Russell School (Bay Of Islands)

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Education institution number:
1096
School type:
Full Primary
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
62
Telephone:
Address:

8 Baker Street, Russell

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1 Context

Russell School (Bay of Islands) provides education for children from Years 1 to 8. More than half of the children at the school are Māori and many are Pākehā. The school has a valued place in Russell's community and Bay of Islands' history. Children, staff and parents are proud of the strong intergenerational and family connections that exist in the school. This feature promotes children's sense of belonging and security.

The principal and teachers are experienced educators and most have worked at the school for many years. Since the 2013 ERO report, two new teachers have been employed to support children's learning and accelerate their progress and achievement.

The 2013 ERO report commented on the positive relationships that exist between the school and its community. It recommended a number of next steps for teachers that included making better use of student achievement information and reviewing and documenting the school's curriculum. It also recommended that the board of trustees improve its self-review processes, and its performance appraisal system for teachers and the principal. Many of these recommendations remain as next steps in this 2016 ERO report.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to learn in a secure, caring and supportive environment, to develop a desire for life-long, challenging learning, and to stand tall as citizens of Aotearoa and the world. The school holds as important the values of aroha/mana, wairua, manaakitanga and ahu whakamua/hiranga - honesty/respect, pride, care for others and excellence. Through their policies and practices the school shows value for the place of Māori as tangata whenua, and provides opportunities for children to experience aspects of a bicultural curriculum.

The school's achievement information shows that most Māori children achieve at and above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics but less well than the achievement of other children in the school. The school's achievement information also shows that Māori boys achieve slightly less well than other children in writing. Overall, the majority of students at Russell School achieve at and above the National Standards in all three areas with a significant increase in writing achievement over the past three years.

Teachers use various assessment tools to support their understanding of how well children are progressing and achieving. They use these assessment results to help make their overall teacher judgements about children's achievement. Teachers work in pairs to moderate samples of children's work.

Since the 2013 ERO report teachers have strengthened how they use children's achievement information. They identify those children whose achievement needs accelerating and group them with specialist teachers to allow for more individualised attention.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school responds effectively to Māori and all other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The principal, teachers and other school staff know children and their whānau well. They have strengthened their use of children's achievement information to design learning programmes and approaches that increase children's motivation, and build their self-confidence and skills. The school's data shows that these programmes are effective in accelerating children's achievement over time especially in reading, and in writing and mathematics.

Staff have supportive relationships with parents that promote children's wellbeing and learning. Teachers work with parents to help them understand the progress their children are making in reading, writing and mathematics. Together they identify useful learning goals to support children's learning and achievement. Teachers generally work in pairs to moderate children's work and assessment samples.

The school's bicultural curriculum includes kapa haka, and an increasing use of te reo and Māori concepts in classroom programmes. In addition, the school's commitment to the environment allows children to be kaitiaki of their local area, caring for and sustaining the Russell and Bay of Islands' environment. The board of trustees hold regular consultation hui with whānau Māori and are responsive to their opinions and ideas. These and other features of the school, support Māori children and their whānau to be proud of their language, culture and identity.

The board of trustees, principal, teachers and ERO agree that key next steps include:

  • teachers working together as a team to moderate children's assessments, and their overall teacher judgement decisions about children's National Standard achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • accessing a source external to the school to moderate teachers' judgements about children's achievement.

These next steps are critical in assuring teachers, parents and the board that school processes for gathering, analysing and moderating student achievement information are resulting in reliable and accurate overall teacher judgements.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum is somewhat effective in enacting the school's vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.

The school's curriculum prioritises reading, writing and mathematics. It supports children to learn about topics of interest and current events. Teachers plan activities in and around the sea, and organise excursions within the local area that promote children's awareness and understanding of environmental and sustainability issues. They are responsive to natural local events and provide space to enhance children's learning through these outside the classroom experiences.

Community connections are central to the spirit of Russell School. Parent volunteers provide good support for teachers and children. Generous community donations support the school's music and science programmes that are especially in place for senior students. The school is also very well resourced with digital devices.

Teachers and parents design learning opportunities that enable children to be of service to and connect with their community. This work includes children making products to fund-raise for the school and for trips beyond the Bay of Islands, learning about being entrepreneurs in the process.

Children are settled in classrooms, engaged in their learning and on task. They experience positive relationships with each other and their teachers, and with support staff and parents.

