Nelson Park School

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1 Context

Nelson Park School, in central Napier, caters for Years 1 to 6 students. At the time of this review there are 435 students enrolled, with 27% identifying as Māori. A new principal and deputy principal have been appointed in the last three years.

The school is currently involved in the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) programmes, Accelerating Learning in Literacy (ALL) and Accelerating Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) aimed at raising students' achievement in literacy and mathematics. They will be participating in the Ministry's Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme in 2017.

Nelson Park School is a member of the Napier City Community of Learning (CoL). All schools in the CoL have registered in 2017 to use the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) to support making student achievement judgements in relation to National Standards.

The school has had Ministry support to address the areas for improvement identified in the February 2014 ERO report. Some areas remain priorities including:

  • the evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum in supporting learning
  • deepening the use and reporting of data to show the tracking and monitoring of student progress over time.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to build the culture of the school to be a place where students, in all things, seek the highest - whaia ko te taumata. The core beliefs foster learners to: 

  • have the right to achieve their potential
  • experience a community of learners
  • learn in a child-centred environment
  • be nurtured and valued for creativity
  • find joy in learning through discovery
  • celebrate diversity and difference in an inclusive school climate
  • maintain a strong value-centred culture where virtues are practised
  • attend a happy school where fun and laughter is an everyday occurrence. 

The school’s achievement information shows that the majority of students achieve at or above in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school reports an increase in overall achievement in 2016. The school is yet to raise the achievement of Māori students to that of their peers in reading and writing.

The school has strengthened the dependability and reporting of teachers' judgements in relation to National Standards. They discuss evidence of students' learning to support their decision making. To further strengthen the usefulness and consistency of judgements, leaders and teachers should continue to document clear guidelines for assessment and expectations for achievement.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has focused on: 

  • understanding and implementing processes for forming overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards
  • extending the use of data and more defined target setting at leadership level
  • developing a child-centred curriculum in the senior school
  • enhancing educational success for Māori learners and building bicultural practice
  • establishing teaching as inquiry to assist teacher and leadership capacity. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

School leaders and teachers recognise that raising achievement of Māori students is a priority. The school has begun to identify Māori learners and their needs. The school is yet to be effective in accelerating the achievement of all Māori students.

The principal and trustees recognise the need, and actively support, the building of teachers' confidence and competence in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. There is a well-considered approach to building authentic integration of te ao Māori.

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

The school's response to other children whose learning needs acceleration is the same as for Māori students. This approach should be strengthened by: 

  • establishing expected outcomes for individuals and groups of learners below and well below in relation to National Standards
  • evaluating the strategies and deliberate acts of teaching that best support these learners
  • improving monitoring and tracking of progress overtime
  • more frequent reporting to the board about the progress of target students
  • better strategies to respond to Māori learners, and promote equity of outcomes. 

Data related to ALiM and ALL interventions indicates that most students in these groups have made accelerated progress in 2016.

Student achievement information is used to inform schoolwide targets. Teachers inquire into the effectiveness of their practice to identify strategies that are having the most impact on improving outcomes for students. More purposeful use and analysis of data including collating this information at a leadership level, should better inform the schoolwide response to groups of learners. Appropriate resourcing decisions should result from knowing about what works best in accelerating achievement. 

The school has good systems and processes to support the engagement and achievement of students with additional needs. They interact with a wide range of external agencies, provide programmes and interventions and regularly discuss, as a team, the needs and success of these learners.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum and organisational practices support enactment of its vision.

Trustees have been proactive in addressing the areas for improvement identified in the previous ERO report. They should continue to strengthen their understanding of school governance roles and responsibilities to support schoolwide improvement. A useful framework has been developed to guide consistent stewardship procedures. Trustees have developed a work plan and are currently in the process of reviewing key policies.

School leadership has a clear vision for development through: 

  • teaching as inquiry to build teacher capacity
  • empowering staff to build a cohesive team and develop a collaborative culture of learning
  • encouraging leadership opportunities across the school
  • using data more meaningfully to support decision making. 

A wide range of opportunities for whānau to engage supports and fosters the community atmosphere in the school. Parents are well informed of student learning and achievement. The school is continuing to explore ways to strengthen the learning focused home-school partnership.

The ongoing focus on child centred learning through choice is empowering students to follow their passions and interests. Students are confident and willing to share their successes and learning choices. Teachers know their learners well. The curriculum is under review with the intent to better align it to current best practice and thinking. To support the development of consistent practice, it is timely to consider: 

  • clearly articulating the 'Nelson Park way' for learners and learning programmes
  • developing guidelines for curriculum delivery including assessment practices
  • the desired outcomes for the Nelson Park School curriculum. 

Building teacher capability through a range of professional learning and development initiatives has been targeted to teacher needs and school priorities. The appraisal process has been recently reviewed and strengthened to better support professional development. Clear links to strategic goals are evident. The procedure continues to be developed to better show the impact of teaching strategies on student achievement. A more robust schoolwide approach is needed, to use evidence to effectively demonstrate how teachers are meeting the Education Council requirements for renewing their practising certificates. 

