Viscount School - 09/11/2018

Findings

The commissioner and acting principal have made significant improvements to the governance challenges identified in the 2016 ERO report. ERO continues to have concerns about the management and leadership of the school’s curriculum and the effectiveness of teacher practices to accelerate learning and improve outcomes for students.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

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

Viscount School caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The school roll has grown and includes children from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Twelve percent are Māori children and 81 percent come from Pacific nations, with the largest groups being Samoan and Tongan. A significant number of children speak more than one language and many are new learners of English.

The 2016 ERO report noted the respectful relationships between children and many of their teachers and children’s pride in their sporting achievements. However, the report also highlighted concerns about school governance including health and safety, and leadership. The negative impact that inconsistent and ineffective teaching practices were having on children’s learning was another major concern. Because of these concerns, ERO decided to continue monitoring the school’s progress through a longitudinal review process.

Over the last two years there have been significant changes to school governance and leadership. The Ministry of Education (MoE) appointed a Limited Statutory Manager during August 2017 to oversee curriculum management, and advise the board on policies and procedures. All trustees resigned their positions during September 2017. The principal retired from teaching at the end of the 2017 year. The MoE appointed a commissioner in October 2017 and the commissioner appointed an acting principal in January 2018.

Through ERO's ongoing monitoring and evaluation visits over the past two years, it is evident that while the school has made some progress, this has been insufficient. The school continues to require external support from the MoE and ERO to bring about the improvements required to sustain and lift its performance and achieve positive learning outcomes for all children.

ERO’s findings are outlined in the following sections of this report.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The key priorities for the school were to:

  • implement robust systems and sustainable processes that facilitate and promote effective teaching practices and sound financial management and governance

  • develop a responsive and inclusive curriculum that reflects the aims and principles of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and the school’s community

  • promote and ensure a safe school environment.

Progress

The commissioner and acting principal are driving ongoing improvement in governance and school leadership to raise student achievement. There has been some progress in relation to the key priority areas but data is yet to be collected to demonstrate the impact of work across the year.

ERO acknowledges the work being done to develop sound programmes in mathematics and in Years 7 and 8 Inquiry programmes. However, ERO continues to have significant concerns about the appropriateness of the school literacy and wider curriculum programmes in Years 1 to 6, the quality of teaching and its effectiveness in accelerating learning progress or raising achievement.

Implement robust systems and sustainable structures that facilitate and promote effective teaching practices and sound financial management and governance

Teachers are beginning to use a variety of robust assessment tools. They are now better able to identify which learners require targeted support in mathematics and writing. Teachers are beginning to moderate the assessment of students' mathematics progress over the year. Mid-year data shows some individual students make positive shifts but the school is yet to collect end of year achievement data and to ascertain the impact of current Professional Learning and Development (PLD) on student outcomes.

Some teachers have enjoyed and benefited from the opportunities they have had to visit other schools to view current good teaching and learning practices. The Year 7 and 8 teaching team is beginning to explore ways to work more collaboratively. This good practice needs to be more consistently implemented schoolwide.

The MoE facilitates teacher professional development (PLD) in mathematics. As a result of this PLD, students are now encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own learning and teachers are beginning to use some good mathematics teaching strategies.

Teachers access leadership opportunities through the school’s involvement with Mangere Kāhui Ako|CoL and the mathematics PLD. The Kāhui Ako focus for member schools is to raise students’ achievement in writing and this is a further priority area for teacher development. Through this PLD teachers are beginning to more robustly evaluate the effectiveness of the school’s literacy programme on outcomes for students. However, teachers are still not effectively tracking the progress of their individual target students in reading and writing.

The acting principal has recently implemented an appraisal system to improve teacher practice and to meet Education Council requirements. Teachers are starting to use the system to reflect on the impact that their mathematics teaching is having on outcomes for target students.

School finances are very constrained but are being well managed by the commissioner. Useful systems have been implemented to control overspending. There are still many property and personnel issues that require immediate attention. Considerable upgrading of property continues to be a priority. Some refurbishments and overdue maintenance have begun using the five year agreement (5YA) funding from the MoE. Improvements to some learning spaces and other areas are ongoing.

Develop a responsive and inclusive curriculum that reflects the aims and principles of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and the school’s community

Through the consultation initiated by the commissioner and acting principal, the community has greater levels of engagement, involvement and input into the school curriculum. There is more regular communication with parents and whānau. Their contributions through the 2018 hui, fono and written surveys are valued and are informing policy review and development. Parents have reported that they now feel welcome and involved in the school.

Some teachers are beginning to make an authentic connection to, and are promoting the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand. There is evidence of some te reo Māori being used in classes and a member of the community has established a kapa haka group. All teachers should now ensure that they are enhancing and promoting New Zealand’s bicultural heritage through the curriculum.

