Mt Albert School - 23/09/2013

1 Context

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

Mt Albert Primary is a Years 1 to 6 inner-city Auckland school. The school was established in the 1920’s. The attractive older buildings and mature trees are local landmarks and are treasured by the local community.

Changing demographics within the school’s multicultural community are reflected in the school’s growing roll and increased number of teaching staff. Four temporary classrooms are currently used to cater for the higher numbers of students. A school maintenance programme is being undertaken and planning has begun for additional classrooms and resource facilities.

Cultural respect and inclusion are key features of school values and practices promoted by the long serving principal. Students are proud of their cultural backgrounds and the school’s curriculum has clear priorities relating to Māori and Pacific learning contexts. The board has appropriately included expectations for Māori and Pacific success in the school’s revised 2013 charter.

A recent survey of parents has provided the board of trustees with useful feedback for improving school and community engagement. At the time of this review a significant number of parents were seeking roles as trustees in the scheduled board election. Parents express willingness to strengthen partnerships with the school that support students’ learning.

2 Learning

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

Student progress is assessed regularly. Teachers use achievement information to group students for learning and to inform their planning. They share achievement information with students in a variety of ways. Students understand their reading levels and numeracy stages and talk with teachers about their learning goals.

Teachers are using achievement information to identify and target individuals and groups of students who are underachieving. They are making increased use of the school management database to monitor and track student progress and achievement. Teachers are also using student achievement and progress information to reflect on their classroom practice as part of their annual appraisal with the principal.

Programmes to support students with special learning needs and those who have English as an additional language have been reviewed. Appropriately trained learning assistants work with these students within classroom programmes to support their progress. The new initiatives are reported to the board. The impact of the programmes on lifting student progress should continue to be evaluated as part of school self review.

Student achievement reported to the board indicates that many students achieve well and make good progress. Teachers are working collegially to share strategies for making consistent judgements in relation to the National Standards. Teacher judgements are moderated within the teaching teams. Moderation between the teaching teams and with other schools would further improve the reliability of the data.

Extensive information about student progress and achievement is provided to the board by the principal. The data is analysed in relation to priority learners and used to set annual goals in relation to the National Standards. School leaders are encouraged to identify more specific and measurable student achievement targets. Evaluation of progress toward achieving these targets would help trustees to better resource student learning needs.

Teachers are currently engaged in professional development to strengthen classroom assessment and learning practices and team leaders are strengthening their capabilities to support teacher development. Other areas where the use of student achievement information could improve include:

  • strengthening the school-wide tracking, analysis and reporting of student progress and achievement
  • reviewing the frequency of reporting to parents in relation to National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides a friendly and inclusive environment for learning. Students relate positively to each other and to their teachers. They understand the school’s values and expectations for learning and behaviour.

Students engage well in the school’s curriculum. They have opportunities to explore relevant topics, through which teachers integrate reading and writing, and information technology. Students enjoy singing and physical activity, including swimming. The school-wide thinking skills programme and inquiry learning approaches align to the key competencies and objectives of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Some teachers are skilled at helping students to understand learning processes. They give valuable feedback to students about their learning expectations and how to achieve success. These good practices should be used more consistently. Team leaders could also explore ways that students could document their learning progress and achievements to share with parents.

The emphasis in the curriculum on authentic contexts for learning supports Māori and Pacific students’ language culture and identity. Initiatives to engage Pacific parents in the curriculum have been successful and model the potential of strengthening learning partnerships with parents.

School-wide curriculum leadership and management should be strengthened. A distributed school leadership model has been introduced. However, increased curriculum leadership is needed to support and sustain school-wide initiatives in teaching and learning. The role of the curriculum leader should provide school-wide quality assurance in teaching and learning, particularly in relation to:

  • implementing and sustaining teacher development initiatives
  • moderating teacher judgements in relation to the National Standards
  • ensuring that programmes for beginning teachers are implemented and managed effectively.

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

There are 22 Māori students currently attending the school. Māori student progress and achievement at each year level is reported in relation to National Standards annually. The board has included a statement in its charter recognising the unique status of tangata whenua based onKa Hikitia, the Ministry of Education guidelines for Māori success.

The large and enthusiastic kapa haka group is a credit to the school and is valued by the school community. However, more could be done to encourage whānau to share their aspirations for their children. The board should consult parents of Māori students, review its Treaty of Waitangi policy and evaluate how effectively goals and targets for Māori success are met.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

While there is ongoing professional development sustaining and continually improve the quality of teaching and learning, the school is currently not well placed to sustain and improve its performance in areas outlined below where the quality of school governance, property development and community partnerships need to be improved.

While the board has a policy review schedule, many of the board’s policies are out of date and some do not reflect current legislative requirements. The board needs clear policies and procedures as a framework for school governance and management. The school has extensive planning documents that are the basis for self review; however more robust evaluation of school goals would strengthen the board's approach to self review and improve its level of compliance.

Property development has been a priority for the board in recent years. Significant property improvements include repainting the buildings and upgrading the classrooms. New computer technologies also support students learning. However, there are significant short and long term plans yet to be completed. Improved facilities for staff, a new school library, upgraded toilet facilities, additional classrooms and systematic maintenance are among the challenges that the newly elected board will need support to manage.

Parents and community members support school events and parent evenings and many are keen to make further contributions. A number of parents and community members are, however, dissatisfied with aspects of school communications and operations. Training is recommended for the new board to meet the challenges of a growing school roll and to improve school and community partnership. The school cannot make progress until these concerns are fully investigated and resolved.

Sustaining and improving governance in the current environment is a challenge. ERO recommends external support to help the new board develop its governance capacity.

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.

ERO identified areas of non-compliance relating to policy implementation, self review, teacher registration and health and safety. In order to comply with legislative requirements the board must:

  1. ensure that all teachers have a current practicing certificate and that non-teaching staff are police vetted. [National Administration Guideline 6].
  2. maintain up to date policies that reflect current legislative requirements. [National Administration Guideline 6].
  3. implement hazard management systems, including training for staff, that are reported regularly to the board. [National Administration Guideline 5].
  4. improve systems for monitoring attendance, recording accidents and approving education outside the classroom. [National Administration Guideline 5].
  5. develop effective systems for managing complaints. [National Administration Guideline 2].
  6. implement systematic self-review processes that identify areas for school improvement. [National Administration Guideline 2(b)].

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that:

The Secretary for Education considers what support should be given to the newly elected board of trustees to assist it to meet legal obligations, strengthen curriculum and personnel management and respond to community concerns.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

23 September 2013

About the School

Location

Mt Albert, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1381

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

317

Gender composition

Girls 54%

Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Indian

Samoan

Tongan

Niue

Other Pacific

Middle Eastern

24%

7%

21%

17%

14%

7%

2%

6%

2%

Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

23 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

May 2007

October 2003