Freemans Bay School - 11/06/2015

Findings

Freemans Bay School is highly effective in engaging students in learning. Students benefit from a broad and interesting curriculum and high quality teaching. The acknowledgement of bicultural practices and celebration of cultural diversity is significant. Highly effective governance and leadership, and close collaboration with families promote meaningful change and sustainability of successful initiatives.

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?

Freemans Bay School caters for students from Years 1 to 6. The school celebrated its 125 year jubilee in 2013 and has a long history of serving and responding to the changing population over that time. The school has a growing roll, with half the school population being new migrants to New Zealand from families that have settled in the central business district of Auckland. Students come from many different cultural backgrounds and are English speakers of other languages. Fourteen percent of the roll is Māori and six percent have Pacific heritage. A number of students travel from out of zone to attend Whānau Ata, the school’s well established Māori immersion unit.

Since the 2012 ERO report, the focus for the school has been on deepening its culture of learning. Initiatives have focused on personalising learning for students and staff, strengthening partnerships with families, and developing coherence across all areas of school operations.

The board and senior leaders have consulted with staff and their community as part of reviewing the school’s vision for learning. This consultation has resulted in the school’s purpose statement: ‘to create a stimulating, inclusive learning environment which engages, empowers and enriches learners to prepare for the future world’. This shared vision is clearly expressed by the board, leadership team and staff.

A school rebuild, due to roll growth and the age of buildings, is a major focus for the present board, with building due to start before the end of 2015. The new build will offer flexible learning environments that better cater for the modern 21st century learner.

Freemans Bay School is a caring and collaborative learning community. The school’s promotion of, and response to, student wellbeing is extensive. There is a positive tone in the school that supports the learning of all students. Strong relationships and partnerships underpin all practices.

2. Learning

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

The board, senior leaders and teachers use achievement information well to make positive changes for learners.

School achievement information shows that students make good academic progress over their time at the school. Students who learn under the Marautanga curriculum achieve very well in Nga Whanaketanga. The high level of academic success for students in Whānau Ata shows that dual language learning is having a positive impact on student progress and achievement. Due to the small number of Māori and Pacific students in English medium classes, and high transience rates, it is difficult for school leaders to collect reliable cohort achievement information over time on these students. Good systems support teachers to make reliable and valid overall teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards.

Achievement information is used to set school priorities, closely monitor student progress, and identify students who are under achieving. Teachers use achievement information to plan programmes to cater for their students’ different strengths and learning needs. Achievement information is used very well to enquire into the effectiveness of teaching practices and identify suitable professional learning opportunities for teachers.

School leaders continue to refine their practices to better use achievement information. ERO and school leaders agree the future priority areas include:

  • developing school systems for National Standards anniversary reporting after one, two, and three years at school
  • refining charter achievement targets to further ensure these are meaningful and capture the school’s teaching as inquiry approach to raising student achievement
  • reviewing with the community the changes made in the written reporting formats to parents on their child’s progress and achievement.

Student enjoyment and engagement in the learning process is highly evident. Classrooms are vibrant places of learning where teachers respond to students as capable, competent learners.

The school has inclusive and responsive practices and systems to support students with special learning needs. Teachers and learning assistants share a commitment to, and responsibility for, student progress. This collaborative approach ensures students participate fully in appropriate learning programmes and classrooms activities.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in engaging students in learning. The school’s vision for learning of ‘Engage’ through personalising learning, ‘Enrich’ through a rich curriculum and ‘Empower’ through powerful partnerships is well embedded.

A cornerstone of the school curriculum is a set of learning characteristics that places the learner at the heart of the learning process. These qualities, such as thinking flexibly, applying past knowledge and taking responsible risks are fostered by teachers and understood by students. The curriculum provides individual learning pathways and negotiated learning approaches with students. As a result students are confident in participating in the learning process.

Learners benefit from a broad and interesting curriculum. The curriculum has an appropriate balance between literacy and mathematics. It also offers students good access to opportunities in other learning areas, including environmental sustainability, education outside the classroom (EOTC) and daily physical activity. Students experience learning with specialist teachers in The Arts and Asian studies. Time is given in the learning week for Passion Projects where students can explore their interests. There is a natural integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance learning opportunities.

