Finlayson Park School - 23/03/2015

Findings

At Finlayson Park School, students learn through a bilingual lens to be capable, connected and confident young people who develop the skills to be lifelong learners. The effective school network supports students and their families culturally, emotionally, physically and socially. Learning is recognised, shared and celebrated.

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?

Finlayson Park School, which opened in 1979 with 114 students, now provides a unique bilingual education for more than a thousand students. The school's whakatauki, 'Ko taku reo taku ohooho; Ko taku reo taku mapihi maurea.' (My language is my awakening; my language is the window to my soul) underpins and drives all systems and practices. Forty seven percent of the students are of Māori heritage, and forty seven percent identify as Pacific (the majority of whom are Samoan). School staff reflect students’ ethnicities and many are strong speakers of te reo Māori, Gagana Samoan, Lea Faka Tonga or other languages.

The school’s philosophy of nurturing its new entrant to Year 8 students through learning in their first language is evident in the provision of:

  • Te Huringa Rumaki Reo (since 1989) - the total immersion Māori unit for new entrants to Year 8. Students learn through Te Aho Matua in predominantly Māori in Years 1 to 5, then bilingually (but still with an emphasis on Te Aho Matua) in Years 6 to 8 to prepare for secondary school
  • Te Roopu Reo Rua (since 1998) – the bilingual Māori unit where students learn in both Māori and English
  • O Le Taiala(since 1996) – the bilingual Samoan unit where students learn in both Samoan and English
  • Sia Mo’ui (since 2011) – the bilingual Tongan unit where students learn in both Tongan and English
  • mainstream classes where students learn in English, and are taught te reo Maori and other languages.

The school’s values of aronui (consideration), mahi tahi (co-operation), whakaaro atawhai (courtesy) and whakaatu atu tatou i te whakaaro tika (we show common sense) - known as the 4 Cs - guide the way students, teachers, leaders and trustees interact with each other. These values sit alongside their emphasis on tika (truth), pono (righteousness) and tuwhera (openness). Respect for each other and the environment is evident in teacher and student interactions.

The historical provision of extensive pastoral care and health services for students and families/whānau/aiga/famili, through the high quality network of services and effective adult learning programmes, continues to be strongly evident. The school continues to use a variety of effective strategies to engage with the Māori, Samoan, Tongan and other communities according to community expectations and cultural traditions.

Previous ERO reports have commented on the positive and supportive learning culture for students, teachers and parents, ongoing generational involvement in and with the school, and students’ accelerated progress and achievement through their years at this school. These continue to be highly evident. The school has also responded very positively to ERO’s 2012 recommendations regarding self review and strategic reporting.

2. Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very effectively. Students know their goals and next learning steps. They are very engaged in learning. 'What works well for Māori works well for all' guides the school’s approach to teaching and learning. Each student is valued and their individual educational success is prioritised.

Challenging and improvement-focused targets, based on previous trends and patterns of achievement, are set for the whole school in literacy and numeracy. Each Language Unit sets targets well aligned with the whole-school improvement focus to promote the success of Māori and Pacific students. Close monitoring and reporting of progress towards these targets is giving teachers, the principal and board members good information to inform their decision making.

Student information shows that a large percentage of students who have started as new entrants have not had access to formalised pre-school education. School achievement information is well analysed to demonstrate the significant progress these students make at Finlayson Park School. After three to four years of continuous learning at this school, and with good attendance, students continue to make substantial gains.

Overall, whole-school data show that the majority of students, by the time they are in Years 7 and 8, achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students with additional learning needs progress at an appropriate rate and benefit from the school’s inclusive tone and culture. Targets for student progress and achievement in the Language Units are also focused on reading, writing and mathematics. Their high expectations are generally realised, and where students are less successful, additional support is provided. Teachers use data very well to inform their planning and programmes.

Robust processes to help ensure the validity of assessment tools and student achievement results include:

  • ongoing, accurate records of student progress and achievement using a variety of sources
  • whole-school and Language Unit specific development and moderation of assessment tools and student work
  • teachers’ commitment to professional discussion and evidence-based research and practice to achieve success for all students
  • ongoing self review of systems and practices to help ensure a professional approach to teaching and learning to maximise success for all students.

Parents know about their child’s education. Teachers work in partnership with parents through regular three-way conferencing, fono and hui, and one-on-one conversations to assist each student to succeed. These approaches help parents to understand and contribute to their child’s learning, progress and achievement. Reports to parents clearly indicate students’ progress and achievement with regard to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, and Language Unit assessments and expectations. Leaders are interested in strengthening reporting to parents about their child’s achievement in other curriculum areas, including science and the arts.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports learning very effectively. Student success, educational success for Māori as Māori, and Pasifika as Pasifika, are school priorities. Culture, language and identity underpin the curriculum and school organisation and are strongly evident throughout systems and practices. Students’ deep respect for their own language, culture and others is an explicit focus of the school’s curriculum. Kaupapa Māori is central to the school curriculum.

