Pouto School

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

Findings

The LSM and board have made improvements to some of the areas identified in ERO’s 2016 report. The school climate is more settled. Staff are working collaboratively to improve educational outcomes for children. On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Pouto School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs Development.

1 Background and Context

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

Pouto School is a small rural school near the end of the northern Kaipara peninsula, 60 kilometres south of Dargaville. The school currently has 20 children from Years 1 to 8. Most children are of Te Uri o Hau descent. The teaching principal has three days a week to do administrative and leadership work. On these days a provisionally certified teacher (PCT) teaches the principal’s class.

Over the past five years successive ERO reviews have identified concerns regarding leadership, governance, student achievement, the quality of teaching and learning, and curriculum development. The 2016 ERO report recommended external support from the Ministry of Education (MoE). A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) was appointed in 2016 to assist with personnel, finance and other governance matters. In 2017 a new LSM was appointed by the MoE with responsibility for curriculum management and personnel. Additional concerns highlighted in ERO’s report related to assessment and internal evaluation processes, and performance management systems.

Since 2016 the school has had two LSMs and four principals. In late 2018 the board appointed a permanent first time principal. Throughout the past three years the MoE has provided a wide range of support for the school. In addition to the services of a Student Achievement Function (SAF) practitioner, teachers have engaged in professional learning and development (PLD) about teaching literacy and oral language development.

Evidence collected through ERO’s ongoing longitudinal review of the school has been used to evaluate progress trustees and staff have made to address the concerns and recommendations identified by ERO in 2016. The findings are outlined in the following sections of this report.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO established the following priorities for the review:

  • improving the quality and use of student achievement information

  • improving the quality of teaching and learning

  • developing and documenting a localised, responsive school curriculum aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)

  • strengthening leadership and governance capability to sustain and embed changes.

Progress
Improving the quality and use of student achievement information

Improvement in this area is still in the early stages. Teachers are using a standardised assessment tool to gather information about students’ achievement in reading and mathematics. Current achievement data indicates that the majority of students are achieving below expectations in reading and mathematics. Further work with the MoE must continue to ensure the implementation of effective assessment practices. This should help to ensure that teachers can accurately assess, inquire into, and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions to accelerate children’s progress. As a first step, teachers should clarify what constitutes accelerated progress for children, particularly in reading, writing and mathematics.

Next steps include:

  • increasing the reliability of assessment information

  • using achievement information to track, monitor and report the progress of individuals and groups of students

  • establishing “teaching as inquiry” approaches to increase teachers’ capability to accelerate, promote and evaluate students’ learning.

Improving the quality of teaching and learning

Children are enjoying a more positive learning environment and opportunities to work collaboratively. Examples of children’s work are displayed in the classroom that affirm talent and effort. The principal has focused on building relational trust with teachers, children and the community. She is developing greater collegiality and professionalism amongst the teaching staff. Inquiry learning approaches are developing children’s thinking and research skills. The priorities to improve teaching and learning are to:

  • develop and document a shared understanding of effective teaching and learning practices to accelerate children’s progress and achievement and embed these consistently with all teachers

  • improve teachers’ planning to ensure there is a suitable level of differentiated instruction and all children have their learning scaffolded appropriately and are extended and challenged.

Developing and documenting a localised, responsive school curriculum aligned to the NZC

The curriculum does not yet adequately cover all areas of NZC. More work is needed to ensure that the curriculum effectively promotes and supports children’s learning and achievement.

Some aspects of the curriculum have improved over the past three years. Learning programmes increasingly support children to learn about and within their own environment. These opportunities foster children’s pride in their language, culture and identity. The school kawa promotes occasions for children to play a lead role in welcoming visitors. Local field trips provide significant learning opportunities for children, staff and whānau. The priorities to continue to create a responsive curriculum are to:

  • develop and document the Pouto School curriculum aligned to the school vision and values and ensure that it reflects the NZC principles

  • continue to localise the curriculum to ensure it is responsive to the needs, language, culture, interests, strengths and aspirations of the children and their whānau

  • develop clear curriculum guidelines and understandings, effective teaching approaches and evaluation to gauge the quality of teaching and the impact on children’s outcomes

  • increase children’s understanding of the role they play in their learning journey, and opportunities for them to identify next learning goals, self-assess and evaluate their progress and achievement in relation to those goals.

