Sumner School - 11/06/2020

School Context

Sumner School is a large, Year 1 to 8 primary school located in Sumner, Christchurch. At the time of this review it had a roll of 403 students, including 27 who identify as Māori and three international students.

Its vision is ‘connecting with our people, our learning and our place’. The school plans to achieve this through the values of Whanaungatanga - respecting, fostering and maintaining important relationships, Mōhiotanga – developing knowledge and understanding as lifelong learners, and Kaitiakitanga – working as guardians and active protectors of place, people, language and culture. The school aims to meet the needs of all students and its community.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • school-wide achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress for focus group learners
  • achievement and progress of students in intervention programmes
  • achievement in relation to the school’s expectations in its concept curriculum (including learning areas beyond literacy and mathematics)
  • attendance
  • aspects of students’ wellbeing, attitude to learning, opinions about their schooling.

Since the May 2015 ERO report, the senior leadership team is new. A new deputy and associate principal were appointed, along with a new principal, in 2019. There have been other staffing changes. The trustees are all new to the board. The school has been completely rebuilt to include modern, flexible learning spaces.

Teachers have participated in school wide professional learning and development in positive education, digital fluency (technology teaching and learning), collaborative teaching in flexible learning spaces, a concept-based curriculum, Ministry of Education literacy and mathematics intervention programmes, writing, and culturally responsive practice.

Sumner School is a member of the Aupaki Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning.

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?

The school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for the majority of its students.

Learning information between 2018 and the end of 2019 indicates most students (over 83%) are achieving at or above the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Overall, the proportions of boys and girls achieving at this level in reading is similar. Larger proportions of girls, compared with boys, are achieving at or above the school’s expectations in writing, with boys outperforming girls in mathematics in 2019.

Māori learners overall achieve as well as their peers at the school in reading, writing and mathematics. Previous differences in achievement between these groups are no longer evident.

Most students are achieving at or above the school’s expectations in the learning areas included in the school’s inquiry/concept-based curriculum.

Overall attendance levels at the school are high.

The large majority of students in Years 5 to 8 report that they have a say in what happens at school.

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

The school is increasingly effective in accelerating the progress of students who need this.

Student learning information shows that in 2018 and 2019, over three quarters of the students who needed to make accelerated progress in reading did so through targeted teaching and intervention programmes.

Almost two thirds of focus group learners made accelerated progress in writing in 2019, with over half of these learners making this progress in 2018.

The proportion of focus group learners who needed to make accelerated progress in mathematics has increased to over half in 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?

Students’ learning is enhanced through a rich, diverse, challenging curriculum that enhances equity and excellence. It is responsive in its design and enactment. Leaders and teachers ensure that it is coherently managed across the breadth and depth of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). It reflects students’ and whānau aspirations. Students value the meaningful choices they have within it. Positive character education is a prominent curriculum feature which promotes students’ social and emotional competence.

Culturally responsive education is a strong, key feature of the school’s local curriculum. This can be seen through effective connections to the local landscape, cultural narrative and the knowledge of whānau and iwi. All students learn much about the local environment, including its cultural significance for Māori. Teaching practices reflect concepts valued by local iwi. These align well with the school’s vision and values for its learners. As a result, all students, especially Māori, develop a sense of belonging and connectedness to the local environment in ways that link to the school’s strategic priorities.

Effective partnerships at all levels of the school support a positive school culture of care and high expectations. School leadership champions and sustains educationally powerful connections within and beyond the school. School leaders model openness, risk taking and receptiveness to change and improvement. Relational trust is built through effective communication and transparency and contributes to collaborative ways of working. This ensures all are actively working towards the school’s vision for its learners through high quality, learning centred relationships.

Students’ learning and wellbeing is prioritised and enhanced through effective systems and processes. Learner agency is promoted through meaningful goal setting, curriculum design and accessibility. Students are placed at the centre of all decision-making. They positively engage in a curriculum that provides older students with a wide range of opportunities to learn, younger children with play-based learning experiences, and a concept/inquiry curriculum that effectively integrates many areas of the NZC. Students’ self-efficacy is built through high levels of engagement.

The school’s vision for its learners is a powerful driver for its direction. It is coherently connected to all aspects of school life: the curriculum; strategic and annual planning; and teachers’ professional learning and development. The board has successfully guided the school through a revisioning process that has been comprehensive, collaborative and future-focused. As a result, school-wide understanding of the vision for learners is shared, enacted, relevant and meaningful.

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

Many aspects of internal evaluation are supporting students’ learning. Teachers’ inquiries look deeply into what does and doesn’t work for their learners. Much information gathering is wide reaching and involves relevant stakeholders. There is a wealth of data about learners’ achievement and progress within the school. The board and leaders acknowledge that the presentation, interpretation and reporting of this material could be more streamlined to better show trends and patterns over time, and be more targeted for respective audiences.

The board is well informed about key aspects of curriculum design and implementation for learners. It is now timely to extend and streamline this reporting so that not only the inputs, but outcomes for learners can be more clearly evaluated. This will further support the board in its decision making.

Leaders and teachers facilitate, and students experience, many aspects of culturally responsive education. This has been a significant focus for the school over the past few years. It is now timely to extend this to include more progressive te reo Māori learning for students, with the help of the ongoing learning that staff are currently undertaking.

3 Other Matters

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there were three short-stay international students attending the school.

The school uses internal evaluation processes effectively to know about the quality of pastoral care and education provision for international students and to identify areas for improved practice. Some changes to documentation have been strengthened to provide greater information and support for parents about the enrolment process.

Systems for knowing about and being welcomed to the school are carefully considered and thorough. Students’ pastoral and wellbeing needs are very well supported and responded to appropriately. They are encouraged to be actively involved in the life of the school and the local community.

4 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.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

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

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.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • its diverse, responsive curriculum that promotes learner agency and ownership of learning
  • culturally responsive education that connects students to the local environment and history
  • educationally focused partnerships that support the school’s vision for learners
  • leadership, systems and practices that promote learner engagement and success
  • a coherent vision that has been collectively and collaboratively developed.

Next steps

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

  • extending aspects of internal evaluation to show a consistent focus on outcomes for learners
  • extending culturally responsive practices to enhance students’ te reo Māori learning.

Area for improved compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to reporting annually that the board meets its good employer requirements.

Since the onsite stage of the review the school has provided ERO with satisfactory information that shows the way this will be addressed in future annual reporting.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)

Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

11 June 2020

About the school

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