St Leonard's School (Dunedin) - 10/05/2016

1 Context

St Leonard's School provides a welcoming and supportive learning environment. With 63 students, it has a country-school and family-friendly atmosphere. Students are encouraged to have positive interactions with each other, make responsible choices and learn how to resolve issues constructively. Students actively contribute to community environmental projects.

Members of the school and wider community value the school as a hub for the local area. The principal and teachers maintain positive links with a number of local and other schools, with a focus on shared professional learning. The board is managing the challenges presented by a heritage school building on site while focusing available resources on promoting learning outcomes for children.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to be active participants in their learning and to seek opportunities for learning and be successful contributors to society.

The school wants students to be achievers, self-managers, problem-solvers, inquisitive, respectful of others and environmentally friendly. The school's motto is `living for learning, learning for life'.

The school's achievement information shows that, for the small number of Māori students at this school over the last three years, nearly all Māori students achieve well in reading and mathematics. However, some Māori learners in 2015, did not make the accelerated progress needed to reach the National Standards in writing.

For other students, nearly all achieve well in reading and mathematics, with a high proportion achieving above the standard in reading. Three-quarters of students at the school achieve the National Standards in writing. A small proportion of those students who needed to make accelerated progress in writing in 2015 did so. The school has taken actions to address lower achievement in writing.

Since the last ERO review, the principal and teachers have: 

  • strengthened their expectations for teaching and learning to build consistent practice
  • helped each other extend bicultural practices and embed these in teaching and learning
  • extended the use of digital devices to enhance students' learning. 

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school intends to improve the way it responds to and accelerates the progress of those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The focus for 2016 needs to be on finding effective ways to accelerate progress for these learners in writing.

In 2015 the approaches taken by teachers accelerated the progress of a third of the students who needed to improve. The principal and teachers are able to point to a range of strategies and approaches that helped bring about this acceleration. Teachers make good use of learning information from the previous year. They discuss with the principal observations about those students who need to accelerate their progress. This should include more effective tracking and evaluation of the impact of strategies used, to know what is working and what needs to be changed.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum effectively supports all students to develop many aspects of the vision for learners at this school. Strengths include an active enviro-school programme and a strongly evident focus on positive social interactions and problem-solving. Students have high levels of engagement in their learning as a result of a curriculum that responds well to their interests, abilities and passions. Students are encouraged to share their ideas for school improvement and their learning. These ideas and initiatives are valued and responded to.

Trustees have consulted with the school community about the vision, values and direction of the school. They have a clear idea of what they want students to be able to know and do. They have high expectations for student achievement and learner engagement. Trustees are committed to resourcing actions that respond to learners who need to make accelerated progress.

The board would be better informed if the information it reviews clearly showed:

  • whether sufficient or accelerated progress is being made
  • what is working well and what needs to be done to accelerate progress for more students.

The principal has focused on making the best use of individual teacher strengths and is working to strengthen the conditions for effective collaboration among the staff. She has provided direction for the school in the development of innovative teaching and learning practices. To strengthen the school's effectiveness in accelerating the progress of at-risk students, she needs to: 

  • strengthen staff appraisal and ensure this includes the school's annual goals
  • ensure professional development for teachers is focused on the school's annual goals
  • improve systems for gathering and analysing student achievement information
  • ensure teachers evaluate the impact of their teaching on students needing to accelerate progress
  • evaluate those curriculum practices that make the most difference for students' writing. 

Teachers are reflecting on aspects of their teaching, sharing ideas with one another about what works best for their students. They are making good use of external advice and new resources to improve their teaching. They have identified the needs of students yet to make accelerated progress in writing.

The next steps for them to improve what they do for at-risk students in writing for 2016 are to:

  • use evaluation of teaching and feedback from observations of teaching to improve writing
  • more effectively track, monitor and accelerate students' progress in writing.

The school has engaged effectively with parents about aspects of students' learning. This includes a range of ways to engage informally and formally with whānau of Māori learners and learning expo events that build understanding of aspects of teaching and learning.

The school makes very good use of expertise in the community to extend learning for students in areas of interest to them. Parents appreciate this deliberate and regular planned approach to extending learning for students. The next step is for teachers to more effectively ensure parents of students who have the most challenging writing goals are well informed and effectively involved in joint efforts to bring about improvements.

The board has a documented Māori education strategy. The next step is ensure this is up to date, supported by action planning to achieve the stated intentions, monitored and evaluated in terms of its impact on students.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers: 

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • have not yet developed approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • have not yet ensured the school is well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children. 

The school's challenges are to:

  • develop effective ways to improve outcomes for those students yet to accelerate their progress
  • align all relevant school operations effectively to the current year's student achievement targets.

Action:

The board, principal and teachers should use ERO exemplars of good practice and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop a Raising Achievement Plan that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare.
  • personnel management
  • 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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions.
  • attendance
  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. 

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

10 May 2016

About the school

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3829

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

63

Gender composition

Boys: 32

Girls: 31

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

European

Other Ethnicities

45

5

3

5

5

Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

10 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2012

June 2009

May 2006