Taipa Area School

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Findings

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Taipa Area School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Taipa Area School is a Year 1 to 15 school in Doubtless Bay, Northland. Most students are of Māori heritage who whakapapa to the local hapu and iwi of Ngāti Kahu. There are small groups of Pākehā, Pacific and Asian children. The school provides Māori bilingual and immersion classes in ‘Taipuna’, for students in Years 1 to 9.

The 2017 ERO report identified concerns about several aspects of the school’s performance. These included concerns about the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching practice, and achievement across the school including in Taipuna. For this reason, ERO decided to continue to monitor the school’s progress through a longitudinal evaluation process over two years.

At the time of the 2017 review, the new principal had brought a fresh perspective and a new set of experiences to guiding the school towards improved student outcomes. Staffing and leadership changes over the past two years have resulted in the development of a positive professional learning culture in the school.

The school has worked with professional learning support from the Ministry of Education (MoE) through the Student Achievement Function (SAF) project. This support has helped middle leaders to guide teachers’ professional learning groups, and establish teacher inquiry practice. Membership in the Manaiakalani initiative has resulted in a complete restructure of digital learning provision in the school. The school is also a member of the Te Kāhui Tai Kura o te Hiku, which is a group of schools and early learning services that work together as a community of learning | kāhui ako.

Since October 2017, ERO and the school have collected evidence to evaluate progress made in addressing ERO’s identified concerns. This report summarises ERO’s findings.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

In October 2017, the principal and board agreed to address five broad improvement priorities during ERO’s two-year longitudinal evaluation. These priorities included:

  • strengthening curriculum design and teaching practice

  • lifting student achievement and accelerating progress

  • developing the effectiveness of practices in ‘Taipuna’

  • strengthening stewardship

  • improving internal evaluation practice.

The principal also requested that building distributed leadership to grow school capability be included as a priority. This indicated a commitment to promoting cultural and systemic change that is sustainable.

Progress

The board, principal and senior leaders have made good progress across most of the improvement priorities identified in the 2017 ERO report. Developing an inclusive and positive school culture has been a key part of work to improve student wellbeing and educational outcomes. ERO has observed a significant culture shift resulting in higher relational trust among students, teachers and leaders.

Student wellbeing and safety was appropriately the initial focus for leaders and staff in 2017. This has been influenced by improved pastoral care structures and support. In addition, the Mana Potential initiative helps students to understand and positively respond to their own emotions and those of others. The improved recording of student pastoral and engagement information, and the increase in student engagement are noteworthy.

Student voice and leadership are actively promoted. Students who spoke with ERO appreciate that their views and opinions can be shared and influence school practices. The recent introduction of whānau classes is fostering more tuakana/teina opportunities and relationships that foster younger students’ wellbeing and engagement in learning.

Leaders and teachers have improved their knowledge and use of achievement data to guide changes to teaching practice. Lifting student achievement throughout the school in literacy is guided by the school’s literacy leadership team. Teaching strategies are shared and discussed regularly in staff professional learning and department meetings. Leaders plan to use a common assessment framework for Years 1 to 10 to support teachers’ assessment decisions and moderation of judgements about achievement.

There is positive movement towards more authentic, localised curriculum experiences and programmes. Good efforts are being made to provide a more responsive curriculum and align systems with students’ learning needs and aspirations. These efforts include cross-curricular collaboration to support students’ choices, in particular in the Year 7 to 10 curriculum. This is particularly appreciated by Years 11 to 13 students who can gain credits from multiple subjects. This approach requires considerable collaboration and adaptive practice by teachers.

Staff changes have resulted in improved processes and practices in the careers team. The team have long experience and good understandings of pathways together with local community connections. Students now have access to more meaningful academic mentoring. They also have greater choice and opportunities for work experiences in the local and regional communities. These provisions are promoting relevant, authentic learning based on students’ choices.

Staff changes have also led to improved leadership and restructuring of ‘Taipuna’. Senior students now learn within the English medium programmes. This offers them greater opportunity to work on curriculum pathways of their choice. They can also continue learning te reo Māori to NCEA Level 3 if they choose. Students’ bilingual development is being guided by the considerable te reo Māori fluency and capability of the staff that support their learning.

Key next steps

Leaders plan to continue developing practices to improve student achievement across the school, including:

  • teaching practices to accelerate learning, and deliberate planning for accelerating students’ learning progress

  • using data analysis to ensure students are making expected rates of progress to achieve their goals

  • identifying and analysing trends and patterns in Years 1 to 10 achievement information

  • developing teachers’ and students’ use of learning progressions to identify achievement levels and next steps in learning.