Strengthening leadership and governance capability to sustain and embed changes

The board is committed to supporting the school to ensure best outcomes for children. Trustees have received considerable support from New Zealand School Trustees’ Association (NZSTA) to help build their capacity. They have more clarity about their roles and responsibilities in personnel and property management. The board has successfully managed some significant challenges over the past three years. In consultation with the community and supported by the LSM and NZSTA, the board is now governed by a smaller number of trustees.

The new principal has appropriately focussed on building relational trust and effective collaboration with students, staff and the community. She brings a new perspective and expertise, and is working with external support to develop her leadership capacity and capability to lead school improvement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Although there are aspects of improvement in relation to the priorities identified for development and review, there are still considerable areas for further development. In some cases, developments are in the early stages and it is not yet possible to gauge the likelihood of them being sustained. The changes of principal over the past six years has contributed to this situation.

The LSM has effectively managed finance and personnel issues, and property development. The board has appointed an external appraiser for the principal. The board now needs to develop a performance agreement with the principal that aligns with the school’s strategic goals. Appraisals for support staff have not yet been completed.

The LSM currently has powers for personnel, curriculum and advises the board. Evaluation will be required to fully assess the capacity and capability of the board to take up its complete range of governance responsibilities once the LSM is no longer in place. The principal will require the support of an effective and well-functioning board of trustees to achieve the necessary improvements. The board has been active in preparing for the upcoming triennial board elections.

The school’s strategic plan identifies goals and strategies for school improvement. Aligning internal evaluation more directly to strategic planning is an important next step. This alignment would help to ensure the board is up-to-date and better informed about the progress it is making towards meeting its charter, strategic and annual goals. It would also ensure the board is well informed when determining actions for ongoing improvement. The board should ensure that the principal’s reports to the board are written and evaluative by including information about the impact, quality and effectiveness of programmes and improvements on children’s learning.

Key next steps

The board and principal should:

  • use the priorities and next steps for development identified in this report as the basis for the school’s annual planning

  • develop their understanding and use of internal evaluation to track progress towards their objectives, targets and goals for improving educational outcomes for children and determining actions for ongoing improvement.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

ERO identified the following areas of non-compliance. The board of trustees must ensure that:

  1. all students have opportunities to achieve success in all areas of the National Curriculum
    National Administration Guidelines 1(a) i

  1. all support staff are appraised annually
    (National Administration Guidelines, 3)

  1. the school’s EOTC policy is followed, particularly with respect to the procedures for documenting and approving risk analysis management (RAMS) for all excursions safety.
    (National Administration Guidelines, 5)

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should develop an annual performance agreement with the principal.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

Conclusion

The LSM and board have made improvements to some of the areas identified in ERO’s 2016 report. The school climate is more settled. Staff are working collaboratively to improve educational outcomes for children. On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Pouto School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

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

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

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

19 June 2019

About the School

Location

Te Kopuru, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1085

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

20

Gender composition

Girls 11 Boys 9

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/Pākehā

18
2

Review team on site

April 2019

Date of this report

19 June 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2016
February 2014
May 2011

Findings

Students at Pouto School benefit from being educated in an environment that supports their identity as Māori. The school should now improve the design of the curriculum and develop teaching programmes that will promote students’ active engagement in their learning.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

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

Pouto School is a small rural school near the end of the northern Kaipara peninsula, 60 kilometres south of Dargaville. The school currently has 24 students from Year 1 to 8. Most students are of Te Uri o Hau descent. The Waikaretu Marae that is significant to most of the students is 15 kilometres south of the school.

