Woodbury School - 22/03/2016

Findings

Woodbury School is a rural school that has doubled its roll since the 2012 ERO review. The principal and the board have high expectations for all students to progress and achieve in their learning. They have created a caring, inclusive environment for learning. The principal provides strong pastoral care for students and their families. Students’ learning is enhanced by the positive school culture.

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?

Woodbury School is a rural school between Geraldine and the Four Peaks mountains. Most students travel to school by bus.

The school’s vision, ‘Footsteps to the Peaks’ and the values of Excellence, Integrity, Respect, and Community (ERIC) are strongly connected to the local environment. The vision and values reflect the school’s commitment to ensuring students learn through meaningful, relevant contexts.

The principal and the board have high expectations for all students to progress and achieve in their learning. The board, principal and teachers have created a caring, inclusive environment for learning. The principal provides strong pastoral care for students.

The school grounds provide unique challenges for students to explore, take risks and problem-solve. Students are allowed free use of the school grounds including trees, paddocks and gardens. This contributes to the students’ motivation and enjoyment in their learning at Woodbury School.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the roll has doubled to 90 students, including nine Māori. The roll growth has resulted in extra teachers being employed and a major building project is underway. Under the principal’s guidance, the school has acted on the recommendations from the 2012 ERO report and the school is now ready to fully embed the positive changes they have made.

2 Learning

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

Most students achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. However, over the last two years student achievement has dropped in reading and mathematics due in part to rapid roll growth and staff changes.

Effective use is made of student achievement information by:

  • teachers to plan for individuals and groups of students
  • teachers to inform parents and help them be involved in their child’s learning
  • the principal and teachers to identify students for learning support and extension programmes
  • the board to make resourcing decisions.

Senior students share their learning and goals in three-way conferences with their teachers and parents. Students across the school have opportunities for self-assessment and there is an increasing focus on students knowing their next learning steps. A continuing priority has been for students to have greater knowledge of and involvement in their learning. This needs further work to be fully embedded.

As the school roll has grown, the principal is aware there needs to be better use made of school-wide information to track and monitor all students. This includes groups of students who need to make accelerated progress in their learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. Students are very positive about their school, their teachers and the wide range of learning opportunities, including sport and cultural activities.

The curriculum has a strong focus on literacy and mathematics learning, and an integrated curriculum. Teachers work well together. They are increasingly planning collaboratively to share ideas and develop units of work. They are actively investigating and implementing innovative teaching approaches. This includes the growing focus on students leading their learning. For example:

  • students have been highly engaged and motivated by choosing their own topic for the integrated learning
  • classrooms have been rearranged to better cater for individual learning styles.

Support programmes for students who require more help are provided by skilled and experienced teacher aides. An extension programme responds to the interests and needs of capable students. Senior students take an active role in being responsible for leading a number of school activities, such as playground monitoring, bus duty and caring for younger students.

Under the principal’s guidance, the curriculum has been reviewed and developed with clear expectations for teaching and learning. Recent curriculum reviews have been useful and have resulted in actions and recommendations for improving teaching and resourcing. The principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that with new staffing in place, she should work to ensure school-wide consistency for teaching and learning.

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

Nine students who identify as Māori have enrolled since the 2012 ERO review. Most are achieving at or above in relation to the National Standards. The school has a growing commitment to ensuring Māori students experience a curriculum where their language and culture are valued and celebrated.

Māori students experience their language and culture at this school when they:

  • are involved in the kapa haka group and participate in the local cultural festival
  • participate in te reo Māori lessons that are for all students
  • experience integrated topics with a Māori dimension
  • learn in a school environment that reflects New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

The principal has recently consulted with the local marae to provide a translation in te reo Māori for the school vision. It would now be useful to align the school values with Māori values.

The school has sought Māori whānau views and wishes for their children’s learning.

The appraisal system now includes Tātaiako (cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners). The principal identified it is timely to explore Kā Hikitia (the Ministry of Education's strategy for accelerating Māori success) with teachers and the board as they develop their next steps for Māori success.

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.

The board and principal have developed a focused and coherent strategic plan to guide the direction of the school. This is supported by useful action plans which the board and principal monitor to track progress toward their goals. Targets to improve student achievement could be more clearly stated so that they focus on those students who need to make accelerated progress in their learning.

The board is experienced and has an excellent knowledge of governance. It is well supported by comprehensive policies and procedures. The board makes well-considered decisions to improve outcomes for learners.

The principal is strongly focused on leading and developing effective teacher practice. She is implementing and embedding a number of systems and processes to support this, including:

  • school-wide expectations and processes for teachers to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching
  • greater collaboration between teachers when planning and delivering the curriculum
  • a more rigorous teacher-appraisal process to include teachers inquiring into their own practice
  • ongoing review of a wide range of school practices that includes student, staff and parent feedback
  • encouraging the development of innovative teaching approaches (for example, collaborative teaching and the integration of digital technologies in teaching and learning).

Trustees have rigorous discussions about how they can support student learning. It would be useful for key points and outcomes from these discussions to be recorded in board minutes to inform future decision making. The principal should also provide trustees with better analysed and more regular student achievement information, so that they can track and monitor the progress of all students over time. It would also be useful for the board to receive reports on how well students are progressing towards achieving the desired goals as expressed in the school’s vision.

The trustees and ERO agree that the next steps are for the principal and teachers to continue to strengthen:

  • school-wide expectations for teaching and learning to ensure consistency of practice
  • the practices that support students' understanding of their progress, achievement and next learning steps
  • reporting to show more clearly how school-wide information is used to track and monitor all students’ progress and achievement, particularly those who need greater acceleration in their learning.

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

Woodbury School is a rural school that has doubled its roll since the 2012 ERO review. The principal and the board have high expectations for all students to progress and achieve in their learning. They have created a caring, inclusive environment for learning. The principal provides strong pastoral care for students and their families. Students’ learning is enhanced by the positive school culture.

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

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

22 March 2016

School Statistics

Location

Geraldine

Ministry of Education profile number

3599

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

91

Gender composition

Girls:  48

Boys:  43

Ethnic composition

Māori 
Pākehā
Asian 2

  9
80
  2

Review team on site

December 2015

Date of this report

22 March 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Supplementary Review
Supplementary Review

November 2012
July 2010
May 2009