Rakaia School - 06/08/2013

1 Context

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

Students’ learning is well supported by the school's vision and values. These are very well integrated into the school’s culture and curriculum and highly evident in the positive relationships throughout the school community. The school’s strong partnership with the community and local businesses is supporting real-life learning opportunities for students.

The school’s attractive and well-resourced outdoor areas and classroom environments are valued by students, staff and the board. They are used effectively to promote student learning.

Rakaia School has a steadily increasing roll that includes a growing number of students from other cultures and students who stay at the school a shorter time. The school continues to work towards meeting the needs of its changing student population.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to support students.

Findings

Annual student achievement targets are based on reliable student achievement information. This shows that nearly three quarters of all students are achieving at or above National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers and senior leaders effectively use student achievement information to set appropriate school-wide targets to accelerate the progress of identified students. They regularly track students’ rates of progress. Identified groups of students are very well supported by a well-organised support programme. Classroom programmes are effectively supported by skilled teacher assistants.

Trustees are getting very good quality information about students' learning that assists them in their decision-making about directions for the school.

Teachers use a range of successful approaches to foster students' interest in learning and engage them in their classroom programmes. They regularly evaluate their teaching practices and programmes to further improve the consistency of teaching and learning across the school.

Areas for development and review

Students set learning goals and are identifying their next learning steps. To further increase engagement and improve achievement:

  • students could be more aware of their progress and achievement as shown through the assessments undertaken throughout the year
  • reports to parents could more clearly show students' next steps for learning and how parents can support learning at home.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

Findings

In addition to the school vision and values there are several other particularly strong aspects to the school curriculum. They are:

  • e-learning. The use of information and communication technologies is increasingly becoming a natural way of learning and is highly valued by students and staff
  • comprehensive planning for the year. This shows what student will learn and how the learning will be approached by teachers
  • a structured approach to developing students' thinking. Teachers assist students through skilled questioning.

Teachers share the purpose of lessons with students and classroom displays provide useful support for students' learning and a way of sharing their successes.

The board and staff members work hard to provide a wide range of good-quality learning experiences and are very aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of its rural setting for students.

Young children beginning in the new entrant classroom benefit from a gradual and supportive transition to school.

Teachers have a good understanding of the importance of building positive relationships with students and their families. Surveys show parents appreciate this. ERO observed respectful relationships at all levels of the school.

Area for development and review

With the introduction of several new initiatives over the last few years, the principal and ERO agree that it is timely to review the school curriculum to ensure it reflects school expectations in a balanced and manageable way. This should include further opportunities for student decision making about their learning and approaches for celebrating the increased levels of cultural diversity within the school.

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

The school is working towards promoting educational success for Māori as Māori.

Findings

Units of work show some integration of Māori concepts and themes. Students learn waiata and some basic te reo Māori. A teacher who has expertise in te reo and tikānga Māori has been helpful in raising the awareness of the Māori culture in the school. Students who are Māori are achieving at higher levels than their school peers in mathematics and less well in reading and writing.

Areas for development and review

The principal and board continue to seek external support to help build teachers’ knowledge and understanding of te reo and tikānga Māori in an ongoing manner. Next steps are to:

  • investigate other ways to promote te reo Māori and bicultural approaches in the school
  • set specific targets for raising achievement for Māori students in reading and writing.

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.

Findings

The board provides effective governance. Trustees are open to new ideas, ask searching questions and are focused on ensuring that Rakaia School is a good place for staff to work and for students to learn.

Trustees take their roles seriously and have undertaken professional development to increase their understanding of school governance. This has resulted in a growing understanding of the value of self review and the development of a useful schedule to review important aspects of school operations.

The principal provides good-quality leadership. He competently shares the school vision and direction. Trustees and staff members appreciate his strategic approach and clear communication.

The teacher appraisal process is comprehensive, linked to the school’s targets and provides teachers with useful next steps to improve students’ learning and achievement.

The staff benefit from professional development. The board and principal see this as a priority towards raising student achievement. Evidence of this can be seen in the range of strategies teachers are using to engage students in learning.

Teachers are given good opportunities for leadership. They work collaboratively to discuss and plan ways to accelerate student progress. Support staff are valued, participate in professional development and work effectively to assist with student learning outcomes.

Areas for development and review

The principal and ERO recognise the school’s annual goals for raising student achievement can be further strengthened by:

  • ensuring teachers know which students have been identified in annual goals and specifically plan for these students’ progress early in the year
  • detailing in action plans the specific teaching approaches and other interventions to be used and evaluating the effectiveness of these.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

6 August 2013

About the School

Location

Mid Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3480

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

163

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Filipino

Other Pacific

Other ethnicities

69%

11%

11%

8%

1%

Review team on site

June 2013

Date of this report

6 August 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

June 2010

February 2007

June 2005