Tongariro School - 30/10/2015

Findings

The principal and board are taking a sound strategic approach to improve the quality of education for students. In most classrooms, students work cooperatively with peers and are well supported by teachers. A shared commitment by leaders and teachers contributes to increased rates of progress and achievement for some students.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Tongariro School is an area school situated in Turangi, and provides education for students in Years 1 to 13. The school has a current roll of 435 and the majority (376) of these students are of Māori descent. Many of these students whakapapa to te iwi ō Tūwharetoa.

The principal has been leading the school since Term 4 2013 and has been very proactive in bringing about positive change and development. The May 2014 ERO report found that the principal was working closely with the board of trustees to re-establish school direction, and to clarify the most immediate priority areas for development.

Board membership has remained constant. The board chair leads a team of highly committed trustees to provide effective governance for the school. The principal provides sound professional advice to the board. There has been a strong focus on building the school’s profile in the local and wider community. The school is now in a sound financial position, and is planning strategically to make much needed improvements to facilities and resources to support learning and teaching.

Three long-serving deputy principals support the principal in well-defined management roles. The membership and structure of the leadership team has been extended. The principal has delegated the responsibility of leadership for learning to two experienced classroom teachers. 

This review is part of a longitudinal evaluation process by ERO, designed to increase the school’s capacity to sustain and improve its performance. 

2  Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The ERO review and report in May 2014 identified the following priority areas for development.

  • Refining curriculum guidelines and expectations for student learning.
  • Implementing strategies to strengthen the consistency of effective teaching practice across the school.
  • Further clarifying the roles of senior leaders.
  • Developing moderation processes to support teachers to make robust judgements in relation to National Standards.
  • Strengthening the board’s communication and partnership with families, whānau and the community.

Progress

The principal is working closely with senior leaders to develop a more collaborative culture for learning. Since his appointment in 2013, he has adopted a more strategic approach to professional learning and development. This development is bringing about a stronger focus on the learner.

Engaging students in positive learning experiences has been an ongoing priority for all staff. As part of this process, leaders and teachers are involved in Ministry of Education initiatives: Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L), and more recently for leaders and some staff, Kia Eke Panuku (KEP). This professional learning is designed to assist leaders and teachers to interact with students and whānau in culturally responsive ways, as well as strengthening their knowledge and understanding of current best practice for learning and teaching. PB4L is now well embedded, with most teachers implementing appropriate strategies to enable students to succeed in positive and supportive classroom environments. The principal and senior leaders recognise the importance of all staff being committed to the school’s vision for learning so that practices for engaging and interacting with students and their families are consistent between teachers.

The roles and responsibilities of the three deputy principals are now clearly defined. There is school-wide oversight of administration, pastoral care and curriculum. This approach has led to the development of clear systems and expectations for staff, and is bringing about greater consistency of practice. Two assistant principal (AP) positions have been created in the junior and senior areas respectively, with the specific purpose of leading learning.

The school now has a well-documented curriculum. There are clear guidelines and expectations for teachers, including expected effective teaching practice in each area of learning. The deputy principal (curriculum) now needs to work collaboratively with the two leaders of learning to ensure consistent implementation of these agreed expectations across the school.

More effective assessment systems that enable a suitable range of achievement information to be gathered and collated for use at classroom, team and school-wide levels have been developed. Data is now well managed and accessible for staff, as well as the board. This is leading to informed decision making by leaders who are now responsive to learning trends and patterns across all year levels. Leaders involve teachers in dialogue about student achievement and progress at team and school-wide level, and moderation practices in relation to National Standards have been strengthened.

Students who are at risk of not achieving are identified and become part of a target group of students for focussed classroom teaching. Leaders of learning work with teachers to develop specific programmes of work to meet the needs of these students.  However, further professional development for many teachers is needed so that they are able to teach more deliberately to accelerate the progress of these at risk students. 

