Te Aro School - 15/07/2014

Findings

Students achieve well in a climate which values diversity. The broad curriculum integrates core subjects with environmental education, arts, Māori and Mandarin languages, in partnership with families and the local community. Teachers are reflective, showing collective responsibility for student success. Improved data analysis should strengthen self review for continuing improvement.

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?

Te Aro School in central Wellington has a roll of 212 students, encompassing 38 different ethnicities. Approximately one quarter of the students are English language learners (ELL), some are bilingual learners and a significant number have diverse learning needs.

A new leadership team has been in place since ERO's 2011 review. The board has undertaken training for its governance role. Recent professional development for staff includes a focus on the teaching of writing and on leadership.

The school motto 'Ever Upwards: Kake Tonu' encapsulates its approach to improvement. Building strong relationships underpins the school philosophy. Staff are inclusive and welcoming. They have strong links to the community. The school's inner city location provides access to local amenities and expertise to enrich its broad curriculum.

The school has addressed the recommendations of the previous ERO report.

2 Learning

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

Students engage well in learning. Achievement information is effectively used to identify and address their learning needs.

Teachers make overall judgements about students' achievement in relation to National Standards using a range of assessment tools and teacher observations. Sound processes, involving internal and external moderation, support judgements about writing. A next step is to develop correspondingly sound documentation of these processes for making overall judgements about reading and mathematics.

Schoolwide assessment data shows the majority of students achieve at or above in relation to National Standards. Achievement in reading and writing is relatively stable over time. Mathematics data shows improvement from 2012 to 2013. Senior staff are aware that Māori and Pacific groups are not as successful as their peers. However, the gap has reduced in mathematics and writing. Significant progress is evident after students' first year of schooling.

Provision for students with special learning needs continues to be reviewed regularly. The special education needs coordinator (SENCO) is developing an implementation plan, reviewing identification processes and general provision for students with special abilities.

Sound processes are in place for identifying, and providing for ELL students. There is schoolwide emphasis on responding to ELL students through classroom programmes. Best ELL teaching practice is deliberately shared across the school. The coordinator oversees the many strategies and interventions available, effectively liaises with classroom teachers, and is a key part of the leadership team.

Improved engagement of students at risk of not achieving, including with their parents, has yet to translate into improved achievement. Continuing to embed recent initiatives is likely to address this. Achievement of Year 8 students should remain a focus.

Written reports to parents provide clear information about what the child can do, what are the next learning steps and how parents might help at home. Senior staff have acknowledged they need to review reporting practices to give better clarity and consistency to reporting judgements in relation to National Standards. At present, reports to parents are not compliant.

A welcoming, caring and inclusive atmosphere is evident. The wellbeing of students is paramount. Interactions with students are positive and affirming. Staff monitor, and are responsive to, student and family situations. Teachers are respectful of students’ ideas and value the knowledge they bring to school. They are calm and considered in their relationships with students which contributes to a sense of belonging for them and their parents.

3 Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is soundly based in the principles and competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. The school's mission and values are enacted.

Teachers use their knowledge of each student to plan meaningful programmes to motivate and challenge them. Deliberate and differentiated teaching targets students’ learning needs. Regular, specific and constructive feedback on student work contributes to their next stage of learning.

All students have opportunities to increase their knowledge and understanding of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. As an ‘Asia Aware’ school, all students undertake Mandarin language learning. Outings and visitors provide experiences of Asian cultures.

A well-integrated approach is taken in planning environmental education, art and music, digital learning and student inquiry. Good use is made of local amenities and expertise to augment children’s experiences. Focus on the performing and visual arts further develops students' curiosity, creativity and perseverance. A range of academic, cultural and environmental activities which enrich and extend, are available to students.

Teachers are culturally responsive and celebrate diversity. 'First Language Time’, using skills from within the school community, is an example of positive response to diversity. It is an acknowledgement of the range of students' cultural backgrounds and enhances their sense of belonging.

