Wairau Intermediate - 29/06/2016

Findings

Students at Wairau Intermediate School experience purposeful learning environments with positive teacher-student interactions. The broad curriculum provides a variety of learning opportunities and most students are achieving well in core subjects. Recent changes are strengthening consistency in teaching and learning. Aspects of leadership and governance require improvement.

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

1 Context

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

Wairau Intermediate School, located in Forest Hill, Auckland City, provides education for students in Years 7 and 8. The school caters for a diverse ethnic community. Māori students represent ten per cent of the roll. The principal has been at the school since its establishment and there are many long serving staff members.

The well-established school has spacious grounds and a variety of play areas. Open plan, flexible learning spaces support the school’s recent focus on developing modern learning environments and practices.

ERO’s 2013 review identified a number of areas for improvement. These related to improving the curriculum, teaching and learning, promoting Māori student success, strengthening self review, and to school leadership and governance. Some progress has been made towards meeting these areas for improvement, particularly in regard to curriculum, teaching and learning.

2 Learning

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

The school is using achievement information increasingly well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

School achievement information indicates that the majority of students achieve at or above the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics. Most students make progress during their two years at the school. Student achievement data is monitored according to year level, ethnicity and gender. School leaders use collated data to inform decision-making and set achievement targets.

Teachers use a range of assessment tools to gather data on student progress and achievement, and to inform teaching programmes. They identify individuals and groups of students who are achieving below National Standards or who could make better progress, and provide additional support for those students. School leaders are currently reviewing assessment tools to strengthen consistency in the use and reliability of data. They are exploring ways of working with local primary and secondary schools to share and moderate achievement information, and to provide continuity in students’ learning.

Students are becoming increasingly involved in their own learning. They have opportunities to make choices and decisions about learning activities. They can talk about the focus and purpose of their learning. Teachers are developing strategies to support students to determine and monitor their next learning steps. They should now strengthen students’ ability to identify and articulate strategies for improvement and to assess their own progress and achievement. While there are some good examples of this happening, there remains some variability in teaching practice.

The school should continue to extend its use of student achievement information to better reflect current best practice and to further extend student ownership of learning.

Next steps include:

  • building teacher capability in effective moderation to ensure student achievement data is reliable and valid
  • continuing to extend the depth of teacher inquiry into practice, and formalising and documenting these processes
  • developing more evaluative self review that includes comment on the effectiveness and impact of teaching strategies on student learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The Wairau Intermediate School curriculum promotes and supports student learning well.

School leaders have recently reviewed the school curriculum and developed updated curriculum documents. These provide clear guidance for teachers about coverage and delivery in essential learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum. A wide range of learning opportunities is provided for students, including specialist technology, music and second language learning, and the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills.

Students are highly engaged in their learning. They are confident, articulate and respectful when interacting with each other and with teachers. Students are able to work independently and co-operatively. They have access to a wide range of resources and tools to support their learning.

Leaders are introducing modern learning environments and practices in the school. There are many examples of good modern learning practice across the school. Good use of learning spaces supports collaborative learning. Most teachers promote students’ questioning, thinking and inquiry skills. Teachers are continuing to move towards an increasingly student-centred curriculum and to develop processes that empower students as self-directed learners.

A variety of professional development opportunities have been provided for teachers in recent years. It would be useful now to develop a more strategic approach to professional development. ERO recommends that leaders prioritise areas for professional development, and then access external support to provide a focused, school-wide and long-term approach.

School systems are being developed to support teacher reflection on practice. Recent changes in performance management systems have strengthened staff appraisal processes. As these systems become established they should also help to embed planned improvements.

ERO endorses the school’s intention to further improve the curriculum by:

  • continuing to build shared understandings about teaching and learning, and consistency in practices
  • extending modern learning environments and practices across the school
  • increasing the integration of specialist programmes with home-room programmes
  • continuing development of teaching approaches that increase students’ ownership of their learning.

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

The school has implemented some practices to support Māori students’ success. Further development is needed to more fully promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Māori students benefit from the positive and respectful learning interactions evident in the school. School data shows that Māori students are achieving at levels similar to all other students.

