Torbay School - 03/04/2009

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Torbay School’s vision of “Flying high, learning for a successful future” is embedded in the partnership between the board of trustees, teachers, and the community, who are working together to raise the achievement of all students. The staff, students and parents operate as a team to build a foundation that provides children with the desire and skills to be lifelong learners. Board members are well informed by the principal and senior managers about student success and achievement. Trustees and teachers value the partnership they have with the parent community in promoting student learning.

Students are focused learners. They are positive about their learning experiences and keen to share their knowledge. They make effective use of the supportive and encouraging learning culture in classrooms by discussing and developing their ideas with their teachers and peers. Goal setting and the use of specific learning criteria support an individualised, focused approach to students’ learning, which is reflected in their ability to describe and explain their learning. Students report that they enjoy sharing their progress with their parents at home and engaging in learning conversations with their teachers and parents.

The principal, who was appointed since the 2006 ERO review, has led the implementation of a consultative self-review process focused on the continued improvement of student achievement. This process has encouraged innovation and the refinement of teaching practices. Professional dialogue and communication among staff support a cohesive approach to the implementation of high quality teaching approaches. Improved ways of presenting achievement information to the board enables trustees to have a broader, comparative view of the progress of all students, and to be confident that Maōri students are achieving at or above their expected levels.

Teachers enjoy positive relationships with students and share good models of teaching practice with their colleagues. They value regular observations of their classroom practice, peer evaluation, and support for the ongoing development of teaching approaches and strategies. Emphasis is placed on developing students’ ability to discuss their own learning and to recognise opportunities for future learning. Students’ ownership of their learning is the focus of this review.

The positive and supportive school culture provides students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and to take responsibility for their own choices. Well implemented programmes support students to improve their social competence. Students are proud of the school’s environment, which is well cared for and reflects the local area, its history and the value that staff place on the students and their families.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can manage the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in 4 to 5 years.

2. The Focus of the Review

Student Achievement Overall

ERO’s education reviews focus on student achievement. What follows is a statement about what the school knows about student achievement overall.

School leaders and teachers use nationally-normed assessment tools, their professional knowledge of students’ progress, and ongoing analysis of data to monitor student achievement closely. Ongoing professional discussions about students’ progress are supported by analyses of the effectiveness of teaching and learning practices. Annual achievement targets, and specific targets for identified groups of children, are based on reliable assessment data. Clear links are made between achievement information, professional development, and effective teaching.

Most students in Years 2 to 6 are achieving at levels that are at or above national expectations, with some students achieving very well in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers complete a needs analysis to identify individual students who require support or extension and there is a focus on ensuring that progress is ongoing. Support programmes cater effectively for students’ needs and teacher aides encourage students to discuss and identify their own learning needs and set appropriate goals. As a result of these programmes, students experience success and are able to contribute more confidently within classroom programmes.

Participation in International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) offers students opportunities to extend their learning in key aspects of numeracy, literacy, science and computer use. In addition, a variety of school activities, including film production, speeches, and writing and presenting material at assembly, provide high quality learning experiences and opportunities for students to succeed.

School Specific Priorities

Before the review, the board of Torbay School was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the school to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the board of trustees. This discussion focused on existing information held by the school (including student achievement and self review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to the achievement of the students atTorbay School.

ERO and the board have agreed on the following focus area for the review:

  • student ownership of learning.

ERO’s findings in this area are set out below.

Student ownership of learning

Background

The 2006 ERO report recommended increased student involvement in the learning process. In 2007, the board and staff reviewed the school’s vision with the aim of refocusing on teaching and learning. The new principal led the development of a shared understanding of teaching practices that gave students ownership of their learning. Teachers responded positively. Through their commitment to professional training and the development of shared understandings about teaching and learning practice, a more consistent school-wide approach to promoting student ownership of learning has emerged.

