Grantlea Downs School

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School Context

Grantlea Downs School has a roll of 340 students from Years 1 to 8.  59 students identify as Māori. The school is in the north of Timaru and serves both rural and urban communities.

Since the last ERO review in 2015, new trustees have been elected to the board. 

The school’s vision is ‘Our students will thrive by being confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners. Mai I te kopae ki te urupa, tātou ako tonu ai. From the cradle to the grave we are forever learning.’ The vision is underpinned by the school values of:

  • respect
  • excellence
  • responsibility
  • honesty
  • independence.

The school’s annual achievement targets in literacy and mathematics state that all students who are underachieving will make accelerated progress.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement in relation to school targets
  • engagement and wellbeing for success. 

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 working effectively as it progresses towards its goal of achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students in literacy and mathematics.

Most students, including Māori, achieve at or above school expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.  Overall, Māori students achieve at higher levels than their peers at the school in these areas.

Most boys achieve well in reading and mathematics. However, there is some disparity for boys in writing.  Most girls achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics.

Students with additional learning needs are well supported to achieve their learning goals by a system of regular, careful planning and schoolwide monitoring of progress.

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

The school is effectively responding to those Māori and most other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Recent 2017 school data identifies significant acceleration of children’s progress in reading.

Leaders and teachers identify and track all students achieving below the school’s expectations.  They closely monitor individual engagement, progress and achievement within year groups. The school effectively addresses pastoral care needs and other factors that may impact on students’ success in learning.

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?

The school has a range of systems and practices in place that are effective in progressing the goal of enabling equity and excellence for all learners. The principal and board have overseen significant change to many of these systems and practices over the last three years. The changes have been implemented at a measured pace with the board working with the school community to develop and refresh the school’s vision, values and strategic direction.

Systematic, collaborative inquiry processes and professional learning and development align very well with the school vision, values, goals and targets. Teachers are supported to build their capability through a strong appraisal system and the way they regularly reflect on and critique their practice to improve teaching and learning. They are clearly focused on positive learning outcomes for all students. 

School leaders set and pursue a small number of goals and targets that relate to accelerating the learning of students who are at risk of underachieving. There are sound systems to identify, track and monitor individuals and groups of children’s progress and achievement over time. As a result, learners with additional needs experience a collaborative, wrap-around approach to success school-wide. There are strong connections with external agencies, targeted school programmes and intensive interventions that are focused on equity for students. A change to an inclusive model of support for children with learning needs has been carefully thought through and given time to embed.

Students benefit from a broad, localised and responsive curriculum that provides for their strengths and needs. Their learning benefits from the caring and inclusive relationships they have with their teachers and each other. Students are supported well to know and understand their learning journey and how to improve. Māori children feel their language and culture is valued and celebrated.

The school develops strong connections and relationships with parents, whānau and the wider community in a variety of ways. Parents and whānau receive useful information and participate in meaningful learning opportunities that enable them to purposefully support their children’s learning.

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

Several school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence are still developing. To strengthen these practices the board and the leaders need to:

  • further embed these, for example the inclusive model for learning support
  • extend internal evaluation to analyse the impact of changes
  • evaluate the effectiveness of board stewardship
  • enhance curriculum guidelines to ensure consistency of practice and sustainability.

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. 

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989.  The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review, there were 3 international students attending the school.

The school has effective systems for settling international students. The students are assessed on arrival and given good support for improving their English language learning if required. Learning and achievement is continually monitored with regular reporting to students and parents. Students are placed with buddies on their arrival and are integrated into the school well.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • an inclusive school culture underpinned by school values that promote children’s learning and wellbeing
  •  sound systems that identify, track and monitor individuals and groups of children’s progress and achievement over time
  •  systematic, collaborative inquiry processes and professional learning and development that align very well with the school vision, values, goals and targets.

Next steps

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

  • extending internal evaluation to analyse the impact of newly developed processes and practices
  • reviewing how effectively the board is fulfilling its stewardship role
  • enhancing curriculum guidelines to ensure consistency of practice and sustainability.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

14 June 2018

About the school 

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

2111

School type

Full Primary (Years 1-8)

School roll

340

Gender composition

Female:  48%

Male:      52%

Ethnic composition

Māori:     17%

Pākehā:   71%

Pacific:      2%

Other:     10%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

April 2018

Date of this report

14 June 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review:      May 2015

Education Review:      August 2009

Education Review:     July 2006

Findings

Grantlea Downs School has a very positive school culture. Students enjoy a broad curriculum that includes many sports, cultural and ICT opportunities. Overall, students achieve well against the National Standards. Māori culture is valued. The school is efficiently run. It has a new and experienced principal.

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?

Grantlea Downs School is a large Year 1-8 school. Its students come from Timaru city and the surrounding rural area. The school is socially and culturally diverse.

There have been significant changes in staffing. A new and experienced principal was appointed in 2015. There have been other changes in the leadership and teaching teams.

The school has an enviro-school status and some of its environmental projects have been regionally and nationally recognised. Students are particularly proud of their large and attractively landscaped grounds. Attached to the school is a small farmlet. Different groups of students are involved in these areas.

The school is welcoming, friendly and inclusive. It has a positive and respectful culture where older students look out for younger students and make newcomers feel welcome.

The 2009 ERO review found that the school needed to improve its provision for students with special abilities. It also needed to better value Māori language and culture. The school has made very good progress in these areas.

2 Learning

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

Teachers and school leaders constructively use student achievement information to provide well-planned support for students’ learning.

