Sunset Primary School - 27/11/2018

Findings

Sunset Primary School has made positive progress in addressing many of the issues from the 2016 ERO report. The school provides a supportive and caring environment. However, low levels of student achievement over a long period of time remain. A significant next step for ongoing improvement is a strategic approach to build leadership and teaching capability. Significant intervention is required to support the school through this process. 

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Sunset Primary is located in the Rotorua suburb of Fordlands. The socio economic challenges and complexities faced by this community significantly impact on the approach and priorities of the school. The current roll is 123 students. Māori students make up a significant proportion of the roll. A small number of Pacific and Pākehā students, and students from other nationalities make up the balance. The school provides rūmaki education for students who choose to learn through the medium of te reo Māori.

The 2016 ERO review identified a range of issues related to governance, leadership, curriculum and teaching and learning. Compounding these issues were persistent low levels of student achievement. The school was not effectively responding to students whose learning and achievement needed acceleration. A decision was made by ERO to monitor the progress of the school in addressing these concerns.

This report identifies the progress the school has made in addressing the areas for review and development in the 2016 ERO report.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

  • governance and leadership
  • teaching and learning
  • student progress and achievement.

Progress

Governance and leadership

Trustees have made good progress in improving governance processes identified in the 2016 ERO report related to financial management and health and safety practices. Trustees now have appropriate processes to ensure greater financial accountability and more robust health and safety systems to promote a safe physical environment for students. All of the areas of non-compliance from the 2016 ERO report have been effectively addressed.

Teaching and Learning

Positive progress has been made in strengthening the range of assessment tools and practices to support and promote student learning and achievement. Teachers are gathering a range of data and some are using this information effectively to inform daily planning. Expectations for teacher planning have been established and the principal regularly checks these are being followed. A comprehensive assessment schedule outlines the expectations for assessment and reporting to the board of trustees and parents. Moderation processes have been strengthened which is contributing to greater reliability and dependability of student achievement information.

Despite the improvements to assessment practice, there continues to be an urgent need for all teachers to effectively use assessment information to meet the needs of all students, particularly those students whose learning is most at risk. Not all teachers are effectively targeting and responding to the specific needs of these students. Building leaders’ and teachers’ capability in the effective use of data to accelerate student progress and achievement is a priority area for improvement. This also includes a need for teachers to strengthen their use of strategies and practices that promote student ownership of learning.

Positive steps have been taken to review and develop the curriculum in response to student needs. A wide range of initiatives and interventions have been implemented, including a boys' class, the synthetic phonics programme and play-based learning. Another positive feature is the improved average attendance rate, which has significantly increased since the previous ERO review. There continues to be a strong focus on promoting local history, customs and stories of local iwi and Te Arawa. Improvement in levels of student engagement in classroom learning is evident. In classrooms sampled, ERO observed a settled tone including interactions and relationships between teachers and students that were supportive and conducive to learning. However, persistent low levels of achievement indicate that the curriculum is not yet responsive to a large number of students. There remains a need to continue to critically review aspects of the curriculum in response to ongoing levels of low educational achievement.

Student Progress and Achievement

The significant number of students who are not achieving is of concern and has been a consistent trend over several years. School achievement data from 2017 indicates that less than half of students achieved at the expected level in reading and writing and approximately half achieved in mathematics. The disparity trend between boys and girls is significant. Girls outperform boys in reading and boys achieve significantly better than girls in mathematics. Very few students make accelerated progress over time to be at the expected level by the end of Year 6.

This is partly a result of the transient nature of students. However, and more significantly, this indicates that it is a result of teaching practices that are not consistently meeting the learning needs of students.

The focus on awhi students (students just below the expected curriculum level) and the alignment with teacher expectations and the charter targets is contributing to a cohesive approach to the monitoring and targeting of these students. This focused response is reflected in the 2017 results which shows that 30% of awhi students made accelerated progress in 2017. A priority next step is to apply the same level of focus, to all students who are well below expected levels. In addition there is a need to review the quality of individual educations plans (IEPs) for students most at risk. Currently, IEPS are generally of poor quality with little or no planning and limited identification of effective strategies to accelerate the progress and achievement of students.

Key next step

A significant priority for school improvement is to build school-wide capability to raise educational outcomes for students. To achieve this, four key areas of development are necessary. These are:

  • leadership capability, so that ongoing low levels of student achievement are addressed
  • evaluative capability, so that robust evidence about student outcomes is gathered and used to inform the teaching and learning and school decision making
  • instructional capability, so that teachers develop and apply the necessary knowledge and skills for instruction that meet the needs of all students, particularly those most at risk in their learning
  • adaptive capability, so that leaders and teachers can effectively respond to new problems or issues that arise in teaching and learning to accelerate student achievement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance because it does not have the necessary capability to bring about improvements to student outcomes and achievement. Aspects that remain of concern are:

  • the need to continue to develop and strengthen school-wide direction and understanding about how to improve the low, inconsistent and fluctuating levels of student achievement
  • leaders and teachers who have yet to make effective use of assessment and achievement information to improve and sustain positive student outcomes
  • the curriculum that is not yet responsive to the large number of students whose achievement is below expected levels
  • variable teaching practice across the school.

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.

4 Recommendation

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7a of the Education Act 1989.

Conclusion

Sunset Primary School has made positive progress in addressing many of the issues from the 2016 ERO report. The school provides a supportive and caring environment. However, low levels of student achievement over a long period of time remain. A significant next step for ongoing improvement is a strategic approach to build leadership and teaching capability. Significant intervention is required to support the school through this process.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Adrienne Fowler

Direct Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

27 November 2018

About the School

Location

Rotorua

Ministry of Education profile number

1970

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

123

Gender composition

Girls 53%

Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Cook Island Māori
Tokelauan
Samoan
Other ethnic groups

82%
5%
4%
3%
6%

Special Features

Rūmaki Education

Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

27 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

December 2016
September 2013
July 2011