the potential for further community input to support the school in this development.

Reflective practice is evident at all levels of the school. Effective self review is evident in a number of areas, including:

  • ongoing review of strategic and annual goals
  • planned and responsive policy review
  • board documentation to support a more systematic approach to all areas of governance.

The principal and board agree that they could continue to refine and strengthen review processes to support their commitment to ongoing improvement, through:

  • greater evaluative comment in reports to the board
  • more in-depth analysis of information to inform decision-making.

The principal and board chair have provided strong leadership and guidance throughout a period of significant change. External support has been used effectively to establish a good foundation and build capability in teaching, leadership and governance practices. ERO and the school agree that next steps to ensure sustainability and ongoing improvement are:

  • transitioning from external support to internal leadership
  • spreading leadership opportunities and responsibilities to enable succession planning for sustainability
  • continuing to embed good practices consistently across the school.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education act 1989.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for ensuring compliance with the Code is regular and is based on relevant guiding documents. The school’s inclusive approaches ensure good liaison with parents. Effective teaching programmes support English learning for international students.

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

School leaders, staff and trustees are focused on raising student achievement. The wellbeing of students and positive partnerships with families and the wider community are recognised as key to learning. The school’s curriculum reflects this and promotes and supports student learning well. Integrating Māori and Pacific perspectives into programmes is helping to create meaningful contexts for student learning. Significant change in recent years has strengthened teaching, leadership and governance practices. The school's inclusive culture fosters strong community links.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

1 August 2014

About the School

Location

Massey, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1254

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

229

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Boys 57% Girls 43%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Samoan

Asian

Middle Eastern

Cook Island Māori

Niue

other Pacific

other

22%

20%

20%

6%

6%

3%

3%

13%

7%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

1 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2011
May 2010
February 2009