Firth School

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Education institution number:
1719
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
209
Telephone:
Address:

45 Station Road, Matamata

View on map

Summary

Firth Primary School has a roll of 179 and 71 children identify as Māori.

Since the last ERO review in 2014 the same principal has continued to lead the school. The board is continuing to provide stewardship for the school community. The school is part of the Matamata Community of Learning (CoL) Kāhui Ako which has a collective focus on accelerating the achievement of at risk learners in this group of schools.

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

The school responds well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

There are several effective processes that are enabling achievement of equity and excellence. These are collaborate leadership, curriculum responsiveness, analysis and reporting of achievement information and partnerships for learning with parents and whānau.

Further development of internal evaluation processes is needed to achieve equity and excellence.

At the time of this review most children were achieving the expected National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The proportion of Māori children achieving National Standards is comparable to their peers in mathematics and writing, and slightly lower in reading.

The school’s increased priority on sports, and health and wellbeing is contributing to higher levels of engagement and motivation in learning for children.

Children 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 strengthen:

  • performance management processes. This is necessary to build teacher capability to support continual improvement in learning outcomes for all children.

  • inquiry into the effectiveness of teaching practices to raise and accelerate the learning and progress of identified individuals and groups of at risk learners.

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?

The school responds well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school identifies and targets children who are not achieving National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2016 the proportion of children achieving National Standards in reading and mathematics was above national comparisons and similar in writing. The school’s data for targeted learners, including Māori shows that most make progress and many make accelerated progress. Data shows that all children are achieving at and above National Standards for reading and mathematics by the end of Year 6, and a significant majority in writing.

Leaders have recognised that an increasing number of children entering the school at five years of age are needing additional support in their learning. The school accesses appropriate internal and external support to improve learning opportunities for these children.

The school has well-developed processes for moderation in relation to National Standards contributing to consistency of overall teacher judgements across the school.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

The leadership team works collaboratively to achieve the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence. Children’s wellbeing, confidence in identity and engagement in learning are valued outcomes. Māori children’s language, culture and identity is affirmed and valued. Teachers have positive and affirming relationships with children and effectively engage them in learning.

The school’s curriculum is responsive to the wide range of children’s strengths, needs and interests. Learning progressions support effective curriculum design. Intentional transition processes provide a seamless integration through to the intermediate school. There are many appropriate learning opportunities for children with special needs and abilities. Children are experiencing equitable learning opportunities in a caring and inclusive learning environment.

There are appropriate systems to gather, analyse and report on achievement data. In response to identified achievement patterns, leaders and teachers have engaged in professional development focussed on teaching and learning in writing and mathematics.

Parents and whānau are engaged in reciprocal learning-centred relationships. They are happy to participate in their child’s learning, taking advantage of the school’s open-door policy. Parent aspirations are valued. Children benefit from a positive home and school partnerships that enhance their learning opportunities and wellbeing.

The board actively represents and serves the school and community in its stewardship role. Trustees engage in on-going training and are committed to the provision of a safe and inclusive environment. 

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

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

Further development of internal evaluation processes is needed to achieve equity and excellence. Performance management and teaching as inquiry are not fully developed.

Currently performance management systems do not meet all the requirements of the New Zealand Education Council. Teachers have not provided sufficient evidence in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria. Appraisals need to reflect the principles of Tātaiako in promoting equity of culture and achievement for Māori and all children.

Teaching as inquiry needs to be more closely aligned to the learning and teaching for identified groups of at risk learners.

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.

Actions required

ERO identified an area of non-compliance in relation to performance management. The school’s appraisal system does not yet meet the requirements of the New Zealand Education Council.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must ensure that:

  1. Appraisal of teaching staff by the professional leader of the school is based on the Practising Teaching Criteria established by the Education Council. [Part 31 Education Act 1989]

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Children 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 strengthen:

  • performance management processes. This is necessary to build teacher capability to support continual improvement in learning outcomes for all children.

  • inquiry into the effectiveness of teaching practices to raise and accelerate the learning and progress of identified individuals and groups of at risk learners.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato / Bay of Plenty

8 June 2017

About the school 

Location

Matamata

Ministry of Education profile number

1719

School type

Contributing School

School roll

179 children

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 54%

Māori 40%

Other 3%

Other European 2%

Asian 1%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

8 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

May 2014

November 2009

March 2007

 

1 Context

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

Firth School caters for students from Years 1 to 6 and is situated in the east Waikato town of Matamata. Of the 197 students on the roll, 51% are of Māori descent, 42% are from New Zealand European families, 2% have Pacific heritages and 5% are from a range of other cultures. Māori students come mainly from two local iwi, Ngati Haua and Ngati Raukawa. The board employs a specialist teacher of te Ao and te reo Māori to work alongside teachers in all classes, provide language extension and support Māori students and their families/whānau. A member of the board of trustees also has responsibility for liaising with Māori families.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. The 2009 ERO review identified many areas of good performance including:

  • effective professional leadership
  • established self review systems
  • a wide range of learning opportunities
  • weekly te reo and tikanga Māori teaching
  • high quality teaching practices
  • a family-like school culture that promoted high levels of student engagement in learning.

The 2009 report also identified the need for improved use of assessment information to guide planning, provide feedback about achievement and clarify expectations for engaging students in assessment of their own learning and next steps. Senior leaders and teachers are beginning to address these issues.