Student progress and achievement

Teachers use student achievement data well. There is a focus on using assessment information to highlight the needs of students and raise their achievement. Emphasis has been placed on identifying and establishing specific targets for students who require support and extension. Ongoing moderation, analysis and reflection on student achievement give staff access to in-depth information about students’ progress and learning behaviours. This knowledge enables teachers to select specific teaching strategies that are suited to their students’ learning needs.

ERO’s 2006 report noted that school achievement goals needed to be modified on the basis of current achievement levels. School-wide achievement data are now used to establish school-wide targets and, in each classroom, specific targets for students who require support or extension. Students’ progress is closely monitored and achievement data are regularly shared with teachers. This rigorous approach ensures improved tracking of students and ongoing reflection on achievement targets.

Areas of good performance

Student knowledge of their own learning. Teachers discuss students’ learning goals and, in most classes, students have opportunities to be involved in developing, or discussing, specific criteria that can be used to assess the extent to which they have succeeded in their learning. Students have opportunities to evaluate their work and have discussions with their peers to identify specific aspects of their learning that meet learning expectations and aspects that need further improvement.

Refining ideas. Ongoing reflective discussions with their peers, and the recording of ideas discussed, provide students with opportunities to articulate, explain, and debate their thinking more clearly.

Classroom environments. Most classroom environments use displays effectively to celebrate student learning and provide prompts to support students’ ongoing learning. Resources are readily available and are accessible for students. Group brainstorming sheets and planning for learning experiences are displayed to enable students to process information and to reflect on their learning journey.

Information and communication technologies (ICT). The implementation of ICT to support the school’s goals and to promote students’ ownership of their learning has been well planned. Teachers are provided with ongoing training and support so that they can integrate the use of ICT into their classroom programmes. Particular consideration has been given to strengthening the student-parent learning relationship by developing the use of the Knowledge Net in the home setting. This good practice gives students further opportunities to share and discuss their learning with their parents.

Learning model. Development of the school’s learning model has been an ongoing process for teachers. They have contributed in a variety of ways, including trialling aspects of the model and reflecting on its effectiveness. Teachers acknowledge the value of being inquirers alongside their students. Sharing information about the Torbay School learning model, and being involved in evaluating it, provides students with further insight into their own learning.

Professional development. Teachers, senior leaders and the principal are committed to undertaking professional development that aligns with the school’s strategic planning. School-wide expectations support a focused approach to the school’s forward direction, with teachers able to make choices about the ways in which they meet these expectations. Individualised professional support is available for teachers and they are acknowledged and recognised for their individual strengths. Systems are in place for teachers and the leadership team to share and model good practice and to support each other through professional discussions. The effective use of teamwork is a notable feature of the school.

Leadership. Teachers’ knowledge, skills and talents are valued. School leaders recognise that the planned development of shared leadership opportunities supports the implementation of the school’s vision at all levels of the school. Changes in the management and team leader structures have supported school-wide improvements in teaching and learning practices. Guidelines and information about how to achieve student ownership of their learning are well documented. This support enables teachers to develop a shared understanding of the professional practice expected in the school.

Self-review systems. Robust self-review systems are an integral part of the school’s operational structures. School leaders ensure that robust processes are in place to support critical analysis and reflection on school-wide practices. Trustees and staff are led ably and confidently by the principal and the leadership team to use evidence-based self-review processes to evaluate the impact of initiatives and programmes on student outcomes and in supporting the ongoing development of the school.

Area for improvement

Formative assessment. Formative assessment practices that are already operating in the school should now be extended to further strengthen students’ ownership of their learning.

3. Areas of National Interest

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole to Government to be used as the basis for long-term and systemic educational improvement. ERO also provides information about the education sector for schools, parents and the community through its national reports.

To do this ERO decides on topics and investigates them for a specific period in all applicable schools nationally.

During the review of Torbay School ERO investigated and reported on the following areas of national interest. The findings are included in this report so that information about the school is transparent and widely available.

