Strath Taieri School - 28/05/2012

1 Context

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

Strath Taieri School is a small rural school. The board and teachers manage the relative isolation of the school well. Teachers plan purposeful events, trips and activities beyond the school to give students a wider view of their world. These learning activities, combined with good levels of parent support, ensure that the students’ learning is not affected in any way by the school’s remoteness.

The board and teaching staff have a definite aim to provide a very good quality education for all students. The school’s values are made obvious and are easily seen in the everyday life of the school. The school community has developed a unique curriculum with a strong local context. This curriculum places a particular focus on developing the whole child. This priority is evident from the mission statement, through the planning and into daily programmes of work.

Teachers’ professional development is well focused on the identified needs of students. Students benefit from increased teacher knowledge and skills in specific learning areas.

There have been some changes in staffing over the past year. Students’ learning has not been interrupted by the changes.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Most students are making good progress and are achieving well in all areas of the curriculum. The principal regularly provides trustees with good quality, useful reports about student achievement. This includes curriculum areas beyond the national priorities of literacy and numeracy.

The board received student achievement reports for the end of 2011 in reading, writing and mathematics against National Standards, showing that:

  • most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics
  • the greatest area of need for improvement is in reading
  • teachers are focused on supporting those students not making enough progress to be able to meet the standard expected by the end of the year
  • a further priority is to increase levels of achievement for boys and for some Māori students.

Areas of Strength

Students' involvement in their learning. Students show high levels of interest in and motivation for their learning in and beyond the classroom. They make good use of opportunities to:

  • take part in decision making and planning for their learning
  • set goals and monitor their progress in achieving them
  • have purposeful learning conversations with teachers about what they need to do to improve
  • talk about where they are in relation to the National Standards.

Assessment practices. Teachers have a good knowledge of their students’ progress and achievement based on regular and targeted assessments. Teachers:

  • use achievement information well at classroom level to identify students’ learning needs and direct their teaching appropriately
  • identify students at risk of not achieving and those achieving above national expectations, and provide them with well-planned learning support and challenge.

Use of achievement information. The principal and teachers make good use of student-achievement information to keep trustees well informed. The focus is on how well students are progressing and whether students are achieving at their expected level. Trustees work with the principal to provide resources to support the students with the greatest needs. Students’ progress is tracked over time and this helps teachers to plan next teaching and learning steps to help students.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Māori students make up a third of the roll. Overall, Māori students achieve at levels similar to those of their non-Māori peers.

Achievement information from the end of 2011 shows that, in comparison to National Standards:

  • the achievement levels of Māori students are highest in writing and mathematics, and better than levels achieved by their non-Māori peers
  • teachers are aware that achievement levels in reading are lower than they should be and they are working to address this.

Māori students told ERO that:

  • they feel very confident to identify and learn as Māori
  • they learn about their culture and hear te reo Māori spoken
  • they are well supported by their school as ako
  • there is a strong sense of inclusiveness for Māori students and their learning
  • they have and take opportunities to show leadership and knowledge of their culture.

The principal and teachers are working strategically towards continually raising levels of Māori-student achievement. For instance, they:

  • set an annual action plan to raise levels of engagement and achievement for Māori students
  • monitor these plans to ensure they are effective
  • have developed a school culture and learning opportunities to enable Māori students to succeed.

The school has effective ways of communicating with, and reporting to, the whānau of Māori students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively promoting and supporting students’ learning. The principal and teachers make good use of guidelines to implement the school’s vision for students’ learning consistently.

Areas of Strength

Curriculum design and implementation. The school’s curriculum is well designed to help students to be fully involved in and take their share of responsibility for their learning. Students:

  • focus on their own place in their local environment and the world beyond
  • learn how to be independent, successful learners
  • have a strong sense of being involved members of an active learning community.

The curriculum has been designed collaboratively with the school’s community. Curriculum expectations for staff and students are high, clear and useful.

Support for learning. Trustees, the principal and teachers work well together to provide a good range of programmes to meet the needs of students who require particular support or extra challenge. The planned use of teacher aides and support for individuals has had a positive impact for many students identified as needing to make faster progress. The school has implemented a specific programme to support students to improve their self management skills and maintain their focus on learning.

Area for review and development

The school has identified the need to extend further the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) into learning programmes and teaching practices.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to continue and extend its performance. School leaders have made good progress with the areas for improvement identified in the last ERO report.

Areas of Strength

Professional leadership. The principal provides strong professional leadership. The principal:

  • places emphasis on fostering high quality teaching and raising levels of student achievement
  • makes good use of guidelines and systems for leading and managing the school
  • promotes continuous improvement through critical reflection and well-informed decision making
  • has created a positive school culture that supports the staff, parents and students.

Collaborative culture. There is a strong sense of teamwork amongst the trustees, principal, and teachers. Teachers:

  • work closely together to plan and reflect on programmes
  • make adjustments where necessary
  • are very supportive of each other.

This approach has a positive impact on students.

Self-review practices. Self-review practices are well understood and effectively used. The results are shared with parents, students, teachers and trustees. There is an ongoing cycle of robust review. School leaders identify ways the school can improve. They monitor how well programmes and practices meet the needs of all students.

Governance. Trustees carry out their governance roles well, with learners as the focus of their decision making. They have established a clear strategic direction for the school. Trustees:

  • work collaboratively towards common goals to ensure high quality teaching and learning
  • are well informed about student achievement and progress
  • make good resourcing decisions based on the useful achievement information they receive.

Area for review and development

Self review. The principal and lead teachers have identified the need to review further and develop some aspects of their practice. These aspects include:

  • refining and extending programmes to help students with their self-management skills
  • refining moderation practices and making overall teacher judgements
  • extending the ways they evaluate the impact of their teaching.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

28 May 2012

About the School

Location

Middlemarch

Ministry of Education profile number

3837

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

Decile

6

School roll

54

Gender composition

Male 31

Female 23

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

38

16

Review team on site

February 2012

Date of this report

28 May 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2009

February 2006

October 2002