Seven Oaks School - 17/01/2014

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Seven Oaks School meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

1. Background

The Chief Review Officer has a statutory duty to report on the performance of private schools throughout New Zealand.

Section 35I of the Education Act 1989, requires the Education Review Office (ERO) to review fully registered private schools, and to report to the Ministry of Education on whether each school continues to meet the criteria for full registration.

Seven Oaks School is a fully registered, private school. This full primary school is part of the Holistic Education Trust which was established in 2006. The school opened for students in 2009. The curriculum has a focus on developing students’ creativity, self awareness, emotional being, responsibility, social skills and for them to feel a connection with nature. The board is committed to low class numbers with the average class size at the time of this review being one educator to eight students. During the school day, students of all ages have opportunities to work together and support one another.

Since the 2010 ERO review, the school roll has doubled. The school is preparing to extend education to Year 9 students in 2014. A secondary trained teacher was appointed at the beginning of Term 4 to facilitate the transition. In addition, the board has purchased a large site in Halswell. Plans to relocate the school in 2016 are well developed and have involved the whole school community.

2. Criteria for Registration

The trust continues to provide an environment that reflects the school’s philosophy. Extensive outside areas offer significant opportunities for exploration, creativity and extending students’ understanding of the natural world. Students spoken to by ERO expressed their enthusiasm for learning this way. Educators value students’ opinions and provide many different ways for them to express themselves.

Although classrooms are adequate, the board plans to refurbish some rooms. As the secondary school is due to open, trustees and educators are carefully considering their use of space and provision for ongoing roll growth. ERO agrees that taking a carefully considered approach is useful.

The school continues to increase its range and availability of suitable resources. This is particularly noticeable in literacy, mathematics and Information and Communication Technologies. A small library has also been established. Students make good use of the many disposable resources to support authentic learning opportunities and individualised projects. For example, students have access to materials for building animal shelters and resources for craft work. Educators need to make sure safety guidelines are adhered to, in order to ensure students’ safe use of equipment.

Since the 2010 ERO review, there have been staff changes including a new principal, two full-time educators and several part-time staff. Trustees have developed useful guidelines to employ educators that can deliver the school’s holistic curriculum.

Educators have regular meetings to share and reflect on their programmes and practices. They work collaboratively to plan and implement programmes recognising the unique nature of each individual student and class groupings.

Since the 2010 ERO review, the new principal and the trust have further developed the educators’ performance management systems. Teachers benefit from analysed feedback from students, parents and co-workers during the appraisal process.

Trustees, the principal and educators are all involved in planning and participating in professional development to build a shared knowledge of the school’s curriculum and how to improve outcomes for students. Considerable time and commitment is given by all involved. A clear sense of direction is evident in the way the principal and trustees lead the school. The school continues to develop and review useful guidelines, policies and procedures to support the delivery of the school’s curriculum, student welfare and safety.

Calm, confident educators work in caring, thoughtful ways to nurture individual learning styles. They make themselves available to students and students’ parents and take time to discuss students’ learning and development. There are positive relationships between trustees, educators, parents and students.

The school’s curriculum suitably supports students’ different learning styles, needs and interests. Developing ‘The Brilliant Curriculum' is ongoing as the leaders prepare to extend into offering secondary schooling. The curriculum provides a wide range of learning experiences including core subjects, such as literacy and mathematics, and a variety of optional studies. Science and technology also have prominence. These experiences include an emphasis on practical learning, problem-solving activities and meaningful interactions with the wider community and its environment.

Students are given significant opportunities to work at their own rate, follow their interests and develop their thinking skills. As students mature, they are increasingly given more opportunity to say how their classroom, and the school, is run. There is a shared understanding about the importance of acknowledging students’ emotional behaviours. This is expressed well by students and educators. ERO observed that some students' understanding of their own actions and their impact on others requires a range of educators' skills.

Educators actively involve parents in their students’ learning through regular conversations, the school’s informative website and meetings. Educators track student learning in literacy and mathematics as well as collecting a wide range of other learner information to reflect the school’s unique curriculum. Next steps could include collating this information to provide trustees with knowledge about how successfully students are progressing through the school’s curriculum.

3. Other Statutory Obligations

The school’s managers have attested that they comply with the provisions of section 35G in respect to their being fit and proper persons to manage the school.

4. Other Matters

As the school is growing, ERO identified, and trustees and the principal agree, it would be timely to review the way students follow safety guidelines in the school workshop.

There are good systems in place for the school’s managing body to be assured that its other statutory obligations are met.

5. Conclusion

On the basis of the information obtained during the review, ERO considers that Seven Oaks School meets the criteria for registration as a private school set out in the Education Act 1989.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

17 January 2014

About the School

Location

Opawa, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

610

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

38

Gender composition

Boys 21

Girls 17

Ethnic composition

NZ European/ Pākehā

Māori

Other ethnicities

35

2

1

Review team on site

October 2013

Date of this report

17 January 2014

Most recent ERO report

Private School Review

January 2010