Planned learning experiences that reflect the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand are given an important place in the curriculum. The acknowledgement and celebration of cultural diversity is also significant, enriching learning opportunities for students. School leaders value the students’ different languages and cultures and what each child brings to the learning process. As a result students retain their individual identity and flourish within a curriculum that allows them to be who they are.

Teachers deliver the curriculum well, with high quality teaching practices evident across the school. Teachers are knowledgeable about their students, the deeper features of The New Zealand Curriculum and Marautanga, and culturally responsive teaching practices. They are well supported in their ongoing professional growth by very effective professional learning programmes that personalise teacher learning and provide access to further study and research. This culture nurtures innovation and contributes to ongoing expansion and change in the curriculum. Teachers and students are well prepared for the move into modern learning environments with the new school build.

High quality teaching practices are underpinned by respectful relationships and partnerships. Kotahitanga, where understandings cross over, is evident in the effective wrap around approach to parent partnerships, especially with the high number of migrant families. School leaders and teachers make parents feel welcome in the school and provide them with knowledge and skills to support their children’s successful learning. Support for families’ wellbeing and integration into a new community is also a focus. School leaders and teachers work together effectively with families, early childhood services and intermediate schools to support smooth transitions for students.

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

The school promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori very effectively.

The school has sixty-five students who are Māori. Most learn in the Māori immersion unit, Whānau Ata. The remainder learn in the English medium section of the school.

All Māori students are a priority for the board and school leaders. There is clear and shared understanding about what it means to have Māori students enjoying and achieving success as Māori. A commitment to bicultural practices and a belief that opportunities to understand and experience tikanga Māori will lead to academic success for all students are evident throughout the school.

All Māori students are encouraged to join in kapa haka which promotes discipline, team work, the arts and deeper understanding of tikanga Māori. All students’ home languages are valued and children are comfortable using their first language in the school setting. Whānau Ata students use te reo Māori freely in the playground. Māori in English medium setting are gaining from the Whānau Ata learning experiences.

Māori whānau have the opportunity to contribute to the schools’ decision-making process. The views of whānau are listened to, respected and responded to by the school. Partnerships between whānau and the school are now more focused on supporting the learning of their children. This is creating a shift in ownership, with a collective responsibility for the raising of Māori student achievement.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to grow its performance.

The board provides very effective governance. They have good systems to ensure school accountabilities are met. Board decision making is strategic and inclusive and has a focus on improving outcomes for all students. The board shows high levels of integrity in honouring the consultation process and as a result board, staff, students and community share ownership of the school’s vision and values. The board has a deep understanding of and commitment to the community they serve.

Leadership of the school is highly effective. School leadership is distributive, compassionate, equitable and fair. There is focus on recognising people’s capabilities across the school that complement and enhance school development. Emerging leadership is nurtured through mentoring, advice and guidance, and a culture of high professional trust.

Self review is used very well to sustain and improve the school’s performance. Self-review processes are robust, embedded in practice and strongly focus on improvement. Review processes include the contribution of different groups of people and are supported by current research.

There is cohesion and alignment across all areas of the school. A sense of collectiveness and collaboration allows the school to work on meaningful change and supports the sustainability of successful initiatives. Contribution to, and working with, the wider educational community is a strength of the school.

ERO affirms the school’s self identified future priorities. These include continuing to develop methodologies that will support personalising learning for students and the transition to modern learning environments.

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. At the time of this review there were sixteen international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

The school provides its international students with a very good standard of education that includes English language tuition. Students are warmly welcomed and enjoy many opportunities to participate in school activities. The school provides high quality pastoral care for international students and ensures that these students are well integrated into the life of the 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

Freemans Bay School is highly effective in engaging students in learning. Students benefit from a broad and interesting curriculum and high quality teaching. The acknowledgement of bicultural practices and celebration of cultural diversity is significant. Highly effective governance and leadership, and close collaboration with families promote meaningful change and sustainability of successful initiatives.

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

Dale Bailey Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

11 June 2015

About the School

Location

Freemans Bay, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1279

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

467

Number of international students

16

Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Chinese

Indian

Pacific Nations

Filipino

Korean

Middle Eastern

Japanese

other ethnicities

14%

25%

10%

10%

6%

5%

5%

4%

3%

18%

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

11 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2012

June 2008

May 2005