Millers Flat School - 13/12/2013

1 Context

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

Millers Flat School is a Years 1 to 8 rural school. The students learn in two multi-level classes.

Students who spoke with ERO talked about the benefits of their small school. They appreciated the small class sizes, individual attention from their teachers, and the way that older students looked out for, played with and worked alongside younger students. They described their school as a friendly and welcoming place.

Parents and the wider community support the school in many ways. They often attend school events and contribute generously to fundraising for resources. Students join neighbouring schools for sports and other activities.

Country values are very evident in the way students relate to each other and to adults. The students are polite and respectful. Older students are encouraged to be role models for younger students, take on special responsibilities and use their initiative.

The school curriculum makes effective use of its local context, people and resources. Students take pride in their success in sports at local and regional events.

At the beginning of 2013, a new principal was appointed. The board and principal have a good working relationship and are governing and managing the school well. Overall, there has been good progress in addressing the recommendations in the 2010 ERO report. They prioritise student safety and welling.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good to very good use of achievement information to engage students and support their progress and achievement. ERO noted particularly good use of achievement information in the junior class.

Findings

Overall, students make good progress with their learning at Millers Flat School. They achieve well against the National Standards. For example, at the end of 2012 the school’s information shows 80% of students at or above the National Standards for reading. Many students achieve above expected levels.

Most of the students who spoke with ERO knew their next learning steps. They regularly talk about their progress and achievement with their teachers.

The teachers use a good range of formal and informal assessments in literacy and mathematics. They also:

  • have detailed information about each student
  • carefully group students and target their teaching to meet the wide needs of students in multi-level classes
  • know and work intensively with those students who need extra help with their learning.

ERO saw examples of where students had made dramatic progress as a result of this intensive work.

The board gets regular information on how well students achieve against the National Standards. The 2012 reports included useful notes about strengths in the programme and next steps. The school’s 2012 target to lift achievement in writing led to most students making good progress and some making significant progress.

The next steps are to:

  • review and update the school’s guidelines and procedures for assessment so that they better reflect current practice
  • review how well the school’s expectations for assessment, especially students’ involvement in assessment, are met
  • develop more detailed action plans for school targets.

3 Curriculum

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

Students in this school benefit from an interesting, broad and responsive curriculum.

Findings

The school’s curriculum clearly sets out its vision for students’ learning, desired values and competencies. Other strengths of the curriculum are the way that:

  • topic learning is built around local issues and priorities so that learning is relevant to students’ lives
  • teachers use the local environment, people and local events to enrich students’ learning
  • different learning areas are thoughtfully integrated into topic studies.

There is an ongoing focus on sustainability, environmental awareness, and hands-on learning. For example, students grow, sell and use their own produce.

Students told ERO that they enjoy their learning and that their teachers have high expectations that they will do their best. They learn in very settled classrooms and know how to work well independently and with each other. Students told ERO that at their school it is not about competing with each other but about everyone learning together and helping each other.

Areas for review and development

Some school guidelines could be better followed. This includes guidelines and the schedule for reviewing teaching and learning in the school. Review needs to be more evaluative, frequent and thorough. The next steps are to:

regularly review how well different learning areas are taught and how well the school’s priorities and goals for learning are kept to the forefront

review how well the school is implementing its own detailed expectations about valuing Māori language and culture.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that it needs to complete:

  • guidelines for its ‘connected’ curriculum, including progressions for relevant skills
  • learning statements for the arts, science, social science and technology areas
  • guidelines as to how the school will extend students with special abilities.

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

Adults in the school show a determination that Māori students will be successful in their learning.

There is a small number of Māori students in Millers Flat. These students are a valued part of the school and make good progress with their learning. Teachers ensure that those students who need extra support get it.

The school is yet to explore what success as Māori might mean.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Findings

The principal is new to this role and is getting appropriate professional support. In a short time she has developed positive relationships with staff and trustees, gained a good understanding of the school culture and systems, and identified ways to further improve the school.

The board has a balance of new and experienced trustees. Trustees have benefited from ongoing internal and external professional learning about their roles and responsibilities. Many of the trustees have work skills that relate to their role as governors.

Overall, the board has effective governance systems and shows a strong commitment to providing the best for Millers Flat students.

Areas for review and development

The next steps for the board are to:

  • improve the usefulness and quality of its strategic and annual (long and short-term) plans
  • regularly monitor the school’s progress against strategic and annual plans
  • ensure that reviews are evaluative and provide useful information as to how the school could further improve.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

13 December 2013

About the School

Location

Millers Flat, Central Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3371

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

33

Gender composition

Girls 19; Boys 14

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

31

2

Review team on site

October 2013

Date of this report

13 December 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

October 2010

September 2007

August 2006