Nelson Central School - 07/12/2015

1. Context

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

Nelson Central is an inner-city school. Students benefit from the many learning opportunities teachers provide for them within their immediate and wider communities.

The school’s bilingual unit of four classes is a valued and well-integrated part of the school. Parents are able to choose whether their child learns primarily through English or te reo Māori.

Over the last three years the school's roll has grown and the range of backgrounds students come from has become more diverse.

The school has experienced major changes in staff at all levels during 2015. These changes have included the appointment of a new principal in term four. Due to robust policies and procedures, the school has continued to operate successfully for students during a time when a significant number of leaders and teachers took on new responsibilities.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the board, school leaders and staff have retained and built on the strengths evident at that time. They have either successfully addressed or made good progress towards actioning the recommendations.

2. Learning

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

The school makes very good use of achievement information to help improve learning opportunities for students. This is evident at all levels of the school.

Teachers gather a range of achievement information about individual students, share this with students, and use it to reflect on and adapt programmes and practices.

Teaching teams use achievement information to respond to identified needs, monitor student progress and evaluate their programmes and practices.

All teachers undertake in-depth analysis, complete detailed reports about student progress and collaboratively develop achievement targets and plans.

The board receives informative reports about student achievement. Trustees scrutinise these and actively support initiatives.

The school’s provisions for supporting students who are at risk of underachieving are strong. The wide range of additional support for these students is well targeted, managed, implemented and evaluated. The school makes effective use of external expertise to support teachers, students and parents.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning very well. This success is particularly evident in:

  • student achievement in literacy and mathematics where over 80% of students are achieving at or above the National Standards
  • high achievement, and the accelerated progress some students have made in reading
  • the cultural pride demonstrated by students in the school’s bilingual classes
  • students’ levels of participation and success in health promoting activities, such as sports, and kapahaka.

Leaders and teachers provide students with a rich and varied range of learning experiences. These experiences provide students with very good opportunities to achieve success across the curriculum. Student engagement is fostered through studies that are often integrated, related to their everyday lives and take into account their interests.

The school’s curriculum places particular emphasis on literacy and mathematics, students’ rights and responsibilities and physical activity. Leaders and teachers are increasingly integrating bi-cultural knowledge and understanding into teaching programmes across the school. The board, leaders and teachers focus on fostering key competencies is giving emphasis to further promoting student self management and independence.

Teachers consistently implement a range of teaching practices that effectively foster student progress and achievement. Examples of this practice include:

  • the high expectations teachers have for students and their support for them to meet these expectations
  • focused and well-paced teaching and the incorporation of tataiako (cultural competencies) into their practices
  • the way teachers differentiate their programmes in response to students' strengths and needs and provide them with challenge
  • the extent to which teachers reflect on their practices and make ongoing improvements to the quality of their programmes and practices.

Ongoing professional development and support, including peer coaching, are helping to extend the range of effective strategies teachers use to promote student achievement. This is particularly evident in mathematics.

Students learn in a supportive, inclusive, learning-focused environment. Teachers place strong focus on rights and responsibilities, and the active promotion of school values. Respectful relationships are evident between staff and students and among students. Extensive use of “buddies” helps to build relationships among students.

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

The school supports Māori students in ways that actively affirm their culture and promote their engagement and progress. This support includes the inclusion of cultural practices into the day to day operation of the school such as powhiri.

Most of the eighty students in the Te Pouahi bilingual unit are Māori. Teachers provide a range of culturally rich learning opportunities that promote students’ cultural pride, knowledge and understanding. Evidence of this includes the school’s high performing kapahaka group.

Teaching programmes provide students with a good variety of opportunities to learn te reo. Class programmes achieve a good mix of activities based on Te Marautanga o Aotearoa and the New Zealand Curriculum. Tuakana-teina relationships and a holistic approach to learning are clearly evident.

The Te Pouahi is well supported by whanau, their Runanga Matua and the school’s board. The unit’s curriculum and operation reflects parent aspirations and ideas.

Māori students in other classes, and their teachers, benefit from the close relationships between the unit and rest of the school. These students are experiencing increasing elements of te reo and tikanga Māori in their programmes because of the professional development and support provided to their teachers by unit staff.

Māori students achieve as well as their peers in mathematics and literacy. Improved achievement in literacy was evident in 2014.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The school is effectively led and managed. School leaders have high expectations and are strongly focused on school improvement and raising student achievement.

School leaders have, over time, established a very positive school culture. This culture successfully promotes collaboration, team work, peer support and critical reflection. Leadership, management structures and practices have been strong enough to maintain and build on key strengths of the school during a time of significant changes.

Leadership responsibilities are well distributed and performed. They make effective use of staff strengths through the extensive use of teams and the degree to which tasks are delegated. These features, foster sustainable practices and develop leadership capacity.

Professional development and support are linked to school priorities and achievement targets. Well led and implemented recent school initiatives in mathematics teaching, appraisal and peer coaching have successfully improved practices in all these areas.

School improvement is supported by a comprehensive ongoing programme of self review. Evaluations are well informed through the gathering of staff, student and parent opinion. Review recommendations support ongoing school improvement.

The board performs its stewardship role very effectively. Trustees and school leaders provide clear direction with a strong focus on excellence and equity for students. They, along with staff, work collaboratively to achieve clear and shared goals.

The board has effective systems for governing. Trustees have a suitable mix of skills and experiences and are representative of their community. They are well informed through a range of regular reports and reviews. Well-considered decision making leads to their active support of initiatives that aim to accelerate student progress.

The board, leaders and staff work in ways that foster supportive school/community relationships. These relationships are promoted through good communication and opportunities for parent involvement across a range of activities and events.

It would be timely for the board and school leaders to give ongoing consideration to how best to build on successful recent school initiatives.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the code. This attestation was based on a systematic audit process.

International fee paying students usually attend the school for relatively short periods of time while they stay in Nelson with their families. At the time of this review, there was one international student at the school.

The school has good systems in place for providing pastoral care, education and involving students in its community.

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

Students learn in a supportive, inclusive, learning-focused environment. The school provides students with a rich and varied range of learning experiences within and beyond the school. Success for Māori students is also actively promoted. Very effective governance and leadership practices places the school in a strong position to sustain and improve its performance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

7 December 2015

About the School

Location

Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

3209

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

468

Gender composition

Girls 49%;

Boys 51%

Ethnic composition

Pakeha 78%

Maori 17%

Pacific 1%

Asian 3%

Other 1%

Special Features

Bilingual Unit of four classes

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

7 December 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review December 2012

Education Review November 2009

Education Review December 2006