The board, teachers and ERO agree that the key next step is for teachers to access in-depth professional learning that supports and improves their professional practice, and that enhances outcomes for children. This professional learning would ideally:

  • support teachers to develop a documented school curriculum that highlights the school's philosophy and pedagogy, promotes what and how children learn at Russell School and fulfils the requirements of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
  • promote an inquiry learning model for all children with good opportunity for high level challenge, problem solving and critical thinking
  • build teachers' understanding of teaching as inquiry so that programme design and delivery is more targeted towards children's learning needs.

Professional support of this kind also needs to support the development of a learning languages programme, structured careers programme for Years 7 and 8 children, and a health programme based on consultation with parents.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how teaching is working for these children
  • need to systematically act on what they know works for each child
  • need to have a plan in place to build teacher capability to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

The principal and teachers work well together and are very well supported by their board of trustees. Trustees bring a good mix of experience and skills to their governance role. Staff and the board are committed to their community. Trustees' resource the school strategically to improve outcomes for children.

Trustees agree with ERO that they could benefit from exploring board training together as a team. This professional learning could include using Hautū: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review tool for Board of Trustees, developed by New Zealand School Trustees' Association. Use of this tool would allow trustees to evaluate the cultural responsiveness in their school.

The board of trustees also agrees that other key next steps for the school include:

  • providing the principal with regular external appraisal that supports his role as the school's professional leader
  • improving the teacher appraisal process so that it meets current legislative requirements and best practice
  • keeping personnel and other private information separate from the public board minutes
  • strengthening the risk management for excursions outside of the school, especially those involving overnight stays, and water sports and activities.

External advice and guidance is recommended to support this work.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should use the findings of this evaluation, the Effective School Evaluation resource, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to develop more targeted planning to accelerate student achievement. Planning should show how processes and practices will respond effectively to the strengths and needs of children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years.

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the board and principal, with external advice:

  • improve policy and procedure frameworks to support, in particular, those in place to guide appraisal, and health and safety practices
  • provide professional learning and development for teachers on practices consistent with current research and the intentions of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

28 November 2016

About the school

Location

Russell, Bay of Islands

Ministry of Education profile number

1096

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

89

Gender composition

Boys 45 Girls 44

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Chinese

Filipino

Niue

Samoan

other European

51

30

3

1

1

1

2

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

28 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2013

June 2010

June 2007

 

 

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Russell School (Bay of Islands) caters for students up to Year 8 and is a focal point for the community in the historic Bay of Islands township. History and tradition are important in the school. The school benefits from high levels of support from both school families and the wider community.

The staff and many families have had a long association with the school. Students have a strong sense of belonging and identity as part of the Russell community. They have extensive opportunities for developing and expanding local, regional, national and international networks. Through the community, visitors to Russell, and innovative school activities, students have variety of opportunities to make global connections.

The school is situated in the Ngātiwai rohe. Most of the 43 percent of students who are Māori are affiliated with Ngāpuhi. The school has established reciprocal relationships with Te Rawhiti marae and the Ngātiwai Trust Board.

The principal’s strength in developing relationships and working collegially with whānau and staff was identified in ERO’s 2010 report and remains so. This capacity for building and sustaining effective relationships is valued by families and contributes to a sense of whānau that supports student’s learning. The board and staff have a commitment to providing a safe and caring learning environment for students.

In 2010 ERO noted the need to strengthen staff appraisal processes and to consult with the community about health education programmes.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information well.

Teachers are making better use of student achievement data. They use a variety of assessment tools, including ongoing formative assessment to determine how they will group students for learning. The information gathered is used to report to the board about the achievement of all students and of groups who are at risk of not achieving to their potential. School targets for raising achievement are based on some of this information.

Teachers know students and their whānau well. Their professional discussion and informal reflection focuses on strategies for helping students to make progress. Support staff and volunteers work alongside teachers and with particular children to help with their learning.

Most students achieve well. Some have made significant improvements as a result of targeted teaching strategies and innovative ways of fostering their enthusiasm for learning. The school has focused successfully on improving the engagement and achievement of Māori boys. A current focus on literacy learning is showing increasingly creative writing.

Imaginative and resourceful approaches to engaging students in learning include:

  • the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for research, publication and developing international networks
  • meaningful participation in and contribution to community events
  • a sense of healthy competition amongst students, both within the school and as school representatives.

