Tolaga Bay Area School - 18/06/2020

School Context

Tolaga Bay Area School, located North of Gisborne, caters for students in Years 1 to 13. Of the 245 students enrolled approximately 95% are Māori and are of Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Uawa and Ngāti Porou descent.

School organisation includes English medium classes in Years 1 to 13 and Rumaki education in Years 1 to 10. Education and care for children with high additional needs is provided through the school’s Wairoro Class. A major refurbishment is underway including the construction of a new gym, music suite and new modern, innovative learning environments.

The principal is long serving. Since the December 2016 ERO report, there have been significant changes to leadership and staff including the appointment of a new deputy principal. Longstanding and recently elected members, including iwi appointed members, make up the board of trustees.

Enactment of the school’s mission statement, ‘UAWA - Unrelenting Achievement With Attitude’, guides school operation. The vision is for learners to be active and responsible citizens. Values of creativity, innovation, responsibility and kindness underpin school practices.

School strategic goals for improved student outcomes include:

  • transforming the learning environment with a focus on modern learning pedagogy and practice

  • strengthening learning relationships with students, parents, whānau, community and iwi

  • nurturing robust cultural identities through ‘Te Ahikaa, Dual heritage - Shared future - Hautitanga/Ngati Poroutanga’

  • creating an innovative learning environment that encourages the love of speaking ‘Te Reo ake o Hauiti, o Ngati Porou’.

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

  • participation in, and contribution to, Te Aitanga a Hauiti and the Uawa community

  • behaviour

  • health and wellbeing

  • those At Risk of Not Achieving (ARONA)

  • National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA)

  • attendance and retention rates

  • progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in Years 1 to 10 including for Rumaki students.

Teachers are regularly involved in a range of professional learning and development aligned to school priorities. This includes external and internal initiatives to promote positive learner outcomes.

The school is a member of the Porou Ariki Kāhui Ako and Te Kāhui Ako o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Porou.

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 school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students in their identity, language and culture.

Ākonga demonstrate a strong understanding of their iwi, tīpuna, whakapapa, whenua and te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. They have engaged in an extensive range of school and iwi projects aligned to the Uawa community vision of ‘Te Ahikā – Our Story, Our Voice, Our Place’. This comprehensive approach to building a strong sense of identity that strongly reflects Hauititanga and Ngati Poroutanga, promotes achievement of the school’s valued outcome for all learners.

Implementation of the E Tipu, E Rea programme in 2019 promoted the engagement of Māori learners to pursue vocational training and educational pathways, leading to meaningful employment for Rangatahi Māori – Rangatira Mō Āpōpō. Most students in the programme achieved the identified indicators of success. The outcome of this programme was a significant increase in student retention, knowledge of, and access to, academic and vocational pathways, and improved Level 2 NCEA results and scholarship achievement.

The valued outcomes for students to develop themselves as good kaitiaki of the Uawa catchment and create a sustainable environment for the future are being realised. Learners have achieved this outcome through successful participation in the Uawanui Sustainability Project, in collaboration with iwi and university partners. The Eco Warriors senior class of ARONA students, exemplifies these outcomes as all students successfully achieved NCEA qualifications.

A sequential te reo Māori programme runs through Years 1 to 10 in both English medium and Rumaki classes. This becomes a subject option in Years 11 to 13. School data indicates increased understanding and use of te reo Māori as learners progress from Years 1 to 10 in English medium classes. Data for 2019 shows increased achievement results in Te Reo Māori NCEA Levels 1 and 3.

The school continues to work towards achieving equity and excellence for all students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Information reported by the school for 2019, indicates a small majority of students in Years 1 to 10 were at or above curriculum level expectations in writing and mathematics. Success in reading for these learners was slightly higher.

Data available for the students in Rumaki shows just over half are achieving successfully in reading, less than half in writing and a few in mathematics. Senior leaders recognise the need to significantly improve levels of achievement in these areas. Reducing disparity for boys in all areas is also a next step.

NCEA enrolment-based data shows a decline in NCEA Level 1 achievement since the previous ERO review. However, there was a significant rise in NCEA Level 2 achievement between 2017 and 2019. NCEA Level 3 data has fluctuated over time. Achievement results in NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance (UE) have been consistently low. In 2018, two students were awarded University Scholarships and seven students were endorsed with vocational pathways. In 2019, three students gained university scholarships and one student was endorsed with a vocational pathway.

