Peria School - 07/08/2015

Findings

Peria School board of trustees is capable, committed to improvement and well supported by the school’s community. Changes is school staffing over recent years have, however, resulted in a lack of evaluation and self review of school systems and operations. Ongoing appropriate external support is essential to support and sustain school leadership and improvement.

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

1. Context

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

Peria School is a small rural primary school situated in the Doubtless Bay area of Northland. The school provides education for students from Years 1 to 8. Fifty-one percent of the school’s students identify as Māori. The school roll has fluctuated over the past few years as families have moved into and out of the area.

Peria School has a positive and inclusive atmosphere. Whānau and community are welcomed. Relationships between the school, family and children are valued and seen as an important part of children’s education.

There has been continuity in the leadership of the board of trustees. However, there has been significant turnover of teaching staff. A new principal was appointed in 2009 and left for a new position at the end of 2014. School staff now consist of a new principal and two new teachers. With the school roll increasing in 2015, it is likely that an additional teacher will be appointed for the beginning of term three.

External advisors and the Ministry of Education (MoE) continue to support the school. They are providing professional development and learning for teachers and the board of trustees. Current initiatives include Accelerating Learning in Maths (ALIM), Accelerating literacy learning (ALL), and board training from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA).

The 2012 ERO report recommended that the school’s curriculum be aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). ERO’s report also signalled the need to improve formative assessment practices to give children a deeper understanding of their individual learning processes and next steps.

This review finds that curriculum development, assessment practices and student ownership of learning remain areas that require considerable improvement.

2. Learning

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

The teaching staff of Peria School use achievement information to some extent to make positive changes to learners’ progress and achievement.

The school’s information shows that there has been some improvement in students’ performance against the National Standards during the 2014 year. During the last three years the school’s midterm and end-of-year reports have been improved. These now provide better information for parents and whānau about student progress and achievement against the National Standards.

Currently, teachers are overly reliant on test data to assess students’ learning progress. They should now establish more effective and reliable systems drawing on a wider range of information, to assess and monitor students’ progress and form overall judgements about their achievement. The principal could take a stronger leadership role in the analysis and use of achievement data. Improving the assessment and analysis of students’ progress and achievement should:

  • help teachers to plan more effectively for the learning needs of individuals and groups of students
  • increase students’ use and understanding of their own assessment information.
  • improve the reporting of achievement information to the board and community
  • help school leaders and the board to set more relevant and meaningful targets for improving student achievement.

Strengthening teachers’ understanding of the impact of their teaching on students’ learning is a priority for teacher development. This could help teachers to evaluate learning programmes and modify and adapt their teaching practice appropriately.

Students with special needs are identified and supported through a range of interventions and agencies. The principal has the role of coordinating support for students with special learning needs at present.

3. Curriculum

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

The principal and teachers are beginning to redesign the Peria curriculum. Currently, it is only partially aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Teachers are trialling a new inquiry learning approach during 2015. They are also reviewing the school programmes in the eight curriculum learning areas.

Student strengths, prior knowledge, interests and aspirations should be considerations in building the inquiry-based curriculum. Leadership opportunities for students could feature more prominently in teacher and student curriculum planning. Students are likely to engage more readily in their learning if they had greater choice and better opportunities to contribute to decisions about the curriculum.

The foundation subjects of learning, namely reading, writing and mathematics, are given high priority and cover two morning blocks of time. Inquiry learning topics are usually timetabled for the afternoon and are linked into the foundation subjects where possible. This practice could make reading, writing and mathematics more connected and meaningful for children.

Some aspects of the Peria curriculum promote and support students’ holistic learning. The school’s vision and values are significant to the Peria community. Whānau want care and nurturing for their children. A positive environment with purposeful partnerships between the school and families is a feature of the school’s curriculum.

Student stand downs and suspensions are declining. However, there are some concerns about how well the school maintains a positive school culture to promote the wellbeing of all children.

The board of trustees and the principal agree, that in order to develop a high quality school curriculum:

  • the new curriculum plan should ensure there is good coverage and balance of the principles, key competencies and learning areas of the NZC
  • the content of the learning areas needs to be deepened, particularly for senior students in subjects such as science
  • critical thinking and problem solving activities should be a more prominent feature of curriculum planning.

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

School information indicates that, overall, teaching approaches have not successfully accelerated Māori student progress and achievement.

The 2012 ERO report noted some developing strengths to promote students’ success as Māori. The school had strengthened its links with the local marae, Te Kauhanga. Students had opportunities to participate in marae events and to complete some of their studies in the whare nui. This practice should be continued as the current curriculum unit about the local area progresses.

Teachers are ensuring that te reo Māori is both heard and seen as part of classroom programmes.

ERO recommends that the board and principal:

  • develop a strategic Māori Education Plan to promote better teaching practices and improve educational outcomes for Māori students
  • report to the Māori community about the progress and achievement of Māori students
  • continue to explore ways to include Māori perspectives and the bi-cultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand throughout the curriculum.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

ERO has confidence in the capability of the board of trustees. The board chair has worked hard to deepen trustees’ knowledge of their governance obligations and responsibilities. Trustees are given ongoing encouragement to access board training opportunities. Teachers and the community continue to support each other. This is fostering a collegial and supportive work culture in the school.

The charter is a clear document that sets out strategic goals for the school’s future direction. The community has recently been consulted about changes to the charter. This will assist with the next phase of school development. Strategic action is now required to ensure that progress towards achieving charter goals and meeting targets is measured. This should be done in a way that enables the board and teaching staff to be accountable to students and the community for improving learning outcomes.

The appointment of a new principal has provided the impetus for school development. Thoughtful and incremental planning will be needed for the next phase of that development. ERO recommends that the principal makes it an urgent priority to lead and embed high quality professional teaching practice aimed at improving educational outcomes for students. A good first step would be to ensure that teacher appraisal includes more purposeful annual goal-setting and makes links between student progress and achievement and teacher practice. The principal also needs to develop her capability to lead and undertake school self review.

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 three areas of non-compliance. To address these, the board and school leaders must:

  • maintain an ongoing programme of self review relating to policies, plans and programmes

[National Administration Guideline 1993 (NAG) 2(b)]

  • provide all students with opportunities to achieve success in all areas of the National Curriculum

[National Administration Guideline 1 a]

  • provide appropriate career education and guidance for all students in Year 7 and 8

[National Administration Guideline 1 f].

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education (MoE) provides external support through a Student Achievement Function practitioner (SAF) to consolidate and establish quality assessment systems and teaching practice across the school.

Conclusion

Peria School board of trustees is capable, committed to improvement and well supported by the school’s community. Changes is school staffing over recent years have, however, resulted in a lack of evaluation and self review of school systems and operations. Ongoing appropriate external support is essential to support and sustain school leadership and improvement.

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

Graham Randell Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

7 August 2015

About the School

Location

Kaitaia, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1081

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

51

Gender composition

Girls 27 Boys 24

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

British

26

22

2

1

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

7 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review Education Review Education Review

February 2012 August 2008 August 2005