Since the 2009 ERO review, the principal and many teachers have remained at the school. They have developed assessment processes to address National Standards requirements and further developed school-wide curriculum guidelines. All staff have engaged in professional development about science, mathematics, positive behaviour guidance and computer technology as a tool for learning. In 2014 the principal will be taking study leave and the deputy principal will be the acting principal.

This review finds that many of the positive features identified in the 2009 ERO review remain evident. In particular, the ‘Firth Family Values’ widely promoted in the ‘Firth Family Learning Tree’ continue to be reflected in respectful relationships among staff, students and families, and the school’s continuing emphasis on the all-round development of each student. Parents are valued as partners in their children’s learning experiences. The new-entrant teacher is strengthening opportunities for four-year old children and their families to become familiar with the school environment. A welcoming, settled and purposeful tone effectively supports students’ engagement in learning.

2 Learning

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

The school is continuing to develop its use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The board and senior leaders use school-wide National Standards results to determine annual targets and priorities for professional development. Trustees receive a range of assessment information throughout the year, which guides funding for programmes to raise student achievement. Senior leaders regularly monitor the individual progress of all students and provide a range of programmes to meet the needs of students who are at risk of underachieving.

Teachers use achievement information to group students for instruction. They use agreed benchmarks and moderation processes to determine overall judgements about achievement. Progress is monitored formally and informally throughout the year. Newly developed indicators for reading, writing and mathematics at each year level are likely to further strengthen the consistency of teacher judgements and provide a basis for students to engage in meaningful self assessment about their learning. Reports to parents are very clear about achievement in relation to National Standards. They are supported by formal and informal discussion with teachers and examples of students’ work.

Next Steps

ERO identifies that the school’s next steps are to:

  • continue to formally analyse and interpret assessment information, identifying actions to address strengths and weaknesses at school-wide and classroom levels
  • further formalise expectations for teaching as inquiry practices that focuses on improving progress for students who are at risk of underachieving
  • continue to develop school-wide expectations for approaches to students’ self assessment of their progress, achievement and next learning steps
  • review expectations for appropriately reporting achievement and progress for students in Years 1 to 3.

3 Curriculum

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

The Firth Primary School curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning and engagement. School leaders and teachers maintain an appropriate emphasis on developing literacy and mathematic skills within authentic learning contexts that interest students. There are focuses on inquiry learning, science, environmental studies, physical activity, the arts, computers as tools for learning and education outside the classroom. Regular inclusion of suitable health programmes and the school’s positive values assists in promoting student wellbeing and success. The principal has continued to lead extensive review and development of the school’s curriculum expectations in consultation with staff and parents.

Very effective teaching practices include systematic planning, sharing learning intentions, providing opportunities to learn cooperatively, maintaining stimulating learning environments, and celebrating students’ work. High expectations for learning and behaviour are evident throughout the school.

Next steps

While there has been significant development of the school’s response to The New Zealand Curriculum, there remains a need for several further areas to be agreed and documented.

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

The school is effectively promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori. Many Māori students achieve well and accept responsibility for leadership roles. Whakawhanaungatanga is continually evident in a school-wide culture that provides Māori students with a strong sense of belonging. Bicultural perspectives are evident in wall displays, class programmes and in teachers’ integrated use of te reo Māori in teaching conversations.

The kaiako (teacher of Māori) is engaged in ongoing personal professional development and liaison with local families and iwi. She shares her knowledge with staff and supports families to become partners in their students’ learning. Parents/whānau are informed and consulted about school programmes and achievement levels. Students have opportunities to participate in kapa haka, waiata, te reo Māori extension classes and marae visits.

Acknowledged next steps are to continue to:
  • develop expectations for sequential school-wide programmes in te Ao and te reo Māori
  • ensure the progress of Māori students who are not meeting National Standards, particularly boys, is a continuing focus for teachers
  • strengthen school-wide knowledge and understanding of Ka Hikitia, Tātaiako, and Tau Mai te Reo.

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 because of the following positive factors:

  • Governance is effective. Trustees are knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities and have a positive working relationship with the principal and a strong commitment to the wellbeing of all students at the school.
  • The school’s strategic direction is clear and provides a sound basis for self review
  • The experienced principal provides effective, collaborative professional leadership. He is well supported by senior leaders who bring complementary skills to their positions. The principal’s relationship strengths are respected in the school and wider educational community.
  • The senior leadership team is dedicated to promoting the interests and wellbeing of students, staff and families. Pastoral care is a strength of the school.
  • Professional learning is continually promoted within a supportive staff culture
  • There is an established culture of critical reflection leading to school-wide improvement.
  • Parents indicate strong support for the school’s inclusive culture.
Next steps

The board’s next steps are to further develop:

  • improvement-focused self review which includes recommendations for future action.
  • more specific annual targets by identifying groups of students who are underachieving, and expectations for regularly monitoring their progress. This is likely to better reflect the board’s generous resourcing for these priority learners.

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.

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

27 May 2014

About the School

Location

Matamata

Ministry of Education profile number

1719

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

197

Gender composition

Girls 55%

Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Other

Pacific

51%

42%

5%

2%

Special Features

Host school for: Resource Teacher: Literacy

Social Worker in Schools

Review team on site

February 2014

Date of this report

27 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2009

March 2007

December 2003