Te Aroha Primary School - 04/12/2015

1. Context

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

Te Aroha Primary School caters for students in Years 1 to 8 and is located in the Waikato town of Te Aroha. Māori students comprise 34 % of the roll. There is also a group of students from Tongan families. The school has experienced significant roll growth in recent years. The attractively presented school has spacious fields with mature trees and an adjacent small farm, which is utilised for learning and there have been significant upgrades to grounds and buildings in recent years. Some families have multi-generational links with the school.

At the time of this ERO review, a satellite class for students from Goldfields School had just opened. This unit provides opportunities for students who need specific learning strategies and/or social support for special and mainstream learning. These students experience a safe and inclusive school environment.

The school’s October 2012 ERO report identified a number of positive features in many aspects of the school’s operation. This review finds that these continue to be evident and have been enhanced. Senior leadership has been restructured to include the principal, deputy principal and two team leaders in a collaborative and collegial team. Teachers have engaged in both external and internal professional development to accelerate students’ literacy and mathematics learning and achievement. School leaders, teachers and trustees have responded positively to development areas identified in the 2012 ERO report.

The school’s values as expressed in B.A.S. (Belief, Achievement and Success) are well understood by students and contribute to a calm, affirming and inclusive culture which supports engagement in learning. Parents and whānau are increasingly involved in the life of the school and as partners in learning. Community members provide valued support for class programmes, student learning, and school-wide activities and events.

2. Learning

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

The school makes very effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Data collected at the end of term 3 2015 indicates that many more students are on track to meet National Standards for their year levels, than was the case at the end of previous years. Data for 2014 indicated that students were achieving well in reading, but many students were below expectations in writing and mathematics. This year, a deliberate focus on raising the achievement of targeted at-risk students has resulted in significant progress in these learning areas.

Trustees, senior leaders and teachers demonstrate an unrelenting focus on raising achievement. Teachers’ 'pedagogical groups' provide a regular forum for discussion about the progress of at-risk students and strategies to accelerate their achievement. The board uses achievement information well to make resourcing decisions that enhance student outcomes. School leaders and trustees agree that more specific annual targets would better reflect the school’s practices, and provide a more robust basis for monitoring and reviewing the progress of at-risk students.

Teachers have developed sound processes for moderating assessment judgements in relation to National Standards. They are extending these processes to include moderation with other schools. Senior leaders agree that further review of assessment tools and processes is likely to result in increasingly useful assessment of learning.

Parents receive comprehensive and meaningful information about students’ progress and achievement. Opportunities to share this information include easily understood written reports, three-way learning conferences, and individual student learning journals. Teachers agree that learning journals could be strengthened to include more specific information about progress and achievement, and further recognition of students’ culture, language and identity.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is very well designed to promote a holistic and integrated approach to student learning and engagement. Positive features of the curriculum include:

  • maintaining an established school-wide culture of respectful, welcoming and cheerful interactions and relationships
  • prioritising literacy and mathematics learning in meaningful contexts
  • programmes for extending students’ identified strengths and abilities
  • using local community contexts and a sustained Enviroschools focus to facilitate meaningful science and inquiry learning
  • implementing a vibrant and engaging programme, and incorporating real-life learning experiences to engage active learners and accelerate their progress
  • increasing use of digital technologies to enhance learning and share knowledge across the school.

ERO observed models of high quality teaching practice where deliberate acts of teaching are tailored to meet the needs of groups and individuals. Class environments are educationally stimulating and celebrate students’ work including high quality art. The curriculum also provides opportunities for students to experience success and develop leadership skills in the performing arts, sports, school camps and school-wide responsibilities.

Within the school’s continuing review of its curriculum, senior leaders should continue to develop expectations for ensuring that teachers and students make consistent use of learning progressions to guide assessment, feedback and next steps for learning.

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

Te Aroha Primary School very effectively promotes success for Māori as Māori, and is continuing to increase its capacity to provide programmes that reflect the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. The school has developed a Māori language curriculum for integration throughout its programmes, and teachers have improved their knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori. Students participate with enthusiasm in pōwhiri and waiata and are proud of their cultural heritage. Māori students and families benefit from the school’s positive culture of whanaungatanga and manaakitanga. Through whānau hui and parent education evenings, more Māori parents are engaging confidently in learning partnerships with their children and becoming increasingly involved in school activities.

Assessment information for 2015 demonstrates that overall achievement for Māori students has improved during the year. This is because students who were at risk of underachieving have been specifically targeted and assisted to make accelerated progress. School leaders note that they have had strong and useful support from a student achievement facilitator provided by the Ministry of Education. This has resulted in a greater emphasis on strategically promoting success for Māori as Māori.

Prior to this ERO review, school leaders had identified the need for continuing the development of teachers’ confidence and confidence in using te reo Māori and continuing to increase its visibility in class displays. ERO affirms this direction. The school is in the early stages of integrating Tātaiako into its appraisal process to ensure teachers are affirmed in maintaining culturally competent teaching practices.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance because of the following positive factors.

  • Governance is effective. Experienced trustees know their community well and contribute their complementary skills to support the principal and staff and to promote student achievement.
  • The school’s charter and annual plan are based on community consultation and ongoing self review. They provide clear direction for improvement and the allocation of resources.
  • The principal continues to provide highly effective professional leadership with a clear focus on promoting equity and excellence for all students. He is very well supported by an experienced, capable and collaborative leadership team.
  • The leadership team provides high and clear expectations for teaching, learning and achievement in a safe and inclusive environment that promotes belonging and well-being for all students based on the school’s explicitly promoted and well established vision and values.
  • The appraisal process has been reviewed and revised to strengthen evidence-based reflection about effective teaching practice.
  • School leaders and teachers have developed a culture of professional support and dialogue to improve student achievement.
  • Self review is rigorous and focused on continually improving positive outcomes for students.
  • The principal and leadership team regularly engage in constructive professional discussions and leadership within the local and wider education community.

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

Te Aroha Primary School has high expectations for teaching and learning, pastoral care, student wellbeing, and integration of Māori language and culture. Meaningful learning contexts promote students’ engagement, progress and achievement. Students at risk of underachieving have targeted programmes to accelerate their progress. Reflection and review underpin all school operations.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

About the School

Location

Te Aroha

Ministry of Education profile number

1999

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

180

Gender composition

Boys    55%
Girls    45%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Pacific
Other groups

55%
34%
  6%
  5%

Special Features

Satellite special needs class from Goldfields School, Paeroa

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

4 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2012
June 2009
June 2006