Totara North School

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Education institution number:
1116
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
26
Telephone:
Address:

32 Totara School Road, Totara North

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Summary

Totara North School is a small rural school beside Whangaroa harbour. The school was established in 1862 and remains a central hub for the small, close-knit whānau oriented community. An early childhood centre shares the school site.

The school provides good quality education for children from Years 1 to 6. Māori children make up almost half of the school’s roll of 24. The principal has resigned since ERO’s 2014 review, and the acting principal has been managing the school for most of this year. The board is in the process of appointing a new principal. The 2014 ERO report identified many positive aspects that continue to be evident.

Student achievement information shows that most students are achieving very well against the National Standards. However, disparity remains for some Māori children.

The school has been involved in a professional development Learning Change Network, (LCN) with a science focus, and Accelerating Literacy Learning (ALL) with a writing focus, over the last two years. The next step for school leaders is to ensure that they develop internal evaluation that is focused on and aligned with valued student outcomes.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

Some school processes are effective in enabling the achievement of equity and excellence. These include curriculum documentation, community consultation, and some teaching and learning practices.

The school has begun working towards being more responsive to Māori and other children whose learning progress needs acceleration. The board has prioritised a focus on improvement, in order to achieve parity for all children.

Learners are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

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

Equity and excellence

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

Teachers are becoming more effective in responding to Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

School achievement data shows an overall improving trend in reading from 2013 to 2016. Writing and mathematics achievement has remained relatively constant. Teachers use data to identify students needing additional support to accelerate achievement. Targeted students’ progress is closely tracked and monitored over regular three week cycles. Teachers moderate their overall judgements (OTJs) about achievement in relation to the National Standards. A next step is to moderate with other schools to ensure rigour and validity of assessment and OTJs.

In addition to moderation and regular reflection, teachers could now increase the depth of their analysis of achievement data. Formally documenting their evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of strategies and interventions would help teachers to know how well they have accelerated learning and improved outcomes for all children over time. This information should be included in the principal’s reports to the board to inform decisions relating to the acceleration of learning progress, particularly for targeted children.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Some school processes are effective in enabling the achievement of equity and excellence. These include:

  • curriculum documentation that is well aligned with the principles and values of the New Zealand Curriculum

  • community consultation that has enabled the school to define its graduate student profile

  • the development of a matrix of learner competencies, culturally responsive practices, and expectations for teaching practice

  • teaching and learning practices that help children to experience success at school

  • a positive culture of learning.

Teachers are progressing children’s capability to be responsive self-managing learners. Some junior and senior students are beginning to identify their levels of achievement in maths, reading and writing more clearly, and know what they need to do next to improve. Students are surveyed about the quality of their learning experiences. There is mutual respect between teachers and students that leads to a positive tone and class culture. Students are very confident and are engaged in their learning.

Curriculum guidelines are useful and detailed. The curriculum design allows children to experience a wide variety of activities in contexts that are relevant to them. They provide clear expectations and good support for teachers. Positive relationships between teachers, students and parents benefit children’s learning.

The board includes some new trustees from recent elections. Trustees have capability, and continue to seek training to support them, in their governance roles. They are aware of what is required of them for the school to progress.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

The board should develop and implement a rigorous and systematic process of internal evaluation across all school operations. Regular monitoring and improved internal evaluation processes could result in a more informed system for ongoing improvement. Trustees should regularly evaluate the impact of new initiatives on student progress, achievement and wellbeing. They should also evaluate the extent to which these are an integral part of the curriculum and teaching practices.

The principal and teachers must ensure that specifically individualised programmes for students who need to accelerate their achievement continue to be carefully and systematically monitored.

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

  • 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.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review policies and practices related to provisions for emotional and physical safety, and documentation of staff appointment processes, to ensure they align with all legal requirements, especially the Vulnerable Children Act 2014

  • ensure monitoring and supervision expectations are met, particularly in relation to areas that are out of sight

  • ensure that teacher appraisal processes are robust and consistently implemented for all staff.

Going forward

Learners are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are to:

  • increase the rigour of internal evaluation across all aspects of school operations

  • provide professional development to support increasingly robust moderation of teachers’ judgements about achievement in relation to the National Standards

  • continue to focus on accelerating learning progress for children who are risk of underachieving.

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

14 September 2017

About the school

Location

Totara North, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1116

School type

Years 1 to 6

School roll

24

Gender composition

Girls 14, Boys 10

Ethnic composition

Māori 11
Pākehā 13

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

June 2017

Date of this report

14 September 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)
Education Review
Education review
Supplementary Review


April 2014
May 2011
February 2008

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Ko te Tamaiti te Pūtake o te Kaupapa

The Child – the Heart of the Matter

1 Context

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

Totara North School has a significant place in the Totora North community. The school celebrates over 150 years of education and promotes strong inter-generational family and community connections. The sense of whānau at the school promotes student and staff pride, and reinforces the sense of belonging that students, staff and parents have to their school and community.

The school provides good quality education for students in Years 1-6 in an attractive rural setting. Students learn in small, multi-levelled classes where they experience individualised attention and support. They care for each other, are responsible, and enjoy the connections they have with other children and staff both in their school and at the onsite preschool.

Since the 2011 ERO review school numbers have dropped as children have moved on to other schools or families have left the area. About half of the current students are Māori. All students, including Māori, and those with special education needs, experience an inclusive environment and culturally responsive approaches.

