Tapora School

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1 Context

Tapora School is a small rural school with a roll of Māori and Pākehā children. Since the last review the board has appointed two new principals. The new principal who began at the start of this year is experienced in leading small rural schools. The newly elected board has a good mix of new and experienced trustees.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to work closely with the community and encourage students to show integrity, be generous in spirit, kind and respectful. The school has identified six core values that together with the vision, provide a direction for
decision-making by the board of trustees and staff. The vision is underpinned by a focus on positive relationships with children, teachers, families and whanau as the foundation for meaningful learning and achieving equity and excellence.

The school's achievement information shows that in 2015 over two thirds of the children were at or above the National Standard in reading and mathematics. Just over half were at or above in writing. The proportion of Māori children achieving success is lower in reading and writing than for other children. The proportion of Māori children achieving success is higher in mathematics than for other children.

In recent years, the Public Achievement Information (PAI) shows that children in Year 8 achieve at the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics. However, across the school, the number of children achieving at or above the national standards in reading and writing has been trending down. The number of children achieving at or above the national standard in mathematics varies each year with no discernible improvement trend.

Teachers collaborate to moderate and analyse achievement data. They are beginning to use their networks with local schools to discuss and share good moderation and teaching practice. These discussions should, over time, contribute to strengthening internal moderation.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has addressed some of the recommendations from the ERO report including:

  • increasing opportunities for children to monitor their own learning and progress
  • improving practices and procedures for reporting to parents in relation to
    National Standards

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is in the early stages of intentional planning to target children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration. Teachers know who these children are and report to the board against the strategic goal of raising student achievement.

The new teaching team have identified the need to plan to intentionally accelerate progress for those children at risk of not achieving at the relevant standards. Teachers are developing shared understandings about acceleration and what it should look like at Tapora School. They are also considering an action plan to help them to focus on acceleration. However, it is too soon to be able to tell if the approaches being considered are going to be successful in raising achievement for these priority learners.

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?

Children are actively engaged in their learning. They benefit from a curriculum that provides choice and prioritises literacy and mathematics. Focussed group-learning opportunities are supported by relevant activities for children to complete independently. Lessons are varied and well-paced and this helps to maximise children's learning time.

Teachers use an increasing variety of strategies to identify children's strengths, needs and interests at school and beyond the classroom. Children know that perseverance is valued and that they can take risks in their learning. A priority for the new principal will be to review the curriculum to ensure that there are good links with The New Zealand Curriculum and local contexts.

Children talk confidently about their learning, but are not always clear about what the current focus of their learning is in reading, writing and mathematics. For older children teachers focus on helping them to take ownership of their learning by being clear about what and how they can learn.

Children have personal goals in reading, writing and mathematics and are becoming increasingly involved in decisions that affect their learning. Children's learning is visible and celebrated in classrooms. Teachers support children to assess their learning both independently and with peers.

Children have access to digital technologies. Teachers continue to explore how these technologies can be used to enhance learning across the curriculum, and to provide children with more choice and responsibility for how they learn.

The focus on biculturalism supports all children, and particularly Māori children. Teachers share responsibility for this. They are improving their own understandings about using te reo and tikanga Māori to support the work of a parent who teaches children waiata, haka and tikanga.

Teachers are reviewing their collection, collation and analysis of data. They acknowledge the need to focus on accelerating achievement. They provide reliable information about children's achievement to the board to inform trustees' decision making. Teachers could now look at extending reporting to the board and to parents to cover all areas of the curriculum.

Trustees have managed the changeover of multiple principals well. They have made good use of external agencies to support their decision making and have actively sought training to improve their stewardship role. They have begun to use Hautu: Maori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review tool for Board of Trustees.

The board has recently carried out an audit of their policies to ensure compliance with legislation. This audit identifies policies that need review. This includes the policy on teacher appraisal. The board is now very focussed on moving the school forward under the professional leadership of the new principal.

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
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • ·         need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, ERO exemplars of good practice and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop a Raising Achievement Plan that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

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

The school is on an improvement journey after some challenging times. The impact of the new direction is evident in the engagement of children in their learning in the classroom and the revitalisation of partnerships with parents and whanau. The board and teachers welcome the opportunity for ongoing support from ERO to develop a plan to respond to children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

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 in order to improve school performance, the board and school leaders continue to develop internal evaluation practices that focus on the school curriculum and targeted action plans that respond to children whose learning and achievement needs accelerating. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

19 August 2016 

About the school 

Location

Tapora, Wellsford

Ministry of Education profile number

1106

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

25

Gender composition

Boys 15
Girls 10

Ethnic composition

Maori
Pakeha

  6
19

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

19 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2013
May 2010
May 2007

1 Context

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

Tapora School is a small, three teacher school located in a rural community close to the Kaipara Harbour. The school provides education for students from Years 1 to 8.

