Thorrington School - 28/11/2019

School Context

Thorrington School, located in Christchurch, provides education for students from Years 1 to 6. There are 459 students, 21 of whom identify as Māori. There is an increasing diversity of cultures and backgrounds amongst the student population.

The school vision is ‘Ako tahi ai kia tahi ai tātou ki nga taumata – Learning together to be the best we can be’. The school’s valued outcomes are for its students to be caring, curious, confident citizens.

The strategic goals are:

  • for deep learning to increase student agency and voice in learning decisions through a competency-led curriculum

  • for goals, priorities and actions for Māori language in education to be integrated across other learning areas to ensure it has a clear presence in all aspects of a Māori student’s education

  • to build a school for the future with alignment between the buildings, spaces for learning and the education brief.

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
  • achievement for gifted learners
  • achievement for priority learners.

At the time of this report a new deputy principal had just been appointed.

A major building project is due to begin late 2020.

The school is a member of the Kahukura Cluster. This includes seven schools with a shared strategic plan.

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?

School learning information shows that over several years equitable and excellent outcomes are achieved for students with almost all achieving highly in reading and mathematics. Achievement in writing was slightly lower. After whole-school intensive professional learning and development in 2018, focused on writing, significant gains were made in achievement and in students’ attitudes to writing. By mid-2019, data shows that almost all students are on track to be at or above the school’s expectations. In the past, boys had not achieved as well as girls in writing. This is now being successfully addressed.

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

The school is very effective in accelerating the progress of Māori and other students who have yet to reach school expectations, particularly in reading and mathematics. Around half of the students, for whom English is a second language, have made accelerated progress in reading and mathematics.

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?

Thorrington School is a high performing school with a relentless focus on continuous improvement.

The school is led by a strong, professional team. Together leaders pursue equity and excellence through the development of caring relationships and useful structures and processes. They have built relational trust and effective collaboration at every level of the school community. Doing what is best for students and building leadership capabilities among teachers and students are priorities.

The principal, leaders and teachers carry out highly effective evaluation, inquiry and development of all aspects of school life. They carefully analyse how well school practices contribute to students’ achievement and progress. Consequent changes are based on sound research and reason. All stakeholders in the school community are consulted so that they are able to contribute to how the school is run.

Students benefit from a curriculum that provides a broad range of learning contexts through which competencies and dispositions that support life-long learning should be promoted. The provision of comprehensive guidelines and clear expectations supports a coherent and consistent approach to teaching and learning. The curriculum is empowering and future focused, designed to support students to be self managing and self sufficient. A well-planned and delivered te reo and tikanga Māori programme enables Māori students to succeed as Māori.

Staff work in a collaborative environment that enables them to adapt expertly to the learning and wellbeing needs of their students. Individual’s learning needs are identified and effectively catered for. All students’ progress and achievement is closely monitored.

Students participate and learn in caring, collaborative and inclusive learning environments. They participate in one-to-one and small group learning experiences. Students engage well in their learning and are confident in the daily routines and expectations. They clearly benefit from the team teaching approach where they can access the strengths of several teachers throughout the day. They have an increasing awareness of themselves as learners and are becoming self-managing and self-sufficient. Classrooms are calm and settled. Careful transition processes are implemented to support students as they move into, through and out of the school.

Collaboration with other boards from within the Kahukura cluster has supported the implementation of efficient and strategic governance. The board of trustees is well informed about student progress and achievement. Long-term plans provide clear direction for the future and ensure the new building design is driven by the agreed approach to teaching and learning. Strategic resourcing provides for all students to have equitable opportunities to learn. This includes providing extra teachers in junior classes to support literacy learning; redesigning buildings to enable collaborative learning; resourcing intensive professional development to raise student achievement in writing; and the use of pastoral care experts to build students’ resilience.

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

The school’s next step is to ensure that the wording around achievement targets focus more explicitly on accelerating the progress of those students who need this.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Thorrington School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Strong.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • its collaborative approach to teaching which benefits students’ learning
  • the highly effective leadership of the school which supports ongoing improvements
  • a broad, rich competency-led curriculum that contributes towards growing students into life-long learners
  • the careful, researched management of change for improvement.

Next step

For sustained improvement and future learner success, a priority for further development is in:

  • the refocusing of achievement targets onto accelerating the progress of students who need this.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

28 November 2019

About the school

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

3557

School type

Contributing primary school (Years 1-6)

School roll

459

Gender composition

Female 54% Male 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori 5%

NZ European/Pākehā 76%

Other ethnic groups 19%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

28 November 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education review June 2016

Education review December 2012

Education review February 2009