Lauriston School - 01/03/2016

Findings

Staff members know students and families well. Students have a range of interesting, rich learning activities. Teachers effectively identify, support and extend students’ achievement in literacy and mathematics. The board and principal need to clarify roles and responsibilities of all staff, and improve communication and decision-making processes.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

1 Context

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

Lauriston School is a small, rural school in mid Canterbury. It is located close to Ashburton and Methven. Most students go to school by bus.

Students learn in four multilevel classes. The learning spaces are attractively presented and well resourced.

A new principal was appointed and started in Term One 2015, after a long-serving principal resigned at the end of Term 4, 2014. Most staff members have been at the school over five years. They are strongly committed to teaching and learning and know the students and their families well. The roles and responsibilities of staff need to be clarified.

The school is governed by a combined board with Mount Hutt College. There is one Lauriston parent trustee currently on the board. The staff representative is from Mount Hutt College. The chairperson was new to the position at the beginning of 2015. The board needs to ensure that there are improvements made to communication and decision-making processes.

Since the 2013 ERO review, the teachers have strengthened how they report student achievement to parents, and the board has improved the strategic focus at governance level.

Teachers still need to strengthen the inclusion of bicultural perspectives in the curriculum and success for Māori, as Māori. Self review and appraisal remain at early stages of development.

2 Learning

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

The teachers make good use of achievement information to identify and support students at risk of not achieving, and to extend students’ achievement.

In 2014, most students were achieving at or above National Standards in literacy and mathematics. Some groups achieved very highly. Teachers identified some groups of concern that they have been closely monitoring in 2015. The school is well resourced to accelerate student progress with a suitable range of interventions and programmes.

There is a good range of practices and programmes that support students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Teachers have high expectations for learning and achievement. They prepare useful plans to meet students’ identified needs or strengths. Teachers provide feedback about students’ learning to help them set appropriate goals.

Students are well supported to clearly understand expected achievement levels, particularly in writing and mathematics. They confidently assess their own and others' learning. Students' ideas and opinions about their learning are valued and teachers respond to them.

Areas for review and development

ERO, the principal and teachers agree that, to further improve learning and achievement they need to:

  • develop clearer and more measurable achievement targets with action plans linked to teacher evaluation and appraisal
  • review and develop guidelines that outline how teachers are forming overall teacher judgements in literacy and mathematics against the National Standards
  • further explore data-management systems that will support the combined board expectation for reporting and analysing achievement information.

3 Curriculum

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

Students are provided with a wide range of authentic and rich learning activities that support and extend their learning.

The school’s vision and values are well understood and clearly link to students’ learning and achievement. The curriculum provides a strong focus on problem-solving and thinking skills.

Teachers are collaborative. They share ideas and plan together. Their strengths, skills and knowledge are well used to promote students’ interests and strengths.

Students experience good coverage of the curriculum, particularly science, technology and sustainable practices. Student achievement across the curriculum is well celebrated.

Students can choose a range of ways and places to learn. There are many opportunities for student leadership and extension that link to their interests and strengths. For example, student action groups can raise chickens or build machines.

Area for review and development

The school’s curriculum is under review. Teachers agree they need to align the values to the recently reviewed school vision, include guidelines linking to best learning practices, and include a stronger bicultural perspective.

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

The school is still developing ways to promote educational success for Māori as Māori.

Students have some opportunities to experience and have leadership opportunities in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. These include visiting a marae and attending a powhiri at other schools. Teachers are using the ideas of some Māori students to inform planning for those students who show interest.

Areas for review and development

The school has provided some opportunities for parents of Māori students to contribute their ideas and opinions about raising achievement for their children. The board, principal and teachers agree, that they now need to explore other ways to gather and respond to the aspirations of parents of Māori students.

The next step for the principal and teachers is to develop internal capacity to lead and promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Since the 2013 review, the board and staff members have worked with the school community to refresh the school’s vision and values, strategic direction and goals. The board has also started to work with an external provider to review documentation that will work for both schools.

The board is working to develop better systems for the shared-board approach. Trustees have a range of clear guidelines about how the board operates at a strategic level. There is a good understanding and focus on strategic planning including long-term planned review, regular review and emergent review and board training. This planning is shaping more useful reporting processes and a shared board approach.

The board, principal and staff have high expectations of teaching and learning and are committed to ensuring the outcomes for students continue to improve and be sustained.

The school has a very supportive parent community who regularly attend school events and participate in fundraising events. Parents encourage their children to do well at the school and communicate well with their teachers.

Areas for review and development

Relationships and communication between the board and staff, and the principal and staff, need to be improved. Trust, integrity and openness at these levels needs to be reinforced.

Change management and communication are not always effective. School policies and procedures need to be followed by all staff or updated to reflect current practices. The process used to guide self review needs to be systematic and be well understood by all staff.

The roles and responsibilities of the principal and staff members need to be reviewed and clarified. Some decision-making processes are not inclusive of all staff.

At the time of the 2013 ERO review, the teachers’ appraisals were identified as needing improvement. In 2015, the principal and teachers have made a start to develop an appraisal process that will meet legislative requirements.

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.

The board and principal are unsure if a number of their policies and procedures, particularly related to health and safety, meet legislative requirements. They need to review and ensure all documentation is well understood and implemented by the principal and staff.

Each board of trustees is required to:

  • comply in full with any legislation currently in force or that may be developed to ensure the safety of students and employees. [National Administration Guideline 5(c)]

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends the board and principal seek:

  • ongoing support from New Zealand School Trustees Association to ensure the school meets legislative requirements
  • support from the Ministry of Education to improve communication and relationships between the board and staff, and principal and school staff.

Conclusion

Staff members know students and families well. Students have a range of interesting, rich learning activities. Teachers effectively identify, support and extend students’ achievement in literacy and mathematics. The board and principal need to clarify roles and responsibilities of all staff, and improve communication and decision-making processes.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

1 March 2016

School Statistics

Location

Lauriston, Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3407

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

89

Gender composition

Boys 48; Girls 41

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other ethnicities

75

6

5

3

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

1 March 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2013

June 2009

October 2005