The teaching principal who has experience as a Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour took up the role in Term 3, 2013. She is supported by a staff member who combines the roles of teacher aide and administration officer. In October the board of trustees employed a second teacher who works part time teaching literacy and numeracy to students in Years 1 to 3, and provides release time for the principal. In addition, the board employs a caretaker who maintains the grounds and cleans the buildings.

At the time of this review visit, two of the four trustees were new to the board.

The 2011 ERO report suggested that the school focus on strengthening consultation and building its partnership with the community. Good progress had been made in this area. Some progress had also been made in engaging students more actively in their learning.

The 2013 ERO report noted that significant improvement was needed to strengthen the governance and leadership of the school and to accelerate the progress of many students through improved teaching. ERO has provided ongoing evaluation over 2014 and 2015 to support the school to improve its overall performance and build its self-review capability.

In 2014 and 2015 a Student Achievement Practitioner provided by the Ministry of Education worked with staff to try to lift student achievement and the principal participated in professional development in the teaching of mathematics and literacy.

This report finds that there is still significant work to be done to address the areas identified for review and development in the 2013 ERO report.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The areas identified for review and development in the 2013 ERO report included:

  • raising student achievement by improving the school’s curriculum design and delivery
  • improving the quality of student achievement information and using this information to set more specific and achievable goals for students and for the board
  • strengthening aspects of governance, including the school’s policy framework, school strategic planning and internal evaluation, and quality assurance processes, including staff performance management systems.
Progress

The principal has been effective in supporting students’ identity as Māori and maintaining positive relationships with the community. However, there has been limited progress in addressing the priorities for review and development identified in the 2013 ERO report.

The data available on student achievement in relation to National Standards suggests that there has not been accelerated progress. Some information is showing a decline in achievement.

ERO is not confident that the school achievement data is accurate. Further work is necessary to ensure that judgements made about student achievement are valid and reliable.

The school is yet to develop a school curriculum that is relevant to the local context and is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum.

Current teaching strategies do not satisfactorily promote learning that is consistent with the intended outcomes of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Students would benefit from educational programmes that:

  • promote greater student engagement in their learning
  • are more differentiated to meet the learning levels of individual students
  • develop lifelong learning skills by promoting curiosity and ways to conduct independent inquiries.

The board has further work to do to ensure that its policies are up to date and provide clear guidance for school leaders. This review and development would help the school meet statutory requirements and assure the board that all reasonable steps have been taken to keep students and staff safe.

While the board has a long-term strategic plan and an annual plan, these are not effective in identifying and guiding school leaders to address urgent priorities in a timely manner. Trustees would benefit from training for their governance roles, and support to strengthen the use of internal evaluation for identifying and addressing priority development areas.

The principal’s performance was appraised in 2014. However she and other staff were not appraised in 2015. The board must ensure that all staff are appraised annually. They should also ensure that the provisionally registered teacher is able to participate in an appropriate advice and guidance programme that will enable her to achieve the status of a fully certificated teacher in a timely manner.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. It would benefit from significant support to strengthen governance, management and the quality of education.

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.

The board chairperson and the principal have identified areas that need attention. It is important that trustees receive adequate training for establishing processes that will assure them that all statutory obligations are met.

To meet obligations, the board must:

  • ensure that all staff are appraised annually
  • ensure that all non-teaching staff are police vetted every three years

State Sector Act 1988, section 77a, 77c.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the following improvements:

  • improving the quality of student achievement information and reports to the board, and parents
  • making better use of achievement information to set more specific and achievable goals for students and the board
  • developing a school curriculum that is likely to engage students in their learning
  • strengthening aspects of governance, including the school’s policy framework, school strategic planning and self review and quality assurance processes, including staff performance management systems.

Conclusion

Students at Pouto School benefit from being educated in an environment that supports their identity as Māori. The school should now improve the design of the curriculum and develop teaching programmes that will promote students’ active engagement in their learning.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

22 June 2016

About the School

Location

Te Kopuru, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1085

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

22

Gender composition

 

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

20

2

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

22 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2014

May 2011

May 2008