Southbridge School - 19/12/2014

Findings

Students benefit from a wide range of interesting learning experiences where their interests are recognised and included. There is an inclusive school culture. The school is taking positive steps to increase the opportunities for Māori students to succeed as Māori. The board and principal have a good understanding of school leadership and governance. They are well focused on schooling improvement. The local community is supportive and involvement is welcomed and valued.

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?

The school’s rural environment is used well to extend students' learning. Students of all ages mix freely in the large playgrounds. There is an inclusive school culture.

The school benefits from good community support. Many opportunities are provided for students, parents and staff, to share their views and opinions with the board and principal. Their involvement is encouraged, welcomed and valued.

Since the previous 2009 ERO review, the school has had a significant change in staffing, including a new principal, assistant principal and many new teachers. The school is responding well to the wide range of needs and strengths of the students.

2 Learning

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

School leaders and syndicate teams use achievement information very well to promote student learning. The leaders have a good knowledge of the students who are working towards the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics as well as those who are achieving at or above expectations.

School leaders and teaching teams make good use of achievement information to:

  • keep an overview of students’ progress and achievement patterns
  • identify students needing extra help and discuss the best ways to target this support
  • share ideas about best teaching practice and ways to engage learners.

Providing for special needs students and priority learners is a significant strength of the school. The range of learning support options and the management and delivery of these are of very good quality. There are regular reviews of the effectiveness of interventions. Provisions are changed or adapted if they are not making a difference.

Parents are kept well informed about their child’s progress and achievement through student-led conferences, interviews and informative and easy to understand written reports.

The board receives regular, useful achievement reports from the principal and school leaders. Trustees are effectively informed about how well students are progressing towards the National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics and the school’s annual achievement targets. This information assists them in making carefully considered decisions about the allocation of resources.

The principal and senior leaders are aware of the need to continue to strengthen teachers’ use of assessment information.

Areas for review and development

The board needs to ensure that annual targets clearly include a focus on how they will lift students’ progress in relation to the National Standards. While this was the intention of the board, it is not explicit in the targets set for 2014.

3 Curriculum

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

Students are provided with a wide range of interesting experiences that contribute to their learning. Most students are achieving well in reading and writing against the National Standards. School leaders and teachers are working towards lifting achievement in mathematics.

Teachers of new entrants and Year 6 students have good systems in place to support the transition of students into the school and on to college. They appreciate the working relationship they have with other education providers in the area. This collaboration is making a positive difference for students.

Students’ interests are recognised and responded to within the curriculum. Their ability to follow their own inquiry studies is being increasingly supported by school leaders and teachers. Some teachers are skilled at promoting student independence in their learning.

Year 6 students are provided with many good opportunities to take on leadership roles within the school and local community. A recently introduced programme to support this has quickly gained momentum. School leaders are now considering how this could be extended to include other year levels.

Students’ views are sought and valued. They are involved in many school decisions, including teacher appointments. The board has an annual target to help students build strong relationships with one another. Surveys to monitor student wellbeing are analysed to inform programmes and to monitor students’ ongoing progress.

Areas for review and development

School leaders have identified that the curriculum is ready for review. They have identified what needs to occur and have begun to put a plan in place to guide the process. ERO agrees this is a timely focus, particularly the clarifying of guidelines for high quality teaching practice and programme development to further support outcomes for students.

There is some variability in the consistency of teaching practice. With ongoing changes in teaching staff, this situation needs to continue to be actively monitored and addressed.

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

The school is taking positive steps to increase the opportunities for Māori to succeed as Māori. These steps include:

  • growing links with the local marae
  • responding to feedback from the annual whānau hui to build mana and pride amongst students in a variety of ways
  • a review of te reo and tikanga Māori programmes and practices and developing an action plan to address recommendations
  • increasing the board and teachers’ understanding of key resources from the Ministry of Education.

The school shared its next steps to further improve learning and cultural outcomes for Māori students. Of the plans in place, priority should be given to:

  • reviewing the school’s te reo Māori strategy, is used to build on students’ knowledge when they begin school
  • building te reo and tikanga Māori confidence and competence amongst staff.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The principal has a very good understanding of the school’s strengths and next steps and uses this knowledge well in decision making. The board and principal have high expectations that are clearly focused on school improvement. The board provides the principal with good-quality external appraisal and feedback.

There is a strong working relationship between the board and school leaders. Trustees bring a range of useful skills and experience to their governance role. They have sound systems in place to support effective governance to meet the school's legal obligations. The board seeks and makes good use of training opportunities.

The board and principal are kept well informed through a variety of reports and reviews. The findings and recommendations are used well.

Teachers benefit from regular feedback on their classroom practice. A useful appraisal process assists teachers to reflect on their practice. Good systems are in place to support teachers beginning their careers. Teacher aides are valued, appraised and provided with appropriate professional development.

School-wide professional development is focused on promoting high quality teaching practices that further improve students’ learning outcomes.

The principal and board are working with the community, staff and students to plan the future direction of the school. This should help to clarify the areas of highest value and focus for the school.

Areas for review and development

The school has experienced a number of new initiatives. ERO, the board and principal agree that there is a need to give continued priority to:

  • carefully managing the process of change
  • refining, consolidating and building on programmes and initiatives that best support the school’s long-term direction and students’ learning outcomes.

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

Students benefit from a wide range of interesting learning experiences where their interests are recognised and included. There is an inclusive school culture. The school is taking positive steps to increase the opportunities for Māori students to succeed as Māori. The board and principal have a good understanding of school leadership and governance. They are well focused on schooling improvement. The local community is supportive and involvement is welcomed and valued.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

19 December 2014

About the School

Location

Southbridge, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3509

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

167

Gender composition

Boys 53%;

Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other ethnicities

83%

10%

7%

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

19 December 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2009

November 2006

February 2004