Michael Park School - 17/06/2016

Findings

Michael Park School in Ellerslie, caters for learners from Years 1 to 13. Steiner special character principles, and values are strongly evidenced throughout the school. Students learn effectively in a respectful environment and engage in a curriculum that prepares them very well for lifelong learning.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

Michael Park School, in Ellerslie, is a state integrated composite school catering for students from Years 1 to 13. The principles, vision and values of the Steiner Waldorf philosophy are strongly evident in the school’s learning environments and curriculum.

Students travel across greater Auckland to attend, and many families have long associations with the school. An increasingly culturally diverse community attends the school. Approximately 11 percent of students identify as Māori.

The school’s special character underpins all aspects of school operations. The living Steiner pedagogy is visible throughout classroom and outdoor environments. It is clearly evident in the ways that the school promotes positive interactions and relationships. The school culture is welcoming, inclusive and supportive for students and their whānau.

In the lower school (class 1 to class 7), students’ progress in reading, writing and mathematics are assessed against Learning Steps. The Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand (FRSSNZ) have an agreement with the Ministry of Education to use Learning Steps as National Standards indicators.

In the high school (class 8 to class 12), senior students also receive a Steiner based education with the opportunity to gain both the Steiner Federation School Certificate and nationally recognised NCEA and University Entrance qualifications.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history. ERO’s 2012 report noted that students were well engaged in learning, and that teachers had high expectations for learning and citizenship. These good practices have been further embedded.

Since the 2012 ERO review, a new principal has been appointed. The principal, senior leaders, and trustees have reviewed and strengthened their respective management and governance roles and responsibilities.

2 Learning

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

Michael Park School uses achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ progress and achievement.

The school’s achievement information is being analysed and used well by the board, senior leaders, and teachers. Achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) over the past five years shows that student achievement is very good.

Results in NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance are very good overall. In 2013 and 2014 over 90 percent of students in class 12 (Year 13) attained NCEA level 3. In 2015 the University Entrance results were better than students’ results nationally. In 2015, 96 percent of students achieved NCEA level 2.

Māori students achieve very well. In 2014 and 2015, 100 percent of Māori students achieved Level 2, Level 3 NCEA and University Entrance.

Students in class 10, (Year 11) work towards a level 1 equivalent award, the Steiner School Certificate. In the four years that the school has offered the qualification, the majority of students have achieved this qualification.

Teachers and senior leaders collate their class 8 and 9 (Year 9 and 10) achievement information, using curriculum levels appropriate to expectations for student achievement. Students in these classes are achieving well, with 94 percent of students in class 9 (Year 10) achieving at or above standard in reading, writing, and mathematics. Learning Steps provide a measure of continuity across the lower school and into Classes 8 and 9 in the high school.

In the lower school, achievement information shows that most students from Years 2 to 8 are at and above Learning Steps, aligned to National Standards, in reading, writing and mathematics. This information shows that over the last two years, student achievement in reading and mathematics has improved. However, results in writing have remained relatively unchanged.

The board and senior leaders agree that individual students who need to make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics will be identified. The school should continue to refine their achievement targets to accelerate the progress of students not yet achieving these standards.

Māori students as a group in the lower school achieve slightly lower than their peers in reading, mathematics and writing. However as they move through into the high school this disparity is no longer apparent.

Teachers and senior leaders carefully monitor and analyse student achievement information and successfully target students at risk of not achieving. Teachers work collegially and share teaching strategies to raise student achievement. There are robust inquiry and review processes in place at both the senior leadership and board level. This information helps teachers plan for students learning needs and guides adjustments to course content and curriculum delivery.

Students with special learning needs and abilities are identified and supported by a strong holistic and co-ordinated team approach. Key features of the school are the early identification of students needing support. There is a strong wrap around team approach to meeting the learning and wellbeing needs of all students. The impacts of initiatives and programmes are reported to the board to inform their resourcing decisions. These reports could now include information on how these initiatives and programmes are accelerating learner’s progress.

Professional learning development for teachers, teaching as inquiry and appraisal processes are deepening teachers focus on their practice and improving learning outcomes for their students.

Student learning and engagement in the curriculum is highly supported by comprehensive and inclusive guidance and pastoral care systems. Parents and whānau are well informed about their child’s learning through a variety of formal and informal school strategies and conferencing sessions. Parents value the trusting and open communication with teachers and school leaders, and appreciate the long-term learning partnerships that families and whānau have with the school.

Students are highly engaged and motivated learners. They talk about their learning and interact with their peers and teachers with confidence. Teachers know their students well. They have a deep knowledge of their students' interests, strengths, and progress. In many cases teachers’ knowledge and understanding of students learning and development is built up over several years of working with the same students as they progress through the school.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning very effectively.

The attractive school grounds are well used to support learning programmes. They invite exploration and provide multiple opportunities for students to experience challenge and use their imagination.

