Spring Creek School - 11/05/2020

School Context

Spring Creek School is located close to Blenheim and caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The roll of 35 children includes 11 who are Māori and 3 of Pacific heritage.

The school’s vision is ‘Together we learn, together we grow’. The values of respect, responsibility, resilience and relationships underpin the school’s charter and curriculum.

The strategic aims for 2019 to 2021 are to:

  • strengthen teacher and leadership capability
  • connect with and engage the community
  • strengthen the bicultural curriculum and connections with whānau and iwi.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Professional development for 2020 is focusing on the teaching of writing, positive behaviour for learning, and culturally responsive practice.

Since the 2017 ERO review, the school has developed a modern learning environment to cater for mixed-age learning.

The school is a member of the Piritahi Kāhui Ako and the Wairau Cluster of schools.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Spring Creek School is making progress towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students.

Achievement information from the end of 2019 showed that most of its students progressed well in reading and mathematics and the large majority in writing.

Māori students and New Zealand European/Pākehā students achieved well in reading and mathematics. More girls than boys achieved well in writing. The school should continue to focus on those few students who are not achieving at expected curriculum levels.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school accelerated the learning of many of the students who needed this in 2019. In reading, mathematics and writing almost all of the students who were achieving below curriculum expectations at the end of 2018 had made accelerated progress by the end of 2019.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

High levels of student engagement are evident in learning environments. ERO observed positive, respectful, learning-focused relationships. Teachers affirm students’ positive choices relating to classroom expectations about learning and behaviour. Students with additional learning needs are identified and well supported.

Well-considered systems, practices and processes provide shared understanding and guide teaching and learning. Sound processes ensure the reliability of assessment decisions. The principal has led the development of clearly documented guidelines for the use of nationally normed assessment tools and schoolwide moderation processes. These inform teachers’ overall judgements about each child’s progress and achievement. The school’s curriculum achievement expectations for children reflect those of the Piritahi Kāhui Ako. Comprehensive, well-documented schoolwide systems include specific guidelines for teacher planning for effective teaching and accelerating student progress.

A major focus in 2019 has been the development of the school’s clearly stated, well-aligned mission, vision and values. Trustees, leaders and teachers are purposefully fostering a positive culture aligned to these. Comprehensive curriculum documents outline expectations for teaching and delivery of the curriculum learning areas, including digital technologies. Students have many opportunities to participate in a range of academic, sporting, art and leadership learning experiences. The principal has identified that further development of the local curriculum is planned and ERO’s evaluation supports this direction.

The board has set a clear strategic direction for the school. Trustees have sought external advice to increase their understanding of their governance role and to develop and review school policies and procedures. The principal keeps board members well informed about progress towards the aims of the strategic plan.

The principal works collaboratively with trustees and staff to establish sound school systems, processes and practices to promote positive outcomes for students. She is building effective professional learning relationships with the wider education community.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Two of the school’s strategic aims focus on community engagement and promoting culturally responsive relationships and practice. The school has considered important aspects of community engagement with whānau and identified that a next step is to put these into practice. Planned staff professional development for 2020 includes a focus on cultural responsiveness. ERO agrees that this development is important. Further development of the bicultural curriculum and the inclusion of contexts for learning that reflect and value the students’ ethnicity, is likely to further promote their engagement.

The school is at early stages of using internal evaluation. A framework for documenting the process has been developed. The board and principal seek and value input from students, staff and parents to inform decision making. A key next step is for staff and trustees to develop a shared understanding of evidence-based internal evaluation. This should include the use of clear, measurable indicators of success to better determine the impact of initiatives and interventions on outcomes for students and inform the school’s future direction.

3 Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Spring Creek School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • clearly stated, well-aligned mission, vision and values that foster a positive learning environment
  • well-considered systems, practices and processes that guide teaching and learning
  • collaborative leadership establishing sound school systems to promote positive outcomes for students.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • increasing engagement with the community to strengthen collaborative learning-centred relationships
  • promoting culturally responsive relationships and practice to increase teachers’ connections to learners’ knowledge, experiences and identities
  • evidence-based internal evaluation to guide future school decision making.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure that the appointment and Education Outside the Classroom policies are fully implemented
  • continue to personalise the new set of policies to align with the school context.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement

Te Tai Tini (Southern Region)

11 May 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.