Waitati School - 01/09/2014

Findings

Adults and students have developed a welcoming, inclusive culture in which difference is celebrated. Māori concepts/values are strongly evident in the life of the school. Students participate in a wide variety of learning experiences. All students benefit from very good quality teaching. They are encouraged to be confident, competent communicators. The board and principal govern and lead the school effectively.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

Adults and students benefit from the welcoming, caring, inclusive culture (manaakitanga) of this school in which difference is celebrated. The school is small but with a growing roll. Waitati School is rural, coastal, within commuting distance of Dunedin, and provides a very good education for its students from a diverse community. Students learn in three multi-level classes.

A strong sense of family (whānaungatanga) is very evident and students value their close friendships with each other. Relationships among students, between students and teachers, the next door playcentre and wider community are close and supportive. Students appreciate the way teachers' value and nurture their individuality, dignity and self esteem. Staffing is stable and teachers and the principal work collegially. Students assured ERO that they have a safe school where older students look out for the younger ones (tuakana-teina).

The school has completed a major building development in order to easily provide for students with challenging physical needs.

The recommendations from the June 2011 ERO report have been successfully addressed. The need to strengthen self review is acknowledged as work in progress.

2 Learning

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

The school uses well-analysed learning information effectively to promote student learning.Student achievement. Most students achieve well in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Some achieve significantly above. Students not reaching the National Standards by the end of Year 1 have usually caught up by the end of Year 3. Students who have not reached the National Standards are particularly noted and supported to make accelerated progress. Teachers have firm expectations of where these students are to be by a certain date. These targeted students are closely monitored and partnerships with parents are nurtured so that students’ learning is reinforced at home. Students who need to be extended are also identified early and provided with extension programmes.

Learning information. Teachers gather rich assessment information at all levels and in all learning areas. They have their students for up to three years and know them well. They respond to students’ learning behaviours and next learning steps. Students know how well they are achieving in relation to the National Standards and what they need to do to improve. They have appropriate tools to help them assess their own learning and that of their peers. Students who spoke to ERO said they find the oral and written feedback they receive from teachers useful. The next learning steps students discuss with teachers are specific to their learning needs.

Reporting. The principal and teachers use assessment information effectively to inform the board about individual and whole school learning. Reports to parents are in plain language, positive and clearly indicate where the child is at in relation to the National Standards. For students whose achievement is being closely monitored, reports are sent home frequently.

3 Curriculum

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

Waitati School’s curriculum promotes students’ learning very well.

Learning contexts. The school makes effective use of the local expertise, geography and facilities such as the library. Students experience a wide variety of relevant, authentic learning experiences.

Some of these include:

  • the Enviroschool focus (Silver Award)
  • the natural outdoor native environment
  • regular swimming in response to the parents’ wishes.

The school curriculum is developed in response to the wishes of the community. Students’ ideas are sought and responded to, for example in the development of the school’s charter and the physical environment. Māori perspectives are evident in programmes. Literacy and mathematics are effectively integrated across the learning areas, such as in science investigations and technology.

Teaching. The principal and teachers have developed useful guidelines to support a consistent approach to curriculum delivery. Students benefit from very good quality teaching. They learn in settled classrooms. ERO found a purposeful learning culture within each classroom. Teachers plan well to meet the learning needs of individual students. Teachers reflect on what is happening for students’ learning and how best to respond to them.

Students are able to work independently, self assessing, self managing and making choices about their learning. They are encouraged to be confident, competent communicators, particularly about their understandings and learning. Students say teachers are very approachable and provide one-to-one attention as needed. Classrooms provide a stimulating learning environment where students’ work is valued and beautifully displayed. ICT resources are readily accessible and used effectively by students to support their learning.

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

Māori students are well supported to learn and develop confidently. Success is developed and promoted, particularly through positive and caring relationships. The board, teachers and students value New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and are committed to applying the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There is a high level of integration of Māori values and protocols into the daily life of the school. The Whānau hui group meet regularly to explore how to apply Māori concepts in the school context. The depth of their inquiry demonstrates the commitment to, and the importance of, Māori culture, identity and language at the school. 

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Waitati School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Board members are interested in educational improvement and use up-to-date information to effectively govern the school. They regularly seek the views of the community, including the students, with an aim to reflect their values and curriculum preferences in the school’s daily practices. With funding support from a strong parent/teacher group, the board employs a third teacher to better support the learning needs of students. Over recent years, students and their families have chosen to remain at Waitati School to complete the last two years of primary education.

A key feature of the school culture is the way many Māori concepts. For example manaakitanga and kotahitanga are interwoven into the life of the school. This integration extends to include a bicultural approach to the development of their school charter. The charter is being developed as a living document to be tangibly visible as a whare nui (meeting house). This is currently being designed for construction by students, parents, staff, trustees and an architect.

The board, principal and teachers regularly reflect on the effectiveness of the school operations and students’ learning and progress. They have an improvement focus and make positive changes as needed. The board is aware of the need to amend the charter and update some policies such as providing for gifted and talented students. Further development of self-review processes and practices will help inform trustees as they make decisions about the future direction of the school and how best to use school resources.

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

Adults and students have developed a welcoming, inclusive culture in which difference is celebrated. Māori concepts/values are strongly evident in the life of the school. Students participate in a wide variety of learning experiences. All students benefit from very good quality teaching. They are encouraged to be confident, competent communicators. The board and principal govern and lead the school effectively.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

1 September 2014

About the School

Location

Waitati, Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

3857

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

57

Gender composition

Girls: 33 Boys: 24

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other

33

15

9

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

1 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

June 2011

May 2009

May 2006