National Park School

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School Context

National Park School is a full primary catering for students from Years 1 to 8. The school is located close to Tongariro National Park in the Ruapehu district. The school roll at the time of this evaluation was 43, including 11 students who identify as Māori.

National Park School express themselves as a confident, active community of learners. ‘Whāia te iti kahurangi. Ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei. Reach for the sky. If you should falter let it be to a lofty peak’. This aims to motivate the community to achieve their potential. Intended outcomes for children include the recognition and affirmation of sense of self. The school aims for learners to experience a broad curriculum that has meaning for them and connect with their wider lives.

Analysed student achievement data at the end of 2017 identified the need to improve achievement and engagement. A priority for 2018 is to accelerate the progress and achievement of students whose learning is at risk.

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

  • progress, acceleration and achievement of priority learners in reading, writing and mathematics
  • mid-year and end-of-year progress and achievement, in relation to levels of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • attendance
  • initiatives and inquiry as outlined in the school’s strategic plan.

Teaching staff have had professional learning and development opportunities since the previous review including the Ministry of Education initiative, Accelerating Literacy Learning (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 is yet to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students. Over the past three years, a school focus has been, and continues to be the Māori students who feature disproportionately in the school’s underachieving group. End of 2017 achievement data, showed many children achieved at, and a few children above the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. Boys achieve slightly better than girls in reading and maths, with girls’ achievement being higher in writing.

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

School leaders and teachers respond very well to Māori and other children at risk of not meeting the school’s achievement expectations.

Teachers efficiently implement well-considered individual learning plans for all of these students. These plans align to the school’s annual improvement plan and achievement targets. The school’s 2017 data shows a slight increase in outcomes for Māori learners in reading, writing and mathematics. 

School leaders monitored and scrutinised assessment information well for target students in 2016 and 2017. Achievement over time shows almost all, including Māori, made progress and for the majority, their learning was accelerated. The data for Year 8 leavers in 2017 showed most left at or above The New Zealand Curriculum expectations.

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?

School leaders and staff promote a positive, inclusive school culture. Respectful learning partnerships between the school and families and whānau assist in enacting the school’s refreshed vision and values. The positive school environment and relationship-based teaching practice is conducive to student-led learning. Children take pride in their school and demonstrate a strong sense of belonging.

Curriculum developments align well to the school’s strategic direction. Trustees and school staff work collaboratively to implement the localised curriculum. It strongly reflects the aspirations held by families and whānau. Learning in the school and wider community provide children ample opportunities to learn through authentic contexts of high interest to them. Te ao Māori continues to develop as an integral part of the school’s localised curriculum.

School processes result in effective collaborative practice. Appropriate teacher professional learning and inquiry takes place and is improvement and learner-focused. Teachers know students’ strengths, interests and learning needs well. Their ability to make dependable judgements about student progress and achievement is supported by effective leadership and standardised assessments. Increased teacher knowledge in effective mathematics and writing teaching has improved achievement outcomes for most children.

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

Curriculum review and development is ongoing. The pace of development means that school curriculum guiding documents need to be updated to align with innovations and evolving practice.

Leaders recognise the need to continue to embed and consolidate the effective teaching practice of literacy and mathematics across the curriculum. They also identify continuing their relentless focus on accelerating the progress of the targeted learners is a priority, especially eradicating the disparity for Māori.

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:

  • the positive organisational culture and high relational trust that supports a conducive learning environment
  • purposeful leadership that promotes collaboration and collective responsibility to achieve equity and excellence for all students
  • the provision of a broad curriculum and opportunities that support students to learn through authentically rich experiences. 

Next steps

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

  • ongoing use of effective internal evaluation to know how successfully identified strategies in the school’s development plan enable the achievement of equity and excellence for all students
  • continuing to accelerate progress of learners at risk of underachievement.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

2 May 2018

About the school 

Location

National Park

Ministry of Education profile number

2405

School type

Primary Year 1 - 8

School roll

43

Gender composition

Male 25, Female 18

Ethnic composition

Māori            11
Pākehā          32

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

2 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review, February 2015
Education Review, May 2013
Education Review, June 2010

Findings

The school has responded positively to the areas for improvement identified in the May 2013 ERO report. A broad curriculum successfully promotes learning and provides many positive experiences for students. Extensive use is made of the local environment. Continuing to build assessment and self-review practice should be a priority for the new principal.

