Waitahuna School - 28/08/2015

Findings

Students enjoy rich opportunities for learning that build their confidence and competence as learners. Students learn in mixed-aged classrooms. The low student numbers enable teachers to frequently attend to each student’s learning. Students benefit from the positive relationships between adults and students. The school is led and governed well.

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?

Waitahuna School is a small rural school in South Otago. Students benefit from the attractive, well-resourced environments for physical exploration and play. Most students travel by bus from the surrounding farms.

Students learn in two mixed-aged classrooms. The low student numbers enable teachers to frequently attend to individuals’ learning needs.

The school fosters a positive, caring family-oriented environment for learning. Adults and students get to know each other well.

Students confidently demonstrate the school’s vision of standing together ‘e tu kahikatea’. Their learning and successes are widely acknowledged and celebrated.

Teachers and trustees are highly committed to achieving success for every student and to maintaining close relationships between the school and local community. This includes providing partial funding for a second teacher and allowing the community to use the swimming pool.

Since the last ERO review in 2012, a new principal and teacher have been appointed. Teachers and trustees have made very good progress in developing the priorities identified in the ERO report. This includes revising the charter and aspects of the curriculum.

2 Learning

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

Overall, students achieve very well in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards.

Students use assessment information well, particularly in writing to know:

  • about their learning and what they need to do to get better
  • what helps them to learn.

Teachers closely monitor each student’s learning, progress and achievement. They know students well and use assessment information to inform:

  • students about where they are at and where they need to go
  • them about the effectiveness of their teaching and their next steps.

The principal uses achievement information well to:

  • report useful, well analysed information to the board showing the positive difference teachers are making to students’ learning and progress
  • identify targeted professional development for teachers to lift student achievement.

The board is well informed about student achievement and uses information to:

  • make decisions about future direction and what priorities to focus on
  • evaluate how well initiatives and programmes are impacting on students’ learning
  • monitor the progress being made toward meeting the school’s priorities and targets.

Next steps

Teachers should extend opportunities:

  • for students to reflect on their own level of achievement and progress
  • to discuss and compare assessment practices and judgements made about achievement with teachers across schools.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Students experience rich opportunities and environments for learning that build their confidence to take risks in their learning. They receive high levels of individual attention that supports them to make accelerated progress.

The school’s vision and values are highly evident in students’ attitudes and behaviour. Students are encouraged to ask questions and be curious. They have a strong sense of self and actively take responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with their peers.

Teachers model high expectations for learning and behaviour. They ensure each student learns at his/her level of comfort and challenge. They make very good use of the local environment to make learning engaging and relevant to the students’ lives.

Students learn from each other. Students appreciate being able to apply core learning in other learning areas. Teachers provide a range of experiences outside the classroom to ensure that students have fun and breadth in their learning.

Teachers use ICT in useful ways to engage students and parents in students’ learning and the wider life of the school. This includes teachers and students using ICT in innovative ways to extend their skills in literacy and mathematics.

All students learn aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori through their classroom programmes. Their teachers have increased the ways in which Māori language and culture are integrated into the life of the school. This includes learning a range of waiata, welcoming visitors and preparing to participate in the local school celebration, Polyfest. Teachers show a desire to increase their own competence in using te reo. It is timely for school leaders to plan how this ongoing progress may be sustained.

Next Steps

Teachers receive useful support for developing their teaching practices. The principal and ERO agree that teachers should continue to:

  • review curriculum guidelines to ensure current good practice is reflected in them
  • build Māori perspectives into teaching and learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The board and principal are leading and governing the school well.

The principal, trustees and teachers have a strong focus on achieving the school’s vision. They effectively seek the views and involvement of parents and the community to help achieve the valued outcomes for students.

School leaders and teachers have high expectations for quality teaching and learning. This includes increasing students’ success in learning through partial funding of a second teacher.

The school has well-established systems for building school improvement and planning for sustainable practice. The school charter, strategic and annual plans are well aligned and linked to curriculum delivery.

The new principal is leading the school well. She works collaboratively with staff. Trustees have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities as stewards (caretakers) of the school. They are well-informed about student progress and achievement and the difference teachers are making to students’ learning. School leaders should continue to develop self-review practices.

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

Students enjoy rich opportunities for learning that build their confidence and competence as learners. Students learn in mixed-aged classrooms. The low student numbers enable teachers to frequently attend to each student’s learning. Students benefit from the positive relationships between adults and students. The school is led and governed well.

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

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

28 August 2015

School Statistics

Location

Waitahuna, Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3855

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

21

Gender composition

Girls:      11
Boys:     10

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

21

Review team on site

July 2015

Date of this report

28 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

April 2012
October 2008
October 2005