Porirua East School - 17/02/2017

1 Context

Porirua East School caters for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this ERO review, of the 141 students, 41% identify as Māori and 38% as Pacific.

Roll growth has enabled the school to appoint an additional classroom teacher. A new deputy principal was appointed at the beginning of 2016.

The school has recently participated in the Ministry of Education professional development programmes Accelerated Learning in Mathematics and Developing Science Capabilities.

Some areas for review and development identified in the April 2014 ERO Report continue to be priorities for improvement.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to have pride, excellence and success, and for students to be “learning and achieving through acknowledging and valuing who we are now, where we have come from and who we can become”. The school's desire is for students, teachers and the community to work together to achieve successful outcomes for all.

The school’s achievement information shows that three quarters of all students achieve at or above in relation to the National Standards in reading, and around two thirds in writing and mathematics.

Assessment information for 2015, shows that outcomes for all students, including Māori and Pacific, have steadily declined in reading, writing and mathematics each year since 2013. Whole-school data for mid-2016 suggests that this trend is continuing.

There is a greater proportion of Māori students in the group that are identified as at risk of not achieving. Pacific students overall are achieving at higher levels than other students in the school.

The school acknowledges that strategies and initiatives have not been sufficiently effective for those students whose learning and progress needs to be accelerated.

Extensive assessment information is gathered using a wide range of assessment tools. However, this information is not well analysed and not clearly responded to in classroom practices. ERO identifies, and school leaders agree, that it is timely to review the choice of assessment tools to better show students' progress over time. This should improve information about what is having a positive impact on learning, particularly for priority students, and better inform teachers' planning.

Teachers are seeking to ensure the accuracy of their assessment judgements about students' achievement in relation to the National Standards. The principal reports that the dependability of teachers' judgements is improving. A next step is to work with other schools to further strengthen moderation of these judgments. 

Since the previous ERO evaluation the school has focused on:

  • improving achievement in writing, in particular in Years 3 to 6, and raising achievement in mathematics
  • better identification of students at risk of underachieving
  • developing action plans to respond more effectively to students' individual needs
  • building capability in the teaching of science
  • increasing the accuracy of teachers' assessment judgements in relation to the National Standards.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school has yet to respond effectively to the increasing number of Māori students whose achievement is below national expectations.

Although the school identifies Māori students who are underachieving, it does not have a strategic plan to respond to the declining levels of Māori achievement overall.  Urgency is required in addressing this.

There is an ongoing focus on increasing teachers' capability to use data more effectively to promote students' learning and progress.

How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

Although many Pacific students achieve better than their peers in the school, their overall achievement as a group has declined since the previous ERO review.

Students at risk of underachieving, including some Māori and Pacific students, are identified in the school's annual plans for accelerated learning and progress. In 2014 and 2015, the school had limited success in accelerating the achievement of identified target groups, and most school targets were not met.

Students who are second language learners (ESOL) are identified and provided with additional support through Ministry funded programmes. Reports indicate that students are making good progress in developing their language skills.

Leaders need to make the school targets more specific to clearly state the expected measurable outcomes for students and their required rates of accelerated progress. Closely tracking and monitoring student progress should give better information to leaders about the impact of the practices and strategies that are intended to improve achievement.

A learning support team meets fortnightly to discuss students with specific learning needs. However, there is no system to monitor, report and evaluate how effectively programmes and interventions address these students' needs. Building better knowledge about what makes the biggest difference for the students should enable teachers and trustees to respond better to their individual learning needs.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum reflects The New Zealand Curriculum and is effective for some students in enacting the school's vision and addressing its targets for raising achievement. The curriculum, systems and processes that are necessary for learning require review and improvement to be effective in catering for the strengths and needs of all students.

Curriculum review should consider:

  • consulting with families and whānau and responding to their aspirations for their children
  • better reflecting students' culture, language and identity
  • more effectively promoting equity and excellence.