The school’s pastoral team plan to increase student leadership opportunities. They also plan to ensure that staff across the school are aware of students with additional needs, particularly those students in the junior classes.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is now better placed to sustain developments and continue to improve practices to benefit student learning outcomes. Leaders and teachers have a strong commitment to strengthening leadership and teaching capability, in order to provide students with relevant learning and pathways to their future career aspirations.

The principal’s leadership is considered and responsive, strategic yet contextually grounded. She shows discernment in prioritising developments and managing the pace of change. She has been instrumental in setting up purposeful, meaningful systems and processes. There are clear and high expectations set for students and staff. She fosters a strong sense of purpose giving students greater agency in their learning so that they can realise their potential.

Senior leaders have complementary skills. They demonstrate enthusiasm and optimism in being part of the change process in the school. The growth of senior and middle leaders’ capability is being built on reciprocal relational trust. Staff report that they appreciate the improved communication and collaborative relationships. Leaders demonstrate an openness to learning and positive change in order to achieve better outcomes for students. They have key roles in the development of whole-school initiatives and have shared understandings of effective practice for improving student outcomes.

The board is supportive of the principal’s leadership and committed to the school’s charter vision and aims. Trustees are pleased with the considerable progress already made across the school. The new board plans to access governance training and support as initiated by the previous board.

The school charter outlines a clear direction for the school towards developing a localised curriculum and a strong and resilient learning community. Lifting student achievement through relevant individualised learning pathways is at the heart of the school’s vision. The charter developed through collaboration with the school community is a pivotal document. It has potential to bring greater coherence of purpose and direction to promote improved learning outcomes for students.

Internal evaluation is developing and is now more evident in the school. Teachers are developing their inquiry into the impact of teaching practices on student learning. Staff appraisal processes and inquiry are now well linked and based on improving student outcomes through deliberate actions. Senior leaders plan to ensure that the quality of curriculum leaders reporting to the board is more consistently evaluative and focused on student outcomes. This reporting could include the progress and effectiveness of pastoral care in the school.

The board is ensuring that policies are kept current and aligned to legislative changes. The principal and board are continuing to work with the MoE towards a project to replace the school’s aging buildings. MoE funding has been approved to address some of the school’s property issues. Plans are underway for the gymnasium to be extended and upgraded, and the main block to be refurbished.

Key next steps

ERO recommends that the board and senior leaders:

  • continue building on the good progress in addressing the priorities of ERO’s longitudinal review

  • implement systematic, collaborative evaluation of the school’s strategic and annual aims and goals.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

Conclusion

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Taipa Area School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

25 October 2019

About the School

Location

Taipa, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

2

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

297

Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/ Pākehā
Pacific groups
other ethnic groups

82%
10%
4%
4%

Special Features

Rumaki Te Reo Years 1-6, Aurahi Te Reo Years 7-9, Alternative Education

Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

25 October 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2017
February 2013
May 2010

Summary

Taipa Area School has a growing roll that currently stands at 291 Years 1 to 13 students. Most learners are of Māori heritage who whakapapa to local hapu and iwi Ngāti Kahu. There are small groups of Pākehā, Pacific and Asian children.

Since the 2013 ERO review there have been many changes to the senior leadership team. The school is now led by a new principal and two deputy principals have recently been appointed.

The school has had variable trends in student achievement over the past four years. During that period an average of 61 percent of students have achieved the National Standards. At the time of this review there was no information available about the trends and patterns for Year 9 and 10 achievement over the past four years.

In 2016 there were good lifts in Level 1 and 2 achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). An increasing number of students achieved NCEA merit and excellence endorsements. Māori achievement was higher than overall school achievement in Level 2. However, there is a significant downward trend for Māori at Level 3 and for University Entrance.

Māori students in Taipuna classes have immersion learning opportunities for Years 1 to 9, and bilingual learning in Years 10 to 13. Ngā Whanaketanga data in 2016 show that an average of 65 percent of Year 6 children were achieving across kōrero, tuhituhi, pānui and pangarau. However, there has been no external achievement moderation of these results and ERO is unsure about the dependability of assessment data across Years 1 to 9.

The school is a member of the Far North Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

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

The school is becoming increasingly effective at responding to Māori and other children who need to make accelerated progress. However, some school processes have had variable effectiveness in enabling equitable and excellent student outcomes.

