Waikaka School - 20/10/2008

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Waikaka School is a rural school in Eastern Southland catering for students from Years 1 to 8. Students enjoy the large outdoor areas for play, sports and other physical activities. The board has recently significantly improved storage and staff facilities at the school. Since the 2005 ERO review there have been several staffing changes, including the appointment of a new principal in term two of 2008.

The board and teachers have made good progress in addressing the recommendations from the 2005 ERO report.

This review covers the quality of learning and teaching at the school, the preparations that have been made for teaching the revised New Zealand Curriculum and the achievement of Māori students. ERO also evaluated the school’s systems for providing a safe environment.

Most students are meeting school expectations for their level of learning in all curriculum areas. Some students achieve highly. Many students are achieving well in reading and writing. The principal and teachers have identified a group of students who are not achieving as well as they could be in reading and numeracy. The teachers provide these students with extra learning support.

ERO identified many positive aspects of the school. Teaching approaches meet the interests, abilities and needs of most students. The teachers use creative and effective ways to keep students interested in learning. They encourage students to be independent learners. Students told ERO that they enjoy the way they learn. Other features include:

  • the caring and supportive relationships between students and adults; and
  • the preparation of Years 7 and 8 students who are moving on to secondary school.

Students said that the school is a safe and friendly place to learn and play.

ERO and the principal have identified that assessment and internal-review practices require improvement. The principal and teachers need to develop a shared understanding about what and how they will assess student’s learning. ERO also recommends that teachers make greater use of te reo Mäori and tikanga Māori in their daily programmes. The board is in the process of strengthening aspects of its financial practices to meet the auditor’s recommendations and legislative requirements.

The board provides many opportunities for the professional development of all staff. It makes sure that the school’s information and communication technologies are up-to-date and used to support students’ learning.

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 review the school again as part of the regular review cycle.

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.

In 2007, the teachers reported to the board on students’ achievement in mathematics, physical education and English. A survey indicated that most students had positive attitudes towards fitness, physical education and sport. In mathematics, test results show that most students achieved at or above expected levels. Reading results indicate that 48% of the students achieve above expectations, 28% at the expected level and 24% below expectations. However, ERO is concerned about the validity and reliability of some of this data. In written language, 33% of students achieved above expected levels and 54% achieved at their expected level. Levels of oral language achievement were high.

The 2007 targets seeking to raise levels of student achievement in reading and numeracy for middle and senior students were not completed. Teachers end-of-year testing was not analysed. Targets for 2008 have been set in numeracy, reading for students in Years 4 to 8 and for spelling in Years 3 to 8. These targets are purposeful and have been identified using assessment information. Students set personal goals to help them achieve these targets.

Over a three-year period the principal reports to the board on school-wide achievement in all subject areas. These reports include background information. They describe trends and make useful recommendations. The next steps are to report more regularly in literacy and numeracy and inform the school community about school-wide achievement.

School Specific Priorities

Before the review, the board of Waikaka 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 at Waikaka School.

ERO and the board have agreed on the following focus areas for the review:[insert areas decided on for the review]

  • the quality of learning and teaching, with a focus on literacy programmes and inquiry-learning approaches across the curriculum.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Learning and Teaching, with a Focus on Literacy Programmes and Inquiry-Learning Approaches Across the Curriculum

Background

Teachers have been developing an integrated, inquiry approach to learning. They have written school-wide expectations that help them to implement this approach. Teachers are continually reflecting on, adapting and trialling this teaching and learning approach. ERO and the board agreed to focus the review on this area of ongoing development.

Areas of good performance

Relationships. Students benefit from caring and supportive relationships throughout the school. These relationships result in a positive learning environment. The school has an inclusive culture. Students willingly play and work with each other. The whanau programme, where older students work with younger students, contributes to family-like relationships. Interactions among students and between adults and students are respectful. Students spoken with by ERO said that the school is friendly, that people care about each other and that they feel safe.

Focus on learning. During the review, most students showed high levels of interest in their learning. Students are regularly surveyed about their attitudes towards learning. Teachers have established good classroom routines and clear expectations. Lessons are well paced. Most students know what they are expected to do. The follow instructions quickly and remain on task. As a result, students and teachers are able to focus on learning.