School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that teaching practices need improvement to accelerate progress and achievement, particularly for priority learners. Developing guidelines and a shared understanding for what is effective teaching at the school should assist this.

In classrooms observed by ERO, a positive tone and inviting learning environments were evident, as were respectful and considerate relationships across the school. Children were enthusiastic participants in their learning.

Families receive information about student achievement. Senior leaders and teachers should continue to extend partnerships with parents and whānau to further support student learning. Formalising opportunities for consultation with parents will enable their views to contribute to the school’s strategic decision making.

There are deliberate initiatives, both in classrooms and across the school, for students to engage with and use te reo Māori within a range of contexts. Some Māori students have opportunities to be cultural leaders and they are involved in karanga and pōwhiri as part of formal occasions both within and external to school. A next step is to develop greater understanding and knowledge of the local tikanga and kawa of whānau and iwi, and build this into the school curriculum.

Teachers are collaborative and collegial. Teachers' team meetings usefully discuss children's learning needs and develop strategies to respond. There are suitable opportunities for teachers to take on additional responsibility within the school. Further development of expectations for leadership across the school should support teachers to develop their leadership capabilities and effectiveness.

Teachers have participated in a range of appropriate professional learning and development (PLD) aimed at building capability, particularly in teaching literacy and mathematics. However, not yet evident, is the impact of the PLD on sustained changes in practice that result in improved achievement.

The teacher appraisal process and its links to PLD have been strengthened. A range of tools and processes support teachers to grow, collaborate, reflect and set goals to improve their practice. Fully implementing all aspects of the appraisal process should lead to an increase in its effectiveness. 

The school should continue to strengthen the use of achievement information within appraisal and inquiry processes to better show the impacts for students of changes in practice. Further developing the use of Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, should support teachers to improve learning for and with Māori students.

Self review for improvement is not yet sufficiently effective. Leaders and teachers need to strengthen the systematic use of evidence-based internal evaluation to:

  • inquire into the impacts of practices and programmes and the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching in accelerating student progress
  • build better knowledge of what works, what does not and what makes a bigger difference for all learners.  

This should better inform decision making and support the school to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

The board includes experienced and newly elected trustees. They access suitable training when it is available. Providing the board with improved information about student progress should better inform trustees' decision making and future planning.

Most policies and procedures have not been reviewed for some time. Trustees have begun to prepare the school's response to recent changes in the Health and Safety and Vulnerable Children Acts. Trustees and leaders, with external support, need to review and restructure policies and procedures to ensure they cover all aspects of the board's legislative obligations and reflect current good practice.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • have not yet adequately built their knowledge of the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet adequately established necessary conditions to effectively accelerate learning and achievement
  • are not well placed to achieve and sustain accelerated achievement for all children who need it

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years. 

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

The school policies and procedures do not adequately cover its legislative obligations in relation to the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) and the Education Act 1989. Existing policies and procedures have not been reviewed for a considerable time. Guidelines that reflect good practice to support children's emotional and physical safety are not sufficiently well documented.

To address this, the board must develop, ratify and implement appropriate policies and procedures in line with all relevant legislative requirements, then ensure that all policies are reviewed on a regular cycle. 

7 Recommendations

For greater effectiveness in responding to children whose learning needs acceleration, and in raising achievement for all learners, improvement is needed in:

  • assessment practices
  • the curriculum, to improve its responsiveness to the needs of all learners
  • culturally responsive practices
  • guidelines for effective teaching and learning
  • teachers' and leaders' capability
  • systematic, evidence-based evaluation to determine the impact of actions on outcomes for learners
  • consultation and partnerships with parents
  • setting of strategic targets and monitoring of progress towards their achievement.

ERO recommends that the board of trustees seeks the support of the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) in order to develop and implement an appropriate set of policies and procedures that fully meet legislative requirements.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

17 February 2017

About the school

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

2963

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

141

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māor

i Pacific

Pākehā

Asian

Indian

41%

38%

15%

4%

2%

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

17 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2014

November 2010

April 2009