Success for Māori Students: Progress

In this review, ERO evaluated the extent to which the school was familiar with the Māori Education Strategy – Ka Hikitia: Managing for Successand progress made since the last review in promoting success at school for Māori students. The school reports that during 2008, Ka Hikitia was shared and discussed with trustees in relation to the school’s teaching and learning practices. Particular emphasis was given to the information in Ka Hikitia that related to students’ ownership of their learning.

Māori students comprise 7% of the Torbay School roll.

Areas of progress

Māori student achievement. School records indicate that most students are achieving at or above their expected levels. Regular attendance of senior managers at board meetings, and changes in the ways that achievement information is presented to the board, have enabled trustees to have a broader, comparative view of the progress of Māori students. Māori students are supported to understand their connections to their Māori heritage and have opportunities to learn about te reo and tikanga Māori Opportunities include discussing whakapapa with whānau, and being involved in te reo Māori workshops and cultural experience days through the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programmes. Students report that they value and enjoy these experiences.

Support for Māori students. School leaders and teachers consistently reflect on the provisions in place to support Māori students and their whānau. Targeted initiatives to meet the needs of the students include forming a kapa haka committee, which includes representatives from the Māori community. A Māori tutor who is knowledgeable about tikanga Māori and fluent in te reo Māori has been employed to operate the kapa haka group. The kapa haka group contributes to a range of cultural performances in the community and attends a range of cultural experiences. Trustees, teachers and whānau value this experience and enjoy attending to support the students. The school name, vision statement, school motto and values have been translated into te reo Māori.

Strategic planning by the board. ERO’s 2006 report noted the need for the board to develop a policy to clearly identify the board’s requirements for te reo Māori programmes. Trustees have responded to this by establishing strategic planning for Māori student achievement. Senior managers implement systems, programmes and professional development to support the teaching and learning of te reo me ōna tikanga Māori in the school. The board’s goals are monitored and trustees receive regular reports to ensure an ongoing focus on the strategic direction of the school.

Consultation with the Māori community. The 2006 ERO report indicated the need for the board to continue to explore ways of consulting with the Māori community. An effective approach now guides the ongoing partnership and communication between the school and the Māori community. The board chair and the school’s kapa haka tutor, who is a highly regarded member of the school’s teaching team, support the consultation process by attending hui and other events. Further support is also provided by an external Māori language facilitator who also facilitates the te reo Māori professional development programme for teachers.

The Achievement of Pacific Students

During the review ERO evaluated the extent to which the school has knowledge of and strategies for promoting the achievement of its Pacific students. Pacific students, of Tongan, Samoan and Cook Island Māori heritage, comprise 3% of the school roll.

Areas of good performance

Pacific student achievement. Most Pacific students are achieving well and their progress is tracked through the school’s monitoring systems. Ongoing professional discussions during syndicate meetings include reflection on achievement information and support a robust approach to maintaining the progress of Pacific students.

Achievement reports to the board. Trustees receive and discuss separate achievement data for Pacific students. Regular attendance of senior managers at board meetings, and changes in the ways that achievement information is presented to the board, have enabled trustees to have a broader, comparative view of the progress of Pacific students.

Well considered approaches. Well considered approaches by the principal and senior managers support the school’s provision for Pacific students. Pacific cultures are valued and all students are provided with a range of learning experiences that include Pacific cultural contexts. Students report they enjoy learning about the languages and aspects of different Pacific cultures.

Valuing parental involvement and communication. Communication with, and the involvement of, the Pacific community is valued by the leadership team. A focus on welcoming families into the school encourages ongoing contributions and information sharing to support the achievement of Pacific students. Pacific parents report that they appreciate the learning opportunities that are offered to their children.

Implementing the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010

Progress to date

In preparing for teaching the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010 the school has:

  • worked on the development of the school values;
  • refined the school vision so that it is more relevant to the children and the parent community; and
  • developed a student-focused teaching and learning culture in which teachers engage in professional dialogue and plan collaboratively to better meet students’ individual learning needs.

