Merrilands School - 23/12/2015

Findings

Merrilands School is inclusive, and student wellbeing is promoted. Most students achieve well against National Standards. They experience an enriched curriculum. The wider community is very supportive. Leaders have a collaborative approach. Further development of analysis and internal evaluation would provide clearer guidance to meeting students' needs and school direction.

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

1 Context

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

Merrilands School in New Plymouth caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The school has experienced a period of roll growth since ERO’s 2013 review. The current school roll is 175 students, 22% of whom are Māori.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. Aspects identified for improvement in the previous ERO report have begun to be progressed and practices strengthened.

2 Learning

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

Leaders, teachers and trustees use achievement information to promote improved engagement and track student progress and achievement. The systematic use of findings from data analysis is yet to underpin decisionmaking at all levels of school operation.

School achievement data for 2014 shows that most students achieved well in relation to the National Standards. Māori achievement was below that of their peers. Areas have been identified as targets for raising student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Reading and writing for boys and mathematics for girls remain areas requiring attention.

Teachers use a range of appropriate assessment tools which provide useful information to support programme planning. A next step is to formalise expectations around the use of these tools and the moderation of teacher judgements both within the school and with other schools.

Leaders make good use of information to identify individuals and groups of students in need of additional support. Programmes and resources are put in place to support learning and regularly track progress.

Trustees are well informed about student achievement through the principal’s reports. These provide useful information on overall student achievement and enable trustees to resource identified needs responsively.

Parents receive informative reports about the learning, progress and achievement of their child.

3 Curriculum

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

Students experience a broad curriculum which makes good use of wider learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Local and cultural contexts are well integrated.

Students observed were positively engaged in their learning. School leaders have identified a key next step is to give the students the skills to take increasing ownership of their learning. ERO's evaluation affirms this goal.

Transition to school is well supported. The importance of students having a high level of oral fluency is understood and well supported in junior classes.

The school climate and culture provide a sound foundation for improving student learning. A caring and inclusive school culture is evident. Students access a range of useful resources to support their learning in well presented, attractive learning environments. Teacher aides are effectively used to support class programmes and use of digital technologies is well integrated into lessons.

Affirming and responsive relationships between teachers, students and their peers reflect agreed school values. Since the January 2013 ERO report there has been an ongoing review of the curriculum through a consultative process. The school’s values and vision have been revised. These underpin teaching and school life.

Overarching documentation guides teaching and learning. Recent curriculum developments focus on the key competencies, oral language, literacy, numeracy and social skills. High and explicit expectations for teaching practice and development are articulated. A key next step is to include in curriculum documentation clear expectations for culturally responsive practices and bicultural perspectives.

An inclusive culture with a focus on student health and wellbeing is highly evident. Planning and provision for students with complex needs continue to be areas of strength. Effective programmes and supports are in place for these students and their families. Well-resourced environments support the interests and physical needs of individuals.

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

Promotion of success for Māori as Māori is developing.

The school has developed its kapa haka and this group is now performing regularly.

School guiding documentation does not strongly promote Māori student culture, language and identity. Consultation with whānau in 2015 did not clearly identify issues for this group.

It is necessary to continue to develop shared understandings and expectations for culturally responsive practices. In particular the school should ensure that:

  • culture, language and identity are well considered in curriculum review and documentation
  • cultural competencies are considered and developed in teacher appraisals
  • goals for improving Māori student achievement and whānau consultation and engagement are explicit in strategic and annual planning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Merrilands School is well placed to sustain and grow school improvements. Leadership is collaborative and there is a collegial staff culture.

There is strong community involvement in all areas of school life. Positive, respectful relationships between teachers, students and the wider school community are a strength of the school.

Teachers are developing their understanding and use of data-driven inquiry. This is supporting teacher collaboration and improved teaching practice. Appraisal systems are undergoing review and teacher portfolios are being introduced to support more rigorous accountability processes. Key next steps are to:

  • improve and embed the process of teachers inquiring into their practice
  • monitor teachers' progress towards their development goals.

Sound governance is evident. Comprehensive documentation, regular review of policies and associated procedures supports school operations. Trustees are regularly informed on areas of school development and operation. Trustees’ decision making is informed by student achievement information, professional advice and external expertise.

Annual and strategic planning is currently input based. School leaders set overall, percentage-based targets. In order to enable leaders to better evaluate the impact of programmes on student outcomes and the effectiveness of strategies to meet goals it is necessary to:

  • strengthen planning at all levels by developing indicators of expected outcomes
  • consider setting specific targets that focus on identified groups of 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.

Conclusion

Merrilands School is inclusive, and student wellbeing is promoted. Most students achieve well against National Standards. They experience an enriched curriculum. The wider community is very supportive. Leaders have a collaborative approach. Further development of analysis and internal evaluation would provide clearer guidance to meeting students' needs and school direction.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

23 December 2015

School Statistics

Location

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

2197

School type

Contributing (Year 1 to 6)

School roll

175

Gender composition

Male 59% Female 41%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

22%

62%

2%

14%

Special Features

Special Care Class (students with multiple disabilities)

Host school for Taranaki Van Asch deaf advisers

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

23 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2013

December 2009

June 2006