Thorndon School - 22/06/2018

School Context

Thorndon School is an inner-city school in Wellington, with a culturally diverse roll. Of the 274 students enrolled, 54% are Pākehā, 24% are Asian, 12% are Māori and 6% are of Pacific heritage.

The school’s valued outcomes for learners are for them to: have agency and effective management of their learning; and to develop as collaborative, creative learners, respectful of others and the environment. Revising of the school’s vision and values is in process.

The school’s 2017 annual aim for student learning was to improve achievement in writing and mathematics. The focus in 2018 is reading in the junior school.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • wellbeing and attendance.

The school continues to undergo extensive building development. The development of shared, collaborative learning spaces is a strong focus. Teachers use a range of local facilities to support and enrich the curriculum.

There have been recent changes to staffing and leadership. Teachers have participated in professional learning and development in writing assessment practice, reading in the junior school and in leadership development. Staff are working collaboratively with a Wellington school on a Teacher-led Innovation Fund project to explore ways to promote student agency in learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The majority of students continue to achieve at expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Writing is an ongoing area for greatest improvement. The school recognises that overall, Māori and Pacific learners do not achieve as well as Pākehā. Significant improvement occurred for Māori overall in reading in 2017, so that they achieved better than their peers. Boys achieve less well as a group in literacy.

Leaders and teachers demonstrate an inclusive and responsive approach to support students with additional or high learning needs to participate fully in school life. Provision is supported by useful, regular communication with families.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

There is evidence of accelerated progress for some students. Currently, however, it is not sufficiently clear how well the school is accelerating learning for those Māori and other learners at risk in their learning.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The curriculum is responsive to the interests of students and clearly focused on developing key competencies for successful learning. Children are well supported to be independent and self-managing in their learning. Teachers provide an environment that fosters learning and engagement. Deliberate strategies are in place to encourage collaborative teaching and learning practices. The school’s vision and values are effectively promoted through a strong focus on enabling children to make choices and have learning input. Student voice is valued and responded to. A focus on creativity is evident throughout the curriculum.

Students engage enthusiastically and work collaboratively to support each other as they learn. Respectful relationships are highly evident between teachers and students. Student leadership is well promoted through a wide range of meaningful opportunities.

Recognition of the significance of place, mana whenua and tikanga Māori is clearly demonstrated by leaders and trustees and supported by whānau. This provides opportunities for students and their families, particularly Māori, to make meaningful connections and experience a sense of belonging. Opportunities for students to explore aspects of te ao Māori and their cultures, language and identity are provided and encouraged.

Useful information shared with trustees about student achievement, school developments and operation is well used to guide the board’s decision-making. Trustees draw on a range of expertise to undertake their roles. The board and staff are appropriately reviewing the school’s vision and values to align with school developments and to better respond to community aspirations for success.

Trustees and senior leaders demonstrate an understanding of processes for effective internal evaluation. School developments in relation to strategic planning are well monitored. Aspects of operation and school priorities are reviewed through appropriate sources of information and multiple perspectives are sought to inform decisions for improvement.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Growing teacher and leadership capacity across the school for consistent, high quality practice is a key focus. Ongoing review of guiding documentation has occurred to clarify expectations for teachers and leaders. Ensuring expectations for practice and actions for improvement are robustly implemented is a significant next step. Appraisal processes and implementation should be further strengthened to promote teacher development and align more clearly to the school’s strategic focus and expectations for effective practice.

Trustees, leaders at all levels of the school and teachers should collaboratively take a more strategic approach to accelerating achievement for equitable outcomes. This shouldinclude:

  • developing targets to more clearly focus on accelerating progress for learners at risk
  • raising expectations for improving rates of progress for groups of learners
  • clearer monitoring, analysis and reporting of accelerated progress for all learners at risk.

Assessment practices continue to be strengthened. Continuing to develop the analysis and robust use of achievement information by teachers and leaders are next steps. This should also support clarity of achievement and progress for students and their families and strengthen learning partnerships.

All leaders and staff working collaboratively and strategically to plan and enact a clear vision for improvement is an important next step. Further development, alignment and implementation of robust systems, processes and practices are required to support positive change and ongoing improvement. This alignment should support the school’s focus on mahi tahi to provide consistency of practice and collective effort to improve outcomes for learners. Participation of all staff in an evidence-based approach and collective sense making should assist in well-informed actions and measuring of impact for further decision making.

Leaders recognise that further articulation of culturally responsive practices and a more strategic approach to development should further support the promotion of children’s identities, languages and cultures, especially for Māori learners.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Appraisal audit

An audit of the school’s process for endorsing practising certificates of teachers in relation to Education Council requirements was undertaken. Findings showed the need for more consistent implementation and documentation of the process.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to systems for monitoring police-vetting and teacher certification. Trial evacuations for fire and earthquakewere not undertaken sufficiently regularly.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must ensure:

  1. systems for monitoring of police-vetting or teacher certification of staff are adequate and accurate
    [Education Act 1989, 78]

  1. trial evacuations are undertaken regularly
    [Fire Safety and Evacuations of Buildings Regulations, 2006]

  1. provision for career education for Years 7 and 8 students is documented and implemented.
    [NAG 1, f]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should ensure that what is stated in procedures is practised and accurate records are kept.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • positive learning environments and relationships between teachers and students that support learning

  • a curriculum that reflects a cohesive vision for successful learning and provides clear direction for teaching and learning

  • improvement-focused stewardship that provides scrutiny and strategic direction.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • continuing to develop, align and implement robust systems, processes and practices to promote improvement

  • building capacity of leaders and staff to work collaboratively to ensure actions and processes are robustly implemented

  • aligning efforts to support provision for all students at risk through targeted planning to accelerate learning. [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school]

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

22 June 2018

About the school

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

3040

School type

Full primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

274

Gender composition

Female 57%, Male 43%

Ethnic composition

Māori 12%

Pākehā 54%

Asian 24%

Pacific 6%

Other ethnic groups 4%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

22 June 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review July 2014
Education Review July 2011
Education Review June 2008