Taieri Beach School - 29/07/2014

Findings

Most students achieve very well in this small, close-knit school. They receive daily 1-1 and small group learning. They enjoy a wide variety of interesting learning experiences. The principal leads the school well. Improving the strategic plan and self-review practices should enable the school to sustain and improve its performance.

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?

Taieri Beach School is small with a sole-charge teaching principal who has been in the position since mid 2013. The school is set in a seaside community within commuting distance of Dunedin. Although the school provides education for Years 1 to 8 students, most are in Years 1 to 4.

The school is the only local meeting place for members of the community, and students see it as their place. Students said that they know everyone well and they like being part of a small school because they feel safe and can all learn together. All students attend the annual camp.

Trustees described the community as close knit and inclusive. Teachers provide learning activities that help students to support others, such as learning sign language and older students buddy up with younger students to support their learning. There are strong relationships between the school, whānau and wider community. Parents bring a range of skills and ideas to the school’s curriculum and contribute to students’ learning. This provides students with an interesting variety of learning contexts.

Since the 2011 ERO review, the school has made very good progress in engaging the community in the life of the school. Developing robust review processes is still work in progress for the board and principal.

2 Learning

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

Teachers and the board use student achievement information effectively to promote positive outcomes for students’ learning.

Most students reach the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. A significant proportion exceeds these expectations. The principal and release teacher have set appropriate targets for the few students who have not yet reached the National Standards. The board has funded teacher aides to assist with these students. Students know how well they are achieving in relation to the National Standards.

Students show an eagerness and willingness to learn. Individual students’ progress and achievement is tracked by their teachers. Teachers identify and record students’ next learning steps.

The principal has analysed assessment information to identify students’ particular learning needs and has specifically planned to meet these. Under her guidance, capable teacher aides provide support and extension for students particularly in reading and mathematics. To date, this intervention has resulted in students having greater engagement with their learning and showing positive progress.

The principal informs the board and community about how well students are achieving. She is working towards students reporting meaningfully to parents about their learning in three way conferences.

Next steps

Students need to have a better understanding of aspects of the learning process. In particular:

  • what they are learning and why it is important
  • what helps them to learn
  • how they will know they have been successful in their learning
  • their next learning steps
  • how aspects of their learning are linked to learning in other areas.

This information will empower students to take more responsibility for their own learning.

Teachers should clearly document their process for making judgements about how well students are achieving in relation to the National Standards. While the targets state the intention for students to reach the National Standards, these could be more focused on accelerating students’ progress in order for them to catch up with their peers.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Students participate in a diverse range of interesting learning experiences. The learning in all areas is closely linked to reading, writing and mathematics.

Students benefit from:

  • hands-on science learning with staff from Otago University (testing water salinity)
  • the use of staff and local expertise (learning languages, painting, Māori carving, e-learning)
  • the use of features within the local environment (the sea, river, white baiting and the fault-line).

The school values of respect and responsibility are chosen by the community and underpin students’ academic and social learning.

Students learn in a settled, multi-level class where they are supported to achieve well. Often there are three adults in the class. This means students receive a high level of individual attention and have their educational and social needs met.

The current curriculum is to be reviewed by the board, principal and release teacher this year.

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

Māori students are well engaged in their learning and in the life of the school. Their progress and achievement is closely monitored and their learning is well supported.

The board and staff demonstrate a strong commitment to Māori students being able to see their language, culture and identity at the school and that these are highly valued. Throughout the school, teachers and students show respect for Māori language and culture. Tikanga Māori, including core concepts such as Manaakitanga/respect and caring, whānaungatanga/relationships and tuakana-teina (older students supporting younger students socially and with their learning), are a natural part of life at this school.

The school has consulted meaningfully with Māori parents and implemented suggestions into the school programmes and environment. The teachers have completed a comprehensive analysis of Māori success as Māori at the school. This will be a useful guiding document for future planning.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that the next step is for the board to review how well governance practices are supporting educational success for Māori students as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Professional learning and development (PLD) is valued and supported by the board. All trustees and staff, including teacher aides, participate in PLD to strengthen their understanding of their roles and teaching-practice. The adults and students join with other schools for PLD opportunities and so that students meet with peers beyond their community.

The board uses a variety of methods to inform the community about aspects of school operations. It makes strategic decisions to allocate resources based on assessment and other information to meet the identified needs of students.

The principal is an able professional leader. She:

  • is building professional capability for other teachers, teacher aides and trustees
  • is highly collaborative and effectively brings about change that leads to better outcomes for students
  • models reflective practices and adapts what she does to meet students’ needs and to be a more effective teacher
  • ensures that all students’ are able to take part in all appropriate learning activities
  • communicates very effectively with the community.

The performance appraisal system is rigorous and is used to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

Next steps

Trustees and the principal need to further develop their understanding of self-review to ensure that they are investigating the quality of what happens in all aspects of the school.

The current strategic plan mostly contains “business as usual”. The plan could better show the most important aspects of the school’s direction to bring a stronger focus on the priorities for the near and distant future.

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.

Conclusion

Most students achieve very well in this small, close-knit school. They receive daily 1-1 and small group learning. They enjoy a wide variety of interesting learning experiences. The principal leads the school well. Improving the strategic plan and self-review practices should enable the school to sustain and improve its performance.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

29 July 2014

About the School

Location

Taieri Mouth, Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3840

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

18

Gender composition

Boys: 10

Girls: 8

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

2

16

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

29 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review (Paetawhiti)

Education Review

Education Review

July 2011

May 2010

April 2007