Otakiri School

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1 Context

Otakiri School is located near Edgecumbe and caters for children in Years 1 to 8. The school has a roll of 173 children, 44 of whom are Māori. Children come from surrounding lifestyle properties, farms and nearby townships. The deputy principal has been the acting principal for a significant amount of time prior to the appointment of a new principal in May 2016.

The school is a member of the newly formed Rangitaiki Kawerau Community of Learners, a group of ten schools who will work in collaboration to raise the achievement of children who are underachieving. Three new trustees have recently been appointed to the board of trustees (BoT).

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to be learners forever, leading the future. These outcomes are underpinned by the 'Otakiri Learner' capabilities - having confidence, doing your best and being exemplary citizens.

The school’s achievement information from 2013 to 2015 shows that the majority of children achieved at and above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2015, 30% of Māori children were below National Standards in reading, 35% in writing and 33% in mathematics.

The school is able to show that by the end of Year 8, approximately 80% of children, including Māori, are achieving at and above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers moderate their judgements about children's progress and achievement in relation to National Standards using assessment information from a range of sources. They have participated in professional development and two of the leaders have recently been allocated responsibility in this area. The principal is leading collaborative discussions to enable teachers to make more valid and reliable decisions.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has taken the following actions to improve outcomes for children and accelerate learning and achievement. These include:

  • undertaking targeted professional development in mathematics and writing and in making valid and reliable judgements about children's achievement
  • enhancing partnerships for learning with Ngāti Awa, the local iwi
  • reviewing and developing a Māori implementation plan
  • setting targets to increase the number of children achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is yet to effectively respond to all Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Leaders and teachers use school-wide achievement data to identify individuals and groups of children who are not achieving at expected levels. Teachers plan for ability groups, including Māori children. They know children's interests, strengths and whānau well. However, student achievement data from 2013 to 2015 shows little change in the numbers of Māori children who are below National Standards. The proportion of boys below National Standards has also remained consistent. Data collected during intervention programmes shows most children made progress, but the improvements have yet to be analysed to show trends over time.

Teachers should now use assessment information on a deeper level in order to make well-informed decisions about the needs of individual children. This should enable them to plan specifically, and teach more deliberately, to accelerate the progress of Māori children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes.

Teachers informally monitor children's progress. They now need to evaluate the impact of teaching strategies in order to review their effectiveness in accelerating Māori student achievement. At the time of this ERO review, the school was not able to show the acceleration of Māori children over an extended time. Planned professional development in the use of their student management system should enable leaders and teachers to use achievement information more effectively.

Leaders have initiated conversations with local hapū and iwi to strengthen the identity, language and culture of Māori children and their whānau. The recently developed Māori implementation plan incorporates a sequential programme for te reo and tikanga Māori, local history and the environment.

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

The school has responded well to some of the other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. The SENCO, teachers and experienced teacher aides implement a small range of intervention programmes. Children benefit from this well-organised, focused support in reading and mathematics. The school reports examples of children who have made accelerated progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards.

A next step for leaders is to develop comprehensive, systematic internal evaluation and inquiry into achieving equity and excellence for all children. This should enable leaders and teachers to identify effective strategies and areas for review and development.

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 provides children with a wide range of learning opportunities. It is linked to the school's vision and values. Children are confident, positive about learning, and engage in various extra-curricular activities. They participate and learn in a caring, inclusive environment, where their successes are affirmed and celebrated. All children, including those who need additional support with their learning, benefit from the settled, inclusive and positive culture of the school.

Trustees bring a range of skills and expertise to their stewardship roles. The BoT is representative of the school community, including Māori. They are committed to a shared school direction in working towards raising student achievement. Trustees effectively scrutinise achievement information and use this data to inform strategic decision making. They have identified the need to develop more specific charter targets, to enable ongoing monitoring of progress. Accelerating the progress of children at risk of underachieving remains a priority for the board.

School leaders are developing and using a considered, collaborative and reflective approach to strengthen teachers' capability to accelerate children's learning. The experienced principal is leading teacher professional development with a focus on raising the achievement of targeted children, and inquiring into effective practices that promote equity and excellence. Leaders need to continue the development of a systematic approach to support teachers to make reliable and valid judgements in relation to National Standards.

Teachers use a range of teaching strategies to engage and support children in their learning. The school curriculum encourages the inclusion of culturally responsive and relevant contexts for learning. The leadership team recognises the need to strengthen the involvement of children and their parents in identifying achievement, determining next steps for learning and monitoring progress. This should lead to increased levels of ownership by parents and children, greater understanding of specific learning needs, and allow teachers, children and parents to work together to make a difference.

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
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it.

School leaders, trustees and staff are committed to achieving equitable outcomes for Māori and other children. Leaders, teachers and trustees have begun to work on identified priorities, including strengthening evaluation practice, to build their capability to meet each child's identified needs, and accelerate achievement. Planned, effective processes that include these priorities should lead to a reduction in the disparity between Māori and other children, and promote better achievement outcomes for all.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop more targeted planning that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full 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

7 Recommendations

ERO recommends that the principal and BoT continue to develop and embed initiatives to build:

  • teacher capability to accelerate individual children's achievement
  • a comprehensive and systematic approach to achieving equity and excellence for all learners.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

22 November 2016

About the school

Location

Edgecumbe, Bay of Plenty

Ministry of Education profile number

1871

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

173

Gender composition

Girls 50% Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Other

66%

25%

9%

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

22 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

January 2014

February 2011

January 2010

1 Context

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

Otakiri School is located near Edgecumbe and provides education for students in Years 1 to 8. At the time of this Education Review the school roll of 165 included 64 students who identified as Māori. The school is located within the tribal territory of Ngāti Awa and most of the children whakapapa to Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Rangitihi and Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau.

