Willow Park School

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1 Context

Willow Park School caters for children in Years 1 to 6. There has been little change to the school's roll or ethnic composition since ERO's 2012 review. Māori students form 10 percent of the roll. Since 2012 the school has experienced significant change in school leadership, and curriculum. The school has had two changes of principal and several changes in the senior leadership team. The board appointed a new principal in April 2016. In 2013 the school moved away from using the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme as its framework for implementing The New Zealand Curriculum. The school is part of a Ministry of Education community of learning initiative that is focused on raising student achievement in Northcote.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to be enthusiastic inquirers who are respectful and strive to make a difference in the world. The school vision is reinforced through a set of caring values: Caring for ourselves, caring for each other, and caring for the environment.

The school’s achievement information shows that in mathematics and writing the school consistently meets the government achievement target for 2017 of 85 percent of students achieving at or above the National Standard. There is a small decline in the school's reading data, with 80 percent achieving the National Standard over the last two years. Māori children achieve at similar levels to the rest of the school population. School literacy data show disparity between boys' and girls' achievement, especially in writing.

The cohort of Pacific children is too small to report overall achievement in relation to the National Standards or to identify trends over time. The school monitors the achievement of these children individually.

School-wide systems and processes that support teachers to make robust and consistent achievement judgements against the National Standards have improved. This has enhanced the dependability of student achievement data across the different year levels.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has: 

  • set more specific achievement improvement targets for some cohorts
  • implemented a variety of strategies to increase children's engagement with learning
  • restructured the school's class-level organisation to support learning partnerships between teachers and children, and their families
  • taken a strategic approach to supporting children's transitions into and out of the school
  • continued to develop school systems that monitor children's progress and achievement. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is effective in responding to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The principal and leadership team place a priority on responding to the learning of all Māori children. Recent refinements to school systems at the class and team levels provide good processes that help teachers to keep a clear line of sight on the progress and achievement of the individual Māori child.

Leaders and teachers use data analysis information well to support the early identification of children who are at risk of not achieving and whose progress requires acceleration. Teachers use this information to develop class profiles and action plans that target children's progress, support ongoing monitoring, and give consideration to their next learning steps. More explicit documenting and evaluation of teacher actions that are making a positive difference to student progress, should continue to strengthen the outcomes for Māori students.

The board resources a variety of intervention programmes to support children who are below the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. School tracking data for students in these programmes, and of other programmes designed to increase children's engagement in learning, such as the Te Whare Rama writing project, show positive shifts in achievement for many children and some accelerated progress. The new school leadership is bringing a focus to ways teachers can help these children transfer new skills and knowledge into the classroom in order to support sustained progress for children.

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

The strategies and practices used by leaders and teachers to support Māori learners are the same as those used to help other children who need to make accelerated progress.

The board sets specific and relevant improvement achievement targets that enable the school to measure progress and achievement for different groups of students. Recent charter targets focus on closing the gender differences in the school's writing data and lifting reading achievement for all students. To further deepen the board's line of sight on the progress and achievement of Māori and children who are speakers of other languages, it would be beneficial for the board to set specific targets for these groups of children.

Leaders are building collective staff responsibility for children's learning progress. Team leaders oversee team development plans that focus on how to raise achievement. Teaching teams meet to discuss samples of student assessment and consider strategies for better supporting individual children's learning progress.

The recent restructure of the junior school and the move to multi-level classes are deliberate board strategies to support stronger learning partnerships between teachers, children and their families. Early student achievement data show a positive impact on the engagement and progress of children. School leaders are continuing to evaluate and develop these approaches.

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, processes and practices are effective in promoting equity and excellence for children.

Effective school leadership that focuses on improving outcomes for children is evident. School leaders are experienced and are creating a positive environment to support the school through times of change. Their focus on good communication and building relational trust is laying a sound foundation to bring in other initiatives that promote equity and excellence. Good quality leadership is distributed across teaching teams. This is supporting greater consistency of good teaching practices and contributing to continuity of learning for children.

