Whangara School - 05/06/2015

Findings

Whangara School continues to provide a caring, welcoming learning environment. The positive tone, strong sense of cultural identity and high whānau engagement promotes students’ wellbeing. All students benefit from rich opportunities to learn te reo and the inclusion of Tikanga Māori guided by the learning pathway of Paikea Ariki.

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?

Tēnei te mihi ki a koutou o te kura o Whangara. Ki te pōari, te tūmuaki, ngā kaiako, ngā mātua, ngā tamariki, me te hapu o Ngāti Konohi, me te iwi o Ngāti Porou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Tēnei te mihi ki a koutou e pou kaha ana kia whai ai te mātauranga mō ō koutou tamariki mokopuna.

Whangara School is a small rural school located on the East Coast, north of Gisborne. Almost 90% of the students identify as Māori. The culturally rich environment continues to be an important part of the community, which has long-standing and inter-generational connections with the school. Paikea Ariki is central to the school’s kaupapa. The whakatauki, 'Te Putahitanga o te kōrero; Te Parekereke o te tangata,' is well embedded in systems and practices in this school.

The school caters for students from Years 1 to 8 in four whānau classes. A high proportion of students who have strong whakapapa links to Whangara, travel from Gisborne. Increasing numbers of local students now attend the school. Paikea Kindergarten is situated at the front of the school and is an integral part of this inclusive school community.

Since the 2010 ERO review, classrooms have been modernised. The attractive learning environments are well resourced and contribute to students’ interest in learning. Special features of the school’s setting include the carved waharoa and pou, tukutuku panels, mosaic artwork and school gardens. All students were involved in designing and constructing these special features.

The school is well led by a capable leadership team and a dedicated board of trustees. Significant staff professional development has been targeted to improve outcomes for all students. ERO’s 2010 review identified the inclusive teamwork, authentic contexts for learning, and the values of children grounded in Ngāti Poroutanga. These features continue to be strengths of the school.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. This information indicates that the majority of students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Appropriate targets are set to raise achievement, and progress is regularly reported to the board and community. School leaders acknowledge that further work is required when reporting to parents in relation to National Standards.

Well-developed monitoring systems track progress and achievement of students. Students who are at risk of not achieving at or above National Standards are identified. Individual education programmes are developed and adapted to meet these students’ learning needs.

Students are willing learners. They are well engaged in learning and are able to work independently and collaboratively. Classroom environments are specifically planned to promote self-managing learners. Students choose from a range of tasks to support their learning strengths and needs. Staff facilitate and intervene as required.

Teachers gather and use student achievement information to plan meaningful learning experiences. Increasingly they are supporting students to reflect on their progress and to set learning goals. Targeted professional development is informed by achievement data and focussed on lifting student achievement in literacy and mathematics.

School leaders acknowledge the need to strengthen school-wide analysis and reporting of student achievement. They agree that it would be useful to:

  • develop clearly defined charter targets for groups of students who are ‘at risk’ of not achieving
  • develop a plan to accelerate the progress of underachieving students
  • share achievement information with students to assist them to become self-managing learners
  • strengthen teachers’ reflective practice and align these reflections to student achievement and programme evaluation.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Māori students are provided with many opportunities to experience success as Māori. They play a key role in the planning, design and development of the school environment. The culturally responsive and localised curriculum benefits all children and symbolises the school’s mātāpono, whakatīnana, mohiotanga, ako and turangawaewae. It also appropriately prioritises wellbeing and sustainable education alongside literacy and mathematics.

Classes are vibrant, interesting and student centred. Students contribute to school decision-making influencing the design and creation of the attractive outdoor school environment. Significant artwork around the school demonstrates high levels of collaboration between students, teachers and community members.

The environment of Whangara, including the local marae is an integral part of students’ learning. Students proudly participate in pōwhiri with senior students leading mōteatea, haka and waiata. Te reo Māori is used confidently and often by staff and students. A wananga reo immersion class is timetabled for one teaching block a day, to increase older students’ understanding and use of te reo Māori in everyday conversations. The development of a school-wide te reo Māori plan is timely and would provide a coordinated and strategic approach to extend te reo Māori across the school. This plan could specify governance and management goals and show how the implementation and effectiveness of the plan will be monitored.

Good quality teaching supports learners and curriculum delivery. Teachers promote learning through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Teachers use their well-resourced learning environments effectively, and could now consider increasing the pace and challenge to further extend learners. Senior leaders recognise the need to promote shared school wide expectations for teachers to develop consistency and quality in their teaching practices. It is likely to build greater coherence in providing high-quality programmes to accelerate student achievement.

Student learning is enhanced by the curriculum focus on home/school relationships and student learning. High numbers of whānau participate in the Hikitai outdoor education programme. Home/school partnership evenings are well attended and parents are provided with a wide range of strategies for supporting the learning of their children. Strengthening and building on learning partnerships with parents continues to be a priority for school leaders.

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. Thoughtful leadership and well-considered governance characterise the school. Core values of aroha, manaakitanga, tu kaha and whanaungatanga guide the ways in which students, teachers, leaders and trustees interact with each other.

Senior leaders and the board have used their complementary strengths to form a team that works collaboratively and share a clear future vision for the school. They recognise that embedding and consolidating new ideas and practices into the school is an important part of its development cycle. School leaders value the contributions of others, including whānau, and maintain a positive working relationship with the board of trustees.

Self-review processes assist the board and senior leaders to make sound decisions. Important next steps include:

  • aligning self-review more directly to strategic planning
  • keeping all parties up-to-date and better informed about the progress it is making towards meeting its charter, strategic and annual goals
  • simplifying the strategic and annual plans with more clearly defined goals.

School leaders are focused on building the capacity of teaching staff. During the review ERO and senior leaders agreed that appraisal processes could be strengthened to further assist teachers to develop clearer and more specific professional development goals.

Trustees have complementary skills and are highly supportive of senior leaders and staff. Senior leader’s reports to the board are comprehensive but need to be more evaluative and inform the board about the effectiveness of school initiatives and outcomes of strategic planning. These reports should assist the board’s self review processes, and ongoing governance training would strengthen trustees understanding of legislative requirements and responsibilities.

The board has undertaken significant property development. Classrooms have been refurbished to support the curriculum and promote self-managing learners.

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

Whangara School continues to provide a caring, welcoming learning environment. The positive tone, strong sense of cultural identity and high whānau engagement promotes students’ wellbeing. All students benefit from rich opportunities to learn te reo and the inclusion of Tikanga Māori guided by the learning pathway of Paikea Ariki.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

5 June 2015

About the School

Location

Whangara, Gisborne

Ministry of Education profile number

2736

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

69

Gender composition

Boys 35

Girls 34

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Cook Island Māori

60

8

1

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

5 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

June 2006