The 2011 ERO report identified good practices throughout the school, especially in the areas of leadership and teaching. At the end of 2012, the principal left and one of the school’s existing teachers was appointed as the new principal in 2013. This new principal, in partnership with a capable new teaching team and support staff, is continuing to lead the school effectively and is promoting positive learning outcomes for children. Staff are also well supported by a new board of trustees.

2 Learning

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

The school uses student achievement information very well to identify and plan for student’s individual student needs and to promote their learning, achievement and wellbeing. With the support of external professional learning specialists, teachers are continuing to strengthen their assessment practices. They make honest judgements about student achievement levels in relation to National Standards and these are supported by detailed information about how they plan to further improve individual student progress and achievement. As a result of these good practices, teachers and parents know how well students are progressing and achieving. The board uses the good information it receives to make strategic decisions about resourcing programmes and initiatives to improve student learning.

Teachers use achievement information to accelerate the progress and achievement of target groups of students. In 2013 for example, teachers identified that boys, including some Māori boys, required further support to improve their writing achievement. They worked in partnership with these students and their parents to develop interesting and meaningful ways to improve the boys’ confidence and skill in writing. The outcome of this initiative was impressive, with all boys making significant progress in their writing achievement by the end of the 2013 year.

The school’s 2012 data indicated that the percentage of students achieving at or above National Standards in reading was equal to, or better than, overall levels of student achievement nationally. School achievement data also indicates that the percentage of students achieving at or above National Standards in reading and writing for 2013 was lower than for 2012.

The movement of a large number of students to other schools between 2012 and 2013 is a possible reason for this difference. It is also possible that improvement in teachers’ assessment practices is allowing them to now present a more realistic picture of how students are achieving.

The principal has invited a Ministry of Education (MoE) specialist to support the teaching team with the analysis and use of data. The school is also interested in forging connections with other local schools to moderate the school’s assessment information. These professional practices are likely to further promote teachers’ confidence and skill in making clear and accurate judgements about student achievement. Discussion with colleagues in other schools may also help teachers as they continue to support students to understand their own learning progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. It focuses strongly on students’ literacy and mathematics skills and achievement across all curriculum areas, including science and technology. Teachers balance their curriculum design with a combination of teacher and student interests. They appropriately extend students who have special talents and abilities. They design approaches that engage, motivate and promote the learning of priority students and students with special education needs.

Students are settled and focused on their learning, and are very well supported by skilled teachers and teacher aides. Classrooms are attractive learning spaces where student work is displayed and celebrated. Students have good access to digital technologies that include iPads and laptops. These devices are used effectively to engage students and to cater for their differing learning strengths and needs.

Teachers have positive learning relationships with students and parents. Teachers support and respect each other as professionals and access good quality, MoE facilitated professional learning opportunities. They focus on improving their own teaching practice and approaches in order to improve outcomes for students. The principal and teachers are continuing to strengthen the teacher appraisal process so it is meaningful and appropriately linked to the school’s strategic goals.

Promoting student wellbeing is a priority for the trustees, teachers, staff and parents of Totara North School. The school virtues, emotional safety initiatives, and physical fitness and awareness programmes are integrated into the daily life of the school. These elements complement teaching and learning programmes and highlight the school’s focus on developing the whole child.

The principal is now keen to explore how the school might further develop the social and emotional competence of new entrant children, using Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum as a guiding document. The principal and teachers also see the importance of reviewing the school’s curriculum and evaluating the extent to which bicultural contexts are part of their ongoing curriculum design and delivery. They recognise the importance of involving students, parents and whānau in this review.

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

Māori students, their parents and whānau have increasingly good experiences at the school that allow them to celebrate and feel pride in their language, culture and identity.

Teachers and staff encourage students to stand tall as Māori and have high expectations for their learning, progress and achievement. An experienced teacher in the school, who has connections to local iwi and marae, has developed a progressive te reo Māori me ngā tikanga programme. The whole school makes up the kapa haka group, with all students and staff learning and performing waiata, himene and haka. Visitors to the school are welcomed with pōwhiri, and students perform proudly at the local kapa haka festival.

A key next step for the board, principal and teachers is to develop a long-term strategic plan that gives direction for extending the school’s bicultural curriculum and for further supporting Māori students to experience success.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

ERO notes that while the principal, many staff, trustees and initiatives are new, the school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The principal is providing strong professional leadership. She works in partnership with staff and trustees to enhance good practices throughout the school and promote positive outcomes for students and parents. Self review is well used as a tool for promoting improvement in teaching and learning.

The board of trustees is well led. Trustees are committed and enthusiastic about their governance role, and are highly supportive of the principal and staff. They access training, critically question the information they receive, and have high expectations for school success. Trustees are responsive to parents, and actively promote community engagement and support. They also use self review effectively and have redeveloped the school’s charter in consultation with parents and whānau.

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.

To improve practice, ERO and the board of trustees agree that it would be good practice to review the principal’s appointment policy to ensure that all obligations as a good employer are met.

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

14 April 2014

About the School

Location

Kaeo, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1116

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

24

Gender composition

Girls 15

Boys 9

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

13

11

Review team on site

February 2014

Date of this report

14 April 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

May 2011

February 2008

February 2007