Aberfeldy School

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Findings

The school has made sufficient progress in relation to priorities identified in this report and will transition into ERO’s Evaluation for Improvement process. 

1 Background and Context

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

Aberfeldy School is located approximately 35 kilometres north of Whanganui. It is a small rural school for Year 1 to 8 students. At the time of this evaluation, 10 of the 12 students enrolled are Māori.

The school’s vision for children is, ‘Empowering learning together; Te Whakakaha I te ako ngatahi’.

Over the past 12 months the school has undergone several changes to staffing, including the appointment of a principal in term 3, 2020. Two trustees are newly elected.

This ERO report evaluates the progress made and how well placed the school now is to sustain continuous improvement.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

 The areas for review and development identified in the 2020 ERO report were to:

  • review and implement rigorous assessment practices to inform teaching, learning and improve reporting of student progress and achievement to parents and trustees
  • deliver and document a responsive, culturally appropriate, curriculum
  • build effective teaching and opportunities for students to learn
  • better promote student wellbeing and support their opportunities to learn
  • improve partnerships for learning, with students and their families and whānau
  • strengthen school leadership to achieve positive change
  • strengthen governance capability and practice.
Progress

Assessment processes and tools are better used to support the teaching and learning needs of students. Appropriate tracking and monitoring processes assist staff to more fully respond to specific learning goals of individuals. Reported achievement at the end of 2020 showed most students made purposeful progress in reading, writing and mathematics, with some accelerating their progress. Mid-year 2021 shows the school has sustained ongoing improvement in the achievement of nearly all learners.  

Appropriate curriculum priorities in literacy and mathematics reflect the learning and engagement needs of students. Relevant learning contexts encourage purposeful student engagement in learning. Meaningful connections between the school and Māori whānau support the authentic inclusion of culturally responsive learning contexts.  

Respectful, reciprocal relationships across the school support student belonging and wellbeing. Behaviour management practices have been suitably developed with the community. A settled and positive tone promotes the purposeful engagement of students at school. Shared ‘ REAL’ values highlight respect, empowerment, accountability, and learning and have been developed in conjunction with the community. Meaningful connections established between staff, students, parents and whānau support positive wellbeing and the inclusion of learners at school.

Regular information in relation to student learning is encouraging shared partnerships for learning. Written reports provide appropriate information aligned to curriculum outcomes and next step goals. Learning conferences between parents, students and teachers are well attended and inform the development of shared learning goals.

Trustees receive regular and relevant information during the year to support their governance. Regular information in relation to student progress, achievement and wellbeing are used appropriately to inform their resourcing. Consultation with the community ensures decision making is inclusive of key stakeholders. The board has an ongoing and systematic process to review policies and procedures. Strategic and annual plans identify clear goals that guide the school toward their identified priorities. Appropriate appraisal processes have been established to monitor and support the performance management of the principal and staff.

Key next steps
  • Continue professional learning opportunities for trustees to further build their understanding of effective governance practice.
  • Re-establish implementation of the teaching as inquiry processes to inform the quality of changes to the school’s curriculum priorities.

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 well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. Introducing cohesive systems and processes has strengthened teachers’ and trustees’ response to the individual needs of learners and to parents, whānau, and the community. Leadership, by the principal, has effectively implemented better systems and processes to support positive school development and improve learner outcomes.

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

The school has made sufficient progress in relation to priorities identified in this report and will transition into ERO’s Evaluation for Improvement process. 

Shelley Booysen
Acting Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

14 December 2021

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

School Context

Aberfeldy is located approximately 35 kilometres north of Whanganui. It is a small rural school that caters for Years 1 to 8 students. At the time of this evaluation, 14 students were enrolled and 11 are Māori.

The school’s vision for children is, ‘Kei te whakaongonga mo nga mahi ako kei te whai, kia hiranga - Excited about learning and aiming for excellence’. ‘CHEER’ values of ‘cooperation, honesty, excellence, enthusiasm and respect’ are expressed as being at the heart of everything they do.

Most members of the board of trustees are new.

Annual goals for 2020 include 90% of students achieving at or above the school’s expected level in reading and writing. There is also a goal related to students’ wellbeing.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics

  • attendance.

