Te Kopuru School

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School Context

Te Kopuru School, located close to Dargaville in the northern Wairoa district, has provided education for children and served its local community for nearly 150 years. Catering for students from Years 1 to 8, the school has a roll of around 120 children, of whom more than half are Māori. Many of the children have strong iwi and generational connections to the area and to the school, as do many of the staff.

The school continues to offer bilingual education as an option for children from Years 4 to 8. Te Whare Poutama currently caters for around 20 students and offers Māori immersion to Level 3. Class sizes are small in all other classrooms as part of the board’s commitment to promoting positive outcomes for children.

The principal has led the school for many years along with some long-serving staff. Other teachers and support staff are new to the school. The 2015 ERO report identified that all areas identified for review and development in the 2014 ERO report had been addressed with external support. It recommended that leaders continue to build on Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education’s Māori Education strategy, in the teachers’ appraisal system.

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

  • achievement data related to reading, writing and mathematics

  • curriculum experiences for students, including trips outside of the school and co-curricular opportunities.

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?

The school is working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

The school recognises that children’s wellbeing is a precursor for learning and values wellbeing outcomes for children. These outcomes include teachers and leaders engaging and involving whānau in children’s learning and school events, and consulting with whānau regularly about key aspects of the school. Leaders ensure that all children have equitable access to learning resources and external expertise, and to experiences outside of the classroom.

Significantly valued as an outcome for all students is the school’s bicultural curriculum. Schoolwide learning opportunities in te reo Māori and tikanga and te ao Māori support children’s identity as Māori and/or as citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand. Learning in Te Whare Poutama promotes language, culture and identity for Māori children and their whānau, and supports the success that children have as Māori in their school. 

The school has a clear focus on preparing children to be the best learners they can be. As a result of this focus, the school’s achievement data shows that overall most students achieve at or above expected levels in reading and mathematics, a pattern that has been consistent for the past three years. Achievement in writing has declined over the past few years, leading to the school’s strategic and professional learning focus on improving students’ writing.

The school’s data also shows that by the end of Year 8, nearly all children are achieving at or beyond expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

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

The school is making some progress towards accelerating learning for Māori and other children. Its achievement information identifies disparity for Māori children in reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers identify and plan for children’s learning and wellbeing strengths and needs. Children whose learning requires acceleration are provided with various types of support, including in-class teacher aides and external specialist support. Additionally, small class sizes give children greater opportunity for individual or small group teacher time.

The principal agrees that it is timely for the school to access external support to promote teachers’ and leaders’ understanding of acceleration. This type of support would also guide teachers as they continue to improve their assessment process, especially in using varied sources of evidence to make judgements. Additionally, it would help teachers to identify children’s learning needs at the start of the year so that children’s access to learning support is maximised.

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?

School leaders are focused strongly on promoting success for Māori children and whānau, and for all other children and families in the school community. They enact effectively the school’s vision for an authentic, biculturally-inclusive school environment. Te reo Māori and tikanga are increasingly strong throughout the school and especially in Te Whare Poutama. Collectively, leaders and staff have the skills and the determination to strengthen this significant part of the school’s curriculum.

Relevant external professional learning is improving individual teaching and learning practices. Significantly, teachers are developing their understanding of children’s competencies, dispositions and experiences as learners. They are supported to embrace positive attitudes about children and their families, and to have high expectations for all children to be the best they can be.

Staff manage children’s pastoral needs effectively, understanding that wellbeing is a precursor for learner success. Overall, children experience positive relationships with their teachers and are settled in their learning areas. Teachers use increasingly restorative and child-focused strategies to manage children’s behaviour and promote learning, including engaging with parents and whānau. Staff aim to enhance children’s mana as part of their approach.

The school’s curriculum is increasingly responsive to children’s interests, strengths and needs. It is informed by parent and children’s ideas and opinions. Learning programmes are planned around local issues, events and the environment, as well as being focused on reading, writing and mathematics. It could be useful for the school to now consider using Te Marautanga o Aotearoa to design teaching and learning programmes for children learning in Te Whare Poutama.

Leaders and teachers are in the process of exploring some new teaching and learning initiatives that include play-based learning, thinking/metacognition skills, digital fluency and practical learning applications. Alongside these considerations, leaders are also planning to evaluate the extent to which learning programmes provide sufficient challenge and engagement for children.

The board of trustees resources the school strategically to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for children. Learning environments are well equipped and maintained. Internal evaluation is increasingly well understood as a tool for improvement, including teacher appraisals that connect to the professional learning focus on self-critique.

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

The board and principal agree that it is timely to evaluate the impact of the various initiatives introduced in the past two years. Additionally, the board could strengthen its review of policies against practice, ensure that the principal’s reports to the board are more evaluative, and write board minutes so that they are useful as a self-review tool.

Further developments for school improvement include:

  • strengthening internal evaluation capability

  • enhancing teaching and learning practices responsive to children’s learning

  • developing teachers’ shared understanding of acceleration

  • improving assessment practices

  • strengthening the board’s understanding of their legislative requirements.

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.

In order to improve practice, the board should improve the system for managing complaints and in-committee minutes.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • courageous and resilient leadership showing ongoing commitment to promoting success for Māori children and whānau and all others in the school community

  • the positive way it consults with whānau to design a relevant and localised curriculum

  • building a critically reflective, child-focused and innovative teaching team.

Next steps

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

  • continued strengthening of the school’s internal evaluation practices

  • enhancing teaching and learning practices so that learning programmes appropriately challenge and stimulate children’s thinking

  • developing teachers’ shared understanding of acceleration and improving the school’s assessment approach

  • strengthening the board’s focus on meeting legislative requirements.

