Mt Somers Springburn School - 12/06/2020

School Context

Mt Somers Springburn School is a rural school in Mid Canterbury for students in Years 1 to 8. They learn in five classrooms, which have small student numbers. At the time of the review, the school had a roll of 83 students, with a small number of Māori and Pacific students.

The school’s vision is for students to be well-educated learners who show grit, determination and resilience in all learning situations. The board is currently reviewing the school’s vision and strategic goals.

In 2019 priorities for student learning were to accelerate progress for a target group of students in numeracy, increase boys’ motivation in writing, and increase student understanding and articulation of key competencies.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement information for individual students in Years 2 to 8 in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school is part of the Opuke Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning (CoL). Professional learning and development (PLD) opportunities are being accessed by individual teachers through the CoL. This learning is across four domains: Whanaungatanga, Innovation, Student Agency, and Hauora. There has been no targeted schoolwide PLD focus since 2018.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Achievement information provided by the school during the onsite stage of the review shows it is achieving equitable outcomes for most students.

Most students in Years 2 to 8 achieve at or above expected curriculum levels in reading and mathematics. A large majority of students also achieve at or above expected curriculum levels in writing. From 2018 to 2019 there was improvement in overall achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. This was particularly noticeable in boys’ achievement in mathematics and reading. There is evidence of some disparity in girls’ achievement in reading and mathematics, and in boys’ achievement in writing.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school did not accelerate the learning in numeracy for those targeted students identified as needing this in 2019. Beyond this group, ERO is not able to evaluate how effectively the school is accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this, as the school does not yet use achievement information to identify accelerated progress for students.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Individual students’ achievement and progress is well tracked to support their learning. The principal and teachers are actively building and sharing their knowledge of students as learners. Students with additional learning needs are appropriately identified and responded to through access to additional resources, targeted programmes and increased adult support. The board prioritises funding to increase support for these students and initiatives.

Community collaboration is enriching learning opportunities for students. The principal and teachers make regular use of the local community and resources. This provides students with a diverse range of learning experiences that enable them to achieve success in different ways. Well-established connections with other local schools extend students’ learning opportunities and support transitions between schools.

Students learn in a curriculum that is responsive to their interests and ideas, and makes connections to their everyday lives. The principal and teachers provide meaningful and authentic learning experiences, including a wide range of leadership opportunities. The board targets funding to these initiatives to support equity of access to opportunities for students.

Leadership promotes a supportive and collaborative environment so that teachers know and understand the learning needs of individual students in their classrooms. The principal provides multiple opportunities for students to give feedback on the quality of the teaching they receive and its impact on their learning and wellbeing. The recent redevelopment of the school’s curriculum document provides clearer guidelines for coverage of the curriculum.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The board, principal and teachers need to strengthen understandings of culturally responsive practices and the implementation of a bicultural curriculum. Some aspects of board responsibilities for consulting and working in partnership with Māori have not been met.

Internal evaluation is not yet being used effectively. The school regularly collects information about what is provided for students. They now need to develop more effective processes to help them know about the impact of these provisions on outcomes for students’ learning and wellbeing. This includes:

  • developing a framework to help guide and support teachers and the board to understand and use robust internal evaluation
  • making use of a wider source of evidence, including achievement information, to inform curriculum reviews
  • strengthening teacher inquiry.

The school is not yet making effective use of achievement information to identify and respond to disparity and support equitable outcomes for all students. There has been limited school-wide achievement data reported to the community since 2018. The school now needs to undertake further analysis of the useful individual achievement information it collects. This is likely to help identify patterns and trends for groups of students, improve the setting of goals and targets to accelerate achievement, and allow for more regular reporting of appropriate achievement information to the community.

To meet the requirements of the Teaching Council, the appraisal system needs to be strengthened to ensure that the school’s appraisal procedure is well followed and documented, and appraisal is finalised with an annual summary.

The board needs to strengthen its awareness and understanding of governance responsibilities. Many trustees are new to their roles. The board is currently reviewing the school vision and strategic goals. It is timely that the board seeks training to support trustees to develop greater knowledge of the board’s responsibilities, with an emphasis on the Treaty of Waitangi and legislative requirements.

The school has made some progress on the recommendations in the 2017 ERO report. More improvement is needed in internal evaluation, appraisal, systems for identifying acceleration of learning, and developing the bicultural curriculum to support sustained school improvement.

3 Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board and principal of the school completed the ERO board assurance statement and self-audit checklists. In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • 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 and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Mt Somers Springburn School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • tracking achievement of individual students that helps target effective support and resources to individual students whose learning needs acceleration
  • community connections that extend students’ learning opportunities
  • the use of student perspectives that provide valuable information for internal evaluation.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, ERO and the school agree that priorities for further development are in:

  • strengthening culturally responsive practices, and implementing a bicultural curriculum to fully enact the New Zealand Curriculum and promote equitable outcomes for all students
  • using internal evaluation to identify the impact of the curriculum on improving student outcomes
  • improving analysis, use and reporting of school-wide achievement information to identify disparity and promote equity and valued achievement outcomes
  • strengthening appraisal to meet school and Teaching Council expectations
  • increasing board understanding of Treaty of Waitangi and legislative obligations to strengthen governance.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to:

  • reporting student achievement to the community
  • consultation with Māori
  • teacher appraisal and reporting appraisal to the board
  • development of policies and procedures for concerns and complaints, bullying, managing behaviour, physical restraint and ensuring student cyber safety.

In order to address these, the board of trustees must:

  • on the basis of good quality assessment information, report to the school’s community: on the progress and achievement of students as a whole, and on the progress and achievement of groups; and in consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known to the school’s community, policies, plans and targets for improving the progress and achievement of Māori students
    [NAG 2 (d), NAG 1(e)]
  • implement policies and procedures for the appraisal of staff
    [s77C State Sector Act 1988; NZ Gazette and relevant collective employment agreement]
  • ensure adequate policies and procedures are in place and followed for concerns and complaints, bullying, managing behaviour and ensuring student safety on the internet.
    [NAG 5]

Since the onsite stage of the review, the board has developed policies and procedures for complaints, bullying, behaviour management and cyber safety.

Areas for improved compliance practice

The board identified a significant number of unsure responses in the ERO self-audit checklist.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • develop a greater understanding of their compliance responsibilities so that they are assured they are meeting all legislative requirements.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education and New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in:

  • the analysis, use and reporting of student achievement information, including consulting and working in partnership with Māori
  • internal evaluation
  • trustees’ understandings of the Treaty of Waitangi and legislative obligations.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

12 June 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.