St John's Hill School - 10/04/2015

Findings

The St John’s School curriculum successfully promotes high levels of student learning and achievement. Effective and distributed leadership, embedded systems for data collection and use, highly effective self review, and a range of new initiatives since the previous ERO review, continue to improve student outcomes.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1. Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

St John’s Hill School is a long-established Whanganui primary school catering for students in Years 1 to 6. At the time of this ERO review, 355 students attend the school. Of these, 8% identify as Māori and 2% as Pacific.

The mission statement, ‘St John’s Hill School will provide a stimulating learning environment where children develop respect for themselves and others, and aim for excellence in all endeavours’, is successfully enacted in practice. Students have a wide range of learning, sporting, cultural and leadership opportunities and experiences. The school community takes pride in the attractive, well maintained and resourced grounds and buildings. These enhance the strong focus on education for sustainability.

St John’s Hill has a very positive reporting history with ERO. Since the July 2010 ERO review, the board, school leaders and teachers have sustained and improved the school’s performance.

2. Learning

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

The school successfully uses achievement information to make sustainable, positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The board, school leaders and teachers have a deliberate focus on accelerating the progress of all students, particularly those below National Standards. Data is regularly and systematically collated, analysed and reported in order to monitor the progress of learners.

Teachers have strengthened the use of assessment information at a classroom and team level. Comprehensive intervention plans guide teachers to individualise programmes for students at risk of not achieving.

Well developed internal and external moderation processes help teachers understand student levels of achievement against National Standards and provide consistent assessment judgements.

Increasing percentages of students achieve at and above the National Standards as they move through the school. By the end of Year 6, few students are below. Māori and Pacific students are successful learners alongside their peers. Leaders monitor the progress of a small group of senior boys who require ongoing support in writing.

Students set learning goals with teachers and their parents. The information shared by parents is valued and contributes to a deliberate process that aids transition between classes. This ‘settingupfor-success’ system helps teachers develop early knowledge of students' needs. Individual students’ achievements are well tracked as they progress through the school.

Leaders recognise emerging trends and patterns in student achievement information and are innovative in response. An example is the successful transition-to-school programme (Hatchlings) which fosters parent partnership and participation in their children’s learning.

Students with special or diverse needs are very well supported. Their class placement is carefully considered. Parents are deliberately included in developing responsive programmes. Detailed individual education plans include clear measurable goals. Progress is well monitored.

Targeted action effectively raises student achievement. Actions are specific, well implemented and closely monitored. Target setting is very well considered and based firmly on in-depth analysis of schoolwide data. Year-group, gender and ethnicity comparisons are made and appropriate emerging and historical trends responded to. The board receives regular reports about schoolwide achievement, progress against targets and the impact of interventions.

3. Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum successfully promotes high levels of student learning and achievement.

Three ‘stones’ of learning (knowledge, personal skills, learning skills) form a framework for curriculum delivery and deliberate teaching. A focus on key competencies is included across programmes.

Education for sustainability (EFS) is a key feature of the curriculum and provides a vehicle for authentic learning, student inquiry and integration of learning areas. Students’ learning experiences link strongly to local community contexts and build on individuals’ interests and motivations.

Students are engaged, challenged and actively encouraged to develop skills as independent learners. There are high expectations for self-management and success. They are encouraged to discuss their ideas and learning. The deliberate teaching of strategies for thinking and learning feature in classrooms. Information and communication technologies are embedded tools for learning.

Respectful, caring relationships underpin student success. Wellbeing for learning is a key priority within the curriculum. A virtues programme promotes school values and helps to develop a culture of care and respect. The board and staff are committed to equity of access to resources and programmes for all students.

A comprehensive review of wellbeing provision in 2014 resulted in staff revisiting school guidelines. There are explicit expectations to support a positive and safe environment. Transition into and beyond school is a focus.

The school values biculturalism within a curriculum that reflects specific Whanganui te ao Māori contexts. External facilitators work with staff to support schoolwide development and include te ao Māori perspectives in curriculum. This fosters a sense of connection and belonging for Māori students.

Data collated for Pacific students shows they are very successful learners; achieving academically, and in sporting, cultural and leadership roles. There are opportunities within the curriculum for Pacific students and families to share and celebrate their cultures.

Gifted and talented students participate in programmes to extend their learning and achievement in academic, cultural and sporting arenas. There is a diverse range of opportunities for student leadership, including in areas related to EFS.

Comprehensive and explicit guidelines and expectations effectively support teaching, learning and assessment. Professional learning and development aligns with school priorities and targets, and individual teacher and student needs. Provisionally registered teachers and those new to the school participate in a well coordinated programme of support.

Very good systems are in place to inform the principal and senior leaders about the quality of teaching and to encourage professional growth. Teachers are strengthening their understanding of how well their teacher practice contributes to improved student outcomes. This teaching-as-inquiry (TAI) process is strongly evidence-based. It encourages teachers’ collaboration and sharing of ideas in teams. Leaders observe teacher practice in relation to goals for improved teaching practice.

Leaders recognise the need to continue strengthening this process.

Senior leaders and the board have set a goal to further extend student-directed learning alongside planned e-learning and modern learning environment developments. ERO’s evaluation affirms this as an appropriate next step.

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

The identity, language and culture of Māori students are successfully fostered in the school. Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013-2017 – the Māori Education Strategy, forms the basis of school policy development and Tātaiako, Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners is considered within curriculum plans. Teachers and leaders share achievement information with families. Whānau have strong relationships with school. There are many opportunities for them to share their views and aspirations for their children.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Trustees bring a range of expertise to their governance roles. The board is well informed and trustees have high expectations for continuous improvement of all students’ achievement. They are very responsive to students at risk of not achieving.

The annual plan and accompanying action plans set clear direction and appropriate priorities’ for ongoing change and improvement. Māori success as Māori is a well considered priority.

Highly effective self review contributes to positive change and improvement. It includes reference to research and best practice and uses information from a range of sources.

Effective and distributed leadership supports schoolwide development. The principal has taken a considered and thoughtful approach to developing leadership capability through planned professional development. Staff have a variety of opportunities to lead and develop their careers. School leaders encourage reflection, collaboration and innovation. Sharing responsibility for leading teaching and learning has broadened team leaders’ roles and led to greater focus on learners at risk of underachieving.

Teacher appraisal and TAI have a clear focus on the sustainability of high quality teaching. The processes are both accountability and improvement focused. Senior leaders are refining the appraisal process in 2015. ERO’s evaluation supports this as a next step. There is potential for appraisal to be increasingly effective with a stronger focus on Registered Teacher Criteria and Tātaiako, Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners intended.

New initiatives and schoolwide developments are well led. They are strategically planned and implementation is supported by sound systems and practices. Ongoing reflection and review occur at teaching, management and board levels. Initiatives are then refined and adapted to ensure they are embedding and successfully improving outcomes for students.

Parents have high levels of participation in the life of the school. They are valued as partners and encouraged to contribute to their child’s learning. Opportunities are provided to help parents have a greater understanding of teaching and learning. The school seeks and responds to parent views about the quality of teaching and learning and their ideas are used in the school's strategic planning and actions.

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

The St John’s School curriculum successfully promotes high levels of student learning and achievement. Effective and distributed leadership, embedded systems for data collection and use, highly effective self review, and a range of new initiatives since the previous ERO review, continue to improve student outcomes.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

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Joyce Gebbie Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 April 2015

About the School

Location

Whanganui

Ministry of Education profile number

2450

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

355

Gender composition

Male 51%, Female 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other ethnic groups

84%

8%

2%

5%

1%

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

10 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2010

March 2007

April 2003