Inquiry approach. The inquiry approach to learning is giving students the skills to become independent and life-long learners. Teachers have detailed guidelines to help them implement this approach. Together they plan high interest and topical areas of investigation. These plans detail how each inquiry stage and competency, skill and value will be taught. The approach allows students greater choice in what they will learn and how they will learn it. Best practice was seen when teachers carefully took students through each stage of the inquiry process. They provided meaningful opportunities for deeper thinking and independent research. Students developed a visual record of the inquiry journey which teachers used as a teaching tool.

Integration of literacy and information communication technologies (ICT). Teachers integrate literacy and ICT skills into the different curriculum areas. They include visual and oral language, reading and writing naturally in inquiry studies. For example, as part of an invention study, students wrote and designed advertisements and pamphlets to market their own invention. Teachers regularly track how they cover each aspect of literacy, other curriculum areas and the key competencies. Students competently use a variety of technologies. They have well-developed computer skills. They confidently access information, use a range of programmes to publish and present work, and work on different literacy and mathematics programmes.

Teaching strategies. Teachers use a variety of creative and effective strategies to engage students in learning. They recognise different learning styles and value and use students’ strengths and knowledge. Other effective strategies involve:

  • helping students set and review personal learning goals;
  • making the intended learning explicit to students; and
  • questioning students skilfully and using different strategies, tools and approaches to encourage deeper thinking.

Years 7-8 programmes. Students in Years 7 and 8 are well prepared for their transition to high school. ERO observed that these students were highly engaged in their learning. The Years 7 and 8 programme provides good opportunities for students to think deeply about local and global issues and develop advanced ICT skills. Students take responsibility for their learning, assume leadership roles and develop social skills. The class culture promotes high expectations for learning and encourages mature attitudes. The senior students are positive role models for younger students in the school.

Reporting on children’s learning. Parents are well informed about their child’s learning. Twice a year, they receive samples of their child’s work and tests. Teachers provide detailed comments about levels of achievement and the next learning steps. Teachers and parents meet to discuss students’ learning and set learning goals. The best learning goals were specific to subject areas. They were revisited and involved parents and the teacher in supporting the student in meeting them.

Strategic direction. The board and previous principal developed sound strategic direction for the school, with supporting documentation. School-wide planning is comprehensive. The links between the school’s aims and objectives and the priority goals in the strategic and annual action plans are clear. The school monitors and reports on its progress towards meeting each action plan.

Areas for improvement

Assessment practices. School-wide and classroom assessment practices are of variable quality. ERO has concerns about the validity of some school-wide data and the timeliness of assessment in some curriculum areas. The variation in the assessment information individual teachers collect and how they record and use this information is also significant. Some teachers follow good assessment practices. The next step for the principal and teachers is to develop shared understanding and set school-wide expectations for assessment to reduce this inconsistency. [Recommendation 6.1]

Internal review. The way in which the principal and teachers review the effectiveness of teaching and learning needs to improve. There are no records of teacher reflection on the completion of a unit of study and few examples of formal review of the effectiveness of an aspect of teaching. ERO noted variability in teaching and learning. Internal review should help teachers to identify good practices within the school and build on these. It should also help the principal and board to identify what is going well, what needs improving and where new priorities need to be set. [Recommendation 6.2]

Bicultural focus. Teachers could increase their use of te reo Mäori, and the way tikanga Māori is reflected, in classrooms. Not all teachers follow the school’s te reo Māori plan. Some teachers plan carefully in this area and have good resources. The next step is to build teachers’ confidence in using te reo Māori and to increase its use. There is also room for greater integration of Māori perspectives, especially in inquiry studies. [Recommendation 6.3]

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 Waikaka 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.

The Achievement of Māori Students: Progress

In this review, ERO evaluated the progress the school has made since the last review in improving the achievement of Mäori students and in initiatives designed to promote improved achievement.

Background

Waikaka School has nine Māori students, about 13% of the school roll. Māori students continue to achieve at or above expected levels. Students who have special interests, abilities and needs are well supported in their classrooms. They also benefit from special extension and/or support programmes.

Areas of progress

In 2008, the acting principal rang the parents of all Māori students to get their feedback on how well the school was meeting their children’s interests, needs and abilities and the parent’s wishes for their child. In 2007, the whole school studied aspects of tikanga Mäori and te reo Māori as part of a study built around a visit to the local marae. During this review, ERO found that some teachers had useful plans and resources for teaching basic te reo Māori.