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

1 Background and Context

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

National Park School caters for students from Years 1 to 8. It is located close to Tongariro National Park, adjacent to the Mount Ruapehu Ski-field. The unique local environment is used to provide many learning opportunities for students. It also contributes to the transient nature of the school community. There are usually two classes, increasing to three in Term 3, to include a skiing extension group.

Students are encouraged to be independent, resilient and involved in a wide range of activities. The attractive learning spaces are well resourced. Computer technology is currently being updated to increase digital learning opportunities. Student success and involvement is celebrated.

The May 2013 ERO report identified areas for improvement. Since then the school has participated in an ongoing ERO evaluation process to assist improvement. Support has been provided by a professional development facilitator, a board advisor and the Ministry of Education. Many of these areas for improvement have been addressed.

The current principal retires at the end of Term 1, 2015. A new principal begins in Term 2, 2105. Continuing to build the extent of curriculum self review should be a focus for the board and newly appointed principal.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The May 2013 ERO report identified areas for development:

  • improving the use of assessment information to make judgements about students' progress and achievement and for reporting to parents and trustees
  • documenting the attendance and curriculum of students in the Term 3 Ski Academy
  • promoting success for Māori students
  • strengthening the appraisal process for the principal and teachers
  • documenting and developing school-wide understanding of self review to further promote positive outcomes for students.

Progress

National Standards and other achievement information indicate that students continue to progress and achieve well. Most students are at or above in relation to the National Standard for their year level in reading, writing and mathematics. Year 8 leavers are well-equipped to access the curriculum in Year 9.

Teachers have increased their understanding and use of assessment. A range of information, including nationally standardised assessment, is used for judgements about student achievement and progress. Assessment information informs the focus of teaching. Students whose learning should be accelerated are identified. Strategies are put in place to respond to the needs of these targeted students. Teachers use assessment information to assist their reflection on the impact of teaching. Achievement information is regularly reported to the board.

Teachers are currently reviewing assessment practice for 2015. Review should include consideration of the tools to be used and how they can contribute to improved learning.

Written reports to parents include achievement and progress information in reading, writing, mathematics and a range of other learning areas. To further improve reporting, next steps for learning and how parents can contribute to this should be more evident.

The broad curriculum provides many opportunities for students to be enthusiastically engaged and extend their learning. There is an appropriate focus on literacy and mathematics. The programme includes experiences in a range of physical environments. All students are involved in a ski programme during Term 3. The Academy enables some students to focus more on extending their skiing skills.

Teachers use a variety of strategies to effectively engage students and promote learning. Respectful and affirming relationships are evident. Students take increasing responsibility for achieving their own learning goals as they move through the school. Expectations are high and there is a strong focus on learning.

Developing assessment and teaching practice in writing is the current focus of teacher professional learning. Students are effectively supported to have greater understanding of their learning and next steps in writing.

Te ao Māori is reflected in the curriculum and this contributes to building understanding of students' bicultural heritage. The board and teachers should consider how they could promote further success for Māori students. Using resources such as Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013-2017 andTātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners should assist the necessary review of current practices.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school has developed its self-review capacity using evidence that includes student achievement information. It is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Trustees form a relatively new board and they are building understanding of their responsibilities. Comprehensive policies and procedures are in place to support trustees in their role. A programme has been developed to support the new principal to transition to her position. Trustees should continue to be involved in training to build their capability, particularly in relation to self review.

An appropriate performance appraisal process, focused on reflection and improvement, is in place for the principal and teachers.

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

The school has responded positively to the areas for improvement identified in the May 2013 ERO report. A broad curriculum successfully promotes learning and provides many positive experiences for students. Extensive use is made of the local environment. Continuing to build assessment and self-review practice should be a priority for the new principal.

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

Joyce Gebbie,

Deputy Chief Review Officer-Central,

13 February 2015

About the School

Location

National Park

Ministry of Education profile number

2405

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

49

Gender composition

Female 27, Male 22

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

1

48

Review team on site

December 2014

Date of this report

13 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

March 2010

June 2006