At the time of this review, the school is not yet well placed to provide conditions for children to achieve educational excellence, or to address in-school disparities. Many next steps noted in the 2013 ERO report continue to be priorities for development. There are several areas that the board must improve in order to meet legislative requirements, and to provide the conditions necessary to promote greater equity and excellence for children.

Equity and excellence

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

While the school is becoming increasingly effective at responding to Māori and other children who need to make accelerated progress, the principal and board acknowledge that further deliberate actions are needed to raise achievement.

This year the board’s overall strategic goal is to raise the achievement of all students at all levels. The goal includes all Year 1 to 8 students achieving National Standards, eighty five percent of school leavers achieving NCEA Level 2, and all school leavers achieving NCEA literacy and numeracy. These targets denote a rise in expectations for student success.

Variable trends in student achievement have been evident across the school over the past four years. Tracking trends and patterns of achievement in Taipuna, and for Years 1 to 8 and 13 is limited, in part, due to the low numbers of students at those year levels.

Positive shifts in NCEA Level 1 and 2 achievement may be the result of teachers’ greater focus on discussing and sharing ways to cater for students’ individualised learning and curriculum pathways. An increasing number of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements at NCEA Level 1 and 2 is a positive trend. It is also notable that Māori student achievement in Level 2 was higher than overall school achievement at this level.

Over the past four years, school data show that National Standards achievement in Years 1 to 8 has averaged 62 percent in reading, 55 percent in writing, and 66 percent in mathematics. Overall there remains disparity in achievement across the National Standards for Māori students when compared to the school’s small group of Pākehā children.

In Taipuna, a more meaningful assessment framework, linked to Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, should be developed to guide Ngā Whanaketanga assessment, teaching programmes, and child-led learning.

At the time of this review, no information was available about the trends and patterns of Year 9 and 10 achievement over the past four years.

Teachers in Years 1 to 10 are continuing to develop their use of learning progressions and standardised assessment tools. Leaders recognise the value of using these assessments to more closely track student progress and ensure that individual students are making expected rates of progress.

The principal has identified the need to establish more reliable baseline data this year. She also plans to work with Years 11 to 13 teachers to ensure that course design enables students to gain credits earlier in the year.

Teachers in Years 1 to 8 moderate their writing assessments, and in some cases moderate the evidence for overall judgements about children’s achievement in relation to other National Standards. The principal plans to set up opportunities for staff to moderate assessments with other schools. 

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

School processes are variably effective in enabling equitable and excellent student outcomes.

The new principal has a broad knowledge and experience. Her leadership capabilities will help her to guide the many improvements required to provide more equitable and excellent student outcomes. ERO affirms the priorities identified by the principal and being implemented to improve student achievement, curriculum, and school systems and practices. Initiatives already introduced include:

  • listening more to students’ perspectives about curriculum development

  • increasing senior students’ leadership roles and opportunities

  • introducing a leadership role for the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)

  • establishing new systems and a leadership team to guide the pastoral, vocational and academic programmes and services for students across the school.

The school has good systems for referrals to Northland agencies, and timely responses regarding students’ requests and needs for counselling and medical advice. Personnel are readily available to students, through the Herewaka centre onsite and iMoko. Students will also be able to access a new student support centre that the pastoral team plans to develop this term.

In 2014 the school charter was reviewed and adapted in consultation with the community. As a result a new vision, strategic goals and a set of valued student outcomes were established. This aspirational work provides a sound theoretical platform for teaching and learning. However, the place of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, immersion and bilingual learning are not stated in the curriculum delivery model of the charter.

This curriculum initiative was introduced too quickly, and without relevant professional learning for staff. This has required, leaders and staff to take steps retrospectively to ensure that the curriculum model is viable for the Taipa Area School context. Despite this, the school’s newly developing curriculum document reflects current educational theory and modern learning environments. It is also clearly aligned to the school’s charter goals and valued student outcomes.

A useful practice has been established where teaching team leaders plan and evaluate developments in their ‘teaching pods’ in line with the school’s strategic goals and achievement targets. These processes could be more consistently evaluative regarding the effectiveness of developments and their impact on student outcomes.

Teachers are developing more collaborative teaching practices, and student-centred approaches, to guide curriculum programmes across the school. As a result, students have increasing opportunities for cross-curricular learning and there is more flexibility for Year 11 to 13 students to gain course credits.

Teachers have participated in professional learning regarding the programme Positive Behaviour for Learning. Together with the community they have established three school values Positive/Painga, Respect/Maanakitanga, and Teamwork/Mahi tahi.

