Waterloo School - 08/05/2014

1 Context

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

Waterloo School in Lower Hutt city caters for learners in Years 1 to 6 from an increasingly diverse range of ethnic groups in the community. It has a role of 496 students, of whom 12% identify as Māori.

Large school grounds and access to resources promote students’ participation in a wide range of outdoor physical and play activities to support their wellbeing.

The school philosophy and values are highly evident across the school. They include integrated inquiry learning, celebrating diversity, respect, and promoting ecological sustainability.

The recently elected trustees are all new to the board. They bring relevant interests and skills to their governance roles. Community and parent involvement in the school programmes, excursions and extracurricular activities is high. A board priority is to continue to strengthen communications with parents and whānau, their partnerships with the school and involvement in reviews and strategic initiatives.

2 Learning

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

Trustees and school leaders are increasing their use of student achievement information to better inform decisions and actions to improve achievement. A recent review of the charter and annual goals has led to increasingly targeted strategies and actions to raise overall achievement and cater for students’ diverse learning needs.

Leaders share in-depth analysis and review of assessment results for each year level in relation to the National Standards with the board twice each year. Annual targets in 2014 specify actions for accelerating rates of progress of identified groups of learners in reading, writing and mathematics.

Senior leaders have appropriately prioritized the strengthening of assessment practices and teaching approaches to increase overall levels of achievement. This is particularly needed for some priority learners who continue to achieve below expectations.

Team leaders work with their teachers to identify focus groups of priority learners for targeted teaching and joint monitoring. Teachers use improved class descriptions and student profiles to better cater for students’ needs, dispositions and strengths. They are expected to respond to individual needs to promote improved outcomes for these focus students.

There is some effective monitoring, review and reporting on the impact of initiatives and programmes to raise students' achievement levels and accelerate their progress. In some year levels, nearly half of the focus students showed accelerated progress in 2013. An agreed understanding of accelerated progress across the school should assist with planning at board and class levels.

Significant resourcing and targeted programmes provide for students who require learning and English language support. Evaluation of these strategies is a next step to assist decision-making by leaders and trustees. School leaders identify the need to review junior reading programmes where significant numbers of students achieve below expectations.

Teachers and team leaders identify a need to further develop the use of student achievement information from a greater range of sources to better inform planning. Professional learning and development (PLD) is continuing in the use of standardised assessment tools and the making of assessment judgements by teachers.

Trustees and leaders have identified the need for improved tracking, and sharing of evidence with the board during the year about the progress of groups of students. ERO affirms the school’s plans to extend and challenge more of the capable learners within existing programmes and inquiry learning experiences.

3 Curriculum

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

Leaders and teachers have recently reviewed the structure and content for the Waterloo School curriculum. This has led to a more coherent and integrated curriculum framework for promoting learning and achievement schoolwide.

A recently developed teacher handbook provides high expectations and guidelines for teaching and learning. A clear focus on integrated learning responsive to diverse learners’ needs is apparent in the curriculum documents.

A range of effective teaching strategies is evident in classrooms. Integration of inquiry, shared concepts and environmental contexts across learning areas are features of learning. Whole-class modelling and differentiated group instruction are designed to suit learners’ needs.

Students have some opportunities to extend their learning through high interest tasks and use of digital technologies. Students are becoming more involved in their own learning through goal setting and reflections on learning in some classes. Teachers actively promote the key competencies and integrate aspects of health and physical education effectively into class and outdoor programmes.

The school mission statement and class programmes promote and support students’ wellbeing effectively. A wide range of leadership opportunities for senior students contribute positively to the inclusive school tone. Students are familiar with, and use the language of the school values as represented in the mission: “To ready each child for life”. A caring culture and positive relationships are evident. The school has identified a need for parent meetings throughout 2014 to share the expectations and impact of the peer mediation programme.

Teacher learning pathways (TLPs) provide teachers with a well-supported process to inquire into the impact on student learning and achievement of the strategies they use. An increasingly robust appraisal process includes regular class observations and useful feedback by senior and team leaders. Well-targeted PLD is appropriately aligned to school priorities and goals.

Pacific students’ achievement levels overall are below those of their peers, particularly in writing. Senior leaders have identified the need to define how Pacific identities, cultures and languages can be included in programmes to better promote educational success for Pacific learners.

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

Planned developments and initiatives have improved the school’s responsiveness to Māori students and whānau since the 2011 ERO review. This includes increased whānau consultation to inform introduction of tikanga and te reo Māori, pōwhiri and kapa haka.

Many teachers are actively involved in study and PLD to increase their knowledge and confidence in te ao Māori. In some classes, Māori learners have regular opportunities to learn about tikanga Māori through te reo Māori learning and inquiry topics. In these classes, Māori learners enjoy opportunities for success in relation to their identity, language and culture. Cultural performances, recognition and role modelling promote student engagement and success.

The school priorities and charter targets identify the need to accelerate the progress of many Māori students who achieve less well than their peers, particularly in writing and mathematics.

The impending charter and curriculum consultation provides opportunities for trustees, leaders and teachers to clarify expected outcomes and strategies to achieve success for Māori as Māori. This includes further developing relationships with mana whenua and the use of Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners.

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.

New trustees are focused on supporting initiatives, processes and resourcing to foster ongoing improvement in achievement across the school. They have accessed training and have clear responsibilities and guidelines for governance. They have begun procedures for a community wide consultation and charter review. Community participation in policy and school review is encouraged through opportunities for feedback.

Clear links exist between the development of the charter, annual goals and the school curriculum priorities. Year level goals are well aligned with school aspirations and targets.

Since the February 2011 ERO review, the school has focused more on reviewing programmes, practices and outcomes for students. Some teachers have successfully used planned self review to be more responsive to the needs of learners. Reviews of writing and reading have led to increased emphasis on strategies to accelerate progress and raise achievement. The core school values of innovation, curiosity and inquiry are increasingly promoted across the school.

Senior leaders are promoting and supporting improvements in professional practice through appraisal and staff development. Leadership development has supported responsive decision making and actions in teams across the school.

A next step is to promote a shared understanding and expectations for robust self review across the school. This should enable:

  • teachers to make consistent use of teacher learning pathways to enhance outcomes for all learners
  • leaders to better evaluate the quality and effectiveness of programmes and strategies for meeting goals and targets
  • trustees to be better informed for strategic decision-making.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

8 May 2014

About the School

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

3068

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

496

Gender composition

Boys 53%, Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

Chinese

Indian

Other ethnic groups

12%

56%

7%

7%

5%

13%

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

8 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2011

December 2007

June 2005