Since the 2011 ERO review leadership of the school has remained constant but there have been some changes to teaching staff. There has also been a slight decline in the school’s roll. The board have undertaken significant development of the school‘s buildings and grounds. Teachers have undertaken extensive professional learning in mathematics, writing and inquiry learning.

The board, principal and teachers have responded well to the areas for development identified in the previous ERO report about strengthening teaching practices and improving the physical learning environment for students.

The school makes a commitment to promoting rich and relevant learning opportunities for students. A well-embedded virtues programme contributes to the calm and settled environment for learning.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school reports that at the end of 2012 the significant majority of students achieve at or above the National Standard in reading. The 2012 data shows slightly lower levels of achievement in mathematics and writing.

Teachers make good use of achievement information to guide meaningful learning programmes, particularly in reading, writing and mathematics. They identify students who are below the National Standard and along with school leaders evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching in accelerating the progress of these students. Teachers in many classes deliberately share achievement information with students. This enables them to be more effectively engaged in their own learning.

School leaders have a good understanding of the importance of achievement data and have established useful guidelines, expectations and systems to gather, analyse and interpret school-wide achievement information. With the support of a knowledgeable special needs coordinator, school leaders use achievement information to identify and monitor students who require additional support or extension. ERO and the principal agree that there is a need to continue to strengthen processes that support teachers to make robust judgements around National Standards.

The board receive regular reports on student achievement and progress. They use this information to guide their decision making, particularly in relation to the provision of additional teacher aides, specialist teachers and ongoing professional learning and development for teachers.

Parents are well informed about their children’s learning and progress. They receive comprehensive written reports, including information about the National Standards twice a year, and attend regular parent conferences. Parents spoken to by ERO indicated that teachers are approachable and proactive about sharing achievement information and build positive relationships to support student learning and engagement.

3 Curriculum

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

The Otakiri School curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. Appropriate priority is placed on literacy and mathematics learning. Features of the school’s broad-based curriculum include:

  • regular trips and school camps
  • many opportunities for children to develop their leadership skills
  • opportunities for parents to share their expertise in meaningful learning activities
  • a wide range of sporting, cultural and academic activities and events
  • effective use of the local environment as a context for learning.

Teachers use a wide range of effective strategies to promote and support student learning. They have high expectations for students learning and behaviour. Students enjoy working in attractively presented and well-resourced learning environments. A feature of the school is the positive relationships among teachers and students.

Students who are at risk of not achieving benefit from participation in an appropriate range of support programmes, particularly in literacy. Knowledgeable teacher aides are well guided by teachers to work alongside targeted students to promote their learning.

School leaders and teachers have developed very useful guidelines to support the teaching of literacy and mathematics. Senior leaders and ERO agree that a useful next step would be to develop learning expectations in other subject areas.

The principal and new entrant teacher say that relationship building is fundamental for a successful transition to school. To facilitate this they:

  • have a flexible policy about how many transition visits are held
  • maintain an open-door policy where parents report feeling welcome into the school
  • have buddy systems in place so that young students get to know older ones
  • invite parents to be engaged in classroom activities.

The school has regular meetings with local early childhood centres.

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

The principal has placed priority on building positive relationships with Māori parents and whānau. In collaboration with the board she has increased the level of consultation with Māori parents to seek their aspirations for their children.

Māori student's sense of identity and belonging is promoted through daily karakia, waiata, visits to local marae and places of historical interest, and opportunities to participate in kapa haka.

While National Standards results in reading, writing and mathematics show an increase in the percentage of Māori students achieving at or above expectations between 2012 and 2013, Māori students continue to achieve slightly below that of their non-Māori peers.

The principal and ERO agree that priority needs to be given to:

  • strengthening links with Ngāti Awa
  • implementing a systematic and sequential programme for te reo Māori and local tribal history and tikanga across the school
  • considering and responding to the implications of the Ministry of Education documents Ka Hikitia and Tātaiako in the school curriculum and teacher appraisal processes.

Attention to these is likely to further strengthen Māori students’ sense of identity and lead to increased levels of achievement.

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:

  • the board of trustees is providing effective and supportive governance
  • the school takes all reasonable steps to provide a safe and inclusive environment
  • knowledgeable and experienced school leaders place a high priority on promoting student learning and achievement
  • Māori students are engaged in their learning and Māori families are increasingly participating in the life of the school
  • there is a high level of community involvement in the school including a recently developed support group.

Since the previous ERO review the school has continued to develop and implement a range of self-review practices at all levels of the school. To strengthen the effectiveness of these practices the board and school leaders could consider aligning the outcome of self review with strategic goals and annual plans. It would also be beneficial for the board and staff to increase their understanding of self review as a means to ongoing self improvement.

The principal and ERO agree that it is now timely to rationalise and prioritise the many useful initiatives introduced over the last three years in order to maximise their impact on student achievement.

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

10 January 2014

About the School

Location

near Edgecumbe

Ministry of Education profile number

1871

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

165

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Indian

Other Asian

Chinese

Other

55%

39%

2%

2%

1%

1%

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

10 January 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

February 2011

January 2010

December 2008