Westmere School (Wanganui) - 04/03/2016

Findings

Students learn in a welcoming, family-like environment. The board of trustees, syndicate leaders, teachers and community members' work together to improve outcomes for learners. Students engage in a range of interesting learning opportunities with appropriate priority given to literacy and mathematics. The school reports that most students achieve at and above National Standards.

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?

Westmere School caters for students from Years 1 to 8 in a semi-rural setting not far from the Whanganui town centre. At the time of this ERO review 213 students were enrolled, 35 of whom identify as Māori.

The long-serving principal retired recently and one of the deputy principals was in the acting role. The new principal starts at the beginning of 2016.

A family-like atmosphere is valued. Older students support the young ones through a buddy system. The school’s house system, together with other aspects of school life, provides leadership opportunities for senior students. Parents and whānau support school activities and events, including educational trips and camps.

The 2013 ERO review identified a number of next steps for improvement. These related to: reviewing the school’s vision, mission and values; annual target setting; reporting student progress and achievement to the board; teacher feedback to students; development of the school’s curriculum, teacher appraisal and internal evaluation.

External consultants work with teachers to support continuous improvement. Since the previous ERO review, the board has reviewed and developed its mission and vision statements with input from families. Leaders and teachers have further developed literacy programmes and the school’s appraisal process. Professional development about future-focused learning environments is ongoing.

The board of trustees is committed to providing quality learning opportunities to prepare students for the future. The school is also guided by its motto: Pride, Honesty and Respect.

2 Learning

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

Good use is made of achievement information to improve teaching and learning. Teachers analyse and use a range of assessment data to identify each learner’s strengths and next learning steps, especially in reading, writing and mathematics. They use the information to group students, plan programmes, report progress and achievement to parents and whānau, and inform decision making at board level.

The school reports that the majority of students, including Māori, achieve at and above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Those below the Standards are identified at class level and teachers work closely with selected groups of learners to help accelerate their progress.

Students with special needs, and those whose achievement may be at risk, receive appropriate support. Individual and small group teaching is targeted to specific needs. Additional teacher and teacher aide support is provided as required. Good systems are in place to monitor, assess and record students' progress, with evidence of accelerated progress for some.

Transitions for students are carefully considered. Teachers gather useful information when students start school at five years old. Assessment data is gathered at intervals throughout the year and passed on to the following year’s teacher. This enables appropriate interventions and helps maximise teaching and learning.

Parents and whānau receive useful information about their child’s engagement, progress and achievement. Reports include information about how well each child is achieving in relation to the National Standards, their next learning steps and how families can help at home. They also include information about learning in other curriculum areas.

Teachers regularly reflect on, and share, effective teaching strategies at syndicate meetings. These discussions aim to help students below the Standards progress at a faster pace. The next steps are to continue developing:

  • learning partnerships with parents and whānau
  • effective practices to accelerate the progress of all students not yet reaching the Standards
  • setting and sharing realistic achievement goals that are high enough to make a difference, and monitoring progress on a more regular basis from school entry through to Year 8.

Setting realistic goals along the way is also likely to help teachers, leaders, families and the board to gauge the effectiveness of specific strategies and programmes over time and make adjustments as required.

3 Curriculum

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

Students experience a wide range of opportunities across the curriculum to promote and support learning. Priority is given to literacy and mathematics, with the integration of other curriculum areas through unit studies.

Curriculum implementation is generally responsive to students’ needs and interests. Teachers are engaging in professional learning to gain shared understandings about modern learning practices, including effective use of digital devices. They plan to use this knowledge to further develop their practices in line with the board’s mission, vision, values, strategic direction and the leavers’ profile.

Students learn in settled classroom environments. They are encouraged and supported to take greater responsibility for their learning. Those spoken with by ERO were able to talk confidently about their learning activities and next steps for development. Syndicate leaders work collaboratively with teachers to promote effective teaching practices that enhance learning.

The development of the school’s curriculum documentation, including the bicultural curriculum, during the past three years has been minimal. The school’s curriculum needs to be reviewed and updated, with input from leaders, teachers, parents and whānau. It should closely align to the principles, values and competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum, the board’s mission, vision and leavers’ profile.

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

The 2013 ERO report noted that whanaungatanga (building respectful relationships) was promoted and evident in many aspects of school life. This remains apparent.

Teachers have given some consideration to how the principles of Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017 are being developed in the school. They acknowledge they have yet to gain sufficient knowledge about Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners. These publications, together with consultation between trustees, leaders, teachers and whānau, should inform the development of an action plan to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is suitably placed to sustain and improve its performance. Key features include:

  • a board of trustees that gives priority to making good provision for students
  • syndicate leaders who promote a collaborative approach to professional learning and support their teaching teams to improve outcomes for learners
  • the implementation of an improved appraisal process that encourages teachers to inquire into their practice and accelerate the progress of students not yet achieving National Standards
  • the provision of a good advice and guidance programme for provisionally registered teachers
  • a positive school tone that promotes respectful relationships.

Some aspects of the board’s operation require improvement. At present:

  • the strategic and annual plans, including achievement targets, are couched in broad terms and do not yet provide sufficient guidance for whole-school development and internal evaluation
  • the board has yet to receive useful and regular achievement information about the progress that students make towards the annual achievement targets
  • a number of policies and procedures require reviewing and updating in consultation with staff and the community
  • while aspects of internal evaluation are apparent, developing shared understandings to further strengthen this process should enable trustees, leaders, teachers, parents and whānau to know how well ongoing improvements align to the school’s vision, values, goals and priorities.

The board should seek external support to assist improvements in the above areas.

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 learn in a welcoming, family-like environment. The board of trustees, syndicate leaders, teachers and community members' work together to improve outcomes for learners. Students engage in a range of interesting learning opportunities with appropriate priority given to literacy and mathematics. The school reports that most students achieve at and above National Standards.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

4 March 2016

School Statistics

Location

Whanganui

Ministry of Education profile number

2480

School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll

213

Gender composition

Male 56%, Female 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

16%

84%

Review team on site

December 2015

Date of this report

4 March 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

January 2013

November 2009

October 2006