Since the August 2017 evaluation, leaders and teachers participated in STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics professional learning. During 2019, teacher inquiry focused on improving teaching and learning in writing.

ERO’s previous evaluation identified the need to review and strengthen performance management systems and some policies and procedures. Further development of the school’s localised curriculum and improved internal evaluation practices were also areas requiring strengthening. Limited progress has been made in these areas. Organisational conditions conducive to student wellbeing and learning continue to need improving to achieve equitable educational outcomes for all.

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 needs to improve systems and processes to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

The school’s student achievement data at the end of 2019 shows most achieve at or above curriculum expectations for their year level in reading, writing and mathematics. The data shows there continues to be disparity in achievement outcomes for some groups of learners.

During the evaluation the school was not able to provide enough student achievement information for ERO to verify this data was accurate and dependable.

Attendance information for 2019 showed some students were absent from school beyond the Ministry of Education’s optimum attendance rate, deemed necessary for students to successfully progress their learning.

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

The school needs to improve its response to those Māori and others whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Leaders and teachers were unable to provide ERO with an accurate picture of the rate of accelerated learning progress for those Māori and other students who need this, during 2019. Teachers need to use analysed achievement data more efficiently to ensure Māori, boys and other learners who need to make accelerated progress, are better catered for.

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?

Trustees work diligently to support children and staff. They have accessed external support to carry out their stewardship role. Strategic and annual plans are improvement focused.

Opportunities are provided for families and whānau to contribute to the life of the school and to support children’s learning experiences in the wider community.

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

Leaders, trustees and teachers need to develop a shared understanding of their role in promoting equity and excellence for all learners. They should build their individual and collective capability to lead effective internal evaluation practice to know what is working well in the school’s revised curriculum and who for.

Organisational conditions in the school need developing. Improving processes and practices are necessary to ensure all students experience a safe physical and emotional learning environment. These include:

  • having effective leadership and responsive effective teaching practice

  • fully implementing a culturally responsive curriculum that promotes all children’s wellbeing and social and emotional competence

  • revising annual achievement targets to ensure a relentless focus on all learners and groups whose learning and achievement need accelerating

  • establishing strong partnerships for learning with students and their families and whānau

  • building teachers’ data literacy to improve assessment and moderation processes to ensure consistent, timely and responsive teaching practice

  • the timely and dependable reporting of students’ progress and achievement in relation to the school’s expectations to families and whānau and trustees

  • improving processes that build teachers’ capability, including appraisal and teaching as inquiry aligned to the school’s strategic aims and direction.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Aberfeldy School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • building stewardship practice so that trustees achieve the school’s valued outcomes for learners
  • providing opportunities for families and whānau that involves them in the life of the school.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in improving school conditions to ensure:

  • effective school leadership, a responsive curriculum and effective teaching
  • student wellbeing and opportunities to learn
  • partnerships for learning, with students and their families and whānau
  • rigorous assessment practice informs teaching, learning and reporting of student progress and achievement to parents and trustees.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in board administration and managing health, safety and welfare.

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

  • provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students
  • maintain an ongoing programme of self-review of strategic planning, and the planned curriculum including the evaluation of good quality assessment information on student progress and achievement
  • use good quality assessment information to report to students and their parents on progress and achievement of individual students, in plain language and in writing at least twice a year
  • ensure they meet the mandatory reporting requirements of the Teaching Council.
    [National Administration Guidelines 5, 2 (a), (b), (c); Section 392 (b) Education Amendment Act 2015]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • give priority to reviewing policies, procedures and school practices for managing challenging behaviour and use of physical restraint; and ensure parents, students, school staff and the community know about these.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about improvement in:

  • assessment to inform teaching, learning and reporting of student progress and achievement

  • effective school leadership, to build teacher capability and develop a responsive curriculum

  • learning-centred partnership with whānau

  • trustees’ understanding of their roles, responsibilities and legislative obligations, including the provision of a safe physical and emotional environment for children

  • understanding and use of internal evaluation for improvement.

Darcy Te Hau

Acting Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)

Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

8 June 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.