Students learn in a vibrant environment that enables them to share their joy and enthusiasm for learning with each other and their teachers. Each classroom reflects the uniqueness of teachers, their students and their shared cultures. Significant refurbishments to classrooms and the outside environment demonstrate high expectations of, and respect for, students. Students thrive in the bright and attractive learning spaces.

The curriculum includes strong bilingual and immersion programmes and specialised teaching for students with English as a second language. It is carefully designed to incorporate the school vision, and reflect the overarching essentials of The New Zealand Curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, Te Aho Matua and Gagana Samoa. The Tongan unit, now in its fifth year of operation, is currently guided by the New Zealand Curriculum, but is developing its own unique curriculum.

Students are proud of their learning and teachers promote the importance of learning through languages. A strong sense of family, whānau, aiga and famili, reflects a warm and inclusive school culture. Parents are active participants in their children’s learning at school and at home.

School leaders, teachers and trustees are justifiably proud of being a Health Promoting school. Students and their families benefit from the school’s proactive approach to wellbeing. The arts and music complement well managed sport and physical education programmes and opportunities for student leadership. Learning opportunities through thoughtfully designed education outside the classroom (EOTC) programmes broaden students’ experiences and their world views.

Teachers demonstrate a very good knowledge and understanding of the curriculum. They facilitate student access to real and meaningful learning opportunities through multiple pathway approaches which allow a variety of diverse cultural and language experiences. Teachers make explicit connections with bicultural New Zealand and the diversity of students who attend. The curriculum is regularly reviewed to ensure it is responsive to the uniqueness of every student and their learning.

School leaders and teachers work within a professional learning culture that prioritises their ongoing learning. They are improvement-focused professionals who collaborate well on behalf of students.

The board has significantly resourced Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) over the past three years. Focus will now be placed on further developing ICT in teaching and learning. ERO affirms the school’s readiness to further develop the implementation of a careers education programme.

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

The school is very effective in promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori. As stated above: 'Kaupapa Māori is central to the school curriculum'. It guides school practice to ensure each student’s language, culture and identity is regularly identified and acknowledged. Children are proud of their learning, teachers promote the importance of learning through languages, and parents are active participants in their children’s learning at school and at home.

Daily practices follow tikanga. Children, their parents and extended families are greeted warmly and affectionately in home languages. Karakia, kai and korero are important aspects of teaching and learning, and manaaki is strongly evident in the many events that take place at this school.

The board sets annual goals for all students to achieve using their language as the tool for success. Māori students are achieving at the same rates as other students in the school. They are achieving very well due to the kaupapa Māori approach.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Factors that contribute to sustainability include:

  • the sincere value placed on language, culture and identity as the foundation for, and pathway to, students as leaders of their learning
  • a well established self-review process that reflects on and evaluates school practices to inform improvements that give priority to positive outcomes for students
  • the effective and supportive manner in which the experienced principal, together with the senior leadership team, lead the strongly cohesive focus on effective teaching practice and student success
  • the way in which the school is leading the development and direction of valid, robust assessment tools and practices in bilingual education
  • effective ways of working with and supporting the community as partners in the progress and achievement of their children
  • the capable and supportive board of trustees who own and share the established school vision of learning through students’ first language.

School leaders and trustees are well aware of the challenge of sustaining the unique provision of bilingual education across the mainstream and Language Units in this school. ERO affirms the school’s next steps, which include continuing to:

  • evolve strategic planning to maintain and improve the uniqueness of the school curriculum provision over time
  • refine reporting to the board to include other curriculum areas
  • deepen self review and formalise systems for knowing, particularly as students transition to secondary school.

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

At Finlayson Park School, students learn through a bilingual lens to be capable, connected and confident young people who develop the skills to be lifelong learners. The effective school network supports students and their families culturally, emotionally, physically and socially. Learning is recognised, shared and celebrated.

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

Dale Bailey Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

23 March 2015

About the School

Location

Manurewa, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1275

School type

Contributing, Bilingual (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

1025

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

Indian

Asian

Fijian

NZ European/Pākeha

Niue

other Pacific

other

47%

28%

9%

7%

2%

1%

1%

1%

1%

1%

2%

Special Features

Immersion Māori Unit Bilingual Māori, Samoan and Tongan Units

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

23 March 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2012

April 2009

March 2006