Pongakawa School

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School Context

Pongakawa School is located near rural Te Puke and caters for students in Years 1 to 8. The current roll of 337 includes 93 students who identify as Māori. There has been significant roll growth during 2018.

The school’s mission is ‘within our second home, all will be nurtured, respected, motivated and challenged to engage in purposeful learning for ongoing success’. The school culture is based on manaakitanga. The school’s agreed values guide the relationships, behaviour and approach to learning schoolwide. Alongside these, the school’s key strategic aims are to improve reading, writing and mathematics throughout the school.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • reading, writing and mathematics.

The school has responded well to the findings of 2015 ERO evaluation.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

The school is making good progress towards achieving equitable outcomes. There are many excellent outcomes for learners.

Overall achievement information shows that almost all learners have continued to achieve well in relation to curriculum expectations for reading, and most learners in writing and mathematics.

In 2017, most boys achieved well across the curriculum. However, they were achieving below girls in reading and significantly below girls in writing. 

Almost all Māori learners achieve well in reading, most in writing and a large majority in mathematics. Between 2015 and 2017 Maori learners’ achievement has improved in reading and writing. In 2017, achievement information shows Māori students’ achievement, when compared to non-Māori students, is at similar levels in reading. In 2018, achievement information shows that the disparity between Māori and non-Māori achievement is narrowing in mathematics but persisting in writing.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is effectively accelerating progress and achievement for Māori and other students who need this.

In 2018, the strategies, interventions and initiatives used to accelerate learning have been effective for all groups of students, including Māori identified below curriculum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. The school has identified writing as the professional learning and development focus in 2019.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

Highly effective stewardship is evident. Trustees actively represent and serve the school community. They bring a wide range of expertise to their clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Board members are well informed about school operation, teaching and programmes for learning and this enables them to make well-considered resourcing decisions. Trustees are highly visible in the school and take an active role in supporting leaders and teachers. Students’ learning, wellbeing, achievement and progress are the board’s core focus.

Collaborative relationships that extend and enhance opportunities for learning school wide are highly evident. Parents, whānau and the community are welcomed and are actively encouraged to be an integral part of the school community. Purposeful and genuine connections with Ngāti Whakahemo are supporting the knowledge and understanding of the unique heritage of tangata whenua and are beginning to guide the school’s curriculum. The school-wide mahi tahi emphasis on equitable and excellent outcomes is empowering learners’ sense of belonging and pride in their school.

High-quality distributive leadership is actively fostered and promoted across the school. Leaders and teachers work professionally and cohesively for school-wide improvement. They are highly approachable and engage in productive learning conversations. School values are highly visible and widely enacted. Students have a strong foundation to guide positive choices for learning.

Rich and diverse experiences across the curriculum promote high levels of student engagement.  Teachers know their students well and nurture learning relationships. Teachers empower students to take responsibility for knowing and understanding classroom routines. Effective tracking and monitoring systems support teachers to know the progress and achievement of students. Students collaborate with, learn from and facilitate the learning of others.

Leaders and teachers work alongside parents and whānau to form productive and responsive partnerships with learners who have additional needs. Effective communication enables meaningful plans and programmes, to be developed. External agencies and professional development are actively sought to further support learners at risk. A wide range of strategies and initiatives supports students to fully participate in all aspects of school life.

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

ERO and the school agree that a useful next step is to strengthen the use of achievement information to evaluate the impact of strategies and initiatives on enhancing outcomes for learners. This should support leaders and teachers to know what works effectively for improving equitable and excellent outcomes in all groups of learners.

Formalising a strategic approach to embed and guide high-quality practice for the authentic integration of te ao Māori throughout the school curriculum. This should enrich the authenticity of the local curriculum as a key driver for equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners.

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.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • effective stewardship that is successfully focused on equity and excellence
  • distributive leadership that builds capability and empowers teachers
  • educationally powerful connections that strengthen learning partnerships
  • high-quality teaching that is effectively accelerating learning.

