Owhata School - 28/08/2014

Findings

Owhata School has made considerable progress in improving key aspects of school operations. Student achievement data is well used to inform class programmes and school-wide decision making. Students benefit from an appropriate range of learning assistance programmes. It is important that school leaders maintain their focus on raising student achievement.

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?

Owhata School is a Years 1 to 6 primary school located in the eastern suburbs of Rotorua. The school’s roll of 186 students includes 152 who identify as Māori. Many of these Māori students whakapapa to Ngāti Whakaue and some have links to the local hapu Ngāti Te Roro o Te Rangi.

Since the 2012 ERO review, leadership and the teaching staff have remained the same and there has been a slight increase in the school's roll. At the 2013 board of trustees’ elections one new parent representative was elected. The school continues to operate two bilingual classes that provide education through the teaching of te reo Māori and English.

The 2012 ERO report identified a need to strengthen key aspects of professional leadership and teaching practice at the school. Since that time, school leaders and teachers have been involved in extensive Ministry of Education (MOE) funded professional development in the area of literacy. A new early childhood centre has been established on the school site, which provides increased opportunities for preschool education in the area. There have been significant improvements to the school grounds, including the landscaping of the grounds near the entrance to the school.

The board, principal and teachers have continued to build positive relationships with whānau and the local community. This includes a developing partnership with Ngāti Te Roro o Te Rangi and Owhata marae. The implementation of the MOE funded Reading together programme has assisted whānau to support their children’s reading development at home. The school continues to benefit from the work of an active whānau support group.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The 2012 ERO report identified the following areas for review and development:

  • strengthening school-wide systems for assessment and reporting, including National Standards requirements
  • developing comprehensive systems to support and monitor students with identified learning needs
  • improving processes to develop the consistency of quality teaching practice across the school
  • implementing robust approaches to quality assurance and self review, in order to improve learning outcomes for students.

Progress

School leaders have developed a useful framework to guide the effective use of student achievement information at class and school-wide levels. A comprehensive assessment schedule has been implemented that supports teachers to collect an appropriate range of assessment information, especially in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics.

Individual student achievement profiles provide an effective framework of cumulative assessment information that enables teachers to make robust judgements in relation to the National Standards. Parents receive two written reports each year that include detailed information about their children’s achievement in relation to the National Standards, as well as useful suggestions about how they can support their children’s learning at home.

There have been significant improvements in the quality and usefulness of achievement information that is being reported to the board of trustees. This has enabled the board to set appropriate charter targets focussed on raising student achievement.

Teachers have benefited from their involvement in professional development in literacy. As part of this process teachers and school leaders have developed clear and useful expectations for the teaching of reading and writing. Teachers receive regular and documented feedback about their teaching, especially in terms of reading and writing. This feedback supports teachers to reflect on their teaching practices in relation to school expectations.

Since the 2012 ERO review there has been significant improvement in the overall quality of teaching at the school. Effective teaching practices observed by ERO include:

  • strategies that promote high levels of student engagement in meaningful learning activities and experiences
  • the effective use of student achievement information to provide appropriate learning programmes
  • well-organised and presented classroom environments.

It was also noted that in some classes teachers provided students with specific feedback about their learning and useful ideas to support further learning. There is a need for this good practice to become consistent throughout the school.

Appropriate processes to identify and monitor the achievement of students requiring additional support and additional programmes are provided to support their accelerated progress. The school’s special needs coordinator effectively monitors the effectiveness of these programmes. The school makes good use of external agencies to support student learning and well being.

Significant progress has been made in strengthening the school’s quality assurance processes. A robust performance management system for teaching staff has been introduced. The principal continues to be appraised by an external consultant. A recent initiative has been the implementation of a more comprehensive process of self review. This improved process better enables the board to evaluate the effectiveness of key aspects of school operations and initiatives, and to inform their strategic planning.

While 2013 student achievement information indicates some improvement from 2012 results in reading, writing and mathematics, achievement results overall are approximately 20% below national comparisons but data from 2014 indicates an overall improvement in these results. In ERO’s view, the school is now well placed to raise students’ levels of achievement. Key contributing factors are:

  • more effective use of achievement information by school leaders and teachers
  • better teacher practice
  • strengthened self-review systems.

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO, the board of trustees and school leaders agree that the next steps for review and development are:

  • for school leaders to maintain a strong focus on supporting teachers to implement effective teaching practices in reading, writing and to provide professional development for teachers in mathematics
  • to continue to work with whānau and Ngāti Te Roro o Te Rangi to review the purpose and operation of the school’s two bilingual classes.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Owhata School is well placed to sustain and to continue to improve its performance because:

  • trustees have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities and are supportive of school leaders and teachers
  • the principal and assistant principal have strengthened their understanding of effective school leadership and have a clear focus on raising student achievement
  • teachers are committed to further developing their professional practice and are becoming more reflective about their teaching
  • strengthened self-review practices have been developed and implemented.

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.

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should consult with the community about the school’s health curriculum.[s60B Education Act 1989]

Conclusion

Owhata School has made considerable progress in improving key aspects of school operations. Student achievement data is well used to inform class programmes and school-wide decision making. Students benefit from an appropriate range of learning assistance programmes. It is important that school leaders maintain their focus on raising student achievement.

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

Steffan Brough

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

28 August 2014

About the School

Location

Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number

1881

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

186

Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Cook Island Māori

90%

8%

2%

Special Features

Two bilingual classes

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

28 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2012

December 2009

August 2006