To improve the use of achievement information for extending learning, the school acknowledges that they could:

  • use achievement information more specifically for students to set and monitor progress towards their learning goals
  • make more explicit the school’s and individual teacher’s action plans for accelerating the progress for students who are at risk of not achieving to their potential
  • formalize their monitoring and reporting of the incremental progress of students who are targeted for accelerated progress
  • make a greater delineation between individual assessment results and students' overall achievement of National Standards.

Teachers formalising evaluations of their teaching practices in relation to student learning would help identify, affirm and duplicate the most effective teaching strategies in a more deliberate way.

3 Curriculum

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

The school implements a curriculum that strongly reflects the Russell community context, the schools’ values, and vision, and the values and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum. Innovative approaches are well used to promote and support student learning.

The curriculum recognises, values and uses the individual capabilities and interests of teachers and students to promote learning. The concept of being good citizens and capable independent learners underpin school expectations of students. Students understand and rise to these expectations.

The curriculum is well designed and implemented. There is an urgent need now for the school to review and develop formal curriculum documentation that reflects the richness and breadth of teaching and learning in the school. This document should include planned programmes for te reo Māori and for careers education for students in Years 7 and 8. Formal curriculum documentation would promote consistency and sustainability over time and would provide a basis for future self review and ongoing development.

Learning areas are integrated in inquiry and experience-based programmes. Teachers often respond to community events and follow students’ lead as the curriculum evolves. Māori and other local histories are often included. Students develop skills and knowledge that they use in wider contexts.

Whānau are actively involved in the school, supporting both their own children’s learning and the school’s community activities. They feel welcome and comfortable in the school and those available talk often with teachers. Whānau and the wider community are highly supportive of the school’s high expectations for participation and achievement. Students are called on by community organisations to support local events and are capable and confident in these settings. The community values these contributions.

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

Many effective practices and initiatives support success for Māori students. The principal has continued to develop relationships with whānau. Students appreciate this whanaungatanga, which has provided a valuable basis for whānau engagement in the school and for supporting students to experience success. School representatives join marae occasions and support is offered to whānau as needed. Whānau are involved in developing and maintaining the school vegetable gardens and orchard where a pataka (food storehouse) has been built, and families use the garden produce. Whānau members tutor an active kapahaka group and are actively involved in supporting community and festival performances.

Senior Māori students are confident and articulate communicators. They are active leaders in kapahaka and community events and express pride as members of the school and the Russell community. Te reo and some aspects of tikanga are a natural part of the school day and some staff are taking classes to improve their reo Māori.

It is timely now for the school to formally consult with whānau and community to:

  • develop and make known to the school's community policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students
  • discuss the expression of tikanga in the school and the implementation of a progressive te reo programme.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Some significant changes are now required to ensure the sustainability of other very good practices and to support ongoing improvement.

Ongoing strong community support is a positive factor in school sustainability. The board is experienced and has high levels of commitment to the school. The principal has established an open, inclusive and vibrant learning environment. Community relationships are well established. The school’s culture of family, community and high expectations for participation and learning is well embedded. This culture is likely to be sustained with ongoing effective leadership.

More systematic and better documented self review in all areas of school operations would improve sustainability and support ongoing improvement. Some aspects of self review are clearly effective. Improvements in the learning environment, property and resources have been a result of ongoing strategic thinking and review.

The board recognises the urgent need to progress its review of policies and to implement the board’s review policy and schedule. An extensive parent survey in 2012 covered many aspects of school operations and included opportunities for feedback about the health programme. The board has responded appropriately to survey outcomes.

The board should ensure teacher and principal appraisal processes are undertaken and be more closely aligned with the schools strategic goals. Appraisals could include the registered teacher criteria to be more useful in promoting the ongoing development of teacher capacity and capability.

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.

In order to improve current practice, the board should refine and systematically review school policies to ensure the board’s legal responsibilities are covered and provide an effective foundation for procedures that guide school operations. During the review, ERO identified some areas of non-compliance. In order to address these, the board and principal must:

  • report to students and their parents on the student’s progress and achievement in relation to National Standards, in plain language, in writing and at least twice a year

National Administration Guidelines 2A(a)

  • develop and implement a process for robust, improvement-focused performance appraisal for all staff

National Administration Guidelines 3; State Sector Act, s77c.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

2 August 2013

About the School

Location

Russell, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1096

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

96

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Niue

Samoan

Filipino

Asian

Cook Island

Other European

Other

39%

36%

2%

2%

2%

1%

1%

5%

12%

Review team on site

June 2013

Date of this report

2 August 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

June 2007

November 2003