Thorndon School - 10/07/2014

Findings

Many learners achieve success, especially in reading and mathematics. Students have a broad curriculum that allows them to follow their interests. Board governance is sound. Trustees support and monitor initiatives in place to improve student outcomes. School leaders work collaboratively. Priorities include strengthening school systems for consistently high quality teaching.

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?

Thorndon School is close to the Wellington central business district and on land that historically was part of the original Pipitea Pa. Links to mana whenua are acknowledged. Of the 289 students, 30 are Māori and 24 are Pacific.

Since the July 2011 ERO report appointments to the senior management team have included a new principal, deputy principal and two team leaders.

The school grounds have been expanded to include the site of the former Kimi Ora School and a former Group Special Education building which has been redeveloped as additional teaching space. The school is about to undergo extensive renovation to upgrade other buildings.

2 Learning

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

The school is developing practices to make effective use of assessment data.

Based on student achievement information, teachers have set targets for 2014. These targets do not reflect how the school plans to extend student achievement to at or above in relation to the National Standards, particularly for writing and mathematics. Systems for monitoring progress towards these goals require strengthening.

School assessments in reading, writing and mathematics show that most students are achieving at or above national expectations for their year levels. Māori students progress well in literacy and perform above their peers in writing but have yet to make the same progress in mathematics.

Pacific students do not achieve as well as their classmates. This group is being appropriately focused on in 2014 for writing. English language learners receive learning support programmes tailored to their needs. Other students are identified for targeted support by their class teachers.

Parents receive clear written reports that demonstrate their child’s progress in relation to National Standards expectations. Student-led conferences show parents how well students understand their progress and learning.

Key next steps include:

  • setting and meeting higher school targets to work towards having more students achieving at or above in relation to National Standards
  • systematic monitoring of progress towards achieving targets
  • closely monitoring acceleration of students whose progress is not what it should be
  • establishing and monitoring expectations that all teachers use student achievement information for responsive teaching.

3 Curriculum

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

The school offers a broad curriculum which is enriched by multiple opportunities for students to develop and follow their interests. Teachers care for students and know their strengths and interests.

Significant changes to the teaching team make this an opportune time to review the curriculum. This should include review of supporting documents to clarify the high expectations the school has for both teachers and students. Such clarification should support induction of staff into the school and transitions for students as they move through the school.

School leadership is encouraging teachers to be more reflective and look closely at the effectiveness of their teaching strategies. This has been supported through ongoing professional development designed to improve learning outcomes for students, particularly in writing. Explicitly stating the changing expectations and strengthening the sharing of high quality practices should support school goals.

Pacific parents are encouraged to participate in a fono group. Steps to form stronger partnerships with this group are planned.

Key next steps:

  • in consultation with the community design a cohesive local curriculum
  • clearly document expectations for teaching and learning
  • continue to build learning partnerships with parents.

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

The school is putting in place practices to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. Initiatives and actions include:

  • a kaiawhina employed to teach te reo Māori throughout the school and to provide additional language lessons for Māori students
  • a Māori board member
  • an active whānau group.

To build on these positive developments consideration should be given to the use of Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 -2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

To improve, trustees and school leaders are working on processes and systems that support and sustain good practice. Board members have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities. They are providing additional resource to support leadership growth and school development.

An ongoing cycle of review at board level helps identify priorities for improvement. Trustees develop and implement plans with an appropriate focus on the impact on students’ wellbeing and learning. The leadership team are collaborating to review and redevelop school guiding documents and to bring about improvements to practice for learners as a result.

Extensive assessment information is shared with trustees and is a basis for board decision making that focuses on improving outcomes for students. Trustees ensure that teachers access good quality professional development and are highly supportive of school initiatives.

Teachers have opportunities to develop their leadership based on areas of strength and interest. Shared leadership is evident. New leaders are increasing their understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

Staff inquiring into their practice is at an early stage. Teachers need to consider more deeply the strategies they use and the impact these have on student learning. The appraisal system, when fully put into practice, has the potential to support teacher development. The use of the system needs to be strengthened.

The board and leadership are welcoming of students with diverse needs and create an inclusive culture, supported by appropriate policies and resourcing.

Key next steps:

  • embed teaching as inquiry, linking staff effectiveness to student learning outcomes
  • the board and school leaders decide on priorities for action, establish expectations for changes, then do, monitor and review.

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 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review the three international students attending the school had been present for two weeks. Appropriate systems support students as they transition into the school.

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

Many learners achieve success, especially in reading and mathematics. Students have a broad curriculum that allows them to follow their interests. Board governance is sound. Trustees support and monitor initiatives in place to improve student outcomes. School leaders work collaboratively. Priorities include strengthening school systems for consistently high quality teaching.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

10 July 2014

About the School

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

3040

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

289

Number of international students

3

Gender composition

Female 58%, Male 42%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

65%

9%

14%

7%

5%

Special Features

Attached unit: Resource Teacher of Literacy

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

10 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2011

June 2008

November 2005