Thornton School - 27/06/2017

Summary

Thornton School is a rural full primary school catering for children from Years 1 to 8. The school has a roll of 110 children, including 12 who identify as Māori.

The long serving principal continues to lead the school. There have been several changes to board membership since 2014. Considerable changes to teaching staff have occurred. Four Provisionally Registered Teachers (PRTs) have been employed and began at the school at the start of 2017. Some areas which were identified for improvement in the 2014 ERO review have not been fully addressed. These relate to the appraisal process for the principal and policy review.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school is responding well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement needs accelerating.

Some school processes are effectively enabling achievement of equity and excellence outcomes for children.

Further development in some governance and leadership practices is needed to achieve equity and excellence.

At the time of this ERO review, achievement information indicates that most children, including Māori are achieving at and above the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics. Girls achieve at higher levels than boys in literacy.

Children are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are to:

  • align appraisal goals with achievement targets

  • make better use of achievement data to inform internal evaluation

  • strengthen culturally responsive practice

  • consistently implement performance management systems and practices.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is responding well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement needs accelerating. The principal and teachers make effective use of achievement information to identify and plan for individuals and groups of children at risk of not achieving.

National Standards data 2013 to 2015 shows that most children achieved at or above expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement levels for all children in reading have increased during this time. The number of Māori children attending the school has fallen and data for 2016 shows little or no disparity of achievement levels between Māori and Pākehā. Girls overall are achieving better than boys in reading and writing.

Specific achievement targets focus on accelerating progress of identified at risk learners across Years 4 to 6. Explicit action plans underpinning these targets are contributing to successful outcomes for boys in reading and writing. Teachers closely monitor and report rates of progress for individual children.

The principal is continuing to develop processes that support and enable teachers to make reliable overall teacher judgements (OTJs). This is an important area for development as the principal builds assessment capability of the four PRTs. Practices for the collation, analysis and moderation of assessment information are yet to be consistently implemented and embedded.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Trustees are well-informed about children’s achievement. They allocate generous resourcing to support programmes and interventions intended to promote equity of outcome.

The principal works with each classroom teacher to closely monitor the achievement and progress of children who are underachieving. She also works collegially with provisionally certificated teachers, to foster a focus on reducing disparity and meeting the educational needs of at risk children.

Children requiring additional learning support have their needs well met. Well planned programmes are coordinated by the principal who fulfils the role of Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) to ensure the progress of at risk children is carefully monitored. Parents are kept well informed about these programmes and are empowered to help their children with literacy and mathematics learning.

The responsive curriculum provides a broad range of rich learning experiences for all children, while maintaining a strong emphasis on literacy and mathematics. A play-based learning approach has been introduced in the junior classes to meet the identified needs of a group of young children who entered school with low literacy levels.

A school culture of mutual respect and shared expectations for learning and behaviour contributes to success for all children. The ‘I Care’ values programme enables inclusive and respectful relationships among children and adults to develop.Children are well supported by strong partnerships between the principal, teachers, parents and the wider community.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Further development in some governance and leadership practices is needed to achieve equity and excellence.

  • Appraisal goals for the principal and teachers need to align with achievement targets and action plans for at risk learners.

  • The collation and reporting on school wide achievement patterns and rates of progress for identified groups of at risk learners is necessary to inform internal evaluation.

  • Culturally responsive practice needs to be more consistently integrated into the curriculum and environment for learning.

  • The performance management system for teachers needs to be fully implemented in order to meet the requirements of New Zealand Education Council.

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

  • 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.

Actions required

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to the principal’s appraisal and health and safety. The board had not completed an annual appraisal of the principal, and at the time of this review there was no current performance agreement in place for the principal in 2017. While the board had various health and safety policies in place, the implementation of these policies in practice was not sufficiently rigorous or robust to ensure the health and safety of children or staff. 

In order to address this the board must:

  1. Annually appraise the principal’s performance against all the professional standards for principals.
    [s77(c) State Sector Act (1989)]

  1. Regularly review health and safety policies and procedures and be assured that these policies and procedures are being consistently implemented.
    [National Administration Guideline 2, 5]

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Children are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are to:

  • align appraisal goals with achievement targets

  • make better use of achievement data to inform internal evaluation

  • strengthen culturally responsive practice

  • consistently implement performance management systems and practices.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

27 June 2017

About the school 

Location

Whakatane

Ministry of Education profile number

2028

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

110

Gender composition

Boys 56% Girls 44%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 89%
Māori 11%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

27 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review May 2011
Education Review May 2008