Area for improvement

Tracking Māori student achievement. Teachers do not identify Māori students in their achievement information. Reports to the board infrequently include information on Māori student achievement. The board has not set a target to raise the achievement of identified Māori students. [Action 5.2]

Implementing the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010

Progress to date

In preparing for teaching the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010, the school has begun to implement the revised curriculum. In 2007, the principal and teachers have:

  • spent a day looking at the draft curriculum;
  • expanded each key competency into teaching goals;
  • begun to plan, teach and assess each key competency; and
  • tracked how each key competency is included in class programmes.

In 2008, the principal developed an action plan and time line for the implementation of the revised curriculum.

Next steps

The school has decided that its priorities for preparation over the next three to six months are to implement the 2008 action plan.

4. Board Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of Waikaka 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.

Compliance

ERO’s investigations identified three areas of non-compliance.

Finance

ERO found that the board needs to improve how it manages its finances. The auditor had identified three practices that need to be improved. In some instances, the board was unable to show what money had come in and how it had been spent. The board needs to have a policy to guide its practices when reimbursing its employees. The board has now strengthened its systems for authorising payments. ERO discussed these issues with the trustees. Since the on-site stage of the review the board has responded to the auditor’s requirements but should seek advice from New Zealand School Trustees’ Association and the Ministry of Education financial adviser to make sure that their systems meet all aspects noted by the auditors.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • monitor and control school expenditure; and [National Administration Guideline 4 (ii)]
  • make sure accounting records are kept that correctly record and explain the transactions of the Crown entity.(Board of Trustees).[s168 (1)(a)Crown Entities Act 2004]

Targets

The board has not set targets to raise the achievement of Mäori students.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • develop targets for improving the achievement of Mäori students.[National Administration Guideline 1(v)]

5. Recommendations

In order to improve student achievement, ERO and the board of trustees have developed the following recommendations. The principal and teachers should:

  1. improve the quality of assessment practices by developing shared understandings among teachers and setting and following school-wide expectations;
  2. review the effectiveness of learning and teaching practices; and
  3. increase the levels of te reo and tikanga Māori.

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 review the school again as part of the regular review cycle.

Isabell Sinclair Irwin

Area Manager

for Chief Review Officer

20 October 2008

About the School

Location  

Waikaka, Eastern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4037

School type

Full Primary (Years 1-8)

Teaching staff: Roll generated entitlement Other Number of teachers In FTEs The number of teaching staff

4.70 .53 6

School roll

72

Gender composition

Boys 38

Girls 34

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 63 Māori 9

Review team on site  

August 2008

Date of this report  

20 October 2008 

Previous ERO reports  

Education Reviews March 2005 April 2002

Assurance Audits May 1997 July 1995

Effectiveness Review October 1992

To the Parents and Community of Waikaka School

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

Waikaka School is a rural school in Eastern Southland catering for students from Years 1 to 8. Students enjoy the large outdoor areas for play, sports and other physical activities. The board has recently significantly improved storage and staff facilities at the school. Since the 2005 ERO review there have been several staffing changes, including the appointment of a new principal in term two of 2008.

The board and teachers have made good progress in addressing the recommendations from the 2005 ERO report.

This review covers the quality of learning and teaching at the school, the preparations that have been made for teaching the revised New Zealand Curriculum and the achievement of Māori students. ERO also evaluated the school’s systems for providing a safe environment.

Most students are meeting school expectations for their level of learning in all curriculum areas. Some students achieve highly. Many students are achieving well in reading and writing. The principal and teachers have identified a group of students who are not achieving as well as they could be in reading and numeracy. The teachers provide these students with extra learning support.

ERO identified many positive aspects of the school. Teaching approaches meet the interests, abilities and needs of most students. The teachers use creative and effective ways to keep students interested in learning. They encourage students to be independent learners. Students told ERO that they enjoy the way they learn. Other features include:

  • the caring and supportive relationships between students and adults; and
  • the preparation of Years 7 and 8 students who are moving on to secondary school.

Students said that the school is a safe and friendly place to learn and play.

ERO and the principal have identified that assessment and internal-review practices require improvement. The principal and teachers need to develop a shared understanding about what and how they will assess student’s learning. ERO also recommends that teachers make greater use of te reo Mäori and tikanga Māori in their daily programmes. The board is in the process of strengthening aspects of its financial practices to meet the auditor’s recommendations and legislative requirements.

The board provides many opportunities for the professional development of all staff. It makes sure that the school’s information and communication technologies are up-to-date and used to support students’ learning.

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 review the school again as part of the regular review cycle.

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 website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Isabell Sinclair Irwin

Area Manager

for Chief Review Officer