Teachers are student-centred. They have high expectations for students and their learning. In senior classes there is a strong focus on students developing skills to lead their own learning. Self assessing, understanding their learning, identifying next steps and thinking skills are all evident.

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

The school is promoting success for Māori learners, as Māori, by demonstrating it values and embracing te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

School leaders have been proactive in increasing participation and involvement of Māori parents and whānau. Well attended hui have resulted in productive discussions about what parents wish for their children and the school seeking genuine ways it might enhance students' bicultural experiences. Deepening partnerships with whānau are being developed through collecting Māori students' views about their experiences as Māori at school.

Initiatives undertaken so far include:

  • employment of a te reo Māori teacher to work with all classes and teachers
  • continuing a successful kapa haka group with an external tutor and teacher support.

A three day noho marae in alternate years for senior students gives authenticity to learning. Māori students take leadership roles on these occasions. They speak about feeling affirmed for being experts.

The school is making good use of Tātaiako Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners and Te Aho Arataki Marau mō te Ako i Te Reo Māori- Kura Auraki (Curriculum Guidelines for Teaching and Learning Te Reo Māori in English-medium Schools: Years 1-13) to design a cohesive, developmental programme for te reo Māori learning across the school. Māori learners are well supported to succeed.

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.

The board has an increasingly visible presence in the school, demonstrating a stronger supportive relationship between board and staff. The principal and board chair meet regularly. Members are kept well informed through full principal reports. The charter provides clear direction, including for teaching and learning. Annual goals, professional development and appraisal are well aligned.

The senior leadership team have created conditions for a unified staff culture. The principal provides effective educational leadership. Staff are collegial. Teachers share responsibility for students' wellbeing and learning at the same time as having opportunities to take on roles of responsibility. They are supported and encouraged to be innovative.

Outcomes of self review are used for decision making and improvement. Review is regular, wide ranging and focused on outcomes. Multiple perspectives are sought.

Student involvement in many aspects of school life is a strength. Student ideas are captured in surveys, through the school council, or just emails to the principal, and responded to.

Strong partnerships with parents and community are fostered and valued. Evenings held to exchange information strengthen the learning partnerships. Senior staff have identified that the school should continue to build links with its Pacific community to increase involvement of Pacific families in learning partnerships.

Sharing professional development and practice is building connections and associations with local schools. Increasing links to local preschools is supporting successful transition into the new entrants' class.

Next Steps

School leaders and ERO agree the following next steps are to:

  • strengthen the use, analysis and reporting of assessment to better target priority learners
  • use specific, relevant outcomes and indicators to evaluate the impact of strategies and initiatives on student progress
  • develop guiding documentation to show how overall teacher judgements (OTJs) are made about students' achievement in reading and mathematics
  • review reporting to parents to ensure clarity and consistency in reporting student achievement in relation to National Standards.

Improved use and analysis of data should strengthen the school’s self review of its performance and support improved outcomes for students.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under Section 28F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were three international students attending the school.

Thorough review supports attestation with the Code. New students and their families are readily involved with school activities and learning. The board receives regular written reports on the welfare, academic progress and social integration of international students.

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 school is currently non-compliant with respect to written reports to parents. These do not specifically indicate achievement in relation to National Standards. In order to improve practice reports must explicitly show achievement and progress in relation to National Standards.[National Administration Guideline 2A (a)]

Conclusion

Students achieve well in a climate which values diversity. The broad curriculum integrates core subjects with environmental education, arts, Māori and Mandarin languages, in partnership with families and the local community. Teachers are reflective, showing collective responsibility for student success. Improved data analysis should strengthen self review for continuing improvement.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

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About the School

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

3037

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

212

Number of international students

3

Gender composition

Male 56%, Female 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Chinese

Pacific

Middle Eastern

African

Indian

Other Asian

Other European

12%

53%

7%

6%

5%

4%

1%

8%

4%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

15 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2011

August 2008

October 2005