Invercargill Middle School - 29/07/2015

Findings

The school has a strong culture of respect and care. Students’ learning and wellbeing is closely monitored and supported. School leaders have very high expectations of teachers and students. There is a strong focus on effective teaching and students understanding their next learning steps. Teachers work in urgent and innovative ways to meet the needs and interests of students.

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?

Invercargill Middle School is the oldest primary school in Invercargill. Located in the centre of the city, it educates students from Years 1-6. Middle School is close to the main tertiary training institution. This brings families to the city, resulting in significant numbers of students entering and leaving the school within the year. The school is increasingly culturally diverse. It has an increased number of Māori and Pacific students and students with English as a second language.

The board, leaders and teachers have worked hard to create a caring, inclusive school culture. The school values of respect and responsibility and its vision (e tu atu nei - stand tall, be proud) are very evident. There are high expectations for learning and behaviour. Senior students told ERO ‘teachers care about our learning’. One current school focus is to strengthen the home-school partnership and establish community links to raise student achievement.

Since the last ERO review in 2012 the school has responded to parents’ wishes for Māori language learning. A level 3 bilingual class has been established. Māori and non-Māori students enjoy this class.

The school has continued to build on the good progress noted in the last ERO 2012 report. This includes:

  • a strong focus and very effective systems to accelerate students’ progress
  • comprehensive curriculum planning
  • high-quality teaching and learning
  • continued effective leadership
  • the development and use of useful review processes.

3 Learning

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

Students across the school achieve particularly highly in reading and mathematics. They make significant improvement in their achievement as they move through the school.

Every student’s achievement and progress in relation to the National Standards is well known and very closely monitored. There are effective initiatives in place to raise the level of writing achievement to meet the school’s high expectations for student success.

Teachers skilfully use their in-depth understanding of each child’s progress in reading, writing and mathematics to inform their day-to-day teaching and to support individual students in their classroom learning. Teachers work hard to ensure students understand their learning, know how well they are achieving and what they need to do to improve.

The principal and senior leaders have developed highly effective ways to support teachers’ use of assessment information. Teachers meet frequently to talk about students and the progress they are making in their learning. Their judgements about students’ achievement are reliable. Students needing additional help are quickly identified and the effectiveness of their support is closely monitored.

The board regularly monitors students’ reading, writing and mathematics achievement. The principal provides trustees with useful information about students and their learning. As a result, appropriate decisions are made to support effective teaching and learning. This includes setting appropriate goals and targets to accelerate the progress of those students achieving below or well below the expected levels.

A deeper evaluation of how well different groups of target students have benefited from the school’s strategies and programmes of support could help inform future planning.

4 Curriculum

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

This school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports student learning. It is responsive to students’ needs and tailored to the wishes of its parent community. A class that focuses on teaching and learning of te reo Māori has been established and is operating extremely well.

Leaders and teachers have a relentless focus on raising students' achievement and accelerating their progress. Teachers and leaders go out of their way to ensure that learning time is prioritised. This can be seen in the appropriate pace of learning, deliberate acts of teaching and good use made of routines. No opportunities for student learning are missed. Within each classroom children are taking more responsibility for their learning.

Specific initiatives have been put in place to build a positive school culture. Teachers use a restorative justice approach and a ‘trust group’ to support students’ wellbeing. The school’s values are naturally interwoven into different learning areas. The board and leaders are using innovative ways to get parents more involved in the school and in children’s learning.

Leaders share very strong beliefs about what effective teaching and learning looks like. Teachers work well together and are improvement focused. They have detailed guidelines as to what effective teaching should look like in this school. New teachers are very well supported. ERO observed well-embedded systems and practices to build and support the quality of teaching.

These include:

  • detailed planning and purposeful resourcing for classroom learning
  • intentional professional learning and discussions
  • peer observations of teaching practice and helpful feedback
  • teachers reflecting on their practice
  • a rigorous appraisal process.

A feature of the school’s curriculum is a strong focus on all aspects of literacy and mathematics. Leaders and teachers have worked together to develop high-quality acceleration plans for these learning areas. There is intensive support for target students from teachers and teacher aides. Ongoing review and development of the school’s curriculum ensures it is relevant to and for current students.

ERO supports the school’s current focus to accelerate the progress of students at risk of poor educational outcomes, particularly for transient and English-as-second language learners.

ERO and senior leaders agree that the school’s next steps are to develop:

  • policies and procedures for gifted and talented students
  • progressions for student skill development across other learning areas
  • progressions for te reo Māori learning.

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

The school provides a culturally inclusive environment in which Māori students and all students can stand confident and tall. The school has embraced core Māori concepts and approaches to learning. Whanaungatanga (family-like relationships) and manaakitanga (a culture of care) are especially evident.

The school is responsive to the wishes of its Māori parents. This is evident in the school’s wider goals. Almost 25% of students identify as Māori. Overall, this group has very good levels of achievement against the National Standards. Many of these students choose to be part of a multi-level class where te reo Māori is used as well as English.

Teachers are expected to find ways that work best for Māori learners and supported to improve their practice. Māori students who spoke with ERO were very enthusiastic about their school and teachers. They strongly believed that teachers cared about them and their learning. They felt challenged and well supported.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The board of trustees has a high level of commitment to support children no matter how long they are at this school. The strategic plan and priorities are well aligned with the school’s values and vision. With guidance from the principal, trustees make appropriate decisions for students’ learning and wellbeing. A next step for trustees is to continue to build their understanding of their governance and stewardship role.

The school benefits from the strong professional leadership of its principal and deputy principal. They have high expectations for teachers to provide every opportunity for students to learn.

They are building a collaborative, improvement-focused culture with teaching staff. A relentless focus is placed on accelerating students’ progress and improving teaching and learning.

The principal has a clear vision for school development. He manages change well. He carefully chooses initiatives that will work for this school and that are sustainable. He seeks to understand what has worked well and what needs to improve. The opinions of students, staff and parents are sought to inform improvement across the school. Teachers are well supported to develop best practice in teaching and learning. He works proactively with other schools and agencies and takes practical steps for ongoing improvement.

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

The school has a strong culture of respect and care. Students’ learning and wellbeing is closely monitored and supported. School leaders have very high expectations of teachers and students. There is a strong focus on effective teaching and students understanding their next learning steps. Teachers work in urgent and innovative ways to meet the needs and interests of students.

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

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

29 July 2015

School Statistics

Location

Invercargill

Ministry of Education profile number

3966

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

183

Special Features

Level 3 Māori immersion classroom

Gender composition

Male:    54%

Female:                46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Māori
Pacific
Other

53%
23%
  9%
15%

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

29 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

August 2012
August 2011
June 2009