Since ERO’s 2010 review there have been significant changes in school leadership. The new principal was appointed in 2013, following the resignations of two previous principals. A beginning teacher, who works on a part-time basis, began in term two. The number of families moving in and out of Tapora on a regular basis is having an impact on the school roll. Because of the reduced roll, students are now organised into two classrooms rather than the previous three.

The board of trustees is led by an experienced chairperson and has a mix of experienced and newer trustees. The board and principal are working together to manage changes and to ensure that the board’s vision for the school is achieved.

2 Learning

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

Systems are in place to make good use of student achievement information. Teachers use a range of assessment tools to collect data about student achievement and progress. They use this information to identify students’ learning needs and to plan their teaching programmes.

Students are articulate and confident. Teachers encourage them to be self managing and to negotiate their own ways of working. They support students to set goals and to recognise and celebrate their own successes. ERO endorses the principal’s goal of continuing to extend students’ ownership of their learning, and empowering them to monitor their own progress and achievement over time.

Teachers make overall judgements against National Standards. The school’s student achievement data shows that most students achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. ERO and the principal agree that further development is necessary to improve moderation procedures and to ensure that student achievement data is valid and reliable.

The principal reports student achievement information to the board of trustees and together they use this information to make decisions about school goals and targets for students who are not achieving National Standards. Student portfolios of assessments currently form the basis of reporting to parents. Meeting requirements for reporting to parents in relation to the National Standards is an area for development.

ERO, the principal and the board agree that teachers require further professional development to help them improve and consolidate their understanding of the National Standards and how to implement them in the school.

3 Curriculum

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

The Tapora School curriculum promotes and supports student learning effectively. An inquiry-based curriculum approach has been developed over a number of years. This student-centred approach continues to underpin learning programmes. The board and new principal are keen to develop the school curriculum further and to make clearer links to The New Zealand Curriculum.

Teachers provide students with a relevant and supportive learning environment. They teach literacy and numeracy effectively, often linking these key curriculum areas to current inquiry topics, as appropriate. Teachers use questioning skills well to encourage students to engage in critical thinking. A strong focus on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is evident.

Staff, parents and members of the wider community contribute and share their strengths and interests to support the teaching programme. Students participate in a range of environmental, cultural and sports activities. Years 7 and 8 students have extended opportunities in these areas.

The principal is considering ways of communicating better with the school community in order to gather more parent input that the board could use in planning the ongoing development of the school.

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

Some use of te reo Māori, including in waiata, karakia and occasional phrases, is evident in classrooms. Teachers monitor the progress and achievement of Māori students within classroom programmes.

Staff should now develop systems to formally analyse, and report to whānau on, the progress of Māori students. Teachers should now develop bicultural and local perspectives in the curriculum and increase the use of te reo and tikanga Māori in their classroom practice. The principal has identified the need to use current strengths to review and build on previous initiatives to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. These areas for improvement were identified in ERO’s 2010 report.

Actions to promote educational success for Māori should include:

  • consultation with whānau to find out about their aspirations for and perspectives on their children’s education
  • further use of Ministry of Education resources, including Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for teachers of Māori Learners, to improve teaching and learning for Māori students in the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school needs further development in a number of areas so that it is better placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Over the last three years, the school has been through a period of leadership change. The board’s focus has been on managing these changes, maintaining community confidence in the school, and on ensuring students’ ongoing learning.

The board chair is an experienced, longstanding member of the board. Most trustees are seeking re-election in the upcoming school elections. The board has induction processes for new trustees and appropriately considers succession planning. The board and principal have a shared understanding of the areas in which school development is required. They have the capacity to action improvements in teaching and learning, Māori student achievement, reporting to parents on students’ achievement in relation to the National Standards, and in planning and self-review processes.

ERO recommends the board of trustees seek training for all members so that the good governance practices evident in previous ERO reviews are sustained and further developed.

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.

ERO identified several areas of non-compliance. The board of trustees must:

  • consult with the school’s community on the delivery of the health curriculum
    [Education Act 1989, s60 B]
  • report to students and parents in plain language, and in writing, at least twice a year on student achievement in relation to the National Standards
    [National Administration Guideline 2A]
  • consult with the school’s Māori community, and develop and make known to the school’s community policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students
    [National Administration Guideline 2B].

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

27 June 2013

About the School

Location

Tapora, Wellsford

Ministry of Education profile number

1106

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

26

Gender composition

Girls 14 Boys 12

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Australian

Other European

18

4

2

2

Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

27 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

May 2007

May 2004