Riverslea School - 04/05/2017

Findings

The 2014 ERO report identified many areas requiring development. Since the report, the principal, teachers and trustees have focused on improvement. Processes and practices linked to teaching, learning and the board have been strengthened. Student engagement in learning and achievement has improved. Sustaining and building on changes in school practices for improved student achievement are the key challenges for the board and staff. 

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Riverslea School is a small school situated on the north eastern boundary of Hastings. At the time of this ERO review it catered for twenty four Year 1 to 6 students in two classrooms. Twenty one of the students identify as Māori. The roll has decreased significantly since the October 2014 ERO report.

The valued outcomes defined by the school are for students to be lifelong learners showing aroha, kaha and mana. These are expected to be supported by approaches based on Kōkiri Tahi Tātou: Forward Together. This vision has recently been redefined and is clearly evident on displays and within a range of school practices.

The school grounds are spacious and allow for a variety of student recreation and learning activities. The tone is welcoming and friendly. Classrooms reflect and celebrate student learning.

Trustees and leaders build positive relationships with the community. The school recognises Ngāti Kahungunu as mana whenua. The Riverslea Community Preschool operates on site, allowing close relationships between the two places of learning. Students increasingly participate in a range of activities within the local area.

The previous ERO report identified many areas requiring development to better promote student outcomes and raise achievement. The school has worked positively with ERO to improve its processes and practices. Good progress has been made.

A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM), appointed in January 2015, has had a significant impact on improving board of trustee practices, professional leadership, teaching and learning. This role concluded in December 2016. The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA), Ministry of Education (the Ministry) and a variety of external professional learning providers have also given assistance. 

A first time principal, who has a significant teaching role, began in 2016. Building a shared understanding of positive behaviour expectations and associated strategies was a focus in 2016. Maintaining those expectations, promoting student learning and improving achievement through improved teaching remain as priorities acknowledged by teachers and the board.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The October 2014 ERO report identified the need for development of processes and practices associated with:

  • assessment and curriculum
  • monitoring and reporting
  • teacher appraisal
  • self review to assist planning, monitoring and evaluation of progress toward improving teaching and learning outcomes
  • board practices to ensure all legislative requirements are met.

Progress

The principal, teachers and trustees have successfully focused on improvement. They work collegially to improve school performance. Processes and practices linked to teaching and learning have been strengthened. The board is carrying out its stewardship role in an appropriate way and meeting legislative requirements.

National Standards information for 2016, provided by the school, shows improved literacy (reading and writing) achievement. Mathematics achievement remained similar to 2015. A significantly higher percentage of girls than boys are shown as achieving in relation to the National Standard. Improving the achievement of boys is an urgent priority.

A range of assessment tools are used to identify the focus of teaching and increasingly to determine the extent of literacy and mathematics progress. Standardised assessments indicate some students below expectation made more than one year’s progress through 2016, even though they did not reach the next National Standard band. The school identifies that accelerating progress of students below expectation remains a priority.

Professional development and collaborative efforts from teachers have contributed to improved use of data to identify students’ learning strengths and needs. Moderation, particularly in writing, is supporting teachers to improve assessment judgements. Continuing to build the dependability of overall teacher judgements is necessary. 

A documented Riverslea School curriculum is now in place. Curriculum expectations and guidelines provide a suitable foundation for teaching and learning. English and mathematics are prioritised. Teachers are developing the extent to which they meet student needs through a more contextually based curriculum. Professional learning opportunities and collaboration, support teachers to develop more effective strategies. Strengthening the quality of teaching is an ongoing priority for curriculum development and teacher appraisal.

Plain language written reporting to parents enables parents to be well informed about National Standard achievement, progress, learning strengths and next steps for ongoing improvement.

Professional links with other schools are promoted. Riverslea School is a member of the Whirinaki Community of Learning. Being an active part of Whirinaki development should support the principal to grow her leadership.

Management of student behaviour has been reviewed. Processes have been developed in association with relevant external support. Documented expectations are explicit and help staff build relationships with students and respond positively to issues. These high expectations have been shared with the community. Working alongside whānau to better meet the specific needs of learners is prioritised. The number of behaviour incidents requiring formal interventions have decreased significantly through 2016 and into 2017. School tone and culture have improved.

The new principal is assisting to build a more inquiring culture in the school. Continuing to extend understanding and use of internal evaluation is likely to support increasingly effective responses to students at risk of under achievement.

The performance management system for teachers and the principal has been strengthened. Teacher goals link to student outcomes and school priorities. Inquiry into the effectiveness of teacher practices continues to be promoted. Templates and processes encourage consideration of student outcomes and evaluative thinking. To ensure the appraisal process is more improvement focused it should:

  • more explicitly integrate cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners
  • increase the rigour and regularity of feedback and feed-forward
  • focus evidence-based reflections on how well each of the Practising Teacher Criteria are being met
  • include an annual summary document that indicates through its content that the teacher has participated in a robust appraisal process.

The charter has been revised for 2017. It provides the board with a plan to improve the engagement, progress and achievement of all students. The strategic goals are related to Ako (teaching and learning), Mohiotanga (high quality staff), Hauora (quality relationships), and Turangawaewae (quality environment). Raising achievement is an integral part of the charter. 

The annual targets are based on accelerating progress to increase the number of students achieving in relation to the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics. Students requiring their progress to be accelerated are identified. Actions to support their learning should be more specific to the identified needs of individual learners. Regular monitoring and reporting of the progress these students make should assist greater responsiveness to their needs. Reporting should also include consideration of the impact of initiatives and interventions.

The capability of the board has been built with the assistance of NZSTA support, ongoing involvement of the LSM and attendance at workshops. Training and mentoring have assisted trustees to develop greater confidence in carrying out their stewardship role. In association with improved reporting by the principal the board is now more able to monitor progress and make decisions in areas of its responsibility.

A policy framework, supported by generally appropriate procedures is in place. Sound management has contributed to an improved financial position.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Considerable recent developments have taken place to improve stewardship, teaching and learning. Some developments are still at the early stages of implementation. The school is:

  • establishing a foundation of values, leadership, tone, climate and relationships likely to sustain and improve student learning
  • strengthening its systems and practices to improve achievement
  • promoting greater urgency in the need to accelerate learning
  • developing its capacity to reflect, plan, act and report using evidence which includes student achievement information
  • benefitting from external support and intervention
  • developing its use of tools that are likely to contribute to a sustainable cycle of planning, improvement and review
  • responding positively to current or emergent issues.

Further time to implement and embed change is needed for these to effectively contribute to the school being well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

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 ensure there are documented procedures related to:

  • preventing bullying
  • evacuation
  • crisis management.

Conclusion

The 2014 ERO report identified many areas requiring development. Since the report, the principal, teachers and trustees have focused on improvement. Processes and practices linked to teaching, learning and the board have been strengthened. Student engagement in learning and achievement has improved. Sustaining and building on changes in school practices for improved student achievement are the key challenges for the board and staff.

Recommendations

The school is developing capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. Improvements in processes and practices are being implemented. To further promote student outcomes teachers and leaders need to:

  • continue to build teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement
  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate learning for children
  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and children’s progress to ensure strategies are effectively supporting improved outcomes
  • continue to improve the school conditions that support the acceleration of learning and achievement.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

4 May 2017

About the School 

Location

Hastings

Ministry of Education profile number

2668

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

24

Gender composition

Male 15, Female 9

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

21

3

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

4 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2014

March 2011

March 2008