School-wide achievement against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics in Years 1-5 is comparable to regional and national trends. In particular, students make very good progress in these areas in their first two years of school. National Standards results for Years 6-8 is lower. The school is looking more deeply at these results, including the accuracy of judgements.

Students could have a better understanding of how well they are achieving and their next learning steps. They could also take a more active role in the assessment and reporting processes. These skills would assist them in becoming life-long learners.

Teachers know their students well and gather a range of useful assessment information. This is well used to identify gaps in students’ learning, reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching and to inform planning and next teaching steps.

At the syndicate level, helpful assessment templates, systems and practices are in place.

Individual teachers and syndicates have very effective systems for identifying students at risk in their learning. Syndicate reviews show progress over time but could better identify gaps in students’ learning and implications for teaching.

School-wide guidelines for assessment are dated and do not reflect what happens in the school or best practice. ERO found that some assessment practices were not consistent through the school. These ranged from best practice to needing improvement.

The board prioritises funding to support students at risk with their learning and those with special abilities. Reports to the board of trustees (BOT) on student progress and achievement could be reduced in size and simplified.

Areas for review and development are:

  • students taking a greater role in the assessment and reporting processes
  • school leaders and teachers reviewing school-wide assessment and reporting guidelines and practices so that these consistently reflect best practice.

3 Curriculum

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

Students benefit from broad and well-planned learning experiences. These include a wide range of sporting and cultural opportunities. Students learn in a very supportive learning environment. The school is well resourced and there is a strong focus on caring and respectful relationships.

Students who spoke with ERO were very positive about their teachers and school. They felt that teachers made learning fun and that work was mostly set at the right level of challenge. They appreciated the wide range of opportunities they had.

Māori language and culture are valued. Some topic studies purposefully include aspects of te ao Māori. Many students chose to be part of the weekly te ao Māori and/or te reo Māori enrichment programmes. Similarly, a large group of Māori and non-Māori students participate in the school’s very successful kapa haka group.

The school has effective systems for identifying and tracking students who need extra support with their learning. These students are given appropriate support within and out of class. In particular, students with special needs are well supported and treated as valued members of the school.

Students with special abilities are extended with well-planned and engaging enrichment programmes and opportunities. The school recognises Māori concepts of giftedness and provides its students with relevant enrichment experiences.

Very effective use is made of ICT as a teaching and learning tool. This includes the recent introduction of two I-pad classes. In these classes students use I-pads throughout the day to support and extend their learning.

Within each syndicate and learning area useful annual goals and action plans are set and later reviewed. These have led to ongoing improvements to teaching and learning. In each syndicate, efficient systems are in place to build consistent practices. ERO noted some very good examples of teachers reflecting on students’ learning and how they, as the teacher, contribute to this.

Areas for review and development are:

  • reviewing the school’s curriculum guidelines so that these reflect present school learning priorities and the New Zealand Curriculum Framework
  • improving and extending aspects of school-wide review of teaching and learning.

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

Adults in the school are committed to ensuring that Māori students experience success in their learning and feel valued as Māori. Each year, goals and plans are set to further improve how the school supports Māori students and recognises Māori culture. The school is part of a local initiative to build teachers’ knowledge of te reo and te ao Māori.

Twenty percent of students identify as Māori. School-wide their achievement against the National Standards is consistently higher than their peers and regional and national averages.

Māori students are very positive about their school and their learning. Their views are valued and acted on. The school intentionally looks for opportunities for Māori students to stand proud in their culture and learn more about it.

The board funds a teacher to support Māori students, lead kapa haka and teach enrichment classes. This role includes building a relationship with each student and their family. The school gathers and responds to the views of parents of Māori students.

The next step is to involve all teachers, parents of Māori students and students in discussions as to what success as Māori might look like in this school. Te reo Māori resources need to be made more accessible for students and their families.

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.

Over the last two years there have been significant changes in leadership and staffing. This period of change has been carefully managed by the board and principals.

The board has clear roles and responsibilities for its trustees and sought external advice to assist in its thorough appointment process.

The new and experienced principal has quickly gained an understanding of the strengths and potential areas for development within the school. There is a very collegial and supportive staff culture. This includes strong and well-documented support for beginning teachers.

The school continues to review and refine how staff members are appraised and how well teachers investigate aspects of their teaching.

Areas for review and development are:

  • continuing to review and refine the school’s charter, including its strategic and annual plans so that these reflect current school priorities
  • ensuring regular satisfaction surveys of the parent community and safety and wellbeing surveys for students.

Provision for international students

The number of international students at Grantlea Downs School changes over time. Numbers in 2014 ranged up to six. In March 2015, there was one student. Adults in the school take a special interest in international students’ pastoral care and learning. Students and adults are welcoming.

Grantlea Downs School is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

Areas for review and development are:

  • reporting more rigorously to the board about how well students’ accommodation and English language support meets Code requirements
  • specifically reporting to the board on international students’ progress and 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.

Conclusion

Grantlea Downs School has a very positive school culture. Students enjoy a broad curriculum that includes many sports, cultural and ICT opportunities. Overall, students achieve well against the National Standards. Māori culture is valued. The school is efficiently run. It has a new and experienced principal.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

7 May 2015

About the School

Location

Timaru

Ministry of Education profile number

2111

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

386

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Boys 53%

Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Other European

Asian

Pacific

Other

68%

20%

7%

3%

1%

1%

Special Features

Small attached farm

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

7 May 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

August 2009

July 2006