School leaders and teachers work well with families, early childhood services, and the local intermediate school to support children to make effective transitions. The school has a comprehensive transitioning into school programme that provides children with experiential learning and specific strategies to support their readiness for further learning. The senior school and local intermediate align teaching approaches that help children move seamlessly into their new learning environment.

Programmes are well planned and teaching demonstrates good quality practices. Staff are presently engaged in a useful professional learning and development programme to help them strengthen learning focused relationships. Changes in school leadership have led to a lack of opportunities for teachers to participate in valuable appraisal processes. Some recent work on reviving an effective appraisal system should help teachers and school leaders monitor and evaluate the impact of teaching practices on student outcomes. This will also contribute to building a shared understanding of good practices that accelerate learning progress and build organisation of capability.

Children experience broad learning opportunities. The school's curriculum supports children well in the five key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum: thinking, using language symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing. Good progress is being made towards developing a curriculum that is more personalised for and self-directed by the learner. Teachers use the school's well embedded student inquiry learning model to integrate the core learning areas of reading, writing and mathematics into other learning areas. This is helping children transfer new skills and knowledge and make meaning of their learning.

School leaders could consider ways the school's curriculum can build on what is familiar and relevant in students' lives to develop new learning and maximise children's potential. Priorities include:

  • strengthening the bicultural curriculum
  • providing learning opportunities that are culturally connected for children of different cultures
  • increasing the use of culturally responsive teaching practices. 

In 2016 school leaders created new opportunities for gathering the voice of Māori children and whānau and other groups within the school community. Outcomes of this consultation will provide useful information to help guide curriculum developments.

An appropriate emergent self-review approach is used well to navigate the school through a time of considerable change. The professional learning culture supports collaboration, and openness to change and learner-focused improvement.

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 effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children. 

The school is well placed to build on initiatives that engage the learner and to make ongoing improvements that impact positively on all children's learning.

Leaders have identified relevant priorities for further development. These include: 

  • strengthening bicultural and multicultural approaches in the school curriculum
  • deepening engagement with the Māori community to help develop a strategic approach to the enactment of the school's commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi
  • strengthening the evaluative component of self review to evaluate actions that make a difference for the learner
  • deepening the board's line of sight on learning outcomes for different groups within the school. 

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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

  • provision for international students

The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (The Code) was introduced on July 1st 2016. The school is aware of the need to update its policies and procedures to meet the new Code requirements by December 1st 2016. At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school. The school has not yet started to align its policies and procedures to meet requirements for the 2016 Code.

ERO identified the following area of noncompliance:

The board must ensure that all teaching staff are appraised annually.State Sector Act 1988, 77C

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that school leaders continue to build coherent organisational conditions that promote evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building, and engage in evidence-based decision making to promote positive outcomes for all children. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

21 November 2016

About the school

Location

Hillcrest, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1573

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

629

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Girls 51%, Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Chinese

Korean

Indian

African

Pacific

other ethnicities

10%

58%

13%

4%

3%

2%

2%

8%

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

21 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2012

September 2008

June 2005

1 Context

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

Willow Park School, in Hillcrest, Auckland, is a primary school with a strong tradition of high quality teaching and a history of positive ERO reports. The school’s charter reflects the aspirations and values of the community, who are actively involved in developing the vision, mission and values of the school.

Student learning is at the heart of school operations. The school’s vision statement 'Inquire together, inspire forever' reflects the school-wide focus on inquiry as a tool for building knowledge and promoting valued student outcomes. The school is an authorised International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) school and teaches The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) through a programme of inquiry thinking and strategies. This approach supports students from their early years to become confident, inquiring learners.

