St John's School (Ranfurly) - 22/12/2015

Findings

St John’s School, Ranfurly is a Catholic, rural school. Students enjoy the caring family atmosphere. They know how well they are achieving and are very involved in their assessment and learning. Christian values and key competencies underpin the curriculum. There are respectful, productive relationships at all levels. Experienced teachers focus strongly on the learning for individual students. Trustees focus on what is best for students.

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?

St John’s School, Ranfurly is a Catholic, rural school with well-maintained spacious grounds. Students come from a large catchment area and some spend a long time travelling by bus. Due to the changing land use near Ranfurly there is an increasing number of students from other cultures. The school has strong links to the local church and wider community and is well supported by them.

Students enjoy the caring family atmosphere of St John’s School. They like the small size of the school and say that all ages mingle and play well together. They learn in multilevel classes.

Students benefit from stable staffing with a long-serving principal and teachers. There are trusting relationships and Christian values evident throughout the school.

The board and staff have made significant progress in addressing the recommendations from the 2012 ERO review. These include:

  • students having a greater knowledge about and involvement in their learning
  • parents being better informed about their child’s learning
  • building shared understandings about high-quality teaching practice.

ERO has found that the following recommendations are still to be worked on:

  • ensuring rigorous appraisal for teachers and the principal
  • developing robust self-review practices.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is used well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Students are very involved in their assessment and learning. They use assessment well to:

  • evaluate their work against set criteria
  • set goals with support from teachers and parents
  • develop their next learning steps in relation to their goals.

The principal and teachers use assessment information effectively to:

  • ensure they plan and teach students at the appropriate level
  • identify students who need extra support and provide suitable interventions
  • provide specific feedback to students about their learning and determine next learning steps
  • set targets for groups of students and track and monitor students’ progress
  • report to parents about their child’s learning.

The board receives reports about student achievement across all learning areas. Trustees make strategic decisions, such as the resourcing for extra teachers so that individual students who are at risk of not achieving well receive one-to-one attention. They provide for teachers’ professional learning and new initiatives to support students’ learning.

School data shows that many young students take longer than expected to get a strong grounding in reading, writing and mathematics. However, the data also shows that most reach the National Standards by the end of Year 3.

Areas for review and development

The principal and teachers need to analyse more deeply student achievement and progress at all levels and comment on trends, patterns, cohorts and next steps. This would support more rigorous self review and provide them with insight into the effectiveness of their teaching and the impact on students’ learning. It would also enable them to provide the board with more meaningful information.

The principal and teachers need to report well-analysed learning information mid year to the board, on the progress students are making towards the school’s achievement targets.

The wording of achievement targets needs to convey urgency for all students at risk of not reaching the National Standards to make accelerated progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

Christian values and New Zealand Curriculum key competencies underpin the curriculum. There are respectful, productive relationships throughout the school. Teachers are able to focus strongly on teaching as there are no behavioural issues to deal with. Staff work collaboratively for the benefit of all students. Students ERO spoke to said that this is a safe school where difference and diversity are valued. Teachers and students have learnt sign language so that all students feel included and are able to converse and participate. Students increasingly understand learning-to-learn processes and increasingly take responsibility for their own learning. They are highly motivated and focused on learning. Students, particularly in the senior classes, know about their achievement and their next learning steps. Students learn to plan and organise activities that show how they care for local and international people in need. Older students have opportunities for leadership development.

The curriculum incorporates connections to students’ lives, their prior understandings, cultural backgrounds and real-life experiences. Parents are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning through a variety of ways. Literacy and mathematics learning are integrated and used to support learning in all areas. Teachers are responsive to students’ learning needs and plan in detail to meet these. Teachers have identified oral language as a high priority and additional skilled teachers are employed to support students in this area, as well as those who need extra help to succeed in other areas. There is room for teachers to include more regularly Māori dimensions in topic studies.

Areas for review and development

Currently curriculum review is descriptive. Reviews would be more useful if they were more evaluative. For example, reviews need to consider what is working well (or not), why and next steps.

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

Most Māori students achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. The concepts of manaakitanga (care of wellbeing) and whanaungatanga (relationships) are strongly evident in the culture of the school. There is room for this to be made more explicit for students so they understand the importance of it in Māori culture.

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.

Trustees focus on what is best for students. Recent changes to the way meetings are held show they have student achievement at the forefront of their thinking. They provide additional funds to support students who need extra help to succeed.

Trustees understand their roles and responsibilities well. They are committed to ongoing training. There are strong relationships between staff, board and the community. They survey their community regularly to gather parent views and ensure their values are embraced by the school. Trustees are mindful of the need to plan for succession. New trustees are inducted at various times so that experienced trustees are able to provide continuity.

Areas for review and development

The strategic plan could more clearly reflect the key priorities identified by the school. This currently contains ‘business as usual’ which could be better placed in an operational plan. The strategic goals should be reflected in and align with the annual plan, link to the targets and respond to important findings from self review. Self review needs to be more rigorous, evaluative and focus on ‘how well?’ rather than ‘what?’

The appraisal process needs to be developed and fully implemented, including the appraisal of the principal’s teaching component.

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.

Recommendation

ERO found that some documentation around aspects of health and safety needs to be strengthened to ensure all adults know the school’s expectations.

Conclusion

St John’s School, Ranfurly is a Catholic, rural school. Students enjoy the caring family atmosphere. They know how well they are achieving and are very involved in their assessment and learning. Christian values and key competencies underpin the curriculum. There are respectful, productive relationships at all levels. Experienced teachers focus strongly on the learning for individual students. Trustees focus on what is best for students.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

22 December 2015

About the School

Location

Ranfurly, Central Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3824

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

59

Gender composition

Boys: 32 Girls: 27

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Filipino

Tuvalu/Kiribati

3

45

8

3

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

22 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2012

April 2009

October 2005