Next steps

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

  • internal evaluation to inform ongoing improvement
  • enhancing te ao Māori inclusion to inform authentic curriculum. 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services
Central Region

18 February 2019

About the school 

Location

Te Puke

Ministry of Education profile number

1899

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

337

Gender composition

Boys                      57%
Girls                       43%

Ethnic composition

Māori                    28%
Pākehā                 68%
Asian                       3%
Other                      1%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

18 February 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review            June 2015
Education Review            September 2010
Education Review            March 2007

Findings

Pongakawa School is a well established rural school with high quality facilities and resources. There are focuses on literacy, mathematics, sustainability and meaningful learning contexts. Many students, including Māori, achieve well in academic, sports and music competitions. Teachers maintain a positive and inclusive school culture that supports students’ learning.

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?

Pongakawa School is situated in rural surroundings east of Te Puke and provides education for students in Years 1 to 8. Of the 282 students on the roll, 38% are of Māori descent. Many Māori students whakapapa to Te Arawa, which is the local iwi.

The school is located within attractive and well presented grounds that include extensive areas for students’ recreation and sports activities, as well as gardens to support the school’s focus on environmental sustainability. Students continue to benefit from access to a heated swimming pool and an all-weather court. A very special feature of the school is a recently built action centre that includes a modern full-size gymnasium with mezzanine seating for 300 spectators and a squash court. This highly valued community facility was developed under the leadership of the school’s principal with the support of enthusiastic parents, trustees and community members.

A further high quality school and community initiative is the recent expansion of the school’s native bush area to include a large wetland and small lake, which provides an authentic context for the school’s local curriculum. Students continue to contribute to the ongoing development of this area. There has been considerable regional and national support for the school’s community projects, which continue to have significant benefits for students.

Further recent initiatives have been the development of specialist facilities to cater for Years 7 and 8 technology classes in real-life contexts, and the provision of equitable access to computers as tools for learning for all students.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. The 2010 ERO review identified many areas of good performance including:

  • very effective governance
  • high quality professional leadership
  • high expectations for learning and achievement
  • a wide range of learning opportunities
  • strong parent partnerships for learning
  • a positive and inclusive school culture.

The 2010 ERO review also identified that teachers could further involve students in decisions about their learning and progress. Since that review, the school’s experienced leadership team has remained the same, there have been some changes to the teaching team and the roll has remained stable. Leaders and teachers have continued to make significant and meaningful progress in promoting success for Māori students.

The school’s very positive culture for learning continues to be underpinned by its explicitly promoted and well understood vision and values. These include the belief that the school should feel like a second home for students. Classrooms and the playground are settled and inclusive.

The school acknowledges and celebrates its history as the hub of its community. Many families are proud of their inter-generational association with the school and appreciate the school’s continuing recognition of the achievements of previous students. An active parent teacher association raises significant funds to support students’ learning. Transition to school for five-year olds is facilitated by a continuing close relationship with the adjacent playcentre and other local early childhood services.

2 Learning

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

School leaders and teachers use achievement information effectively to group students for instruction in reading and mathematics, monitor progress, and identify students requiring additional learning support or extension. Overall teacher judgements about student achievement in relation to National Standards are developed by teachers and moderated by the principal. School-wide achievement information, including the progress and achievement of targeted students, is reported to the staff and board. Parents/whānau are very well informed about student progress through written reports, assessment portfolios and student-led meetings. In many classes home books provide for frequent communication between teachers and parents.

The special education needs coordinator continues to ensure that students requiring learning support receive targeted interventions and in-class assistance as required. She maintains detailed records of students’ individual progress and achievement, and has established positive partnerships with relevant external agencies.

Students with special abilities have a range of opportunities for learning extension. In particular, some students have achieved high levels of achievement through participation in an extension writing class. Students have also achieved success in movie making, music and sport.

