Whenuakite School - 04/05/2015

Findings

Students at Whenuakite School benefit from a strong sense of belonging in a positive, inclusive school culture. The board, school leaders, teachers and staff are committed to providing rich learning experiences that engage students’ interest in learning, and support all students to progress and achieve.

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?

Whenuakite School is located 26 kilometres south of Whitianga on State Highway 25. The school caters for students from Years 1 to 8. At the time of this ERO review the roll was 120, and included 6 students who are identified as Māori. The principal and senior staff are experienced, well-respected leaders. Most of the board members are long-serving members of the school community, and were in place at the time of the 2012 ERO review. There have been recent changes to teaching staff, and a new board member was appointed in 2014. A survey is currently seeking interest in the trustees' role among parents because most current board members will not be available for re-election in 2016.

The school has a positive reporting history. Since the last ERO review, teachers have continued to review the curriculum, and have strengthened the teaching of writing. Students are consistently achieving very well in this area of the curriculum. Teachers have been involved in ongoing school-wide professional development to enhance their teaching practice.

The school continues to provide an inclusive culture where students and their families have a sense of identity and ownership. It is a focal point for this rural area. The loyalty, support and practical contributions of families in the community is resulting in a school that is well-resourced and has excellent facilities.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of student achievement information to support learning, engagement and achievement. It aims to improve learning opportunities for all students, and ensures that students at risk of not succeeding are provided with well-designed support programmes.

The principal and senior management identify trends in achievement for individuals and groups of students in order to make recommendations to the board about staffing and the provision of additional learning programmes. The board of trustees receives information about student achievement in relation to National Standards and The New Zealand Curriculum, and uses it to guide decisions about strategic planning, target setting, and the provision of resources. Teachers use data effectively to plan to meet the individual learning needs of students, monitor their progress, and report to parents. They reflect on their teaching, share their insights with their colleagues, and evaluate their teaching successes. A partnership for learning has been established with parents. There is a very high level of attendance at parent-teacher meetings, and parents respond well to information about how they can support their children’s progress.

Students identified as being at risk of poor educational outcomes benefit from a variety of support programmes to enhance their learning and develop their skills, knowledge and confidence. These provisions are a strong feature of the school, and are well-embedded in practice. The success of intervention programmes is closely monitored and reported to the board of trustees. National Standards data show that overall student achievement has been sustained, and mathematics and writing has improved, during the period 2012 to 2014. Setting targets for identified groups of students who are at risk of poor education outcomes would enable the school to more easily report on accelerated progress and achievement for these groups. This would demonstrate the positive impact of the board's annual resourcing to increase school-wide achievement.

Students at Whenuakite School achieve very well. The school’s achievement information indicates that a high proportion of students, including Māori, achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Girls achieve at slightly higher levels than boys and the school is working to identify possible reasons for this difference.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum and clearly identifies the school’s vision, values and desired outcomes for students. Graduates from Whenuakite School are expected to be confident, connected, and actively involved life-long learners. Teachers are provided with guidelines about how to teach and what should be delivered, and they also personalise their classroom programmes to meet the particular needs of students.

Teachers know students and their families very well. Their positive guidance skills, and the well-established culture of respect and inclusion, contribute to students’ strong sense of wellbeing and belonging. Teachers have high expectations of students, encourage them to understand the purpose of their learning and set challenging goals. Students are supported to self manage and take increasing responsibility for their learning. Those observed by ERO demonstrated high levels of interest and engagement in learning.

A very wide variety of learning opportunities is provided in and beyond the school. These include school camps and trips, Enviroschools, musical activities, water sports and water safety, and a range of other sports. Students have many opportunities to take leadership roles.

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

Whenuakite School states that it recognises the need to fulfil the intent of the Treaty of Waitangi and promote New Zealand’s biculturalism and partnership with Māori. Positive relationships have been maintained with the local iwi, Ngāti Hei.

The school has positive and inclusive relationships with Māori students. Their specific learning and social needs are well met. Teaching staff have an ongoing policy of developing their bicultural knowledge and practice, and support the achievement and wellbeing of students who identify as Māori.

Māori language and bicultural perspectives could be more evident in classroom programmes. ERO and school management agree that further development is needed to enhance the inclusion of Māori perspectives in the curriculum and to further increase opportunities for Māori students to succeed as Maori.

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 because of:

  • effective governance provided by an experienced board of trustees committed to providing high quality education for students
  • strong professional leadership by the principal and senior staff
  • self review leading to continuing development and improvement
  • high quality teaching practice across the school
  • safe physical and emotional environment, and positive, inclusive culture experienced by students.

The next steps are for the school to continue to develop the bicultural aspects of its curriculum with respect to language, culture and identity, in order to further support success for Māori students.

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 at Whenuakite School benefit from a strong sense of belonging in a positive, inclusive school culture. The board, school leaders, teachers and staff are committed to providing rich learning experiences that engage students’ interest in learning, and support all students to progress and achieve.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

4 May 2015

About the School

Location

Whenuakite, near Whitianga

Ministry of Education profile number

2088

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

120

Gender composition

Girls 64

Boys 56

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

5

115

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

4 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2012

February 2009

March 2006