In Years 11 to 13, the leader of learning (senior classes) has successfully developed and implemented a system for tracking students’ progress in relation to NCEA achievement. Students are now being supported to track their credit achievement throughout the year. The deputy principal (curriculum) has worked with teachers in the senior school to better coordinate vocational and career pathways for senior students. The deputy principal (administration) has worked with this leader of learning to ensure better use is made of available staffing to increase the range of subject options for students.

In response to low levels of achievement in writing across Years 1 to 8, the leader of learning (junior classes) has developed a programme of professional learning for teachers.  The Resource Teacher: Literacy (RT:Lit) is working with teachers in these classes to improve the way writing is taught and assessed. While this is having a positive impact, some teachers need additional support to consolidate and embed this practice. More resourcing for leadership of learning in this area of the school is necessary to build the capability of teachers to work more effectively with students in literacy and mathematics, to raise achievement levels.

Considerable work has been undertaken by the board, principal and senior leaders to strengthen communication and partnership with families, whānau and the community. The board has strengthened its engagement with iwi and adopted the Tūwharetoa Education Plan through the school’s charter. The principal has made successful inroads in engaging with local businesses, the education community and iwi. This focus is building on the school’s profile in the local and wider community.

In 2015 a series of wānanga have been held to promote learners as leaders. A focus on student empowerment, and the involvement of kuia, kaumātua, whanau /family at these wānanga has provided many opportunities for senior students to build self esteem through the acknowledgement of their language, culture and identity in this supportive marae setting.

School leaders now need to place priority on involving parents as active participants in their child’s learning and development. The current professional development for staff about cultural responsiveness, working together (mahi tahi) and reciprocal relationships (ako) should assist teachers to work more collaboratively with parents and whānau. Many students would benefit from a learning partnership between home and school, where parent aspirations were shared and valued, and parents were better informed about how they could support their children at home to make progress with their learning.

Student achievement

The school’s 2013/2014 achievement information (National Standards) for Years 1 to 8 students in reading, writing and mathematics indicates that, overall, the percentage of students achieving the expected standard is below national comparisons.

At Years 9 and 10, the school’s 2014 data shows that the majority of these students are working below expected national curriculum levels.

Achievement levels for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) continue to be below national comparisons, and schools of similar profile. However, the school’s 2015 tracking data indicates a significant increase in the number of students who are likely to achieve NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 this year.

The school leavers’ data for 2014 indicates that the majority of students (66%) gained Level 2 NCEA or above. Māori boys in particular are experiencing success in relation to the national target of 85% of leavers gaining Level 2 by 2017.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Significant progress has been made and the school is now in a better position to sustain and improve its performance.

ERO, the board and school leaders agree unanimously that there must be a continuing and relentless focus on raising student achievement.  As part of this focus:

  • leaders (deputy and assistant principals and team leaders) continue to strengthen their work as leaders of learning in order to build teacher capability
  • the board, through the principal, should ensure consistent implementation of the school performance management systems and practices, to ensure high levels of staff performance and accountability.

ERO acknowledges the work that has begun in these areas. This work will continue, and be undertaken concurrently with the ongoing development of a collaborative and culturally responsive culture for learning, in keeping with the principles and values of the MoE initiative Kia Eke Panuku.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO has identified that the current poor state of the school’s physical environment, and particularly classrooms, is impacting negatively on student and teacher morale. Effective governance by the board has led to some pending work on property improvements, about to begin. However, ERO recommends that the board seeks further support from the MoE to carry out additional, much needed upgrades.

Conclusion

The principal and board are taking a sound strategic approach to improve the quality of education for students. In most classrooms, students work cooperatively with peers and are well supported by teachers. A shared commitment by leaders and teachers contributes to increased rates of progress and achievement for some students.

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

30 October 2015

About the School 

Location

Turangi

Ministry of Education profile number

476

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

435

Gender composition

Boys 50%
Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Other

86%
12%
  2%

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

30 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2014
January 2012
March 2009