Kaitoke School (Claris) - 15/02/2017

1 Context

Kaitoke School is situated near Claris on Aotea, Great Barrier Island. The school, which is adjacent to the Aotea Island Playcentre, serves children from Years 1 to 8 in multilevel classes. Both staffing and the number of children on the school roll have remained stable over the past three years. This continuity, which the board has actively pursued, has contributed to the school's history of sustained and ongoing improvement.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are "to aim high in everything you do - Whaia ki te teitei" and to develop values including honesty, self-confidence, a sense of responsibility, tolerance, aroha and compassion. The school's charter goals acknowledge the Treaty of Waitangi and local iwi. There is a strong emphasis on children achieving high levels of literacy and numeracy and becoming lifelong learners. Other important goals are to build children's understanding of the unique features of the island environment and community and to encourage them to value and sustain these.

The school's Public Achievement Information is incomplete for 2013 and 2015. However, the school has data for these years. Its most recent 2016 data shows that the majority of children are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading and writing. Over the past three years the school has had more than 70%, of children at or above the standard in reading and writing and approximately 50% at or above the standard in mathematics. Data for individual children show that in most cases they make good progress as they move through the year levels.

The school's low student numbers mean it is not possible to identify statistically significant disparities in achievement in the National Standards data. Teachers have however noted that programmes have not been as successful in lifting the achievement and accelerating the progress of a small number of Māori learners in writing and for boys in mathematics.

The school is progressively developing its processes for ensuring overall teacher judgements (OTJs) for National Standards are dependable. Teachers use a range of test results, samples of children's work and observations to arrive at their National Standards judgements. They also moderate assessment with each other. Teachers have begun to discuss, assessment approaches (such as the Ministry of Education's PACT tool) and the possible benefits of between school assessment moderation. Building and broadening moderation processes across schools and the curriculum is an important next step.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has taken a number of steps to improve learning outcomes for children and accelerate their progress. These include:

  • teacher professional learning and development to improve mathematics teaching and strengthen the reliability of National Standards judgements in mathematics
  • improving systems for collecting and analysing achievement data
  • more regularly and systematically tracking and reporting outcomes for children and their progress.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is becoming increasingly effective at raising the achievement and accelerating the progress of children who are currently not achieving the National Standards.

Teachers have in-depth and holistic knowledge of each child. This is a result of their close liaison with parents, their positive and sustained connections with children, and their increasingly good use of assessment information. Children's individual needs and strengths are quickly identified as they come into the school. Those children who require learning support and acceleration are well catered for within the classroom programme and through additional tuition where necessary. Very good support is provided for children with special needs. Parents are well briefed about this support and their children's progress.

Improved assessment systems are resulting in school-wide monitoring of children's progress. This gives teachers good opportunities to collaborate and support each other to build on children's strengths and meet their learning needs. These improvements are also assisting teachers to identify and undertake relevant professional development (PLD) based on identified student needs. Recent mathematics PLD for example, has helped teachers to positively change children's attitudes towards mathematics.

Teachers are successfully accelerating the progress of a good number of the children who are currently not achieving National Standards. In some cases there has been marked acceleration, particularly in reading.

As part of continuing to lift achievement and accelerate children's progress, further work to refine target setting to focus on children whose progress needs acceleration would be worthwhile. Development could also include extending children's understanding of their own learning. Currently, most children are confident to talk about their learning goals and their learning tasks. However, a more in-depth understanding of what makes their work successful and how they can improve the way they learn could give children greater control over their own learning.

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?

Children benefit from a responsive curriculum that is clearly linked to The New Zealand Curriculum and the school's vision, values and goals. This is underpinned and enhanced by positive and supportive relationships between children, teachers/staff and whānau, sound teaching approaches and good leadership and governance.