Reflective practices at board, school leader and teacher levels are evident. Good governance ensures the provision of effective student learning programmes. Decision making is focused on improving achievement for all students. Teachers review their teaching practices and classroom programmes so that they target identified gaps in students’ learning and build on their existing strengths.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are actively engaged in their learning and generally progress and achieve very well. They show enthusiasm for their learning and take pride in their achievements. Students reflect on their learning and have opportunities to follow both independent and collaborative learning pathways with teacher support and guidance.

Teachers use relevant assessment information to identify students’ strengths and learning capabilities and base teaching decisions on this information. They cater effectively for the learning needs of the small number of students who achieve below National Standards. School leaders provide appropriate resources and professional learning to help teachers to personalise students’ learning. Teachers discuss achievement information in depth and explore ways to modify their teaching so that it best meets students’ learning requirements. School leaders have identified the need to continue to focus closely on lifting the rate of progress of students who are achieving below or well below expectations.

The school’s culture is one of inclusion. Teachers recognise and respond to the diversity of learners, providing programmes of support for targeted students. Children’s progress is monitored and interventions are modified as students develop and make progress. Students whose first language is not English are supported by carefully planned and evaluated programmes.

Parents receive useful information about how their children are progressing. Reports to parents show how students are achieving in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement in the PYP programme of inquiry is also reported. Reports include students’ next learning steps and ways in which parents can help at home.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Māori students comprise ten percent of the school roll. The board is assured through regular reports that Māori students are engaging, progressing and achieving. The school’s information indicates that levels of achievement for Māori students are similar to the high achievement levels of other students. Leaders and trustees have a good understanding of the importance of Māori students achieving well and experiencing success as Māori. Teachers are increasingly providing opportunities for Māori students to take leadership roles and to share experiences that reflect the Māori world (te ao Māori).

ERO, the board and leadership team agree that the school could further develop relationships with Māori families so that their cultural knowledge, experiences and skills can be used to build on students’ knowledge and skills.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s well designed curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Curriculum review is ongoing, ensuring that classroom programmes are relevant and motivate and challenge students in their learning. The curriculum is dynamic and responds to students’ learning strengths, needs and interests.

The curriculum reflects the school’s vision and strategic direction. It is relevant and future-focused. The New Zealand Curriculum and the IB PYP programme of inquiry are effectively integrated to ensure progression in learning through learning areas and at each year level.

Students’ questions and ideas drive the curriculum lines of inquiry, promote high levels of engagement and encourage social action. Parents and the local community join the school in celebrating student successes and are seen as valuable resources to enrich learning for all students.

School leaders actively encourage and support the development of innovative teaching practices. Teachers learn from each other and refine their teaching strategies through a considered programme of professional learning and development.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Willow Park School is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Governance and management is highly effective. The board of trustees, principal and staff work with a common purpose. Self review is integral to the functioning of the school at all levels. The board and school leaders use review information to determine areas of focus and development in the school and to monitor the progress and success of initiatives already in place.

The board is knowledgeable about the school and educational issues and understands its governance role well. Together with the principal, staff and community, trustees have developed a charter and direction for the school that is focused on enabling all students to grow and succeed as inquiring learners. The board makes informed decisions and sets targets for ongoing improvement based on high quality information about patterns of student progress and achievement.

The capable principal and leadership team promote highly effective teaching and learning practices across the school. Teachers are reflective and seek ways to refine teaching practices so that they encourage students’ understanding and ownership of their learning.

The school’s high quality student learning is likely to be sustained and extended by the board, senior staff and teachers:

  • building on students’ cultural knowledge, experiences and capabilities to enrich the learning of all students
  • continuing to develop the school’s inclusive culture, in which the input of students, staff, parents and whānau are sought and valued.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

25 January 2012

About the School

Location

Hillcrest, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1573

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

Decile

9

School roll

654

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Chinese

Korean

Indian

African

Pacific

Middle Eastern

other Asian

other European

58%

10%

13%

4%

3%

2%

2%

1%

4%

3%

Review team on site

November 2011

Date of this report

25 January 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

September 2008

June 2005

November 2001