Tuakau School - 24/12/2015

Findings

Strong school leadership ensures that the focus remains on improving student achievement and that Māori succeed as Māori. Staff know students well, promote their wellbeing and value their diverse cultural backgrounds. The school’s recent focus on modern learning practices has contributed to students’ growing independence, collaboration and engagement in their learning.

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

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Tuakau School is a small rural school, south of Auckland, which caters for students from Years 1 to 6. The roll, including Whare Manaaki, the school’s bilingual unit, has continued to grow. The school has strengthened its partnerships with Tainui and the Tuakau community to support students’ learning. Sixty-eight percent of students identify as Māori. A third of these students learn in Whare Manaaki.

Since the 2012 ERO report, there have been a number of staff changes including within the senior leadership team and Whare Manaaki. All current parent representative trustees, including the board chair, are also new.

Staff have continued to deliver and build on the positive features of the curriculum identified in the 2012 ERO report, and have made some good progress in addressing the areas of development noted. The board, senior leaders and teachers have continued to work with external facilitators to support school improvement, while also drawing on the expertise within the staff.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Tuakau School uses achievement information effectively to support student learning.

Senior leaders and teachers know students well. They have good information about their learning needs and abilities and sound processes to help them monitor progress and achievement. Teachers use their knowledge of students’ strengths and next learning steps to meet their learning needs. Teachers and students set and monitor progress against achievement goals together. Students engage in their learning very well and enjoy this collaborative approach.

The board receives regular reports about student progress and achievement. This information supports trustees to make resourcing decisions, particularly to help accelerate the progress of students who are at risk of not achieving well in relation to the National Standards.

Teachers and senior leaders are using a new electronic database to improve the way that they collect and analyse achievement data. This database should help them to track progress and achievement over several years more easily.

Students with specific learning needs receive good support to help them succeed. Appropriate intervention programmes are implemented in consultation with parents/whānau.

Recent information shows that student achievement in reading has improved, including for Māori students. However, Māori students’ achievement is slightly lower than their non-Māori peers overall. Pacific students achieve very well in writing.

Intervention programmes for students, and professional development programmes for teachers, are in place to promote the same positive shifts in writing and mathematics as for reading. To support teachers’ practice, senior leaders recognise that it would be helpful to work with other schools to moderate students’ writing.

The school community values the positive, welcoming tone and sense of whānau the staff and students have created. In 2015 the school introduced three-way conferences to actively involve students in the reporting process. Parents report that these meetings are very useful in helping them know about their child’s progress and achievement. Senior leaders have identified the need to review written reports to parents to make them easier to understand, and to include clearer information about how parents can support their child’s learning at home.

The school has good processes for following up absences, and attendance rates have improved.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum engages students effectively, and promotes and supports student learning in line with the intentions of The New Zealand Curriculum. It continues to give priority to literacy and mathematics, incorporates values and key competencies to support students as competent lifelong learners, and is responsive to students’ interests.

Students benefit from teachers’ focus on modern learning practices, providing them with more choice, voice and responsibility for what and how they learn. This focus has included the introduction of an inquiry learning process that results in students creating something new or in contributing positively to their community. Students are enjoying the changes as well as the interesting hands-on activities that are planned by their teachers. These improvements, along with increased opportunities to learn using digital technologies, have resulted in students’ growing independence, collaboration and engagement in their learning.

Senior leaders and teachers have clarified their school-wide expectations for teaching. Teachers now need to ensure that they are consistently meeting these expectations in ways that further strengthen their good teaching practices.

Teachers are well supported to develop their practice in line with the school’s modern learning direction. They respond positively to the professional development opportunities offered to them. Teachers are highly engaged as learners. They are reflective practitioners and inquire into their own practice. They are committed to improving learning experiences for students and to accelerate progress for those at risk of not achieving.

Staff have good processes for engaging parents/whānau and the wider community. Parents are encouraged to be involved in their children’s learning. They acknowledge the work of teachers to help them support their children’s reading at home. Staff are continually investigating ways to strengthen partnerships with parents to support children's learning.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school continues to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori very well.

Māori are highly respected as tangata whenua. Staff have been involved in a variety of professional development programmes that have increased their knowledge and understandings of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te ao Māori, and te reo me ōna tikanga Māori. The positive impact of these programmes is evident in classrooms. The staff have visited all five of the local marae. As a result of these visits the school’s curriculum now includes aspects of history and knowledge of the local area. The curriculum is also being more closely aligned to the aspirations of the marae. Teachers’ increased knowledge of te ao Māori has improved their ability to make connections and strengthen their relationships with students, whānau and kaumātua.

In Whare Manaaki, the school’s bilingual unit, Māori tikanga is used as the foundation for daily routines, relationships, and learning. The school has made some good progress in addressing the areas of development noted in ERO’s 2012 report. In consultation with whānau, the board has reviewed its bilingual provision, including its philosophy. There is now a sound plan in place to strengthen the quality and quantity of te reo Māori used. This next phase should support students to learn the language and to learn through the language.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well positioned to sustain and improve its performance. The continued focus on student learning and wellbeing has contributed to the school’s ongoing progress.

The school is very well led. Senior leaders work effectively together to drive improvement. Staff and the community value the principal’s professional leadership and the way she promotes their sense of wellbeing. She successfully grows the leadership capacity of others.

The board reflect the ethnic diversity of the school’s community. Their focus is to ensure that all students achieve well, and that Māori students are confident in their language, culture and identity. Trustees have undertaken board training to support them in their governance role.

The board and staff have a wide range of self-review strategies to identify what is working and what could be improved. They use this information to plan how goals are going to be achieved each year. The board and senior leaders have identified that they could strengthen their strategic planning and self-review by:

  • documenting how goals might be achieved over the short, mid, and long-term
  • creating a process to guide effective reviews, including developing evaluative questions and increasing the use of indicators to evaluate their performance.

These changes could enhance outcomes and support others to successfully lead self-review.

Senior leaders and teachers have recently reviewed the school’s appraisal process. Developments allow staff to effectively mentor each other to recognise and promote professional growth. This good practice has the potential to help staff develop a shared understanding of what high quality evidence is to show how they are meeting requirements.

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.

Conclusion

Strong school leadership ensures that the focus remains on improving student achievement and that Māori succeed as Māori. Staff know students well, promote their wellbeing and value their diverse cultural backgrounds. The school’s recent focus on modern learning practices has contributed to students’ growing independence, collaboration and engagement in their learning.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

24 December 2015

School Statistics

Location

Tuakau, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1539

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

215

Gender composition

Boys 56% Girls 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Tongan

Indian

other Pacific

other

68%

11%

6%

3%

11%

1%

Special Features

Whare Manaaki bilingual unit (3 classes)

Review team on site

November 2015

Date of this report

24 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2012

November 2009

September 2006