Taipa Area School - 25/10/2019

Findings

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

1 Background and Context

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

Taipa Area School is a Year 1 to 15 school in Doubtless Bay, Northland. Most students are of Māori heritage who whakapapa to the local hapu and iwi of Ngāti Kahu. There are small groups of Pākehā, Pacific and Asian children. The school provides Māori bilingual and immersion classes in ‘Taipuna’, for students in Years 1 to 9.

The 2017 ERO report identified concerns about several aspects of the school’s performance. These included concerns about the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching practice, and achievement across the school including in Taipuna. For this reason, ERO decided to continue to monitor the school’s progress through a longitudinal evaluation process over two years.

At the time of the 2017 review, the new principal had brought a fresh perspective and a new set of experiences to guiding the school towards improved student outcomes. Staffing and leadership changes over the past two years have resulted in the development of a positive professional learning culture in the school.

The school has worked with professional learning support from the Ministry of Education (MoE) through the Student Achievement Function (SAF) project. This support has helped middle leaders to guide teachers’ professional learning groups, and establish teacher inquiry practice. Membership in the Manaiakalani initiative has resulted in a complete restructure of digital learning provision in the school. The school is also a member of the Te Kāhui Tai Kura o te Hiku, which is a group of schools and early learning services that work together as a community of learning | kāhui ako.

Since October 2017, ERO and the school have collected evidence to evaluate progress made in addressing ERO’s identified concerns. This report summarises ERO’s findings.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

In October 2017, the principal and board agreed to address five broad improvement priorities during ERO’s two-year longitudinal evaluation. These priorities included:

  • strengthening curriculum design and teaching practice

  • lifting student achievement and accelerating progress

  • developing the effectiveness of practices in ‘Taipuna’

  • strengthening stewardship

  • improving internal evaluation practice.

The principal also requested that building distributed leadership to grow school capability be included as a priority. This indicated a commitment to promoting cultural and systemic change that is sustainable.

Progress

The board, principal and senior leaders have made good progress across most of the improvement priorities identified in the 2017 ERO report. Developing an inclusive and positive school culture has been a key part of work to improve student wellbeing and educational outcomes. ERO has observed a significant culture shift resulting in higher relational trust among students, teachers and leaders.

Student wellbeing and safety was appropriately the initial focus for leaders and staff in 2017. This has been influenced by improved pastoral care structures and support. In addition, the Mana Potential initiative helps students to understand and positively respond to their own emotions and those of others. The improved recording of student pastoral and engagement information, and the increase in student engagement are noteworthy.

Student voice and leadership are actively promoted. Students who spoke with ERO appreciate that their views and opinions can be shared and influence school practices. The recent introduction of whānau classes is fostering more tuakana/teina opportunities and relationships that foster younger students’ wellbeing and engagement in learning.

Leaders and teachers have improved their knowledge and use of achievement data to guide changes to teaching practice. Lifting student achievement throughout the school in literacy is guided by the school’s literacy leadership team. Teaching strategies are shared and discussed regularly in staff professional learning and department meetings. Leaders plan to use a common assessment framework for Years 1 to 10 to support teachers’ assessment decisions and moderation of judgements about achievement.

There is positive movement towards more authentic, localised curriculum experiences and programmes. Good efforts are being made to provide a more responsive curriculum and align systems with students’ learning needs and aspirations. These efforts include cross-curricular collaboration to support students’ choices, in particular in the Year 7 to 10 curriculum. This is particularly appreciated by Years 11 to 13 students who can gain credits from multiple subjects. This approach requires considerable collaboration and adaptive practice by teachers.

Staff changes have resulted in improved processes and practices in the careers team. The team have long experience and good understandings of pathways together with local community connections. Students now have access to more meaningful academic mentoring. They also have greater choice and opportunities for work experiences in the local and regional communities. These provisions are promoting relevant, authentic learning based on students’ choices.

Staff changes have also led to improved leadership and restructuring of ‘Taipuna’. Senior students now learn within the English medium programmes. This offers them greater opportunity to work on curriculum pathways of their choice. They can also continue learning te reo Māori to NCEA Level 3 if they choose. Students’ bilingual development is being guided by the considerable te reo Māori fluency and capability of the staff that support their learning.

Key next steps

Leaders plan to continue developing practices to improve student achievement across the school, including:

  • teaching practices to accelerate learning, and deliberate planning for accelerating students’ learning progress

  • using data analysis to ensure students are making expected rates of progress to achieve their goals

  • identifying and analysing trends and patterns in Years 1 to 10 achievement information

  • developing teachers’ and students’ use of learning progressions to identify achievement levels and next steps in learning.

The school’s pastoral team plan to increase student leadership opportunities. They also plan to ensure that staff across the school are aware of students with additional needs, particularly those students in the junior classes.

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 now better placed to sustain developments and continue to improve practices to benefit student learning outcomes. Leaders and teachers have a strong commitment to strengthening leadership and teaching capability, in order to provide students with relevant learning and pathways to their future career aspirations.

The principal’s leadership is considered and responsive, strategic yet contextually grounded. She shows discernment in prioritising developments and managing the pace of change. She has been instrumental in setting up purposeful, meaningful systems and processes. There are clear and high expectations set for students and staff. She fosters a strong sense of purpose giving students greater agency in their learning so that they can realise their potential.

Senior leaders have complementary skills. They demonstrate enthusiasm and optimism in being part of the change process in the school. The growth of senior and middle leaders’ capability is being built on reciprocal relational trust. Staff report that they appreciate the improved communication and collaborative relationships. Leaders demonstrate an openness to learning and positive change in order to achieve better outcomes for students. They have key roles in the development of whole-school initiatives and have shared understandings of effective practice for improving student outcomes.

The board is supportive of the principal’s leadership and committed to the school’s charter vision and aims. Trustees are pleased with the considerable progress already made across the school. The new board plans to access governance training and support as initiated by the previous board.

The school charter outlines a clear direction for the school towards developing a localised curriculum and a strong and resilient learning community. Lifting student achievement through relevant individualised learning pathways is at the heart of the school’s vision. The charter developed through collaboration with the school community is a pivotal document. It has potential to bring greater coherence of purpose and direction to promote improved learning outcomes for students.

Internal evaluation is developing and is now more evident in the school. Teachers are developing their inquiry into the impact of teaching practices on student learning. Staff appraisal processes and inquiry are now well linked and based on improving student outcomes through deliberate actions. Senior leaders plan to ensure that the quality of curriculum leaders reporting to the board is more consistently evaluative and focused on student outcomes. This reporting could include the progress and effectiveness of pastoral care in the school.

The board is ensuring that policies are kept current and aligned to legislative changes. The principal and board are continuing to work with the MoE towards a project to replace the school’s aging buildings. MoE funding has been approved to address some of the school’s property issues. Plans are underway for the gymnasium to be extended and upgraded, and the main block to be refurbished.

Key next steps

ERO recommends that the board and senior leaders:

  • continue building on the good progress in addressing the priorities of ERO’s longitudinal review

  • implement systematic, collaborative evaluation of the school’s strategic and annual aims and 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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

Conclusion

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

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

25 October 2019

About the School

Location

Taipa, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

2

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

297

Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/ Pākehā
Pacific groups
other ethnic groups

82%
10%
4%
4%

Special Features

Rumaki Te Reo Years 1-6, Aurahi Te Reo Years 7-9, Alternative Education

Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

25 October 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2017
February 2013
May 2010