Dalefield School - 21/12/2017

Findings

Dalefield School is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance. Respectful relationships are clearly evident and students are well engaged in their learning. Staff teach collaboratively and evaluate the impact of their practice on outcomes for students. The newly‑elected board has plans in place for trustees' ongoing development.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Dalefield School caters for students in Years 1 to 8. At the time of this evaluation, 10 of the 52 students are Māori.

The August 2015 ERO report identified continuing concerns, previously identified in the December 2012 ERO report. These linked to governance, strategic planning, teaching and student achievement, the curriculum and appraisal. At that time, the second commissioner was in place, who had been appointed in September 2014.

A new principal was appointed in Term 4 2015 who led the school for one term. Following this, an acting principal worked with the commissioner, leading Dalefield School until the end of 2016. A new principal was appointed who began at the school at the start of 2017.

The commissioner’s role concluded in September 2017 when the board of trustees was elected. The commissioner will continue to work with the board to support and advise them into 2018.

A Ministry of Education Student Achievement Function practitioner has been working alongside the staff in 2017, facilitating professional development.

Dalefield School is a member of the South Wairarapa Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

In August 2015 the following priorities were identified, to:

  • work with the community to restore effective governance
  • ensure school policies and procedures meet legal requirements
  • establish a strategic framework for school operation and internal evaluation
  • improve the quality of teaching and student achievement
  • implement an effective performance management system
  • develop and implement a Dalefield School curriculum
  • improve the quality of teaching materials and classrooms.

Good progress has been made in relation to all of these priorities.

Progress

Governance

New trustees are growing their understanding of their roles and responsibilities. They have been supported by the specialist adviser (governance) and through targeted professional development. Ongoing participation in training opportunities is planned for 2018.

The principal and board have begun the process of reviewing and updating all school policies and procedures to ensure that they reflect current practice and meet all legislative requirements.

Trustees are well informed about student achievement by the principal.

Strategic direction, communication and internal evaluation

A comprehensive, well-considered strategic plan has been guiding school direction since 2016. The current plan is focused on four strategic goals relating to student achievement, the school environment and strengthening links with the community. The principal regularly reports progress towards these goals.

Increased communication with parents, whānau and the community has been identified as a priority. This focus is strengthening and encouraging community participation and collaboration with the school. A new website has been created and parents can access a range of information through the school’s new app and weekly newsletters that celebrate student success.

Ongoing reflection and evaluation is leading to considered decision making, with a focus on outcomes for students.

Teaching

Staffing has stabilised during 2017. Collaborative teaching is the pedagogy guiding teacher practice. Clear expectations and a shared understanding of what this might look like have been developed. This approach enables shared accountability and ongoing learning for teachers. They are able to more effectively support student wellbeing, progress and active involvement in their learning.

Teaching is deliberate, authentic and challenges students to extend their knowledge and understanding. Relationships are respectful between children and adults and between children and their peers.

Students are well engaged in their learning. They talk confidently and reflect on their learning and next steps. Teachers scaffold students’ learning by sharing and discussing examples of what good practice looks like.

Student achievement

Teachers identified a lack of dependability of student achievement information in 2016. This year, they have focused on improving assessment systems and practices to increase the accuracy of teacher judgements through moderation.

The school’s 2017 end of year data shows that approximately three quarters of students are achieving well in reading, and approximately two thirds are achieving well in writing and mathematics. Continuing to focus on improving overall achievement, particularly in writing and mathematics, including emphasis on accelerating Māori student achievement in mathematics, is a key next step.

Performance management

An effective appraisal process has been introduced. The principal uses evidence of student learning and progress as a catalyst for professional conversations. Purposeful classroom visits and focused observations provide the basis for formative feedback and the ongoing development of practice. Conversations between teachers and the principal critically inquire into practice in relation to student achievement. Teachers examine what is working well, and what is not, and why.

Curriculum

A commitment to the use of authentic learning contexts is evident across the school. The curriculum in action makes connections to learners’ lives, understandings and real-world contexts. Documenting a curriculum framework to provide clear guidance and expectations for teaching and learning should be given priority. Pulling together separate aspects into this framework, including the recently developed school values and guiding principles, is a next step.

The quality of teaching materials and classrooms

During 2016, two classrooms were refurbished. New furniture supports collaborative learning and provides students with choice of learning situations. Digital tools are available and used appropriately. The principal and teachers are strategic in their decision-making when resourcing learning. The school environment has been refreshed and the school pool is being upgraded.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

How well placed is the school to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance?

The school is well placed to continue to improve and review its performance.

The new principal is leading the development of a shared sense of purpose and the implementation of a clear, well-considered philosophy of teaching and learning.

Now that a board of trustees is re-established, guidance from advisers and ongoing professional development is promoting sustainable governance in the future.

Plans for professional development of staff in 2018 have been approved by the Ministry of Education. This provision for ongoing staff development promotes sustainability of effective teaching and increasing professional and collective capability.

Continuing to strengthen relationships with parents, whānau and the community should impact positively on the school’s sustainability.

Key next steps

The school should now continue to:

  • develop documentation of a curriculum framework
  • strengthen board processes, including an ongoing focus on ensuring policies and procedures reflect practice and meet legislative requirements
  • focus on improving overall student achievement, particularly in writing and mathematics.

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.

During the course of the review ERO identified an area of non-compliance. The board has not consulted with its school community about the delivery of the health curriculum within the last two years. In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

at least once every two years and after consultation with the school community, adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum. [s60B Education Act 1989]

In order to improve practice, the board should take all reasonable steps to ensure that students in Years 7 and 8 are provided with appropriate career education and guidance that is integrated into everyday learning.

Conclusion

Dalefield School is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance. Respectful relationships are clearly evident and students are well engaged in their learning. Staff teach collaboratively and evaluate the impact of their practice on outcomes for students. The newlyelected board has plans in place for trustees' ongoing development.

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

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

21 December 2017

About the School

Location

Carterton

Ministry of Education profile number

2831

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

52

Gender composition

Boys 32, Girls 20

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Other ethnic groups

10
40
2

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

21 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

August 2015
December 2012
October 2010