Ruapotaka School - 17/02/2016

Findings

Ruapotaka School has made good progress. There have been positive developments in leadership, management and teaching practices. Priority is placed on promoting students' engagement in learning through the use of effective teaching strategies. Leaders and teachers are focused on accelerating students’ progress and lifting achievement. They are continuing to develop a more responsive, challenging curriculum for students.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Ruapotaka School is a small suburban school in South Auckland that caters for students from Years 1 to 8. Sixty percent of the students have Pacific heritage. Many students are bilingual and speak English as an additional language. Māori students make up 29 percent of the school roll.

The school has expanded its senior leadership to include two team leaders. The composition of the board of trustees has remained stable and trustees are supportive of the school’s strategic direction. High rates student transience remains an area of concern for trustees and teachers.

The school’s 2013 ERO report noted students’ positive attitudes to learning. It also noted the gains in achievement levels for students, including Māori students, since the 2011 ERO review. The report called for urgent action to improve leadership, management and teaching practices to help lift student achievement.

Following the 2013 report, the school worked with ERO and Ministry of Education (MoE) personnel to identify goals for development, and to plan how these would be achieved. During the past two years, teachers have participated in professional learning and school leaders, trustees, MoE and ERO have monitored the developments and progress made. This 2016 report provides an evaluation of that progress and identifies key next steps for future school development.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO, the school and MOE personnel agreed that to help improve student achievement the school should continue: 

  • embedding improvements in teaching and learning programmes, including implementing formative teaching approaches
  • developing strategies to cater more effectively for English language learners and to make students’ cultural backgrounds more visible in classrooms
  • preparing specific teaching and learning plans for accelerating the progress of students not yet achieving at expected levels
  • establishing a strategic approach to building teacher capacity, and ensuring personnel resources are effectively targeted at raising student achievement
  • including more specific links to school goals in teachers’ appraisal. 

Progress

Students are benefitting from teachers’ participation in professional learning aimed at consolidating and embedding improvements to teaching and learning. Teachers’ professional learning in mathematics and information and communication technologies (ICT) has enhanced students’ levels of engagement and their opportunities to collaborate in learning.

Students participate purposefully in their learning. They are keen and focused learners and set their own broad learning goals. Students’ curiosity and questioning skills are encouraged. Teachers provide an increasingly relevant and integrated curriculum with the aim of improving students' levels of interest and engagement. Teachers are helping students to share their learning with each other and the community.

About half of all students are achieving National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Overall achievement data also indicates that numbers of Māori students are benefiting from improved teaching and learning approaches. Success rates for this group exceed school-wide achievement levels. Gender-based differences are a further feature of school data. The achievement levels for girls are higher overall than for boys. However, lifting the progress and achievement of many students remains a challenge. Teachers are appropriately continuing work to improve assessment processes to help address this challenge. Students’ achievement in National Standards and their next learning steps are shared by students with parents.

Teachers are developing teaching and learning strategies to cater more effectively for students who are learning English as a second language. Students benefit from the focus placed on promoting their oral language skills. This focus includes provision of in-class learner support and an increased use of mixed-ability grouping. This gives students good opportunities to develop vocabulary and talk about their learning. Students appreciate frequent opportunities to write, to voice their opinions and recount personal experiences.

Senior leaders have prepared teaching and learning plans to accelerate the progress of students not yet achieving at expected levels, especially in mathematics. These plans include targeted actions and show how learning outcomes will be evaluated. Parents are provided with strategies to support learning at home. Teachers use student achievement data and learning objectives to evaluate programmes and the success of learning support initiatives.

Key next steps

Senior leaders and ERO agreed that the school should continue with work to develop:

  • a responsive curriculum that is engaging and challenging and promotes students’ depth of thinking and creativity
  • students’ understanding of their learning and levels of achievement in order to promote students’ ownership of their learning.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is now in a good position to continue embedding and building on the progress made in the areas of leadership, teaching and learning and school strategic planning and self-review.

The board’s current charter and strategic planning sets the direction for the school. It appropriately prioritises the values of caring, responsibility and perseverance, lifting students’ achievement and accelerating their progress. The school’s website development provides a good opportunity for the board to increase parent/ whānau, teacher and student participation.

School leadership has improved. The senior leadership team has expanded and now includes the principal and deputy principal together with two syndicate leaders. As a result, a wider range of views and perspectives now inform decision making. Some leadership roles and responsibilities have also been delegated. These positive developments assist with organisational and workload matters and are helping to build staff leadership capability and capacity. Teachers reported to ERO that they appreciate the increased clarity of communication and the regularity and quality of support that they receive from school leaders.

To ensure that good quality leadership is sustained and leadership continues to improve, ERO recommends that senior leaders access professional development. A review of the leadership team’s strengths and needs would provide a good basis for planning professional development and getting the best from the team. The board should consider using an external appraiser to help the leadership team identify their individual and collective leadership strengths and areas for development.

Teachers have welcomed and responded well to recent professional development in mathematics and the use of ICT for teaching and learning. They are continuing to establish common understandings of good practice and are benefiting from working more collaboratively. Teachers are now well placed to collaborate across the school, share their skills and expertise, and be given greater professional responsibility.

The school’s systems for appraising teachers and the principal require further development to make them more robust. Goals set through appraisal should be more clearly focused on, and connected to, school priorities for lifting student achievement. Improved use of observations and more in-depth professional self-reflection should assist appraisers to provide useful feedback to guide teachers’ future development.

The school has improved its self-review processes. Reviews are generally well focused and connected to the analysis of student achievement data. The views of students, parents and teachers, are sought and reviews result in the identification of actions for improvement. In a recent good example of selfreview, the MoE resources Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017 and the Pasifika Education Plan 2013 – 2017 were used to help evaluate the school’s cultural responsiveness to Māori and Pacific students and their family and whānau.

In 2016 the school plans to review the extent to which improved approaches to teaching reading and writing have accelerated students’ progress and lifted their achievement. There is also ongoing review of the wider curriculum. It is essential that senior leaders take responsibility for the conduct of these reviews. They could make use of indicators of effective practice as a basis for evaluating improvements and make links between changes to teaching practice and improved outcomes for students.

Trustees bring varied experience, expertise and perspectives to board decision-making. Board training is mostly tailored for trustees’ individual needs or the needs of small groups of trustees. Extending opportunities for the whole board to be involved in training is likely to support a more cohesive and strategic approach to strengthening governance. Trustees acknowledge the need for succession planning to help ensure that there is a good pool of candidates for the next board elections and that new trustees are successfully inducted.

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. 

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that Ruapotaka School, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, develops a plan to address the key next steps and actions outlined in this report and that leaders and teachers continue with professional learning initiatives in order to embed effective teaching, leadership and management practices.

Conclusion

Ruapotaka School has made good progress. There have been positive developments in leadership, management and teaching practices. Priority is placed on promoting students' engagement in learning through the use of effective teaching strategies. Leaders and teachers are focused on accelerating students’ progress and lifting achievement. They are continuing to develop a more responsive, challenging curriculum for students.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

17 February 2016

School Statistics

Location

Panmure, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1477

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

174

Gender composition

Boys 55% Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

other Pacific

other

30%

26%

23%

12%

3%

6%

Special Features

Social Worker in Schools (SWiS)

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

17 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2013

September 2011

November 2008