Some teachers are creating learning environments where students can be creative and learn collaboratively, especially in the Year 7 and 8 area. Year 8 students shared with ERO that learning is fun, interesting and is more challenging now. They enjoy having the opportunity to move around and work with different people which supports and develops their self-confidence. These good practices should be more consistently used schoolwide.

The Year 7 and 8 learning areas have worked with external support and begun to implement an integrated inquiry programme that incorporates many areas of the NZC. It involves having visitors to the school who promote career choices and enhance student learning. However, in other areas of the school the inquiry programme is only just beginning and is still very limited in terms of integrating all learning areas of the NZC.

Long-term planning for Years 1 to 6, and all long term planning for literacy, is not adequate to ensure all teachers accelerate student achievement or engage learners in relevant, contextually appropriate learning. Some plans are not appropriate for the learning needs or ages of students. Curriculum leadership in Years 1 to 6 is lacking and this is a serious concern.

Promote and ensure a safe school environment

The commissioner and acting principal have made significant progress towards addressing the health and safety issues identified in the 2016 ERO review. However, the health and safety committee needs to work more collaboratively with the commissioner and acting principal so that they can be assured they are meeting their statutory health and safety responsibilities.

Key next steps

  • Review and update schoolwide programmes to more effectively reflect the principles and aims of the NZC
  • Intensify teacher professional learning to improve teachers’ capacity to meet the needs of individual students
  • Use effective teaching practices informed by relevant and robust assessment tools
  • Develop and embed effective teaching strategies for literacy schoolwide
  • Embed effective strategies for mathematics schoolwide
  • Continue to provide leadership opportunities for all teachers
  • Increase teachers’ knowledge and use of te reo Māori and enhance students’ understanding of the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not yet well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The commissioner and acting principal have developed a useful school charter that outlines an appropriate strategic direction for the following three years. They have identified suitable school targets for achievement in mathematics and writing for 2018 based on beginning of the year student achievement information. Progress towards achieving these targets is yet to be evaluated.

Senior leadership is not yet effective at supporting teachers to raise and accelerate student achievement and learning. Senior leaders require significant leadership training and must be more active in promoting effective teaching practice. They should also more actively share teaching responsibilities.

Senior leaders have been updating school policies and procedures to meet current legislation. The acting principal has prioritised policy review and developed a useful cycle for this purpose.

Organisational conditions to enhance teaching practices are not yet working in a sufficiently coherent and integrated way to ensure current or future good performance. Senior leadership must promote a more unified approach to supporting staff to improve their teaching.

Key conditions for learning are not sufficiently well developed to support accelerated progress for learners. Students are capable and require better opportunities to learn and access a broad curriculum.

Key next steps

Senior leaders would benefit from an external coach to strengthen their leadership of improvement in teaching practices and to better support the acting principal and commissioner to address the priorities for development and realise the school’s strategic goals

Senior leadership should work with staff to establish a new foundation of school values and a leadership approach that promotes a school culture that is likely to improve student learning.

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.

During the course of the review ERO identified an area of non-compliance. In order to address this, the commissioner and acting principal must ensure that the schoolwide system and plan for identifying hazards is being well implemented and maintained by the health and safety committee Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, s7.

In order to improve practice, the commissioner should:

  • receive regular evaluative reports from the health and safety committee on health and safety matters including patterns and trends relating to accidents, illnesses and hazards
  • continue to ensure that the property is well maintained including providing adequate heating and sun shade protection for children and adults
  • make sure senior leaders with responsibility for school trips, ensure all staff comply with the newly developed risk analysis and management documentation in accordance with the updated Education Outside the Classroom policy.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that the secretary for education consider continuing the intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about improvements in relation to significant concerns ERO has regarding:

  • student achievement outcomes
  • property remediation within financial constraints
  • classroom resourcing
  • the level of professional capability and capacity of the leadership team
  • the quality of teacher planning and evaluation
  • the quality of the literacy programme and the use of appropriate professional learning
  • student access to a broad and relevant school curriculum.

Conclusion

The commissioner and acting principal have made significant improvements to the governance challenges identified in the 2016 ERO report. ERO continues to have concerns about the management and leadership of the school’s curriculum and the effectiveness of teacher practices to accelerate learning and improve outcomes for students.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Violet Tu'uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

9 November 2018

About the School

Location

Mangere Central, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1546

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

654

Gender composition

Girls 50% Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Samoan
Tongan
Cook Island Māori
other ethnic groups

12%
2%
37%
32%
12%
5%

Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

9 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2016
March 2013
December 2009