The school’s special character, philosophy and pedagogy are very strongly evidenced through the curriculum. The curriculum places equal importance on nurturing and developing the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of students. The Waldorf Steiner vision, values and key capabilities align very well with the vision, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

Students benefit from a rich, responsive and broad curriculum designed “to develop the head, the heart and the hands”. The balanced curriculum has the individual learner’s developmental learning stages at its heart and effectively promotes the principle of lifelong learning. Students at senior levels have access to a variety of subjects available through Te Kura Correspondence School. Students are well prepared for learning pathways beyond school.

Key features of the school’s coherent curriculum include:

  • provision of a broad Steiner curriculum delivered through the main lesson programme and enriched with extensive performing and visual arts, handcraft, technology and outdoor education programmes
  • learning within authentic contexts that makes learning meaningful, relevant and allows students to make connections with their prior learning
  • an unhurried approach, where students have time to think critically, and to explore concepts and ideas, ensuring students have sufficient and equitable opportunities to learn
  • aesthetically designed indoor and outdoor learning environments that foster creativity, participation and engagement in learning.

School leaders clearly articulate and document expectations for effective teaching practice and curriculum delivery. This results in consistency of teaching practice and approaches in classrooms. Teachers provide good quality teaching programmes in settled learning environments that support successful learning outcomes for students. Transitions from kindergarten, through the lower school classes and into the high school are well planned, effective and promote seamless learning through the school.

Internal evaluation is a strength of the school. Curriculum review and inquiry into teaching and learning is ongoing and results in learning programmes that students relate to, providing opportunities for creativity and inspiring students to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.

Ongoing professional learning opportunities for teachers are valued and are an essential part of strategic planning for the development of teaching and learning. Leaders and teachers reflect on their teaching practice and are receptive of new ideas and innovation.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori. School leaders model high expectations for the inclusion of te reo and tikanga Māori across the school. They have a deliberate focus on improving student and teacher knowledge in meaningful ways. Teacher only days have involved staff in a wananga with external advisors running workshops for staff. The school plans to build on this by opening the 2017 school year for staff on a mārae.

The school has 41 students who identify as Māori. There is an expectation that teachers will authentically incorporate Māori language, culture and identity in main lessons and throughout the curriculum. A number of students in the high school are actively researching and incorporating their whakapapa into their learning. Two teachers are employed to provide te reo and tikanga Māori programmes.

Students have an understanding of school kawa and have opportunities to confidently participate in kapahaka and to take part in pōwhiri, mihi, and whakatau.

School leaders have identified the following next steps of development:

  • strengthening connections with local Kaumātua and iwi
  • building a whāre in a central place (at the heart) of the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Michael Park School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The school’s special character is upheld and valued by staff, students’ trustees, and the parent community.

The principal, school leaders and teachers are an effective team of professionals. The principal has recently reviewed the senior leadership structure of the school. A deputy principal has been appointed for the high school and the recruitment of a deputy appointment for the lower school is currently underway.

The principal’s measured management of change and improvement is well paced. The resulting focus on building collective capability and capacity across the school has helped further inspire innovation and improve learning outcomes for students. The principal is driving the growth of student agency and leadership in the school. Senior students value the re-establishment of the student council to further promote student voice within the school.

Leaders and staff are leading innovation and contributing to Steiner education nationally. They are also contributing to the wider educational community by sharing their expertise with their outdoor classroom programme with other schools in the Auckland.

Governance is effective. The board has a clear understanding of its stewardship role. Trustees work well as a team, utilise their collective strengths well and have a good understanding of their responsibilities on the board. The board seeks relevant external expertise when needed and there are processes in place for succession planning.

A useful internal evaluation tool based on the school evaluation indicators has been developed. The board could now consider using this review tool when new trustees join the board. Trustees have a positive working relationship with the principal and appreciate his professional and strategic leadership.

Trustees have "students at the heart" of their thinking, and a strong commitment to improved learning outcomes for all learners. They scrutinise achievement information and strategically allocate resources needed to support school wide programmes and classroom programmes to meet children's learning needs.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of the review there were five international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

The majority of International students come to the school from Steiner Waldorf schools in Europe and Asia. Michael Park School continues to provide its international students with high standards of Steiner education and support, including access to regular English language tuition.

Students enjoy many opportunities to participate in school activities, including sporting and cultural events. Students and their families value the importance that the school places on appropriate accommodation and communication with families. Teachers, together with specialist staff offer high quality academic and pastoral care for students.

Leaders agree that reporting to the board about international student involvement, progress and achievement would further assure trustees of the effectiveness of provision for these 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

Michael Park School in Ellerslie, caters for learners from Years 1 to 13. Steiner special character principles, and values are strongly evidenced throughout the school. Students learn effectively in a respectful environment and engage in a curriculum that prepares them very well for lifelong learning.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

17 June 2016

About the School

Location

Ellerslie, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

424

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

376

Number of international students

5

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Chinese

Japanese

German

Indian

Korean

Middle Eastern

British

other European

other Asian

others

11%

63%

6%

3%

2%

2%

2%

1%

1%

4%

2%

3%

Special Features

Special Character; Waldorf Steiner Education

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

17 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2012

November 2008

September 2005