There is variability in the quality of curriculum delivery in Taipuna. It is necessary now for leaders and teachers to evaluate and develop the implementation of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

It is unclear from the documentation available in the school whether the board and previous leaders have historically engaged sufficiently well with the school’s Māori community to plan together for improved outcomes for Māori students.

During 2017 staff held a professional learning day at Toa Toa, a local marae. Opportunities such as this support and build greater connections between the school and the community’s iwi and hapu. The principal plans to approach other marae for similar opportunities.

The board, elected in June 2016, has a good ratio of new and continuing trustees. Board records indicate that discussion and scrutiny of student progress and achievement has been limited. Increasing the board’s level of scrutiny could help the principal, leaders and staff in their efforts to meet achievement targets.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

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

The 2017 annual plan includes meaningful and purposeful actions planned to progress the charter’s relevant strategic goals and annual targets. Internal evaluation and knowledge building at all levels of the school should be strengthened to guide the school’s next phase of development.

The principal and leaders have identified and acknowledge priorities for staff professional learning that include:

  • student-centred learning, including student-led learning

  • collaborative teaching, and teaching practices to accelerate learning

  • partnership with whānau and parents to support children’s learning

  • more deliberate planning for accelerating learning progress

  • measuring, tracking and recording the progress of individual students

  • evaluation of the effectiveness of strategies for accelerating learning including using ‘Teaching as Inquiry’.

In order to equip students with necessary e-learning skills, it will be necessary to develop a digital learning vision and strategic planning to enact this vision. Such planning would help to guide resourcing, and professional learning for teachers. This should help to ensure equitable student access to e-learning and related curriculum pathways.

Leadership and staffing constraints continue to hinder Taipuna’s strategic development. A philosophy and vision for bilingual and immersion learning, and an enrolment policy should be developed. Curriculum programmes for Years 1 to 9, and Years 10 to 13 should be more clearly based on Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

The deteriorating state of the school’s buildings inhibits the effectiveness of learning environments, and restricts students’ access and entitlement to curriculum pathways and NCEA qualifications. This is particularly evident in the buildings and facilities used for teaching technology and the arts.

The board chair has planned training for the board with support from the New Zealand School Trustees’ Association (NZSTA). She has approached NZSTA to also help the board rationalise and update the school’s policies, particularly those related to the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Trustees should ensure that board minutes record key discussion points, and reflect more collaborative decision-making at board meetings. Greater democratic processes could be promoted at board level by including student and staff trustee reports that express the views and experiences of students and staff.

Better access for the principal to the records of the school’s evaluation and development over recent years could help support the sustainability of developments.

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 non-compliance in relation to: board administration, curriculum, personnel, and health and safety.

In order to address these the board must:

  1. Maintain an ongoing programme of self review of policies, plans and programmes, including evaluation of student achievement
    National Administration Guideline 2(b). 
  2. Implement personnel policies, including teachers’ appraisals, to meet the Education Council requirements and to promote high levels of staff performance
    National Administration Guideline 3(a).
  3. Consult with the school’s Māori community regarding policies, plans and targets for improving Māori student achievement
    National Administration Guideline 1(e); 2(c).
  4. Implement a careers education programme for students in Years 7 to 13
    National Administration Guideline 1(f). 
  5. Improve processes for monitoring student attendance s25 Education Act 1989;
    National Administration Guideline 6.
  6. Consult with the community about the school’s health curriculum every two years
    s60B Education Act 1989.

Going forward

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

At the time of this review, this school was not well placed to either provide conditions for children to achieve educational excellence, or to address in-school disparities. The main areas of concern are:

  • the quality of board practices, and trustees’ understanding about the roles of governance and management in the school.

Leaders and teachers:

  • have not yet adequately established necessary conditions to effectively accelerate learning and lift achievement

  • are not well placed to achieve and sustain accelerated achievement for all children who need it.

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

Recommendations

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand School Trustees Association provide support for the school in order to:

  • promote greater equity and excellence for students and children who need to make accelerated progress

  • provide suitable environments and facilities to allow students’ access to relevant curriculum pathways and qualifications

  • develop clear understandings on the part of the board regarding stewardship and accountability.

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

30 June 2017

About the school 

Location

Taipa, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

2

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

291

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific
other

82%
13%
4%
1%

Provision of Māori medium education

Yes

Number of Māori medium classes

3

Total number of students in Māori medium (MME)

63

Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)

0

Number of students in Level 1 MME

48

Number of students in Level 2 MME

15

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

30 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Supplementary Review

February 2013
May 2010
November 2006