The school's ethos of inclusiveness and valuing each child is very evident in the tikanga of the school and the way that visitors are welcomed. All children are supported by teachers and each other to participate fully and share their mihi and whakapapa in Māori or their home language and to waiata. This is an example of the school's recognition of biculturalism and the way it successfully builds children's sense of belonging, promotes high aspirations and encourages responsibility and tuakana-teina relationships.

A very positive feature of the school is its close liaison and consultation with parents. Parents are also strongly supportive of the school and regularly attend assemblies and give assistance with education inside and outside the classroom, as well as with fundraising. Many parents who spoke with ERO said they valued the school's inclusiveness and staff's in depth understanding of children. They also noted the efficient and responsive communication they received about school life and their children's learning and well-being.

While the school's written reports could be more consistently clear regarding children's achievement in relation to National Standards, parents said that through regular three way, child, parent and teacher discussions they gain a good picture of their children's achievement and progress. Some parents expressed an interest in getting more information about how best to help their children's learning at home.

Curriculum and teaching approaches include a strong focus, particularly in the junior school, on giving children 'hands on' and 'real life' experiences and topics for learning that are linked to island life, the community and the environment. The history of Māori and Pākehā settlement of the island is incorporated into teaching topics and programmes. These approaches are helping children to solve problems, build their skills and have a sense of their turangawaiwai. As a result, children find their learning interesting and relevant to them.

An important part of teachers' approach is to seize the range of educational opportunities that arise on the island, such as visiting astronomers, as well as off island learning opportunities. This is helping to ensure that children enjoy an engaging and varied curriculum. Information communications technologies are used well to support children's learning inquiries and to connect them to peers and information in the wider world. These varied opportunities challenge and extend children and make learning 'fun'.

School leadership and governance is well connected to the community. This has helped to establish confidence in the school and its direction and won parent support. The principal's inclusive and consultative approach has created a sense of teachers, trustees and whānau being a team with a common focus on promoting children's education and well-being. Parents note that the principal handles any issues with tact and sensitivity and focuses on finding creative solutions to problems that are in the best interests of children.

The principal recognises and values staff strengths and is strategically building their leadership and teaching capability. This strategic intention could be further supported by developing systems for teachers to keep portfolios in alignment with the requirements of the Education Council and the Practicing Teacher Criteria.

The board has created a stable platform for developing and enacting the school's vision, values and goals. Its leadership and structures help to ensure that it consults and represents the community well. Trustees have a high level of commitment to their role. They are confident to question arrangements and offer divergent perspectives. Trustees have varied backgrounds, a range of experience and growing governance skills.

A good set of policy and procedures underpin board and school operations. Establishing a framework or checklist to ensure all accountabilities are consistently met would be a useful addition to board policies and procedures. The board is strongly focussed on positive outcomes for children and this is clearly reflected in trustees' decision making and resourcing.

Currently, trustees receive a wide range of data on student outcomes through the principal and other reports. Better documented analysis and commentary on this data would help the board evaluate the impact of initiatives and resources on learners and enable trustees to contribute to developing more specific achievement targets.

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.

As part of continuing the school's positive developments, aspects of current planning should be made more targeted, and increased priority be given to:

  • strengthening moderation and aspects of the analysis and reporting of student achievement data
  • increasing the specificity of achievement targets to focus on accelerating the progress of the groups of children who are below the National Standards
  • further developing assessment to better facilitate teaching as inquiry
  • increasing children's depth of understanding of all aspects of their own learning.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. 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.

To improve current practice a system should be developed to ensure that police vetting of staff is done well ahead of the date for renewal in order to ensure it remains current for all staff.

7 Recommendation

As part of continuing the school's positive developments it is recommended that school leaders refine aspects of planning and practice to enhance the school's capability to provide equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 February 2017

About the school 

Location

Great Barrier Island

Ministry of Education profile number

1593

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

32

Gender composition

Girls 60% Boys 40%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Samoan

Niue

Thai/Pākehā

3

22

4

2

1

Review team on site

December 2016

Date of this report

15 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

December 2016

November 2013

February 2011