Reflection and review has shown priorities for improvement and changes over the last two years. It is now timely to build an evaluative approach to schoolwide improvement and innovation, including: 

  • developing an understanding of outcomes and establishing indicators of success, based on current research
  • knowing about the impact interventions and initiatives have on improving equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners
  • using evidence to effectively identify the next steps for improvement. 

5 Going forward

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

Leaders and teachers: 

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it. 

There has been a significant focus by the school to establish a collaborative teaching culture to better support schoolwide improvement. A strong and supportive community is highly evident. Leaders and teachers should continue to develop the curriculum to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners.

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, the Internal Evaluation: Good Practice exemplars and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop more targeted planning that includes a significant focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s planning and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years.

6 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 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

The school plans to participate in PB4L in 2017. This should assist leaders and trustees to collect student wellbeing information through analysed anonymous surveys and to develop procedures for behaviour management.

7 Recommendation

Nelson Park School is well placed to strengthen their practice and approach to accelerate the achievement of all children. Key areas to support this improvement should include: 

  • continued review of the curriculum
  • enhancing the effective use of data to inform, track and monitor student progress over time
  • building an evaluative approach to assist schoolwide improvement and innovation. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

9 February 2017 

About the school 

Location

Napier

Ministry of Education profile number

2620

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

435

Gender composition

Male 51%, Female 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Other ethnic groups

27%

63%

10%

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

9 February 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2014

November 2010

August 2007

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Nelson Park School is located in central Napier and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. The community and roll are diverse. Nearly 30% of students identify as Māori and a further 14% is made up of students from many other cultures.

Since the November 2010 ERO report, the roll has increased considerably and is currently weighted in favour of boys. Two new classrooms have been built and an enrolment scheme has been put in place. The board, principal and staff have worked to develop teaching practice in written language, responsiveness to student and community needs and aspirations, and self review. In 2013 there were changes of personnel on the board of trustees and senior leadership team.

The curriculum supports transition from early childhood education for promoting enjoyable foundational learning. It emphasises creativity, social and physical development and wellbeing.

The school is well resourced to deliver its curriculum. Buildings are in good condition and there is a suitable range of materials and equipment. The grounds are spacious and allow for a wide variety of outdoor activities. Students are able to use the facilities offered in the adjacent Nelson Park for more boisterous play and sports practice. The library is open for those who prefer quieter pursuits. The overall impression is that students enjoy their school and are busy and active.

2 Learning

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

Achievement information is used well to plan for, and monitor, student learning, progress and achievement. Teachers use different forms of assessment to make best fit judgements about students' achievement in relation to the National Standards. They are strengthening their understanding of these benchmark expectations through moderation across the year groups and curriculum levels. Moderation with other schools could be worthwhile for enriching understanding and growing teachers’ confidence.

Leaders break down data to identify schoolwide patterns of achievement and target particular groups for accelerated learning. From this analysis they know there are some small differences between the achievement for all students and that for boys in literacy, in particular Māori boys. Data also shows that a few students in two cohorts are tracking behind their peers in mathematics and writing. There are no concerns about the achievement of the small group of Pacific students on the roll.

Students’ interests, talents and learning needs are known to their teachers, who use the information to pitch programmes appropriately. Teachers’ monitoring processes help to maintain the learning momentum. Where achievement information indicates additional support or challenge is required, students receive teacher-aide assistance, specific programme or specialist intervention, and extension and enrichment programmes. These are suitably coordinated and managed.

Overall, students achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics. Final 2012 National Standards data reported, indicates that more Nelson Park students performed at and above the Standards than percentages shown for primary school students nationally. Forty-six percent of students were assessed as achieving above the Standard in reading and nearly a third in mathematics. A schoolwide development programme was begun in 2013 to bring writing performance into line with these two areas. Interim data for 2013 indicated a small upward shift in writing, sustained performance in mathematics and possibly higher overall achievement in reading.

The school needs to extend its use of data to:

  • know how well student progress has been accelerated beyond the normally expected rate, to track performance from year to year, and identify significant matters or trends for students or in curriculum areas
  • focus thinking about the effectiveness of teaching strategies and programmes, particularly for targeted students
  • make sharper comparisons of group performance.

Student progress and achievement is reported twice a year to the board, community and parents, and successes are celebrated in different ways. Parents are invited to attend conferences with their child and the teacher. Students are learning to take a lead in these by sharing their portfolios of assessments and work samples. These are attractively presented and show what the child can do and the next learning steps. The end-of-year report information would be improved by:

  • including these next steps and suggestions of ways for parents to help at home
  • reporting the learning gains in areas beyond reading, writing and mathematics.

Neither mid-year nor end-of-year reporting meets the requirement to be explicit about how well the student is achieving and progressing in relation to the National Standards.

3 Curriculum

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

Teachers form positive relationships with students to foster their wellbeing and learning. They plan programmes based on all elements of The New Zealand Curriculum, following the school’s philosophy of child-centred curriculum provision.

Achievement data gathered over the first year shows how well programmes support students to transition from early childhood education to school and to make progress in literacy and mathematics. The impact of transition processes and the junior years programme is constantly reflected on and reviewed in the interests of students and their families.

