Whatawhata School - 01/05/2019

Findings

Whatawhata School has made significant progress in all areas identified for development. Trustees, leaders and teachers have a clear focus on improving outcomes for learners and have implemented useful systems and processes to support this priority.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Whatawhata School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Whatawhata School is a rural school located in Whatawhata Village, west of Hamilton. It caters for 274 students from Years 1 to 8, including 64 of Māori descent.

Since the last ERO review in 2018 the school has completed the significant building project that was underway at that time. The school now comprises several collaborative learning spaces in which teachers work in teams with cohorts of students grouped by year levels. The principal continues in his role and there has been a small number of changes to the teaching staff, including the appointment of additional teachers as a result of a roll increase. A new board chair was elected in 2018.

The 2018 ERO report identified several areas for development and this report summarises the progress made in addressing these areas.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

  • strengthening the use of achievement information to accelerate progress
  • leadership processes to promote effective internal evaluation
  • implementation of SENCO systems and processes
  • strengthening the appraisal process.

Progress

There has been significant progress made in all the areas identified for review and development in the previous ERO report.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have a strategic and coherent approach to accelerate the achievement of students whose learning is at risk. Leadership has developed a holistic framework for learning through a bi-cultural lens, integrating Māori concepts of health and wellbeing. This framework aligns processes and practices across all levels of the school to support improved outcomes for students. There is clear identification of at-risk students, and tracking and monitoring of their progress. Implementation of the framework is highly visible in the staffroom and classrooms. It is used at team and board level to focus discussions on student achievement and progress. Teachers and leaders collect, analyse and use data about student achievement, attendance and target students, including students with additional needs to support their decision making. Leaders have developed a useful tool to report on at-risk students’ progress over time.

Leaders have strengthened internal evaluation processes in the school. With teachers they have accessed a range of professional learning to inform the development and implementation of a robust and useful model of teaching as inquiry. Evaluation processes include the collection and use of parent and student voice, and draw on research and evidence-based information. Teaching as inquiry is focused on improving outcomes for student achievement and well-being, and is aligned with targets for at-risk learners. The team-based approach to inquiry supports the development of shared expectations of school-wide valued outcomes for students.

Students with additional needs are well supported by the school. The board of trustees has provided considerable extra resourcing to support students with additional learning and behaviour needs. The role of the co-ordinator for additional needs students (SENCO) has been expanded, and there is a teacher aide in each learning space. The SENCO accesses relevant professional learning and supports teachers in the classroom. Individual education and behaviour plans are developed to provide for the needs of at-risk learners. The SENCO is developing constructive relationships with parents, whānau and external agencies.

The school has implemented an appropriate individual appraisal process for teachers. Leaders have undertaken a range of useful professional learning to increase their knowledge of appraisal design and recent changes to the Teaching Council standards for teachers. The principal has aligned the appraisal process with teaching as inquiry to create a purposeful system that meets both compliance and developmental needs.

Key next steps

Leaders now need to:

  • review and refine assessment tools to enable more effective and timely measurement of student progress
  • embed consistent use of the school’s holistic framework for learning to track and monitor student progress
  • continue to build collective capacity through targeted professional development aligned with the school’s holistic framework for learning to support teachers to meet the needs of at-risk students.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Whatawhata School is well placed to sustain and continue its performance. Factors contributing to sustainability are:

  • leadership has developed coherent systems to monitor student achievement and progress
  • leaders and teachers identify and plan for the learning and behaviour needs of at-risk students
  • leaders and teachers have useful processes for internal evaluation and improvement
  • trustees provide effective governance and are well informed about student achievement
  • the school has strengthened learning partnerships with parents.

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.

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to physical restraint rules. In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  1. make available for inspection a document that includes the names and positions of authorised staff, and

  2. ensure that teachers and authorised staff are suitably supported and trained.
    [Education (Physical Restraint) Rules 2017, clauses 4 & 10]

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review policies and processes for bullying prevention and response to be consistent with MoE guidelines.
    [NAG 5; Good practice]

Conclusion

Whatawhata School has made significant progress in all areas identified for development. Trustees, leaders and teachers have a clear focus on improving outcomes for learners and have implemented useful systems and processes to support this priority.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Whatawhata School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Central Region

1 May 2019

About the School

Location

west of Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

2087

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

274

Gender composition

Boys 55% Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Other

23%
70%
7%

Review team on site

March 2019

Date of this report

1 May 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2018
May 2014
July 2011