Kaitaia Abundant Life School - 25/05/2015

Findings

Students learn in an inclusive environment that reflects Christian principles and values. School leaders, teachers and the board have worked collaboratively to significantly improve practices and attitudes to promote student engagement and learning progress. Teaching and learning approaches are becoming more consistent and this is helping students to transition more confidently through the school.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Kaitaia Abundant Life School is a state integrated school for Year 1 to 13 students. The school is affiliated with the Kaitaia Abundant Life Church and operates on the church property.

While previous ERO reviews had been very positive, ERO’s September 2012 review identified concerns about school leadership, governance and student achievement. For this reason, ERO decided to continue to monitor the school’s progress through a longitudinal review process.

During term four 2012 the principal resigned from the school. The deputy principal was appointed acting principal until the end of 2013. In April 2013 the Secretary of Education appointed a commissioner to replace the board of trustees. The commissioner's role was to address governance issues regarding employment and financial management, and the delineation of the roles and responsibilities of proprietors, board of trustees and school management.

In January 2014 a new principal, together with the Commissioner, helped to move the school positively towards addressing the concerns raised in the 2012 ERO report. The commissioner’s intervention was revoked in October 2014, as the Ministry of Education (MoE) had confidence that the school could then operate effectively with a board of trustees. A board was then established, appointed by the MoE. The new board includes an elected parent, staff and a student trustee, MoE appointed trustees and a proprietor’s representative.

A long-term programme of professional learning was initiated prior to the 2012 ERO review and concluded in 2014. External facilitators worked with leaders and teachers to build their evaluation capability and to implement effective teaching and learning. Progress with this work was constrained by low staff morale and uncertainty about the school’s leadership during most of this time.

Since February 2013, ERO and the school have evaluated progress made by the school over the past two years. This report summarises ERO’s findings.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The acting principal and the former board chairman agreed on four broad priorities to address during ERO’s longitudinal review. They, and then the Commissioner, new principal and the appointed board have worked together with ERO to progress the following key priorities.

  • Developing a Kaitaia Abundant Life curriculum
  • Improving student achievement
  • Strengthening board practices
  • Strengthening relationships

Progress

Considerable progress has been made in addressing all the review priorities.

An ongoing project for staff is the development of a more seamless curriculum throughout the school. Their professional learning work of recent years has focused on building clear, shared expectations for effective teaching approaches across all year levels. For example, students are benefitting from programmes and deliberate teaching practices that more specifically meet their learning needs. Teachers are increasingly involving students in knowing about their achievement and taking responsibility for their progress.

Significant work has been done to improve student achievement. The principal, leaders and staff are making better use of achievement information to guide target setting and to inform teaching and learning programmes. Teachers are beginning to use data to more clearly determine the impact of their teaching on student progress. These good practices have contributed to an increased sense of urgency in accelerating students’ learning.

Analysis of last year’s student achievement noted strengths and clearly identified areas of concern and the actions to be taken to address these. The new board will benefit from such clarity to guide them in making decisions about resourcing required to accelerate student progress.

Improving the retention of students in the senior school continues to be a priority for leaders and staff. Fluctuations in the number of students who complete National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) programmes make it difficult to identify accurate trends and patterns. The school is successfully tracking Level 1 literacy and numeracy achievement in Years 11 to 13. The school’s literacy achievement is also tracking comparably to national literacy achievement.

In Years 1 to 8, more reliable data are used in teachers’ judgements about student achievement in relation to the National Standards. Moderation of assessment data for students in the middle syndicate is an ongoing priority for development. Achievement information provided by the school shows that students are making good progress in their learning. In particular there are positive shifts in the achievement of Māori students who now achieve above that of local, regional and national levels of Māori achievement.

A planned reorganisation of the school is likely to reduce constraints for students as they move through the year levels of the school. As the school continues to develop a more seamless school curriculum, leaders and staff should keep in mind how students might experience their curriculum journey through Years 1 to 13.

Key next steps

Senior leaders and the board agree that priorities for development include further:

  • supporting students to take responsibility for their progress through self, peer and teacher feedback on their achievement
  • strengthening moderation of teacher assessments in relation to National Standards
  • improving student retention in the senior school
  • developing a sequential te reo Māori programme through all year levels.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The board, the principal and staff are well positioned to sustain and continuously enhance the quality of education they provide for students.

Over the past 18 months the principal, together with staff, has built a more inclusive, open school culture. His leadership is purposeful, collaborative and student focused. There is a higher level of trust and respect between school leaders, staff and the appointed board. Students who spoke with ERO reported greater student confidence in the principal, teachers and school culture. There is now a more appreciative environment for Māori students where they have a greater sense of their identity, language and culture being valued. The principal has proactively modelled this positive move by honouring Māori protocols and expecting that all senior students learn and experience te reo Māori me ōna tikanga.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have a commitment to improving student progress and achievement. They have worked together effectively, and with external advice, to build their capability. Leaders and teachers have increased accountability for the progress of students in their class or department.

There is now greater clarity about governance and management responsibilities in relation to the integration agreement with the MoE. The appointed board is functioning well. Trustees are united, aware of challenges and realistic about their expectations. They have benefitted from training with the former Commissioner. Trustees are also valuing guidance and resources received from the New Zealand School Trustees Association. They are aware of the need to work towards the 2016 board elections.

The principal and the board continue to plan for the school’s ongoing improvement in the priority areas of the 2012 ERO report. Their plans are appropriate and ERO is confident that further progress will be made. The principal is regularly reviewing charter goals and targets and providing the board with progress updates. The board recognises that it is valuable to have all the people responsible for these goals and targets playing a key role in reviewing and updating progress in the strategic and annual plan.

Key next steps

Senior leaders and the board agree that priorities for development include further:

  • evaluating the impact of teaching practices on student engagement and progress
  • seek and make use of the perspectives of students, parents, teachers, and school communities to help the board guide future school development
  • develop clear, documented expectations of the different trustee roles on the board
  • implement the new appraisal system to promote teachers’ ongoing professional growth and improved learning outcomes for students.

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.

Most compliance matters noted in ERO’s 2012 report have been successfully addressed. The principal and board are now aware of the requirement to more formally work in partnership with the school’s Māori communities to promote educational success for Māori students. In order to comply with current legislation the board must:

  • in consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known the school’s policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students

[National Administration Guideline (NAG) 1 (e)]

The board is aware of the need to complete the review and updating of the school’s policies that the new principal and the Commissioner began last year. A review schedule should then be developed to guide regular policy review so that the board is assured that the board is meeting legal requirements.

Conclusion

Students learn in an inclusive environment that reflects Christian principles and values. School leaders, teachers and the board have worked collaboratively to significantly improve practices and attitudes to promote student engagement and learning progress. Teaching and learning approaches are becoming more consistent and this is helping students to transition more confidently through the school.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

25 May 2015

About the School

Location

Kaitaia

Ministry of Education profile number

238

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

233

Gender composition

Girl 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

other

63%

34%

3%

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

25 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

December 2012
June 2009
June 2006