Other informal information is available about overall student enjoyment and extent of engagement with school life. An evaluation of learning and effectiveness in curriculum is intended for 2014. This is timely and should be formally planned to guide the work of the relevant committees in identifying which aspects of programme design are effective for students and how provision could be improved.

ERO’s evaluation found that teachers plan skilfully for integrated learning within interesting themes and contexts. The school virtues, key competencies and thinking skills are woven into teaching plans. Through these, they deliberately promote development of student:

  • knowledge, skills and understanding across the learning areas
  • self management
  • cooperative and positive relationships.

Many learning activities involve practical tasks using a wide range of resources. New entrant and junior students experience programmes that allow them to explore learning materials and their environment. All students have a regularly timetabled discovery programme for working across class groups and revisiting learning through age-appropriate activities. Emphasis on creativity is evident in displays around the school, many featuring good quality artworks.

Teaching practice observed was very good overall. Classes are managed well and rooms are attractively presented. Student participation and individuality are visible in displays. The tone is positive and productive.

A key task in school development is to clarify the principles for implementing a child-centred curriculum. While evident in programmes for juniors, there is need to be clearer about what these mean for teacher practice further up the school.

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

The board of trustees, leaders and teachers have worked steadily over two years to be more culturally aware and responsive to Māori students and their whānau. Development for upholding their identity and promoting language learning has been led and facilitated by an external professional and a teacher with specifically designated responsibilities. The improvement strategy is planned to be completed by the end of 2014, but the external support ceases at the end of 2013. School personnel will need to know:

  • how development will be sustained and strengthened so that the planned outcomes are achieved
  • how they will show evidence of progress.

Te ao Māori is represented in classrooms. Māori students can identify with the content of learning themes, reading material available in the library and specific cultural games and activities. Links have been established with the Pukemokimoki marae and students have experienced learning in this environment. The kapa haka group provides opportunities for Māori students to lead performances and pōwhiri. Students in the lead teacher’s room are able to use te reo Māori comfortably as a result of her input. This needs to be equally evident across other classes.

Māori students engage enthusiastically in school activities. Overall, they achieve well. As for all Nelson Park students, the percentage of Māori reported as being at and above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics is above the national percentages. While students not meeting the Standards are targeted for acceleration, teaching plans should also aim to raise numbers achieving above the National Standards, particularly in writing.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Many features of school operation support sustained and improved performance.

The school’s reporting history with ERO indicates sustained good quality teaching, and improvement in knowing how well students are achieving and progressing and goals have been met. Over time leaders and teachers have developed their use of assessment tools and analysis of information for planning to meet students’ learning needs – mainly in literacy and mathematics.

Teaching teams are capably led. Information is shared with members purposefully. Decisions made are in students’ interests and in consultation with relevant personnel within and outside the school.

A growing collegiality and capacity for professional debate and investigation is indicated in school documents, such as records of self review, meetings, teacher reflections and appraisals. Leaders’ and teachers’ next steps are to refine their thinking about how well teaching is serving students by looking more closely into the reasons for difference made and drawing informed conclusions. This process has been used well to explore best practice for supporting children to transition to school and early learning through play-based discovery.

Improvement is needed in some areas of governance and management and guiding documentation.

The governance manual, while useful for inducting new members, would benefit from development to include guidance for carrying out responsibilities and being assured about matters of accountability. The principal should be appraised each year against the key objectives of his agreement with the board and in relation to the professional standards for principals.

Sharing of information with the board needs to be more timely for knowing outcomes for students and for use in planning. This includes student progress and achievement reports and information about the impact of programmes funded to accelerate learning or address specific needs.

Trustees need earlier involvement in charter development and annual planning. Priorities should be outcomes focused and measurable to support evaluation of effectiveness.

The board has sought comprehensive training through the Ministry of Education (MoE) to increase its confidence in undertaking the governance role. The board has also asked for MoE assistance to access professional development for providing a culturally responsive curriculum and using data in evaluation and review.

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.

As a result of its review process, ERO identified that parents did not receive reports on their children’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards or sufficient information about learning in the other curriculum areas. The appraisal of the principal had been delayed throughout 2013. Policy direction and procedures for managing appointments of staff, education outside the classroom, health and safety and the Treaty of Waitangi needed urgent attention.

The board of trustees must:

  • through the principal and teaching staff, in alignment with requirements set in NAG 1, use National Standards to report to parents on students’ progress and achievement in plain language in writing at least twice a year. [NAG 2A, National Administration Guidelines – amended October 2013]
  • implement its policy and procedures for the annual appraisal of the principal for being informed about progress toward its priorities and for promoting high levels of performance. [NAG 3, National Administration Guidelines – amended October 2013]

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should prioritise the review and development of guidelines for managing health and safety both on and off the school site, appointments of staff and commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Recommendation

ERO recommends that the board of trustees accepts Ministry of Education support for addressing the governance and management matters identified in this report.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

18 February 2014

About the School

Location

Napier

Ministry of Education profile number

2620

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

445

Gender composition

Males 54%, Females 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other European

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

59%

27%

4%

3%

2%

5%

Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

18 February 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2010

August 2007

December 2004