Ahuroa School

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Findings

The school has implemented improvement focused plans. These plans and a variety of positive management and teaching strategies have resulted in improved student achievement, particularly for children at risk of not achieving. The school is continuing to strengthen the curriculum and promote children's independent learning skills. 

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?

Ahuroa School is a small primary school in a rural setting, north of Auckland. The Year 1 to 8 school enjoys strong community support and an actively involved board of trustees. Most of the 61 children enrolled travel to school by bus each day.

The roll includes a small number of Māori children. Children are grouped for learning in three mixed-level classrooms. The board purposefully funds learning resources and additional teaching staff to support the school curriculum.

At the time of ERO’s 2015 review, the board had recently appointed a new principal. The 2015 ERO report identified areas to do with the quality of teaching and learning that needed to be improved. In response, the board and principal developed plans to promote and support improvement. Strategic planning and internal evaluation have developed over the past two years and there have been some changes in teaching staff.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The priorities for review and development identified in 2016 related to:

  • improving the use of achievement information to inform teacher practice and better target children at risk of not achieving
  • strengthening students’ understanding of their progress and achievement, to increase their agency as learners
  • documenting the school’s curriculum, and expectations for high quality teaching and learning
  • implementing appropriate teacher appraisal and performance management systems.
Progress

The principal and board have made good progress since the 2016 ERO review. They developed a planned and systematic approach to addressing the areas ERO identified for review and development. Together they have worked collaboratively with staff and other local schools, and external agencies, to improve school performance.

Overall student achievement has continued to improve. Disparity in outcomes for Māori students, and boys has been reduced. Parents are keen to work with teachers to support the learning and progress of their children.

Students establish and maintain positive and respectful relationships with each other and their teachers. Classrooms are settled as students engage well in learning activities. Students with additional learning needs are well supported.

Significant school progress and improvement is most evident in the following areas with the development of;

  • a learner profile that more clearly demonstrates the school’s expectations for learning, including desired student outcomes that reflect the New Zealand Curriculum
  • an updated school charter following meaningful consultation with staff, parents and students
  • a more collaborative teaching culture that enables staff to share good practices and benefit from well selected school-wide professional learning and development opportunities
  • consultation with local hapū, Ngā Maunga Whakahii, and whānau, to introduce tikanga and te reo Māori in the curriculum and in school-wide practices
  • an inquiry-focused appraisal system that encourages teachers to reflect on evidence of how their practices impact on children’s learning
  • more consistent moderation processes to help teachers make reliable overall judgements about students’ progress and achievement
  • strategies for sharing progress and achievement information with students, and helping them set goals to become confident independent agents of learning
  • processes to make better use of achievement information to identify and target those children whose learning needs to be accelerated.
Key next steps

To maintain the school's positive progress high priority should be given to:

  • embedding inquiry learning approaches that support students to further develop independent learning skills, key competencies and the use of digital technologies
  • professional learning about accelerated progress for students and aligning that learning with strategies to support those students most at risk of not achieving
  • strengthening links between teacher appraisal and the progress of those students most at risk of not achieving
  • more culturally responsive teaching practices, with a particular focus on Māori students succeeding as Māori, and strengthening bicultural components of the curriculum for all children.

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 good practices and to continue reviewing and improving its performance.

The principal and trustees are developing a greater understanding of how to review the school’s performance. They access support and guidance to help improve their internal evaluation and decision-making processes. Their long-term goals are well documented and provide a useful framework for reporting on progress. A next step is to embed systems that support ongoing school-wide internal evaluation and help to establish sustainable improvements.

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

The school has implemented improvement focused plans. These plans and a variety of positive management and teaching strategies have resulted in improved student achievement, particularly for children at risk of not achieving. The school is continuing to strengthen the curriculum and promote children's independent learning skills.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

23 January 2018

About the School

Location

Warkworth

Ministry of Education profile number

1200

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

61

Gender composition

Boys 36 Girls 25

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
other

53
4
4

Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

23 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2016
November 2012
November 2009

Findings

Ahuroa School is a warm and welcoming school. While the broad based curriculum responds well to children’s interests it requires further development. Most children are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics. The new principal, the board and ERO have identified the need to strengthen aspects of educational leadership, teaching and learning and school self-review.

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

1 Context

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

Ahuroa School is a long established, small rural primary school situated in Puhoi in the north of Auckland. The school provides education for students from Years 1 to 8. Most children are Pākehā with a small number of Māori students.

Students and families are proud of the long standing and inter-generational connections the school has with its community. The school vision of E tiputahi ana tātou (Together We Grow) is well known to the community.

School leadership in the last three years has undergone changes, with the board of trustees having appointed its current principal as of May, 2015. An expected reduction in the student roll at the beginning of 2016 will impact on staffing levels. The board is also managing a challenging property issue.

ERO’s 2013 report identified recommendations to improve the curriculum and promote Māori student success and school self-review. Although the school has made some progress, further development is necessary.

2 Learning

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

School achievement information is not yet used well to make positive changes to students’ progress and achievement. The board has set appropriate achievement targets and these are reported on twice annually. Reporting progress against these targets should now be more regular.

School data identifies students that achieve well in reading, writing and maths. However, planning and monitoring of target groups of students (those who are at risk of not achieving in reading, writing and/or mathematics) should be improved. There is currently little information available in the school to show the impact that teaching is having on students’ progress and achievement.

Teachers complete assessments which identify how well each student is achieving. Reading achievement information is shared with students. Teachers should continue to make better use of assessment information to guide and inform programme planning and better meet students’ learning needs.

