Aria School

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School Context

Aria School is a small rural school, located in the Waitomo District, King Country. The current roll is 52 students in Years 1 to 6, half of whom are Māori. The school’s mission statement is to ‘be the best we can be’. It aims to provide a place where children realise their full potential in all aspects of school life and where learning is a partnership between family, school and community. The school values learning, respect, community and participation, and safety. It prioritises strategic goals about literacy, numeracy, science, technology, social sciences, the arts, health, physical education, languages, social skills, inclusive education and e-learning. Specific targets for reading and writing are derived from the schools 2016 achievement data. The school aims to accelerate the progress of all children below the expected level in these curriculum areas.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board about outcomes for children in the following areas:

  • reading

  • writing

  • mathematics

Since the last ERO review a number of new trustees have joined the board. Professional learning and development for teachers has focused on literacy, mathematics, restorative practices and children with additional learning needs. Trustees’ training has focused on effective stewardship and internal evaluation. The school is a member of the Waitomo Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is strengthening its processes for achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Achievement information over the last three years indicates that most students are achieving expected standards in reading and mathematics and that a large majority achieved well in writing. Māori students’ achievement in reading has remained consistent over this time and is similar to others in the school. In writing and mathematics, Māori students’ achievement is slightly lower than others in the school. Girls achieve at similar levels to boys in writing, and at lower levels in reading and mathematics. Patterns of achievement for all students have remained consistent between 2014 and 2016.

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

The school responds well to students whose learning needs acceleration. The school has reading, writing and mathematics data for mid-year 2016 to mid-year 2017 for identified priority learners. This data for maths shows that the majority of Māori and other students in this group made accelerated progress. Some made accelerated progress in reading and writing.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

The principal is providing learning focused leadership. She sets clear directions for teaching and learning and promotes the use of internal and external evaluation for improvement. Well-established school values and restorative practices provide the foundation for calm environments that are conducive to learning and contribute to an inclusive and settled school culture. Teachers have engaged in purposeful professional learning and sharing focused on strengthening their responses to the learning needs of individual students, including those with additional learning needs.

School targets are informed by achievement data. Targets are specific to students needing to make accelerated progress in reading and writing. There is alignment between classroom and school-wide targets. Teachers collaborate and share responsibility for accelerating the achievement of learners across the school. Special programmes are well-supported by teacher aides who work in conjunction with the classroom teacher. They focus on addressing the learning needs of groups and individual children.

There are respectful and reciprocal relationships with parents and whānau. They are well informed about curriculum developments and teaching approaches. There is detailed reporting of individual student’s achievement and progress through written reports and teacher interviews. The school uses a range of effective tools and strategies to facilitate open communication with parents about student’s learning. Regular formal and informal opportunities enable parents to contribute to decisions about the curriculum, school direction and events.

The school’s curriculum is responsive to students’ learning needs and interests. A rich and well-designed local curriculum gives priority to literacy, mathematics, te reo and tikanga Māori, and the key competencies from The New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum includes local history and places of significance to Māori. The arts, sport, and education outside the classroom in the local community and beyond enrich learning experiences. Digital technologies are well integrated to enhance classroom teaching and learning. Senior students enjoy a wide variety of leadership opportunities that contribute to the wellbeing and learning of other students, and to the life of the school.

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

Monitoring of students’ progress and achievement needs strengthening. Teachers need to develop more regular and clearly documented processes for monitoring children’s progress and achievement, particularly for those whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

Continuity of student’s learning pathways need strengthening. The principal and teachers recognise the need to develop more effective transition processes for children as they enter Aria School and move on to secondary school.

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.

Appraisal audit

In order to improve practice the principal and teachers need to fully implement the school’s performance management process and recently reviewed appraisal systems.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership that is reflective and collaborative and is growing higher levels of teacher capability

  • clearly defined strategic goals and targets that provide a strong focus on equity and excellence

  • a contextually responsive curriculum that engage students in meaningful learning

  • respectful and reciprocal relationships between teachers, parents and whanau that result in strong learning partnerships.

Next steps

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

  • monitoring the progress of students to more specifically focus on acceleration and achievement

  • strengthening transitions for students to promote greater continuity of learning and coherent pathways.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

19 January 2018

About the school

Location

Waitomo District, King Country

Ministry of Education profile number

1687

School type

Contributing School (Years 1-6)

School roll

52

Gender composition

Girls 31 Boys 21

Ethnic composition

Māori 26
Pākehā 26

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

19 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review May 2010
Education Review June 2007

Findings

All students are supported to ‘Be the Best We Can Be’. They are confident learners in an inclusive school culture with good quality teaching and a well-designed curriculum. The rich variety of learning experiences in the school and community motivates students. Parents and whānau are active partners in school life.

