Millers Flat School - 09/03/2017

1 Context

Millers Flat school is a Years 1 to 8 rural school in Central Otago. Children learn in two multi-level classrooms. Almost all of the children travel to and from the school by bus. There have been significant changes in staff since the last ERO review in 2013. This has included a new principal and two teachers. The majority of the board are long serving.

The school participates in the enviro-schools' programme, with an emphasis on sustainability education and developing the school environment. Staff development has included a positive behaviour for learning programme, literacy learning, a French language programme and first time principal training. The school is part of the Dunstan Community of Learning.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are 'The Bridge to the Future' and linked to the local bridge. The spans of the bridge represent the values. These are solving problems, taking risks, achievement and respect.

Māori children are achieving and progressing well. All are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading. Almost all Māori children are achieving at or above the National Standards in writing and mathematics.

The school's assessment information from 2012 to 2016, shows very positive trends in student achievement. By the end of 2016, most children (94%, 83% and 86%) were achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics respectively.

Since the 2013 ERO evaluation the principal and teachers have specifically focused on raising achievement in writing and accelerating the progress of children who had not reached the National Standards. This has been achieved through improved assessment practices, including moderation, teacher development and resourcing from the board.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

This school responds very effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Trustees and staff are committed to equity and excellence for all students. This is evident through the level of support the school provides.

Teachers quickly identify those children whose progress needs to be accelerated through a wide range of formal and informal assessment practices. 

Children whose progress needs to be accelerated receive specific support individually and as part of targeted groups. Teachers and the teacher aide work effectively together to provide support for these learners. Parents are well informed about their child's progress within the year and how they can support this. Teachers track and frequently monitor children's progress and achievement. The principal's reports to the board provide useful information about children's achievement and progress. They specifically include regular updates on the progress of targeted children.

The school's end of 2016 information, shows that the school has very effectively accelerated children's progress in writing, mathematics and reading.

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?

This school's curriculum and culture effectively enact the vision and values for equity and excellence for children.

Children's learning is relevant, authentic and well supported by the local community. Teachers make good use of the local environment, resources and personnel to provide an engaging curriculum.

The school curriculum has been broadened to include French language learning, a stronger Māori perspective, greater use of the local environment and the revised school values.

The focus for the principal has been on building relationships, redefining the school culture and raising achievement. She has made good use of relevant resources, systems and external expertise to extend children's opportunity to learn. The principal has taken a considered and consultative approach to school development and change.

Children are well engaged in their learning. They are empowered by their teachers and have a good understanding of how well they are learning and progressing. Their ideas and views are sought and responded to. They are able to clearly articulate what helps them to learn and what they need to do to progress.

The board is supportive of school development. Trustees now have a governance framework to support them in their role. Trustees should continue to adapt the policies and procedures they have adopted to best reflect current practice within the school.

Ongoing changes in staffing have limited school development in some areas, including those identified in the last ERO report. It is important for the board to seek external guidance to strengthen their capacity to plan strategically and be fully aware of their roles and responsibilities.

There are some useful practices to guide curriculum development. The principal has completed a review and revision of the science learning area. These guidelines will be a useful example to guide curriculum development in other areas, with increased focus on relevant Māori perspectives. This has been a positive feature of wider curriculum development. The principal has identified and ERO agrees, that the completion of all curriculum statements and guidelines is an important priority.

Internal evaluation needs to be strengthened to ensure that the board receives good information about how well teaching programmes have made a difference to children's progress and achievement.

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 effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Through a period of ongoing change the school's focus has been on supporting positive outcomes for children. Children learn and achieve through a diverse and responsive curriculum. The current leadership has a clear view of how to progress the school and the roles of key personnel within this. It is important for the board to address the next steps identified in this report, to ensure they are best placed to guide and assist school development.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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.

During the course of the review it became apparent that some staff had not had an annual appraisal. The board should ensure that it meets all of its good employer obligations in this regard. 

7 Recommendations

The school should:

  • develop and implement a more useful strategic plan
  • continue to redefine the curriculum statements and supporting documentation
  • seek further board training
  • strengthen internal evaluation practices. 

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

9 March 2017

About the school 

Location

Central Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3771

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

36

Gender composition

Boys: 14

Girls: 22

Ethnic composition

Māori

Indian

Pākehā

6

2

28

Review team on site

December 2016

Date of this report

9 March 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

2013

2010

2007