Gore Main School - 22/03/2017

1 Context

Gore Main School is a Years one to six school with a roll of 220 children. The number of children from other countries enrolled in the school is growing. The school has an enrolment scheme in place.

At the time of this review the deputy principal was leading the school. The principal has now returned after 18 months leave. There has been little change in the teaching staff.

With the help of parents and the wider community, children recently transformed a paddock next to the school into an adventure-play area. This has a variety of structures and activities, and is designed to encourage physical exploration, creativity and fun. The enviro-school group has created a 'tranquillity' area in the school's garden and orchard area. The school is very well supported by its parents and wider community.

The school is part of the Gore Community of Learning.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to 'reach for the stars', meaning to do their best. The school aspires to equity, diversity, ecological sustainability, community participation, excellence, perseverance, integrity, innovation, inquiry and curiosity. Its promoted values are: compassion, obedience, honesty, respect, consideration, responsibility, kindness and duty.

The school’s achievement information shows that over the last three years an increasing number of children achieve at the National Standards (NS). In 2016, at least 80% achieved at or above the NS in reading, writing and mathematics. Most of these children fell in the 'at' category.

Within the school, there is some disparity in achievement between different groups of children. For example, boys' writing is lower than girls' and achievement levels drop for some year groups.

The school has robust systems for being assured about the reliability of teachers' assessment judgements.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • been part of Ministry of Education (MOE) initiatives to lift student achievement in literacy and mathematics
  • improved assessment practices and monitoring of student progress and achievement
  • been part of a local initiative to help children make a smooth transition from early childhood to school
  • improved the appraisal system.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Greater urgency is needed to lift the achievement of those Māori children who are below expected levels in literacy and mathematics. Leaders and teachers need to show what they will do differently for these children.

The board set a target to lift the achievement of these children. However, targets and teachers' plans need more detail as to what strategies will be implemented. Reports to the board could more explicitly show the progress these children have or have not made.

School leaders and teachers have good systems to identify, track and monitor children's progress through the year. Each term teachers meet with school leaders to show what difference they have made for any child whose learning is at risk. This means greater accountability for ensuring all children are successful.

Leaders can show that half of those Māori children whose achievement was below expected levels in 2016 have made more than a year's progress and begun to catch up. This was a result of deliberate in-and-out-of-class instruction by teachers and trained teacher aides. This work needs to be built on.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Overall, there are effective practices for responding to children whose learning needs acceleration. However, leaders and teachers need to increase their focus on groups of children who do not achieve as well as others. These are boys (for writing), some children from overseas and some year groups (for reading, writing and mathematics). In order to make a difference for these groups, explicit targets, with detailed action plans, need to be developed. Plans should show what the school and teachers are going to do differently to lift these children's achievement.

The positive comments in the section above apply to this section. School information shows that across the school, over half of the children made accelerated progress in core learning areas. Some of these children now meet the NS.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum and supporting systems and practices are effective in enabling children to achieve the school vision for its learners. In particular, the school has comprehensive curriculum guidelines.

Children learn in settled and well-managed classrooms, where there is a strong focus on learning. They benefit from:

  • well-planned and explicit teaching in literacy and mathematics
  • specific feedback and next steps about their learning, especially in writing 
  • a broad curriculum, where different subject areas are well integrated into topic studies
  • well-supported transitions into and through the school.

There is potential for children to take more responsibility for their learning. They could know more about their progress and achievement and what they need to do to improve. Similarly, they could have a greater say in what they need to learn and how they will go about this.

Senior leaders have managed the school well in their temporary roles. Their focus has been on what is best for children. They have made a number of improvements to school-wide systems and practices. Before making changes, they consulted widely with staff. Improvements and new initiatives align well with strategic priorities.

Specific steps have been taken to build teacher capability. For example, well-planned professional learning and development (PLD) has led to better use of digital technologies by teachers and children. Other improvements include:

  • the introduction of an appraisal system that is focused on building teachers' capability
  • greater teacher reflection and inquiry into the impact of their work as teachers.

Leaders and ERO agree that these improvements need to be built on and embedded. Appraisal and teachers' inquiries could have a stronger focus on how well teachers are lifting the achievement of those children working below expected levels.

Trustees have a very good understanding of effective governance. They are improvement focused and want the best for every child. Through the principal, they are well informed about student progress and achievement. They use this information well to inform their decisions. They continue to access training to improve their understanding of governance.

Leaders and trustees have developed useful strategic goals. Community input into these was sought. It is now timely to revisit and review the strategic priorities and ensure that strategic and annual plans closely align to these. Action plans need sufficient detail to usefully guide the way forward. Leaders need to periodically carry out anonymous surveys of staff, parents and children. This would enable them to confidently know how satisfied these groups feel.

Presently the school's curriculum does not sufficiently value or include a Māori dimension, including te reo Māori. Significant work is needed to develop teachers' knowledge and skills in this area. Similarly, school leaders and teachers need to find better ways to support Māori children to succeed as Māori.

Leaders are in the early stages of implementing effective evaluation of the school's curriculum and other aspects of teaching and learning.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children 
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

The school is entering a period of further change with the return of its principal after 18 months leave. Trustees and leaders are improvement focused and have a good understanding of effective governance and management.

The new (2017) leadership team needs to work constructively to:

  • build on recent improvements
  • address in-school disparities
  • address the next steps in this report.

Some of the next steps in this report were also in the 2013 ERO report. It is important that a concerted effort is made to address the next steps as soon as possible.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that trustees and leaders effectively address the next steps in this report in order to better meet the learning needs of all children. 

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

22 March 2017

About the school 

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

3956

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

217

Gender composition

Girls: 50%

Boys: 50%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other

81%

14%

2%

1.5%

1.5%

Review team on site

December 2016

Date of this report

22 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2013

November 2010

May 2008