There is now a need for leaders and teachers to further review and develop school-wide assessment processes in order to:

  • establish indicators for determining students’ progress and achievement in relation to National Standards
  • provide students with strategies for self and peer assessment in relation to National Standards achievement indicators
  • revise the school’s analysis and use of nationally referenced assessment tools according to current Ministry of Education guidelines for comparisons with National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning and engagement. School leaders and teachers maintain an appropriate emphasis on developing literacy and mathematic skills within meaningful real-life contexts. A wide range of learning experiences include future focused projects, partnership with Chinese students from Hong Kong, the increasing use of computers as tools for learning, and opportunities for authentic student leadership.

High expectations for learning and behaviour are evident throughout the school. Effective teaching practices include establishing positive, inclusive and respectful relationships, maintaining stimulating learning environments, using an appropriate range of teaching strategies, and celebrating students’ successful work. Experienced teacher aides unobtrusively assist identified students with their individual progress. Classrooms are very well resourced for learning.

Areas for further review and development are to:

  • engage in whole-school literacy professional development to review reading and writing teaching strategies and practices
  • continue to develop agreed understandings about the school’s curriculum in relation to local content, learning area pathways and contexts, and expectations for teaching and assessment practices.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori. Many Māori students achieve well and willingly undertake leadership roles. Members of the community who spoke with ERO believe that the school has a sound understanding of Māori success as Māori. Students benefit from interactions with teaching staff who are positive Māori role models.

Māori staff are associated with local iwi and marae. These relationships are used to extend the school’s te reo and tikanga Māori programmes, and foster the wairua (positive culture) of the school and community. Regular marae visits enable students to learn local protocols, legends and history. Kaumātua assist the school as required. Te Arawatanga is evident in the school’s curriculum.

The school provides regular tuition in te reo Māori in all classes. Tutors are available to assist staff in integrating te reo Māori within class programmes as needed. Students at all levels of the school participate in kapa haka and waiata with enthusiasm.

While conversations about individual Māori students and their achievement take place informally and at student-led conferences, partnerships with Māori parents/whānau could be further strengthened by re-establishing a formal whānau group and co-opting a Māori parent representative to the board.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Pongakawa School is well placed to sustain and improve its performance because of the following positive features.

Trustees have a range of relevant skills and expertise and govern the school well. They are committed to ensuring that the school is very well resourced for teaching and learning. Recent complex projects and initiatives have been well managed to completion. The board provides for ongoing trustee succession and continually reviews its progress in relation to the school’s strategic direction.

The principal has implemented a strategic and collaborative approach to introducing a range of future-focused initiatives. This has included developing strong ongoing partnerships with local and wider community groups. Parents, trustees and teachers appreciate the leadership and support provided by the principal and senior leadership team.

Teachers support each other collegially. They are encouraged to take on leadership roles in their areas of strength and expertise. Their commitment to many extra-curricular activities is appreciated by students and parents.

Self review comprises the analysis of student achievement information in relation to the National Standards, annual curriculum reviews with suggestions for resourcing and improvements, and community surveys.

Next steps are to:

  • focus annual targets on identified groups of students who need accelerated progress and to provide regular updates to the board on the progress of these groups
  • strengthen curriculum review to include the evaluation of school-wide data analyses and a strategic approach to in-depth review of learning areas
  • further align teacher responsibility for accelerating the progress of targeted students to school-wide appraisal procedures.

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

Pongakawa School is a well established rural school with high quality facilities and resources. There are focuses on literacy, mathematics, sustainability and meaningful learning contexts. Many students, including Māori, achieve well in academic, sports and music competitions. Teachers maintain a positive and inclusive school culture that supports students’ learning.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

8 June 2015

About the School

Location

Te Puke

Ministry of Education profile number

1899

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

282

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Indian

Other groups

60%

38%

1%

1%

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

8 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2010

March 2007

August 2003

Pongakawa School