Next steps

The school has decided that its priorities for preparation over the next three to six months are to:

  • refine systems for reporting to parents so that the information given reflects the New Zealand Curriculum;
  • develop guidelines for each learning area to support teachers with the implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum in their classrooms;
  • further develop the school’s inquiry model to help teachers to refine their teaching practice; and
  • continue to align teaching practice with the New Zealand Curriculum to further develop a school-based curriculum.

The Teaching of Reading and Writing in Years 1 and 2

As part of this review ERO looked at how well teachers assess, plan and teach reading and writing to students in Years 1 and 2, and how well the school promotes high levels of student achievement in reading and writing in Years 1 and 2.

Areas of good performance

Assessment and planning. Teachers collect a good range of data to assess students’ knowledge and to plan appropriately for Year 1 and 2 reading and writing programmes. A table of all junior students’ reading levels is updated each month and the resulting graph is shared and discussed at teacher meetings. A school framework provides a useful tool for moderating writing standards. As a result of their good knowledge of children’s capability and achievement in reading and writing, teachers plan differentiated programmes for groups of children in every class.

Promoting achievement. In-depth analysis of assessment information identifies children at risk, those in middle achievement bands, and those achieving very well. Children with learning needs receive support in class and in withdrawal groups. Teacher discussions focus on identified needs in student achievement and their classroom work is supported by targeted professional development. Most junior syndicate teachers are trained in the use of Reading Recovery teaching methods to help their students to achieve well in reading. Teacher aides provide students and teachers with further valuable support.

Student engagement. Teachers generate excitement about reading and writing and, as a result, students are well engaged in learning. They participate well during whole class sessions and manage small group work independently. Students’ interest in reading is evident and they demonstrate an understanding about writing processes. Students understand the vocabulary of literacy learning and are keen and confident contributors during opportunities to share with the class.

Involving families. Students have learning journals that contain clear diagnostic reading assessment data and moderated samples of their writing. These journals are shared with parents and comment from parents is invited. School newsletters are well used to share assessment information, current school achievement goals and student work. Newsletters also provide parents with ideas for helping students at home and contain information about pertinent websites that may also be useful in supporting students’ engagement in learning.

Purposeful teaching. Teachers use a good variety of teaching strategies and tools to provide purposeful learning sessions. Classrooms are well resourced and provide a wide range of reading options for teachers and students. Currently, there is a school-wide focus on writing and the use of complex genres, such as persuasive writing, has been successfully introduced in the junior syndicate. Senior managers have established a culture of self review. Teacher reflection on their practice is supported by current educational research and the use of student achievement data.

Area for improvement

Classroom environments. Senior managers and teachers could now review the extent to which classroom environments reflect and celebrate students’ written work. They could consider the proportion of commercially produced posters and displays in use and seek a greater balance between these and the work of children.

Provision for International Students

Compliance with theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Studentsand the Provision of English Language Support

Torbay School is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students(the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. This is a requirement of all schools that enrol international students in terms of the Act. Schools are also required to provide English language support for their international students. There are currently two international students enrolled at Torbay School. One is from Chile and one is from Korea. Students live with their parents.

The school complies with all aspects of the Code.

Areas of good performance

Cross-cultural awareness for staff. Staff have participated in professional training with a focus on the students’ cultures to ensure that they have an understanding of how international students may feel when they are in an English-speaking environment. The training has had a positive influence on communication with, and support for, international students and their families.

Support for international students. Effective systems are in place to support the international students and their families. Families are provided with information about their children’s progress and are fully informed about their rights and the types of support available to them. Parents report that they feel supported and acknowledge the open, warm communication from school staff.

