Tahuna School - 10/04/2013

1 Context

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

Tahuna School is a small rural three-classroom school, located 20 kilometres north of Morrinsville. It caters for 59 students from Years 1-6, of whom one identifies as Māori. The beginning roll for this year is the highest it has been for 15 years.

Members of the school community demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and take pride in the support from generations of families for more than 100 years. The Tahuna community is comprised of three interdependent sectors, including Waiti Marae whānau, the village and the surrounding farming district.

The school aims to harness community and school strengths and facilities to provide a centre of learning and growth for all. Families and whānau actively support the wide range of academic, social, cultural and sporting activities provided by the school.

Since the June 2010 ERO review the principal and most members of the board have remained constant. In that time one new staff member has joined the teaching team. Teachers have continued to focus on professional learning and development related to information and communication technologies (ICT) for teaching and learning. The school has made a good start on reporting against National Standards and made progress in addressing the recommendation identified in the last ERO report.

2 Learning

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

Some good use is made of student achievement information to:

  • report school-wide student progress and achievement to the board and parents
  • inform teachers’ classroom programme planning
  • identify individual students who may require additional support with their learning.

While trustees receive two major reports on achievement each year, it would be useful for the principal to provide information about curriculum and learning throughout the school year. This information should be related to the classroom and school-wide programmes operating and the impact they are having on meeting the documented achievement targets.

The 2012 achievement information for reading and mathematics indicates that a significant majority of students is achieving at or above National Standards. The data for achievement level for writing is not as high.

Students who require additional support are identified through ongoing testing and teacher knowledge and observations. These learners are involved in reinforcement literacy learning opportunities with the help of teacher aides and community volunteers. School records show that many of these students have made expected gains in their learning.

ERO and the principal agree that the next step is to more thoroughly interpret school-wide assessment data in order to set priority targets to raise overall levels of student achievement. The principal has appropriately identified that writing should be the primary focus for staff professional learning and development for 2013.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. The curriculum is based around the concept of CARES, which is an acronym for Challenges, Achieves, Respects, Encourages and Supports. Students are able to opt into a home learning programme known as PRIDE where students are encouraged to select and design their own service and giving, academic, physical-outdoor and creative challenges. This approach is encouraging students to become self-managing learners.

A feature of the school is the high level use of computer technology to support teaching programmes. Students are confident and competent users of a range of technological aids.

Students learn in settled classrooms, are consistently purposefully engaged, and interact respectfully with their teachers and one another. Good use is made of community facilities and resources to provide rich and authentic learning opportunities.

Effective teaching is characterised by:

  • consistent promotion of school values
  • ongoing affirmation of students’ abilities and learning
  • the use of open-ended questioning techniques to challenge and extent students’ thinking
  • increasing use of specific feedback to students about how they might improve their work
  • attractively presented and well-resourced classrooms.

The principal and staff implement a wide variety of interesting programmes, which are based on The New Zealand Curriculum. However, the principal has yet to develop useful guidelines that reflect current practice and set expectations for programme planning and delivery.

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

The percentage of Māori students in this school is very low. However, a Māori dimension is reflected in protocols for welcoming visitors, participation in the annual district cultural festival and some teaching of te reo Māori.

Members of the local Māori community strongly value their connection with the school and actively support school events and the incorporation of te reo and tikanga Māori.

The next step is to increase teachers’ abilities and confidence to more naturally integrate Māori language, customs and perspectives throughout the curriculum. This development is likely to further promote educational success for all students, including Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is adequately placed to sustain and improve its performance. Factors contributing to this include:

  • an inclusive school culture, positive tone and shared values
  • highly involved parents and families
  • committed and supportive trustees
  • the principal’s collaborative leadership style, which is reflected in the development of a collegial teaching team
  • positive relationships between the principal and trustees.

The board and principal should now focus on strengthening school development through:

  • working with the school community to develop the school’s charter and strategic plan
  • ongoing systematic review of all school operations, including the appraisal of staff and the principal.

It is important for trustees to undertake training to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of their roles and responsibilities, including the need to make strong links between principal appraisal, charter and school development goals.

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.

The board of trustees must:

  1. consult with the community every two years and adopt a statement on the delivery of the health programme [Education Act 1989, s60B (1-4)]
  2. develop and implement personnel policies and procedures and ensure that the performance management process for all teachers, including the principal, is consistently and fully implemented. [s77C State Sector Act 1988 and relevant Collective Employment Agreements]

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

10 April 2013

About the School

Location

Tahuna

Ministry of Education profile number

1972

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

59

Gender composition

Girls 33

Boys 26

Ethnic composition

NZ Pākehā/European

Māori

Fijiian

57

1

1

Review team on site

February 2013

Date of this report

10 April 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

April 2007

April 2004