Mt Albert School - 17/08/2016

Findings

The school has made good progress since 2013. Stronger curriculum leadership is having a positive impact on student learning opportunities and achievement outcomes.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Mt Albert School caters for students from Years 1 to 6. The school has a growing roll and increased number of teaching staff. A new 10 classroom block opened in 2015 to cater for the higher number of students. Māori students make up eight percent of the school roll. Another 29 percent of the students have Pacific heritage.

The 2013 ERO report noted that students enjoyed a friendly and inclusive learning environment. However, the report highlighted concerns about curriculum leadership, the use of student achievement information, and the quality of governance and management practices. For these reasons ERO decided to continue to monitor the school’s progress through a longitudinal review process.

Staff have participated in the Ministry of Education (MoE) Leadership and Assessment Contract to grow their leadership skills and their capability to use assessment information to make positive changes for learners and to grow leadership skills. The board sought School Trustee Association (NZSTA) support and guidance to assist trustees and school leaders to develop their capacity to implement changes. Over the last three years the school’s leadership has remained the same, with some trustee turnover on the board.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO and the school identified the following priorities for the review:

  • developing curriculum leadership to support and sustain school-wide initiatives in teaching and learning
  • using achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement
  • growing school governance and management capability to respond to the challenges in the school.

Progress

There has been good progress against all three review priority areas.

Effective curriculum leadership is now evident. Designated curriculum leadership positions are in place, providing clear lines of responsibilities and expectations for curriculum leaders. Middle school leaders have been empowered and energised to lead learning at the different year levels. They are open to new learning and the positive impact of the professional learning programme is helping them use different curriculum leadership approaches.

Appropriate systems have been set up to support and sustain curriculum initiatives. The school now has systems to support the ongoing development of teaching practice and quality assurance. The strengths of these systems is in the way they promote teacher reflection about practice and are supported by good access to ongoing professional learning and development for all staff.

Stronger curriculum leadership is having a positive impact on learners. Different teaching approaches are increasing students' understanding of the role they can play in the learning process. As a result, students have greater ownership of their learning and achievement outcomes. School leaders are now well placed to revisit the school curriculum documentation so that it provides coherent guidelines and direction for teachers, parents and students.

The school has improved the use of achievement information to support better learning outcomes for students. There is now a shared ownership of achievement information by school leaders. Leaders have grown their capability to analyse data and inquire into patterns and trends. The school has good systems to support reliable, well evidenced, teacher judgments in relation to the National Standards. Student progress and achievement information is shared with students at class level and used as evidence in professional discussions.

There has been some refinement in how achievement information is reported to the board. This is an area that continues to need rationalising to support strategic decision making.

Overall, school achievement information shows a rise in student achievement in mathematics and writing. Reading achievement remains high, with the school meeting the 2017 government target of 85 percent of students achieving at and above the National Standard. The 2015 National Standards data shows disparities for some cohorts of students across the different standards.

Governance capability has strengthened. The board and school management have documented a useful school charter to guide school operations and development. A more strategic and useful school policy framework is now in place. New board structures are resulting in clearer financial reporting and property management. 

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to improve its performance.

The board has identified there is still work to be done to refine the charter so that it includes clear and measurable goals to help the school monitor progress against their agreed priorities. This work could be enhanced by a period of community and staff consultation to develop a shared understanding of the diverse community the school serves. Consultation should help to build shared ownership of the school’s future priorities and direction.

The review of some governance processes and approaches to reporting requirements has resulted in tension between the board and school managers. The significant challenge that the new board must manage is to:

  • ensure good advice and support is available for trustees and for staff
  • build stronger and more trusting working relationships with school managers.

Key next steps

Key next steps for the board and school leaders to support ongoing school improvement include:

  • documenting a coherent school curriculum
  • continuing to refine the reporting of achievement information to support strategic decision making
  • working together on a shared vision for the future direction of the school
  • building trusting working relationships.

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

The school has made good progress since 2013. Stronger curriculum leadership is having a positive impact on student learning opportunities and achievement outcomes.

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

17 August 2016

About the School 

Location

Mt Albert, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1381

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

424

Gender composition

Boys      51%
Girls       49%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific nations
Asian
Indian
other ethnicities

  8%
23%
29%
17%
14%
  9%

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

17 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2013
June 2010
May 2007