English language learning. Provision for English language learning for international students is effective. Teacher aides receive relevant professional development and provide withdrawal and in-class support. Care is taken to ensure that these students’ cultures are acknowledged and their prior experiences are integrated into learning activities. Students report ongoing improvement in their understanding and use of English in their classroom learning programmes and in conversations with friends. .

Home-school learning partnership. Parents report that they are happy with the learning experiences being offered to their children. The home-school learning partnership is supported by children being involved in a range of learning opportunities and then being able to talk about these learning experiences with their parents. Students’ confidence in their own ability to explain their learning to parents is empowering and helps them to identify their own progress.

4. Board Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of Torbay School completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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; and
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);
  • physical safety of students;
  • teacher registration;
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and
  • attendance.

The Torbay School values are widely promoted by staff and well understood by students. A variety of systems and practices provide students with avenues to address any concerns they may have. Positive programmes to support students to develop their social competence are well implemented.

Compliance

ERO’s investigations did not identify any areas of concern.

5. Recommendation

ERO and the board of trustees agree that:

  1. the senior management team should extend the formative assessment practices already operating in the school.

6. Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can manage the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in 4 to 5 years.

Dr Graham Stoop

Chief Review Officer

3 August 2009

About the School

Location

Torbay, North Shore City

Ministry of Education profile number

1538

School type

Contributing Primary (Year 1-6)

Teaching staff: Roll generated entitlement Other Number of teachers

20.6 9.0 30

School roll

429

Number of international students

2

Gender composition

Boys 54%,

Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 54%,

Māori 7%,

South African 14%,

British/Irish 11%,

Japanese 3%,

Australian 2%,

Chinese 2%,

Pacific 3%,

other 4%

Special features

Host school for Northern Bays Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) and Learning Support Teachers

Review team on site

June 2009

Date of this report

3 August 2009

Previous ERO reports

Education Review, July 2006

Education Review, April 2003

Accountability Review, 1999

Effectiveness Review, May 1996

Assurance Audit, September 1993

Review, August 1991

To the Parents and Community of Torbay School

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Torbay School.

Torbay School’s vision of “Flying high, learning for a successful future” is embedded in the partnership between the board of trustees, teachers, and the community, who are working together to raise the achievement of all students. The staff, students and parents operate as a team to build a foundation that provides children with the desire and skills to be lifelong learners. Board members are well informed by the principal and senior managers about student success and achievement. Trustees and teachers value the partnership they have with the parent community in promoting student learning.

Students are focused learners. They are positive about their learning experiences and keen to share their knowledge. They make effective use of the supportive and encouraging learning culture in classrooms by discussing and developing their ideas with their teachers and peers. Goal setting and the use of specific learning criteria support an individualised, focused approach to students’ learning, which is reflected in their ability to describe and explain their learning. Students report that they enjoy sharing their progress with their parents at home and engaging in learning conversations with their teachers and parents.

The principal, who was appointed since the 2006 ERO review, has led the implementation of a consultative self-review process focused on the continued improvement of student achievement. This process has encouraged innovation and the refinement of teaching practices. Professional dialogue and communication among staff support a cohesive approach to the implementation of high quality teaching approaches. Improved ways of presenting achievement information to the board enables trustees to have a broader, comparative view of the progress of all students, and to be confident that Maōri students are achieving at or above their expected levels.

Teachers enjoy positive relationships with students and share good models of teaching practice with their colleagues. They value regular observations of their classroom practice, peer evaluation, and support for the ongoing development of teaching approaches and strategies. Emphasis is placed on developing students’ ability to discuss their own learning and to recognise opportunities for future learning. Students’ ownership of their learning is the focus of this review.

The positive and supportive school culture provides students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and to take responsibility for their own choices. Well implemented programmes support students to improve their social competence. Students are proud of the school’s environment, which is well cared for and reflects the local area, its history and the value that staff place on the students and their families.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can manage the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in 4 to 5 years.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO websitehttp://www.ero.govt.nz

 

Dr Graham Stoop

Chief Review Officer