Sutton Park School - 23/06/2015

Findings

Sutton Park School’s large roll includes a large number of Pacific students who use their first language to learn. Students’ wellbeing is fostered through a learning environment that promotes a strong sense of belonging. The school sets high expectations for students succeeding and learning through their language, culture and identity.

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?

Sutton Park School in Mangere East is a large school that serves Year 1 to 8 students from its local, multicultural community. The largest groups of students are of Māori, Tongan, Samoan, Cook Island Māori and Niue descent. Year 7 and 8 students benefit from the school’s commitment to catering for early adolescence by setting high expectations for these students, developing their responsibility, and promoting their leadership in the school.

The school has a strong commitment to empowering Pacific and Māori learners’ use of their first language for learning. It supports students to gain a second language using bilingual and immersion approaches in Tongan, Samoan and Māori. Since the last review a new Rumaki Reo full immersion class has been re-established. Learning in French and Spanish is also an option for students for one day a week.

A new principal began in term 4, 2014. He is using his significant leadership expertise to build school leadership capability, develop culturally responsive approaches, and include whānau and parents in children’s learning. A deliberate focus on developing shared school values, vision, mission and strategic direction has had strong whānau and community support.

Since the 2012 ERO report, there have been a number of other staff changes. Some staff members are long serving and know families and the community well. Teachers speak families’ home languages and promote positive relationships with families and students through effective communication.

The board of trustees is committed to the school’s vision and values. It has managed the pace of change and the appointment of the new principal well. Many of the positive features identified in the 2012 report continue to be evident and have been strengthened through the new focus on students learning through their language, culture and identity.

2 Learning

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

The school is developing its capacity to assess students and use achievement information to improve student learning. This is despite the fact that assessing student learning is more complex in the school’s bilingual, immersion and mainstream contexts.

Teachers are improving their use of student achievement information to meet student learning needs. Students are grouped for more targeted and relevant teaching using assessment information. In mainstream classes, students and teachers could benefit from greater access to English learning strategies and resources.

Leaders and teachers are using achievement information in positive ways to have learning conversations with students. Teachers are well placed to increase the quality of these conversations with students, in order to extend students’ understanding of their learning. This could help promote a closer focus on, and a greater sense of urgency about accelerating students’ progress.

Students have good opportunities to talk about their learning with whānau. There are also many valuable opportunities for whānau and teachers to talk about supporting student learning. Developing respectful and reciprocal learning partnership with whānau remains a high strategic priority for school staff and trustees. Improving the clarity and quality of information to whānau could further enhance outcomes for students.

Current school information shows that many students are yet to reach the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students appear to achieve at similar levels to other groups in the school. Currently, it is unclear how well groups of students with additional learning needs progress and achieve. Leaders and teachers are working closely with external advisers to assist teachers to make more robust and reliable judgements about students’ achievement of National Standards in writing.

To ensure students are well placed to transition to secondary school, trustees could set more specific and relevant achievement targets aimed at accelerating students’ learning. School leaders could develop robust systems to evaluate the rates of student progress and achievement in the bilingual, immersion and mainstream classes. ERO recommends that senior leaders seek relevant external support to develop high quality student achievement tracking and reporting processes.

ERO also recommends the Ministry of Education provides support for school leaders and teachers to develop and consolidate their use of relevant bilingual and immersion assessment tools. School leaders have clearly identified bilingual and immersion assessment as a key area for further development. They are working on a proposal to work together on this with other schools.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s responsive curriculum reflects and acknowledges students' language, culture and identity. It is increasingly effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

The curriculum focus on using first languages to increase student engagement in learning is very evident and most effective in the Tongan and Samoan bilingual classes. In these classes, students enjoy and are empowered to be confident and capable learners who learn through their cultural identity and strengths.

School-wide expectations clearly guide effective teaching and learning. Leading and learning together through positive relationships and student engagement are highly valued. The newly reviewed school curriculum provides relevant concepts that engage students in meaningful learning opportunities.

Students benefit from the culturally relevant contexts that teachers select to engage and support students to learn. Students have good opportunities to explore science, social studies, and technology. Māori and Pacific perspectives are skilfully woven into learning experiences and this encourages students to be highly engaged.

Students have increased opportunities to develop leadership skills. Tuakana teina relationships are evident in classrooms and around the school as students support and learn from each other. Many senior students can articulate their ideas in conversations and in more formal settings. Students are well supported to lead and show confidence through cultural performances and events.

