Nelson Christian Academy - 17/11/2011

1. Context

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

Nelson Christian Academy is an inter-denominational school providing education for students from Years 1 to 8. It is located on the outskirts of suburban Nelson. Church families from the wider Nelson and Tasman areas comprise the school community. Many students travel to and from school by bus.

The Christian character is highly evident in classroom environments, the curriculum and underpins interactions and operations. Teachers make best use of classroom spaces to facilitate whole-class and small-group learning. High quality teaching and learning resources are available in each class.

School governance and management has undergone considerable change in personnel over the last three years. A new principal and a reformed senior leadership team have led the school through significant and positive development. Assessment data informs teaching and learning, there is a new school curriculum and a shared vision across the wider school family. Staff are an integral part of the Stoke cluster educational community.

A focus on using information and communication technologies (ICT) supports teaching and learning. This has resulted in increased resourcing and updating of ICT equipment in all classrooms and ongoing professional development for staff.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The majority of students are highly engaged in learning. They are on task quickly and eagerly participate in activities. Students talk about what they are learning, their goals and next steps. Both self and peer assessment are evident. Overall, positive respectful interactions promote collaboration and cooperative learning skills. Students confidently share and articulate their ideas.

The school reports that most students achieve at or above national standards expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Student achievement data informs the school's 2011 charter targets. Strategies are in place to support students in the target groups.

Pacific students make good progress. They are achieving well in writing and reading but not as well in mathematics. Staff should consider how to reflect Pacific and other cultures that make up the school community, in the environment and within the curriculum.

As a result of review and development the school has refined its assessment processes. Documents identify assessment tools to be used at different levels of the school, when assessment will be implemented, and the information collated, analysed and reported to parents. Assessment is also used to plan specifically for groups and individuals within classrooms. Data increasingly informs school self review.

Strategies are in place to support students in the targeted groups. However, leaders do not collect or analyse entry and exit data to evaluate student progress and the effectiveness of interventions. There are no guidelines and criteria for identifying and providing for students who are gifted and talented.

A range of effective teaching strategies is evident in classrooms. For example:

  • learning intentions are part of all lessons and planned activities
  • success criteria are shared with students and in some instances developed with them
  • past learning is recalled and links made to relevant and meaningful experiences
  • good use is made of questioning and modelling to promote students’ thinking and to help them explain their own learning strategies
  • clear expectations for learning and behaviour are established in most classrooms
  • specific feedback and feed forward is becoming an established practice with some good models evident
  • there is an appropriate balance of group and whole-class teaching
  • students’ contributions are affirmed in positive ways
  • ICT is used to support teaching and learning
  • students in targeted groups are well supported by teachers, and at times peers.

While these practices are evident they are yet to be fully embedded in all teachers’ practice.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Māori students achieve slightly below all students in relation to National Standards but are, as a group, making the most progress overtime. They are well engaged, and inclusive practices are evident in classrooms. A specific target is in place to raise Māori students’ numeracy achievement.

A strategic approach is taken to consult with Māori whānau. This enables families to share their aspirations and for school leaders to consider how to work positively to ensure Māori learners experience success. As a result all staff have benefited from professional development to support their understanding and capability in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and Māori learning styles. Māori perspectives are reflected in classrooms and weekly kapa haka and te reo Māori are accessible to all students. There has also been a whole-school marae visit. The curriculum is constructed to promote and celebrate Māori culture. This should support and enable Māori students to succeed and develop leadership skills.

School leaders should continue to support teachers to embed good practice across the school.

3. Curriculum

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

The school has successfully introduced and started to implement a curriculum that supports its Christian character. The curriculum is responsive to students’ and teachers’ interests and links well to the charter vision and values. The Nelson Christian Academy curriculum is inclusive of The New Zealand Curriculum principles and key competencies and promotes inquiry learning. It outlines clear expectations for assessment, planning, evaluation and teaching as inquiry. It also provides good scope for cooperative planning across syndicates.

Teaching as inquiry is in its developing stages and needs to be more robust, critical and embedded for all teachers. Years 7 and 8 technology is in the beginning stages of being integrated into the school's curriculum. It is likely that this will strengthen learning within meaningful contexts when it is more fully integrated and aligned as part of the unit topics.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The senior leadership team guides the school in a positive direction. The distributed leadership model enables more scope for input from staff. Interests and strengths are better used. This is empowering for most staff and has grown leadership capability within the school.

The Nelson Christian Academy mission statement has been reviewed and refined resulting in an enhanced and shared vision for the whole-school community. There is a strong foundation for practice and decision making.

Through the school's performance management system teachers receive regular, high quality, constructive feedback about their teaching. Appraisal goals are appropriately linked to school priorities and staff have access to significant professional development to support these directions.

While the principal was involved in a comprehensive mentoring programme in 2010 he was not formally appraised. An appraisal process is in place for 2011. In order to develop and maintain high quality practices the board should ensure that their obligations continue to be met.

Board members are well informed about the school. Trustees are developing their knowledge of governance and self review. They are consultative and provide good support for teaching and learning through resourcing and staffing. The school charter is well considered and student focused. The charter, strategic plan and Nelson Christian Academy curriculum provide a sound basis for self review. There is a framework in place to review policies, procedures and assessment data.

Self review is in the early stages. The board and senior leadership team respond to identified and prioritised development needs. It is now timely to develop the school's own process for robust self review to determine its effectiveness in improving teaching and learning over time.

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
  • 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.

Kathleen Atkins

National Manager Review Services Central Region

17 November 2011

About the School

Location

Stoke, Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

1148

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

Decile1

7

School roll

120

Gender composition

Female 54%, Male 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other ethnic groups

66%

33%

1%

Special Features

Christian Character

Review team on site

September 2011

Date of this report

17 November 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2008

October 2005

September 2002

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides