Whakarongo School - 16/02/2016

Findings

A settled tone is evident throughout the school. The majority of students are achieving well in relation to National Standards. Those in need of extra support are identified and appropriate interventions put in place. Digital technologies are used effectively to support student learning. Strengthening internal evaluation is a next step.

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?

Whakarongo School is a large Years I to 8 primary school near Palmerston North. Of the 514 students attending at the time of this review, 16% identify as Māori, 9% as Asian and 2% as Pacific. The roll has increased significantly since the October 2012 ERO report. Additional classrooms have been built and an enrolment scheme put in place.

The school has reorganised the teaching teams to create seven pods of three teachers, and a separate new entrant transition class. Teacher professional development has included leadership training for modern learning environments. Mathematics is a focus curriculum area.

An inclusive environment provides for diverse students and those with additional learning needs. Teachers have undertaken a range of professional development since the previous ERO review including focuses on flexible learning environments, writing, and mathematics.

2 Learning

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

The school is responsive to its achievement data, with teachers taking prompt action to address gaps in learning identified through analysis. Teachers work collaboratively in small groups to plan and directly teach to student needs.

Student progress and achievement in relation to National Standards are regularly reported to trustees. This data shows the majority of students are achieving at and above the Standards in literacy and mathematics. Good progress has been made in raising achievement since the previous ERO review. Māori students generally achieve at similar levels to their peers, as do Pacific learners.

Students at risk of underachievement are identified and well monitored. Many of these priority students are making accelerated progress. The school is inclusive of students with diverse needs. Students with additional needs are effectively supported.

School leaders and teachers should further develop their understandings of the standardised assessment tools they currently use. This is likely to assist data analysis and support decisions teachers make as they continue their close focus on improving outcomes for students.

Written reports to parents show student progress in relation to National Standards. They include next learning steps in literacy and mathematics. Midyear reports include suggestions for how parents can support their children at home. A next step is to increase the detail of reporting across all learning areas.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum has a strong focus on student learning in literacy and mathematics. Other learning areas are included in the school’s student inquiry processes. Reviewing the extent to which other learning areas are covered, in order to be assured that students receive a balanced curriculum throughout their time at the school, is a next step.

Teachers use a good range of effective teaching strategies to support progress and achievement. They use sound questioning to challenge and encourage students to think more deeply about their learning tasks. Clear systems and processes foster flexibility and adaptive teaching.

There is a strong focus on supporting students to take responsibility for their own learning. Students are able to talk confidently about their learning. They work in settled class environments and readily support one another. Digital technologies are used effectively as tools to support student learning.

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

School structures and processes contribute positively to Māori learners’ wellbeing and academic progress. A Māori achievement strategy and accompanying plans demonstrate the school’s commitment to recognising Māori students’ identity, language and culture. A solid foundation of practice contributes to the steady progress being made. Te reo Māori and te ao Māori are integral parts of learners’ schooling.

Leaders and teachers continue to build their knowledge and understandings of effective teaching practice for Māori learners. A focus of the school’s work in 2015, has been to establish relationships with the Māori community and iwi. Whānau have increased opportunities to contribute to curriculum planning and be involved with their children’s learning. ERO's evaluation affirms this initiative.

As the school’s internal evaluation continues to develop, leaders should be better positioned to demonstrate their response to the aspirations of whānau and iwi, and evaluate how well the school’s curriculum promotes educational success for Māori as Māori.

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.

Teachers are highly reflective and work collaboratively in teams. High expectations are in place for teachers and learners. These include guidelines for responsive and adaptive practice by teachers. This is evidenced in planning and through positive outcomes for students.

Teachers undertake systematic and collaborative inquiries into the effectiveness of their teaching. They describe and reflect on their teaching with a view to improving their practice and supporting student achievement, especially for those at risk. This is an ongoing area of development.

An increased understanding of internal evaluation for improvement should help strengthen existing systems and further build capability and capacity.

School leaders ensure there is appropriate professional development to support emergent leadership across the school.

Changes in systems and organisation are well managed by the board and management as the school continues to grow. Trustees are supportive of school initiatives. They regularly survey the community for feedback to inform their 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.

Conclusion

A settled tone is evident throughout the school. The majority of students are achieving well in relation to National Standards. Those in need of extra support are identified and appropriate interventions put in place. Digital technologies are used effectively to support student learning. Strengthening internal evaluation is a next step.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

16 February 2016

School Statistics

Location

Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number

2481

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

514

Gender composition

Male 50%, Female 50%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

73%

16%

9%

2%

Review team on site

December 2015

Date of this report

16 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2012

September 2010

December 2007