Students with additional high and complex needs are achieving positive outcomes in relation to their personal developmental and social goals. These students are well catered for through a range of appropriate interventions. They are effectively supported through positive relationships with whānau, external agencies and providers.

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

The school effectively accelerates learning for some students. Data indicates that some children in Years 1 to 6 at risk of underachievement, experience acceleration through class programmes and interventions in literacy. The school reports that acceleration data for mathematics in 2019 was unreliable and has introduced a system in 2020 to address this.

The school reported significant acceleration in writing for those children who required this, in Years 7 to 10.

Secondary school data shows that 85% of Year 9 students, who entered the school at risk of underachieving, went on to gain NCEA Level 2 or above.

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?

Positive outcomes for learners are nurtured through highly collaborative partnerships between the school, whānau, iwi and hapū. These partnerships enable the implementation of an effective localised, culturally sustaining curriculum. Ākonga benefit from reciprocal relationships and contribute meaningfully to Uawa community and iwi projects.

Students demonstrate a positive sense of citizenship. They are encouraged to confidently participate in all aspects of school life. Learning environments are managed in ways that foster this engagement. A varied range of authentic and meaningful local, regional, national and international learning opportunities contributes to student success and achievement. Programmes make active use of all aspects of the local environment, including the marae, to promote students’ understanding of the connectedness to atua, tīpuna, whenua and moana.

Students are well supported to confidently connect to and stand proud in their cultural identity through active participation in significant events aligned to the community’s Te Ahikaa vision. Ākonga are well supported to attain leadership skills and attributes from the legacies of Te Kani-a-Takirau and Hinematioro through engagement in traditional practices and creating innovative ways of expressing and revisiting their histories through language and the arts.

Trustees, leaders and staff build and sustain relational trust across the community. Positive relationships between staff and students are evident. Student wellbeing is actively promoted and the school works collaboratively with whānau to provide appropriate support. Collaborative community relationships and specialist agencies support the provision of quality pastoral care. The school has successfully collaborated with the community health centre, iwi, whānau and students to provide an engaging and supportive health and wellbeing literacy programme for Māori male youths.

Students with high and complex needs are well supported to participate and engage in learning alongside their peers. A strong culture of inclusion and support promotes equity for all students. A collaborative approach to developing individualised education plans includes whānau, the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and external agencies when required. These plans are responsive and build on students’ current learning interests and needs.

Leaders provide suitable professional learning opportunities to increase teacher capability to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. There is a purposeful emphasis on establishing shared understanding and promotion of student self-management skills for learning.

Trustees generously fund a wide range of sporting, cultural and learning experiences to enable equitable opportunities for students to access the full breadth of the curriculum. They effectively represent and serve the school in their stewardship roles. Relevant training and support from the New Zealand School Trustees Association is building trustee capacity and understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers should refine school targets and align systems, practices and processes to specifically focus on accelerating the progress of learners at-risk of underachievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Building teacher capability and shared understanding of responsive strategies to accelerate the learning of at-risk students are needed. This includes better analysis and use of assessment information to effectively plan for individual student needs in literacy and mathematics.

Developing a shared understanding of evaluation across all levels of the school to better determine the effectiveness of actions and strategies is a next step. This is required to assist trustees, leaders and teachers to better measure the impact and success of teaching programmes, initiatives and resourcing on accelerating achievement and identify next steps for development.

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 Tolaga Bay Area School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

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:

  • partnerships with whānau, local marae, hapū, iwi, hapori whānui and ao whānui that enrich the school’s curriculum provision

  • learning opportunities in the school and wider community that are responsive to the needs of each student

  • learning environments that promote students’ culture, language and identity, learning and wellbeing.

Next steps

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

  • refining school targets to specifically focus on accelerating the progress of learners at risk of underachievement
  • building shared understanding of responsive strategies to accelerate learning for those students who need this
  • the understanding and use of internal evaluation to effectively inform ongoing strategic direction and decision making.

In order to improve practice, the board of trustees must ensure the newly developed policies and procedures are well understood and implemented for:

  • the physical restraint of students

  • the surrender and retention of property and searches of students.

Darcy Te Hau

Acting Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

18 June 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.