There are varied ways for parents to receive information about their children’s learning. These include well attended learning plan meetings where parents and teachers meet to discuss children's progress and map out learning pathways. Teachers welcome informal discussions with parents. Parents also receive written reports twice yearly about their children’s progress and achievement against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics and other learning areas.

The principal, board and ERO agree that reviewing and embedding school-wide planning and assessment processes and systems is a priority. This will include:

  • continuing to identify school-wide targets for groups of students, especially those who may be at risk of not achieving
  • improving the consistency of processes for moderating assessment to help teachers make reliable overall judgements about students’ progress and achievement
  • continuing to develop effective teaching strategies that support student engagement
  • helping students to know about and understand their learning, progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

Aspects of the school’s curriculum promote and support student learning and engagement particularly well. Students experience a broad based curriculum and respond positively to the range of different learning opportunities offered including environmental education. Parents contribute to and participate in the curriculum.

Other positive aspects of the curriculum include opportunities for students to access and use information communication technology and to develop leadership skills. A room has recently been refitted for students to better explore the technology and arts curriculum. Students also provide a radio service to the community from this room. Through weekly school gatherings such as Whānau Time students lead and facilitate events, celebrate their learning and interact in fun ways as a group. Parents talk positively about students’ levels of enjoyment and engagement in this kind of learning.

Students are friendly, respectful and capable learners. They learn in small, multi-level classes comprised of different ages and year levels and are very supportive of each other. There are opportunities for them to learn both independently and collaboratively. The cooperative learning strategies that some teachers use in their lessons are helping students to develop a useful set of skills for their future learning.

Despite its positive aspects, the curriculum is not yet fully cohesive and there is very little documented evidence to show that the curriculum has been implemented well over time. Teachers need to ensure that the school’s clearly documented curriculum guidelines are implemented. This would help create greater continuity across the school in terms of agreed school values and support greater coherence in programmes for students as they transition to new classrooms.

The principles, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) could also be better embedded and reflected in school programmes and classroom environments. Classroom environments should be improved so that they more attractively display and value students’ work.

The principal, board and ERO agree, that reviewing and building teachers’ shared understandings about the school curriculum is a priority and should include:

  • developing good quality planning, assessment and evaluation processes to inform curriculum development over time
  • designing and documenting culturally responsive learning programmes to enhance a local and bicultural curriculum and reflecting this in the school environment.

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

Ahuroa School is beginning to take some steps to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. The school has five students who identify as Māori.

The school’s kapa haka group is well attended by students. A community member tutors the group. A school kawa for welcoming manuhiri to school is developing. Students value the leadership roles they experience in this group. Learning mihimihi and waiata is also part of the teaching programme.

The principal, board and ERO agree that to further promote educational success for Māori students, as Māori the principal could:

  • build teachers’ confidence to use te reo Māori within classroom programmes
  • develop a sequential te reo Māori language learning programme that progressively extends learners’ knowledge and fluency
  • explore the whakapapa of the local area and incorporate these contexts into the school curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is further developing its ability to sustain and improve its performance.

The board is made up of a mix of experienced and new trustees. The experienced board chair is knowledgeable and careful about effective board processes and procedures. Trustees are committed to the school and their roles and responsibilities. The board actively seeks external support as required.

The principal has a good network of external colleagues supporting her as a first time principal. She has a positive working relationship with the board. The principal has undertaken a review of teaching and learning and has prioritised some key goals for her and the teaching team. She has started to work towards these goals and is implementing some quality assurance processes.

The principal has identified that it is important to formalise processes that support reflective practice and help build a culture of inquiry for teachers. This should help ensure teacher appraisals are completed and assist teachers to become more adept at critiquing and adapting their practice. A key part of this will involve teachers collecting relevant information in relation to the Practising Teachers Criteria (PTC). This information will serve as evidence in the issuing and renewal of PTC endorsement process.

Teachers have not been involved in external school-wide professional learning and development that improves teaching practice. A priority for the new principal is embedding shared understandings with teachers that improve student engagement, progress and achievement. She has accessed external professional learning and development (PLD) for 2016 that could strengthen educational leadership and teaching and assessment processes.

Local principals have organised combined training for their school boards on Hautū: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review Tool for Boards of Trustees. This approach involving working with other boards could help to strengthen information sharing and networking opportunities. The board acknowledges that its self-review processes are developing and that embedding reflective teaching practices and effective inquiry is the foundation for strong school self-review.

The board is managing property concerns appropriately and is working with the Ministry of Education personnel to progress this work.

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 must develop plans to meet the following legislative requirements:

  • on the basis of good quality assessment information, identify students and groups of students who are not achieving or at risk of not achieving and those learners who have specific educational needs
    [National Administration Guideline 1(c)]
  • provide appropriate language learning opportunities for all students in year 7 and 8
    [National Administration Guideline 1]
  • ensure that each teacher participates in the appraisal process annually and is appraised in accordance with school policies and procedures
    [s77C State Sector Act 1988]. 

Conclusion

Ahuroa School is a warm and welcoming school. While the broad based curriculum responds well to children’s interests it requires further development. Most children are achieving well in reading, writing and mathematics. The new principal, the board and ERO have identified the need to strengthen aspects of educational leadership, teaching and learning and school self-review.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

12 February 2016

School Statistics

Location

Warkworth, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1200

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

78

Gender composition

Boys 48 Girls 30

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

British/Irish

African

other

5

60

7

4

2

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

12 February 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

November 2012

November 2009

November 2006