Kokopu School - 15/05/2015

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Kokopu School is a small, rural school near Whangarei. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8 in three multi-year level classrooms. The school’s aim is to maintain smaller classes while managing the recent positive roll growth. Twenty four percent of the student roll identify as having Māori heritage.

Teachers take advantage of the school’s rural environment in curriculum programmes and by offering healthy outdoor living opportunities for students. The school collaborates with a cluster of small schools for sporting events and to moderate assessment data.

The school board of mainly newly appointed trustees is led by an experienced and newly appointed board chair. Trustees support the principal as leader of the school.

ERO worked with the school during the two years prior to the 2012 ERO report. This current review finds that the school responded positively to the priorities for further development made in that report. The principal and board have developed performance management processes for the principal and staff which include teachers reflecting on the effectiveness of their teaching practice. The board has also reviewed the school’s provision for careers advice and guidance for students in Years 7 and 8.

2 Learning

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

Kokopu School uses student information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement and progress. The school’s achievement information identifies that 70 percent of all students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. This is comparable to local, regional and national levels of achievement.

The school uses a wide range of school-based and national assessments to track student progress. Teachers use standardised tools and they moderate results with other schools to help them make robust judgements about each student’s achievement. School leaders could review the usefulness of the wide range of assessment information they gather.

Students experience positive relationships with teachers and their classmates. Most students engage well in their tasks and some students are beginning to develop skills to track their own learning journey. The principal is aware of the need for students across the school to develop these skills.

The school uses a range of strategies, including external agencies, to work closely with students whose achievement is not yet meeting the National Standards. Teachers know the students well and are catering for their individual learning needs. The board acknowledges the need to be assured of the effectiveness of programmes implemented to support accelerated progress for students yet to achieve national standards.

Student progress is monitored and reported regularly to the board during each year. The board would benefit from being made more aware of the progress that students make over their time at the school. This knowledge would enable trustees to make resourcing decisions to promote higher levels of achievement.

The school goal is for all students to achieve the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Trustees set relevant targets to increase the number of students achieving National Standards. Teachers focus on meeting these goals over the year. The outcomes of these goals could be shared more clearly with the community in the school’s charter.

Parents receive useful oral and written reports about their children’s progress over the year. Students, their parents and teachers together develop appropriate learning goals. Teachers could work more closely with parents throughout the year in partnership to support students’ learning progress.

3 Curriculum

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

Kokopu School’s curriculum is effective in supporting and promoting student learning. The curriculum is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and the NZC learning areas are reviewed annually. The curriculum offers students a good balance of academic and education experiences outside the classroom. Students also have a range of leadership options available to them.

The curriculum was designed in 2011 in line with NZC. It is timely now to review the school’s curriculum design to this community and to the future direction of education. The school, together with its community could review the school’s vision and mission statements to guide the curriculum design.

The principal has identified as a priority for development the need to support students to take greater ownership of their own learning. This could include more regular discussions with students about their preferences for the way they like to learn.

Teachers have access to appropriate professional learning opportunities aligned to the school wide goals. Teachers implement a variety of strategies to encourage tuakana teina relationships between students that benefit their learning.

The principal encourages teachers to critically review the effectiveness of their teaching practices to improve students’ progress and achievement. This good practice could help to increase consistency of teaching practice school-wide.

The board has an increased emphasis on providing information and communication technologies for students. Teachers demonstrate an understanding of the place of digital tools to enrich and enhance students’ learning.

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

Kokopu School is beginning to implement effective strategies to promote educational success for Māori students as Māori.

The principal is committed to growing teacher and student understanding of and capability in bicultural practices. The school has begun to include tikanga Māori protocols in formal school occasions. Students have some opportunities to learn basic te reo Māori and some tikanga Māori in learning programmes. The principal is proactively increasing his personal te reo and tikanga Māori knowledge and is modelling this to staff.

The school’s achievement information indicates that Māori achievement is not as high as for other students in the school. Māori student achievement is reported to parents and whānau individually and the board is yet to formally report to the school’s Māori community on Māori student achievement. The board should develop learning partnerships with whānau and the Māori community to improve students’ ongoing progress.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Kokopu School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The board of trustees have participated in governance training. They have a good understanding of aspects of their role and they continue to familiarise themselves with other governance aspects. Trustees acknowledge the benefit of continuing to participate in external training opportunities.

The board is developing the school’s self review processes. Trustees regularly review the school’s policies and procedures. The board recently consulted with the community to inform the current school charter and direction. They could now develop indicators of best practice to review the effectiveness of systems and goal progress against these indicators.

The principal has a divided role between being the leader of the school and a classroom teacher with the majority of his time spent in class. During the review ERO discussed with the board the value of releasing the principal more to professionally guide and monitor the quality of teaching and learning across the school.

A useful teacher appraisal process meets statutory requirements. The board would be well advised to insert the Kokopu School code of professional conduct into teachers’ performance appraisals. This would help the board to clarify their expectations of all staff.

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

Kokopu School is a small rural school and students enjoy curriculum programmes that take advantage of this environment. The majority of students achieve National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students benefit from frequent education experiences outside the classroom. Teachers know and cater well for individual students’ wellbeing and learning needs.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 May 2015

About the School

Location

Kokopu, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

1036

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

59

Gender composition

Girls 32

Boys 27

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 41

Māori 15

other 3

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

15 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2012

Education Review December 2010

Education Review October 2007