Gracefield School - 11/02/2016

Findings

Gracefield School ‘Steps for Success’ underpin the curriculum. Leaders have developed effective systems to track and monitor student achievement. Recent achievement information shows a positive shift in the numbers of students meeting expectations in relation to the National Standards.

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?

Gracefield School is situated at the foot of the Wainuiomata hill in Lower Hutt. The roll is currently 245 students from Years 1 to 6, of whom 20% identify as Māori.

The ‘Steps to Success’ represent the school values and are linked to the key competencies ofThe New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The values focus on supporting students to be life-long learners. A recent initiative to represent the values in te reo Māori was undertaken through consultation within the local community.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO, and has undertaken significant development in raising student achievement since the December 2012 ERO report. There is an alignment of the systems and processes that support increased rates of student achievement.

2 Learning

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

Achievement information is used well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The school reports that many students achieve at or above expectation in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Recent school data shows considerable improvement in student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, compared to 2014. Māori student achievement has been accelerated. Pacific students show improved levels of achievement. However, further work is needed to accelerate their achievement as a group. Students make good gains as they progress through the school.

Senior leaders have developed thorough systems for monitoring and tracking students’ learning. This is tracked over time by cohort, gender and ethnicity. Schoolwide data is reviewed each term. Teaching team discussions in these reviews focus on individual and target students’ rates of progress, with improved levels of achievement showing in end of year data.

Examination of achievement information at all levels of the school supports teachers’ collective ownership. Achievement data is shared with the community in various forums.

A wide range of appropriate assessment tools is used to gather information about students’ individual learning strengths and needs. This effectively informs classroom teachers’ planning. Moderation processes within and beyond the school add validity to teachers’ judgements about student achievement.

Teachers use data to identify students at risk of underachievement. Appropriate intervention programmes are put in place to support accelerating progress for these students.

There is a clear, shared understanding between leaders and teachers of what accelerated progress looks like. Teachers inquire into the effectiveness of strategies to accelerate learners’ progress. Teacher inquiries are relevant to student needs and align with appraisals, promoting school priorities for specific groups of students. There is a clear framework for teachers to reflect on their practice.

3 Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum is effective for many students in promoting achievement and progress. Students are highly engaged in learning tasks. They participate in a broad range of experiences both in and beyond the school, including sustainability education.

Clear documentation shows links to the NZC, through the ‘Steps to Success’. It is timely to strengthen the curriculum documentation to reflect existing good practice within the school. The 'Steps for Success’ are well known by students and help to promote their wellbeing and learning. These underpin all aspects of school life from strategic planning at a board level through to classroom planning.

The school has good systems for promoting and evaluating provision for wellbeing. This has had a positive impact on student engagement, participation and behaviour. Survey information shows students have a sense of belonging and feel secure at school. Positive and respectful relationships are clearly evident and modelled across the school.

Students provide input into a range of school matters, including what effective learning looks like at the school. There are increasing opportunities for students to articulate and discuss their learning through collaborative teaching approaches.

The school is well resourced with digital technologies. Teachers are further developing use of these tools to enhance student learning and promote links between school and home.

Students have opportunities to explore leadership roles.

Pacific aiga are represented on the board of trustees. A Pacific fono group is strengthening the visibility of Pacific cultures in the school.

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

The school is increasingly effective in promoting success for Māori, as Māori.

Staff are developing their capability to use te reo Māori in authentic learning contexts. This is supported by a schoolwide programme for teaching and learning that increases in complexity as students move through the school. Whakataukī have been developed for each learning area, promoting tikanga Māori.

There is a focus on strengthening links to Waiwhetu Marae. All students have opportunities to extend their learning on the marae.

Whānau Māori are represented on the board. This provides whānau opportunities to contribute to the strategic direction of the school. A whānau hui group has been established. This is helping to strengthen partnerships.

An external tutor supports the kapa haka group. Participation in kapa haka provides leadership opportunities for Māori students and support students’ sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Within the Te Reo Māori plan, a graduate profile has been developed for implementation in 2016. Aspirations expressed in the profile show clear alignment with the values and current practices within the school. The plan should provide continued development of a shared understanding of success for Māori, as Māori at the school.

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.

There has been good progress towards meeting areas for development identified in the previous ERO report. Leaders have developed a coherent approach to supporting the achievement of goals and priorities.

Through a consultative approach to leadership school processes and practices effectively support student wellbeing outcomes and engagement in learning. Teachers experience opportunities to build their wider leadership capacity. Leaders communicate and model clear expectations to support teaching and learning.

Trustees receive good quality information and analysis of student achievement throughout the year. The board uses this information to guide strategic planning, decision making and the provision of resources to assist students at risk of poor educational outcomes. Strategic plans and goals are set to establish relevant school-wide priorities for improvement. A range of perspectives are sought. Trustees access training to support their role in developing the strategic direction of the school.

Parents, families and whānau are welcomed into the school and are involved in a range of school activities. Leaders and trustees are committed to strengthening partnerships for learning. Initiatives such as Reading Together, parent evenings and online learning environments provide useful opportunities for families to be actively involved in their children’s learning. Reports to parents give clear information on progress towards National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. These include next learning steps and meaningful ways to help at home.

The appraisal process promotes alignment between student learning needs and teacher professional learning goals. Professional development for teachers is responsive to needs identified through student achievement data.

A revised framework and process for teachers’ appraisals was introduced in 2015. Teachers are setting goals based on implementing professional learning and raising student achievement. Teachers are encouraged to reflect on their progress towards their goals. Next steps for their future development are in line with whole school priorities for improvement.

A sound review process is in place. Many aspects of school systems and processes have been reviewed since the previous ERO report. Aspects of review inform decision making and lead to improvement. To strengthen internal evaluation, there needs to be a greater focus on how to measure the effectiveness of actions and their impact on intended outcomes.

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

Gracefield School ‘Steps for Success’ underpin the curriculum. Leaders have developed effective systems to track and monitor student achievement. Recent achievement information shows a positive shift in the numbers of students meeting expectations in relation to the National Standards.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

11 February 2016

School Statistics

Location

Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

2848

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

245

Gender composition

Female 125, Male 120

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Asian

20%

60%

10%

10%

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

11 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2012

November 2009

November 2006