Acknowledging the place of Māori as tangata whenua in Aotearoa is a priority for the board and staff. The re-establishment of the Rumaki Reo gives Māori students the opportunity to succeed and learn as Māori through total immersion in te reo Māori. The school has strengthened the way that these classes work together and plans to continue reviewing the school’s bilingual approach to learning.

Teams of teachers work collaboratively across the school in bilingual and mainstream settings. Whānau and syndicate teams share their practice to benefit students and support teachers to plan effectively for their students.

The impact of recent professional learning has helped teachers make better use of student achievement information to plan appropriately for improving students’ learning. Teachers are able to make good professional decisions and build on students’ learning interests, strengths and input.

The appraisal process promotes teacher professionalism and supports teachers to reflect on and adapt their practice. School-wide professional development now needs to align to the school’s strategic targets to do with meeting students’ learning needs. Incorporating Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers for Māori Learners should help improve all teachers’ bicultural practice.

Senior leaders agree that the next steps for curriculum development include continuing to:

  • develop teachers’ deeper inquiry
  • review the school’s approach to learning languages.

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

The school has prioritised success for and as Māori acknowledging the mana whenua of the rōhe. The Treaty of Waitangi is an important underpinning of school operations and the kawa of the school is Tainui. A Māori trustee leads and works collaboratively with the board to make effective decisions for the success of Māori students and whānau.

The school currently offers Māori students in Years 1 to 3 the opportunity to learn through te reo immersion. The Rumaki Reo has a clear purpose to support Māori to succeed as Māori. A newly appointed Māori staff member teaches and leads the Rumaki Reo. She is supported by external expertise. Syndicate teams and leaders also provide support for the Rumaki Reo.

The school’s environment reflects and validates Māori. Tikanga Māori is strongly evident in school pōwhiri where Rumaki Reo leads the rest of the school.

Senior leaders agree that next steps for Māori success are to:

  • establish a team to build the school’s capacity to improve success for Māori
  • strengthen the school’s capability to engage Māori whānau and their students
  • increase staff capacity to respond to the needs of all Māori students in all classes across the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Sutton Park School is well placed to improve and sustain its performance.

The school is well led by the principal. School leaders are actively involved in developing their leadership skills and building collaborative working relationships with whānau and team leaders. Clear, school-wide expectations underpin the decision making of leaders and teachers.

The positive school culture is underpinned by its strong shared vision and values. Trustees, who are leaders within the community, are representative of the community’s Pacific and Māori cultural heritage. Relationships between the board and principal are founded on high levels of trust and high expectations for improving student achievement.

Regular and appropriate fono use ‘kanohi ki te kanohi’ (face to face discussion) and ‘talanoa’ (deep listening) to engage the school’s parent community. This good practice is enhancing meaningful dialogue and building parent partnerships with the school.

The board is very supportive of the principal. Trustees have made improvements in strategic planning.

In order to strengthen current practice the board and school leaders should consider:

  • exploring training opportunities to support the board’s governance role
  • building stronger learning partnerships with parents
  • setting more specific student achievement targets that can be clearly tracked and reported on over time
  • receiving more regular reports on student achievement.

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.

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should ensure that all non-registered staff are police vetted and that the mandatory reporting requirements to the Teachers Council are met. (Education Act 1989).

In addition, the board of trustees should:

  • discuss relevant personnel matters during the in-committee parts of their meetings and record these parts of the meeting appropriately
  • sign off when they have approved planning for overnight camps and trips.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends the Ministry of Education provide support for school leaders to:

  • strengthen self-review practices
  • implement school-wide processes to collate, monitor, evaluate and report on patterns and trends of student achievement
  • develop and consolidate the use of relevant bilingual and immersion assessment tools.

Conclusion

Sutton Park School’s large roll includes a large number of Pacific students who use their first language to learn. Students’ wellbeing is fostered through a learning environment that promotes a strong sense of belonging. The school sets high expectations for students succeeding and learning through their language, culture and identity.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

23 June 2015

About the School

Location

Mangere East, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1520

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

500

Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Tongan

Samoan

Cook Island Māori

Niue

Indian

Cambodian

Fijian

other Pacific Island

other SE Asian

9%

1%

49%

26%

5%

4%

2%

1%

1%

1%

1%

Special Features

7 Tongan bilingual classes

3 Samoan bilingual classes

1 Rumaki Reo

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

23 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2012

September 2008

October 2005