Whenuakura School - 12/10/2018

School Context

Whenuakura School is a rural school located between the Patea and Whenuakura Rivers in South Taranaki. The school draws its students from the local farming district and town of Patea and caters for Years 1 to 6. The roll at the time of this review was 43, with 11 students identifying as Māori.

The school states that their vision is to ‘equip students with the skills and knowledge to become lifelong learners who are confident, connected, actively involved and future focused’. This is underpinned by the school’s newly developed ‘CORE’ values: ‘Collaboration, Open and Adaptable, Respect and Excellence’.

Analysed student achievement data at the end of 2017 identified the need to improve achievement and engagement. The 2018 strategic plan prioritises these areas.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, in relation to the levels of the New Zealand Curriculum
  • progress in relation to schoolwide targets.

Teaching staff have had professional learning and development opportunities in the Ministry of Education initiative, Accelerating Literacy Learning (ALL).

Since the September 2015 ERO report, the school has undergone staffing and leadership changes. There is a new board of trustees, and the current principal began at the school the start of Term 4, 2017.

Whenuakura School is part of the South Taranaki - Patea Kāhui Ako. 

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Student achievement information for the end of 2017, shows the majority of students, including Māori, achieve at and above school expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Some disparity between boys and girls is evident across these areas.

Mid-year data indicates improved outcomes for all students in reading. Māori continue to achieve higher than their peers in writing, and are showing increasing improvement in mathematics. The disparity between girls and boys in reading and mathematics has reduced and the school remains focused in achievement of equitable outcomes for all in writing.

Almost all students who graduate from the school at the end of Year 6 have achieved learning success in relation to curriculum expectations.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is developing its effectiveness in responding to those Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Target students across the curriculum are clearly identified in teachers’ inquires, planning and reflections. These students all show progress since the start of the year with data indicating acceleration for some.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The recently appointed principal has given priority to building effective processes and practices for teaching and learning. Classroom practices consistently reflect schoolwide priorities. Teachers work collaboratively to ensure continuity across school learning programmes.

Students are effectively engaged in a range of purposeful and authentic learning experiences. There is a strong focus on learner agency underpinned by a deliberate approach to developing key competencies for students. Teachers promote student voice and enable students to learn and achieve at the appropriate level.

Te ao Māori is visible in learning environments and student activities. Innovative learning opportunities are responsive to students’ culture and language through the design and enactment of the localised curriculum.

Needs and strengths of children are identified and responded to through relevant interventions and a range of appropriate internal and external supports. Specific plans are developed for children with more complex needs and their goals are linked to appropriate social, behavioural and learning needs.

Children regularly share their learning with parents and whānau. A range of communication approaches including formal, informal and digital continues to strengthen learning partnerships. Transitions in and through the school are well considered. Programmes and processes are in place to ensure students and their families are welcomed and the school is responsive to needs.

Leaders have collaboratively documented a charter and strategic plan with goals and targets. The plan clearly aligns schoolwide priorities with teachers’ inquiry practices and appraisal. It is supported by professional development opportunities with a strong focus on improved outcomes for learners. Leaders and teachers effectively use evaluation frameworks and self review to promote improvement and innovation for all students.

The school identified forming robust overall teacher judgements was an area for professional development for all staff. Sound systems have been established for collecting, analysing and interpreting data to assist in evaluating outcomes for students.

Trustees provide significant additional resourcing to support students in their learning. They continue to seek relevant advice, training and resources to support them in their role and to strengthen their understanding of responsibilities.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Coherent, aligned organisational processes and practices are in place that with further embedding, should strengthen evaluation, inquiry, and knowledge building and contribute to sustained improvement in learning and teaching.

Priority should be given to focusing more closely on reducing achievement disparity by:

  • making the school targets more specific. Teachers should clearly identify, focus and monitor all students at risk of not achieving school expectations in reading, writing and mathematics
  • further understanding of measures for progress and acceleration, to ensure leaders and teachers can more rigorously track, monitor and report regularly on progress of priority students.

Refining these processes should enable leaders and trustees to better respond to the school’s aim of achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students, and subsequently evaluate progress toward goals.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management. 

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review and revise practices associated with responding to complaints, health consultation and documentation of in-committee business.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • the provision of a localised, learner centred, connected curriculum that promotes authentically rich learning
  • the respect and value inherent within the school for Māori culture, language and identity that is enacted in school programmes
  • leadership that encourages collaboration and learning partnerships across the school and wider community to increase learning and teaching opportunities for students and teachers.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • continuing to accelerate progress of learners at risk of underachievement to promote equity and excellence for all learners
  • ongoing understanding and use of evaluation to know what is working, what is not working and what needs to change. 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard
Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

12 October 2018

About the school 

Location

Patea

Ministry of Education profile number

2483

School type

Contributing (Years 1 - 6)

School roll

43

Gender composition

Male 21, Female 22

Ethnic composition

Māori                                11
Pākehā                             32

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

12 October 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review        September 2015
Education Review        June 2012
Education Review        June 2009