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

1 Context

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

Aria School is a small, isolated rural school located south of the Waikato town of PioPio. It is sited on attractive grounds and is well-equipped with facilities for students’ education and recreation. The local playcentre is adjacent to the school and there are close relationships between its families and the school. The school provides education for students in Years 1 to 6 in three classrooms. Currently there are 51 students attending, 23 of whom are of Māori descent. The school has established an inclusive culture where the identity and heritage of all families and students is respected and valued.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. In response to the 2010 ERO review, appropriate changes have been made to the written reports to parents to better reflect National Standards. Since the last review there has been a change of board chair and new board members have been elected, most recently in 2013. The highly experienced, well-respected principal continues to lead the school and makes positive changes for improvement. There have been changes to the teaching staff.

Trustees are enthusiastic about the school, are well-led, and have undertaken training to increase their understanding of governance roles. The board and principal have consulted with the community to gather information about their aspirations and values for the school, which confirmed the school’s mission statement: ‘Be the Best We Can Be’. The school aspires for students to realise their full potential and emphasises the importance of children learning in ‘partnership between family, school and community’.

Teachers have been involved in a variety of relevant courses and in-school professional development covering literacy, numeracy, restorative justice and positive strategies to guide student behaviour.

2 Learning

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

The school makes very good use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. It uses a variety of reliable assessment tools to support sound judgements about student achievement in literacy and mathematics. Teachers use assessment information to identify individual and group learning needs. They also assess students’ curriculum levels in all other learning areas. Appropriate programmes are provided for all students who would benefit from additional support or extension.

School-wide achievement information is used to set strategic goals and identify areas for ongoing review and improvement. In 2013, the principal and teachers identified a target for raising achievement in writing and in 2014 has again set high expectations for all students to make further progress. In 2013 students at Aria School achieved at National Standards comparisons in reading and significantly above comparisons in mathematics. The school achievement levels in mathematics are already above Ministry of Education targets for 85% of students to be at and above National Standards by 2017. Aria students are achieving below national comparisons in writing. The school is working to improve the achievement of all students in writing. It recognises that it is also important to continue to monitor and sustain improvements to student achievement in reading and mathematics.

Students enjoy positive and trusting relationships with teachers in an inclusive school culture. They are confident learners who show high levels of engagement. Teachers know children well, respond to their strengths and interests, and make meaningful links with home experiences.

The school values its good relationships with parents and the local community. It has an open door policy and families are welcome to visit and discuss their children’s learning and wellbeing. Parents and whānau are well-informed about their children’s achievement through informal conversations, parent and teacher meetings, and twice-yearly reports. They appreciate the folders of work and assessment samples that accompany reports to illustrate their children’s learning and progress. The principal and teachers provide resources and information that can assist parents to support their children’s learning at home.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting learning, and has been reviewed in consultation with the community to develop a shared vision and agreed values. These values set high expectations for students to achieve their best, show respect and integrity in their relationships, and develop a variety of learning strategies. Students are also expected to belong and contribute to their community.

The school considers it important to focus on all curriculum learning areas. Students’ learning is enriched by an extensive variety of experiences such as attending camps, becoming familiar with the local community and environment, and being involved in sports, kapa haka and academic events. Te reo and tikanga Māori are well-integrated and accepted as a natural part of school life that has been embedded over many years.

Teachers use highly effective strategies to cater for children’s different learning styles which challenge their thinking and extend their learning. Teachers attend professional development courses and reflect on their own practice to identify and implement teaching strategies that effectively support student engagement, progress and achievement.

A recent initiative resulting from consultation with parents has been to use teachers’ areas of strength. This involves teachers moving between classrooms to specialise in teaching either literacy or mathematics. The school has identified the need to review this initiative to evaluate its effectiveness in raising student achievement.

Students are provided with many opportunities to take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers and students together identify individual and group goals in writing and mathematics. Students know the purpose of learning tasks and what they need to do to be successful. Teachers tell students what they are doing well and how they could do better. This ongoing positive recognition supports students to experience success and become confident learners.

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

The school highly values the inclusion and celebration of Māori culture, language and identity in school life. Trustees, the principal and school staff recognise that these Aria School values and practices support the wairua and achievement of Māori students. Māori students experience positive and respectful relationships, and are participating and succeeding as Māori in the school curriculum, as well as in sporting and cultural activities. Māori students have been particularly successful in mathematics, where they, and their non-Māori peers, achieve beyond the nationally expected target.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Contributing factors are:

  • very effective governance by the board of trustees, which is well-led by a skilled board chair working closely with the principal, staff and community
  • the principal’s highly effective professional leadership that focuses on ongoing improvement to teaching and learning
  • effective self-review processes that provide useful information to the board and principal about progress against strategic goals and students’ achievement and progress
  • strong support, involvement and participation of the parent, whānau and wider Aria community.

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

All students are supported to ‘Be the Best We Can Be’. They are confident learners in an inclusive school culture with good quality teaching and a well-designed curriculum. The rich variety of learning experiences in the school and community motivates students. Parents and whānau are active partners in school life.

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

18 June 2014

About the School

Location

South Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number

1687

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

51

Gender composition

Girls 30 Boys 21

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

23

28

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

18 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

June 2007

June 2004