ERO recommends that the school seek support from the Ministry of Education to further improve its understanding of acceleration and use of data.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

21 December 2018

About the school

Location

Te Kopuru, Dargaville

Ministry of Education profile number

1111

School type

Full Primary Years 1 to 8

School roll

124

Gender composition

Boys 57% Girls 43%

Ethnic composition

Māori 72%
Pākehā 23%
other ethnic groups 5%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

Yes

Number of Māori medium classes

1

Total number of students in Māori medium (MME)

20

Review team on site

October 2018

Date of this report

21 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2015
Education Review June 2014
Education Review August 2009

Findings

Te Kopuru School provides good quality education for students. A strong bicultural emphasis is evident through the school’s charter, vision, values and curriculum. The board, principal and staff are committed to providing students and their whānau with a well-run school that promotes positive outcomes and achievement for students.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Te Kopuru School is located close to Dargaville on the northern part of the Kaipara Harbour. It is a small co-educational school that caters for students from Years 1 to 8. Currently the school has 128 students, over half of whom are Māori. A strong bicultural emphasis continues to be evident through the school’s charter, vision, values and curriculum. There are six English medium classrooms that sit alongside Poutama, the Māori bilingual class in the school.

Prior to 2014 Te Kopuru School’s ERO reporting history was very positive. The 2006 and 2009 ERO reports commended many positive aspects of the school that included professional leadership, curriculum developments, student engagement and achievement. The June 2014 ERO report noted that three teachers, including an assistant principal left the school at the end of 2013 and new teachers had been appointed for 2014. Many of the good practices identified in the 2009 ERO report continued to be recognised as good practice in ERO’s 2014 report.

However, ERO’s 2014 report also identified concerns about school management. It noted that unresolved personnel issues were having a negative impact on staff morale and were diminishing the community’s confidence in the school. It stated that the school systems for managing complaints were not robust, and identified that the board of trustees had begun working with an external adviser to address these matters. ERO recommended that trustees seek further external support to improve the school’s personnel management practices and to ensure that the school provided a safe environment for staff and students.

As a result of the 2014 review findings, ERO decided to work with the school over a 1 to 2 year period. Since this time, ERO has returned to the school on two occasions to evaluate the progress the school has made to address concerns.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO and the school identified priorities for review and development including:

  • strengthening consultation processes and partnerships between the school, board of trustees and the community
  • improving staff wellbeing and relationships
  • establishing robust systems for recording and reporting incidents and managing complaints
  • establishing effective policies and procedures for Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC)
  • improving the quality of personnel management systems and practices.
Progress

The school has made good progress in addressing the priorities for development. Since the 2014 ERO review, the school has conducted significant internal evaluation in the areas related to ERO’s recommendations. Trustees sought external expertise to consult with staff and the community, and develop recommendations to move the school forward. They also developed an action plan for improvement that is well aligned to the areas for development and recommendations outlined in ERO’s 2014 report.

With the support of a Ministry of Education consultant, the school is establishing more effective processes for consulting and building partnerships with its parents and community. In response to parent feedback, the school has improved the way staff supervise children’s play at break times and has strengthened communication between the school and home.

The school has also developed a plan to promote parent understanding about the board of trustees’ role. It has encouraged parents to stand for the 2016 board elections and informed parents appropriately about board meetings and decisions made. Good progress has also been made to bring the parent community into the school.

The board has responded appropriately to the small number of staff who expressed dissatisfaction about school management and communication practices. Staff have been involved in a health and wellbeing review and the board is working in partnership with local organisations to support the wellbeing of the community. The school is now working with an external facilitator to develop a community health and safety action plan for 2015 and 2016.

The board has made good progress in establishing transparent processes for reviewing its policies and procedures. This approach includes good opportunities for staff and parents to contribute to the review process. The board has recently developed and/or reviewed policies and procedures that include a complaints flowchart, guidelines for promoting staff wellbeing, a policy for The Prevention and Reporting of Child Abuse and a procedural manual for EOTC.

The board has also developed a self-review framework that includes guidelines for reviewing governance work against the National Administration Guidelines. This framework prioritises an ongoing review of the school’s complaints policies and procedures.

The school has improved its staff performance management systems and processes. The principal and staff have participated in professional learning to promote their understanding of appraisal through inquiry. This revised system appropriately encourages teachers to use evidence to measure progress against appraisal goals and to focus on accelerating the progress of target students. The board has engaged an external consultant to appraise the performance of the principal and assistant principal.

Teaching and learning programmes continue to provide very good opportunities for students to achieve and succeed. Teachers have considerably strengthened te reo me ngā tikanga Māori programmes and they provide a clear focus on promoting success for Māori learners.

Teachers are continuing to develop their understanding of Ka Hikitia-Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017, the Māori Education Strategy, and use of Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners. The principal recognises that the use of these key documents is essential to affirming Māori learners and to further promote opportunities for their success.

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 well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance.

The principal and board of trustees value external expertise, and have a good understanding of the use of this external input and self review for continual improvement. These aspects have played a key role in the good progress the school has made to address its priorities over the past year.

Trustees have a good understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities and have been proactive in seeking support to overcome issues. They work closely with the principal, and have engaged parents and the community with the changes and developments taking place in the school. The principal has provided sound leadership to the board and school during this process of important change.

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

Te Kopuru School provides good quality education for students. A strong bicultural emphasis is evident through the school’s charter, vision, values and curriculum. The board, principal and staff are committed to providing students and their whānau with a well-run school that promotes positive outcomes and achievement for students.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

10 September 2015

About the School

Location

Te Kopuru, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1111

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

128

Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Fijian

Filipino

Other

52%

38%

5%

3%

2%

Special Features

Māori bilingual class

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

10 September 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2014

August 2009

September 2006