Reefton Area School - 02/04/2015

Findings

The school is effective at promoting student learning because of the active promotion of ongoing improvements to the quality of learning and teachers. Students are well supported in their learning and wellbeing. The strong professional leadership of key leaders, along with the good work of the board, means the school is currently well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

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?

Students come to the school from an increasingly varied range of cultural backgrounds. This diversity helps to enrich students’ learning. They benefit from ready access to a wide range of school facilities, resources and learning opportunities within the immediate and wider community. Students attend the school for varying lengths of time as some families come into and then leave the district.

The school has an experienced, long-serving senior leadership team. This situation has helped provide continuity for students in school practices and promoted ongoing improvements to the quality of education. A new school board chairperson was elected in 2013.

The board, leaders and staff have successfully retained the strengths evident at the time of the school’s 2011 ERO review. For example, ongoing efforts to foster improvements to the quality of teaching and learning have been sustained. As noted later in this report, good progress has been made towards addressing the areas for improvement at that time.

2. Learning

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

The school makes very good use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. This represents significant improvement since the last ERO review.

This effective use of achievement information is promoted by:

  • teachers gathering a range of good quality information that enables them to make well-informed judgements about students’ progress and achievement
  • leaders and teachers effectively using analysed achievement information to help students develop individual goals and to establish appropriate school targets
  • leaders and teachers closely monitoring students’ progress and their ongoing adaption of programmes and practices to address emerging needs

The board and school leaders target resources and support for those students most at risk of not achieving success. They provide focused professional development and support for all staff.

The school is very responsive to students who most need additional learning support. Interventions for students with such needs are flexible, well taught and managed

The increasing range and variety of ways teachers share achievement information with students and their parents is helping to foster learning-focused relationships.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is becoming increasingly effective at promoting and supporting student learning. This is most apparent in:

  • an upward trend of improving student achievement and progress since 2011
  • students continuing to achieve very well in reading, at National Certificates Educational Achievement Level 1 and 2 along with more students gaining NCEA merits and excellences
  • older students being better motivated to learn and achieving success in an increasing range of areas
  • greater numbers of school leavers either going to apprenticeships, other work or further education and training
  • Māori students enjoying greater success academically.

The school’s curriculum provides students with a suitably varied range of learning opportunities. School guidelines clarify local priorities and give appropriate emphasis to fostering values and students’ ability to learn how to learn.

Course options for Years 11-13 students continue to expand through a variety of school, community- based and distance-learning programmes. Teachers actively support students to identify their future learning and career pathways and to follow these successfully.

There is increasing evidence of teachers consistently using strategies that promote students’ learning. These include:

  • making learning meaningful and interesting
  • making clear what students are expected to learn and what counts as success
  • focusing on increasing students’ independence
  • adapting programmes, practices and groupings as a result of feedback and reflection.

Students’ sense of achievement is being fostered through recognition of their successes.

School developments in managing behaviour and promoting student health and wellbeing are helping to provide students with a supportive and inclusive learning-focused environment. Leaders and teachers make good use of school resources and outside agencies to provide responsive pastoral care and support for students.

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

The school is using a growing range of appropriate practices to support Māori students to succeed as Māori. These include the:

  • increasing integration of te reo and tikanga Māori into programmes, and the ongoing promotion of the school’s well-performed kapa haka group.
  • greater awareness among teachers of practices that are likely to foster Māori student achievement
  • consultation with parents about the aspirations for their children and actively seeking support from them and guidance from local kaumātua.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The principal and key senior staff provide strong professional leadership. Their focus on raising student achievement is fostering ongoing school improvement and innovation. School structure and practices support teachers and students to meet the high expectations leaders place on them.

Leadership and management practices promote a positive school culture, foster teamwork and lead to well-considered decision making.

The principal and deputy principal are appropriately delegating a wide range of tasks to other key staff. This greater delegation, along with the support provided for leaders, is building their capability to perform their tasks well. This places the school in a strong position to sustain and build on the best practice across the school even if staff change.

A significant number of recent school initiatives, often supported by effective external professional development, are promoting improvements to the quality of education for students. Self review, monitoring and appraisal systems, along with teachers’ willingness to reflect on and improve their programmes and teaching practices, are supporting the consistent implementation of curriculum initiatives.

The board is well led and works well. A strong sense of partnerships exists with trustees and senior leaders as they work towards the clear priorities in the school’s well-developed charter. They are aware of the funding challenges and roll issues and are considering the best ways to respond to these.

Trustees are having training to help support them in their roles. A wide variety of regular good -quality reports to the board provide trustees with the information they need to govern the school well.

Areas for review and development

ERO agrees with the priorities school leaders and the board have for school improvement. These largely relate to consolidating and building on a number of recent initiatives. These initiatives focus on:

  • raising achievement in mathematics and NCEA Level 3 and further developing students’ self- management skills
  • improving aspects of teaching practices and building on the strategies being used to promote positive student behaviour
  • continuing to make maximum use of assessment findings to plan and focus goal-setting and interventions for students
  • further supporting the development of teaching practices through professional learning and support groups.

Some refinements to self-review practices would enhance their usefulness.

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.

Conclusion

The school is effective at promoting student learning because of the active promotion of ongoing improvements to the quality of learning and teachers. Students are well supported in their learning and wellbeing. The strong professional leadership of key leaders, along with the good work of the board, means the school is currently well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

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

Graham Randell Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

2 April 2015

About the School

Location

Reefton

Ministry of Education profile number

496

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

192

Gender composition

Girls 55%; Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pakeha

Maori

Pacific

Asian

Other Ethnicities

65%

20%

1%

12%

2%

Special Features

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Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

2 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2011

October 2007

April 2005