The school has recently re-formed a kapa haka group and introduced pōwhiri. All students participate in introductory te reo Māori instruction. Some teachers use te reo Māori in their classrooms. Teachers integrate some bicultural perspectives in curriculum topics.

In previous years staff with strengths in te reo Māori me ōna tikanga have provided leadership within the school. School leaders should now consider strategies to build sustainability of initiatives, enhance success for Maori students, and encourage all students to understand and value New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

Area for improvements include:

  • building teachers’ bicultural competencies, and confidence and capability in te reo me ngātikanga Māori
  • developing a more differentiated programme for te reo Māoriinstruction.

The board and school leaders communicate informally with whānau of Māori students and have recently introduced whānau hui. They have identified that their next step is to formally collate information gathered to inform self review and strategic planning.

The school’s practices for promoting Māori student success were noted as an area for development in ERO’s 2013 report. These remain a priority for development. ERO recommends that the school develops an action plan to implement and sustain improvements in the school’s bicultural practices and to help ensure that the curriculum promotes the values, beliefs and aspirations of Māori whanau.

Ministry of Education resources such as Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017 and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, would provide useful frameworks to guide the school’s review and development.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

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

Since ERO’s 2013 review there have been significant changes in board personnel. During 2015 the board sought external training and support to strengthen aspects of governance. The training facilitator was later co-opted as board chairperson and along with another external advisor is now helping the board and principal to build capacity in school governance and management.

As a result of this support, changes have been initiated. Recent improvements include strengthening aspects of self review and reporting, such as:

  • the development of useful processes for curriculum review and reporting
  • regular review and reporting to the board in relation to school strategic goals
  • the establishment of board assurance processes
  • extending ways of communicating and consulting with groups within the school community to include diverse stakeholder perspectives in self review
  • the development of appropriate formats for documenting board minutes and reports.

Priorities for further improvement have been identified. ERO affirms the board’s plans to:

  • develop tools and processes to guide self review
  • develop a more evaluative approach to reflection, review and reporting
  • continue to improve documentation of board processes.

The board is currently experiencing further changes in personnel. There remains a need to develop clear, shared understandings about governance roles and sound operational processes. This would help increase the board’s capacity to establish effective governance practices. More detailed governance documents would be useful to guide board process and should help the current and future trustees to develop and sustain ongoing improvements in governance practices.

ERO and the school agree that ongoing external support would assist them in making these improvements.

School leaders are initiating and implementing change in a number of areas. They recognise the need to accelerate the pace and momentum of some change initiatives and ongoing improvements. It would now be timely to seek external support to:

  • review the effectiveness of the school’s leadership model in achieving the desired changes
  • access professional development and support for leaders at all levels in the school, to build individual capability and collective capacity, and ensure a coherent and cohesive approach to achieving and sustaining improvement goals.

Provision for international students

Wairau Intermediate 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. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the code.

At the time of this review there were seven international students attending the school.

The school meets the requirements of the Code. Students are supported to succeed at school through the provision of pastoral care and learning programmes that offer challenge and choice.

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.

In order to improve current practice the Board of Trustees should:

  • ensure that all documented records safeguard privacy and also provide sufficient and appropriate detail to evidence the board’s governance assurance role and processes
  • continue the current review of policies and procedures to ensure these reflect updated requirements and best practice, and alignment between policies and practices.

Conclusion

Students at Wairau Intermediate School experience purposeful learning environments with positive teacher-student interactions. The broad curriculum provides a variety of learning opportunities and most students are achieving well in core subjects. Recent changes are strengthening consistency in teaching and learning. Aspects of leadership and governance require improvement.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

29 June 2016

About the School

Location

Forrest Hill, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1555

School type

Intermediate (Years 7 to 8)

School roll

288

Number of international students

8

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Filipino

Chinese

Indian

Korean

Samoan

Japanese

South East Asian

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

other Pacific

other

10%

41%

9%

8%

6%

5%

3%

2%

2%

1%

1%

1%

11%

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

29 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2013

June 2010

June 2007