Avalon School

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Education institution number:
2803
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
207
Telephone:
Address:

10 Gordon Street, Avalon, Lower Hutt

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School Context

Avalon School in Lower Hutt has a roll of 235 Years 1 to 6 students from many ethnic backgrounds, including 41% Māori and 20% Samoan. The roll grown since the November 2014 ERO review. It includes students with highly complex learning needs and those who have English as their second language.

The school’s vision is for all children to ‘dare to dream’ of the possible opportunities for the future. The school emphasises turangawaewae - being a place where students and families feel they belong, can contribute and have their identity and individuality respected.

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

  • achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to year level curriculum expectations
  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets.

The principal and deputy principal are experienced in their professional leadership roles. There has been significant teacher turnover since the previous ERO review.

Whole school professional learning and development (PLD) is focused on building teacher knowledge and inclusion in the curriculum of te ao Māori that will contribute to greater success for Māori students; and supporting more effective learning links with Māori whānau and other groups in the community.

The school is part of the Naenae Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning. 

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence - valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Raising achievement across the school remains a priority.

In 2016, the school reported that approximately half of the students achieved at or above the year level curriculum expectation in reading and mathematics. The percentage at this level in writing was lower. The number of students achieving at expectation has decreased since 2014.

Pacific students overall achieve at a higher level than Māori, but the gap between them has reduced in reading and writing. Boys and girls achieve at similar levels overall.

Goals linked to individual circumstances are set for students with additional learning needs. Many achieve the specific aims identified in their learning plans.

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

A range of school practices and processes support many Māori, Pacific and other students to make accelerated progress.

Information collected in 2017 indicates that approximately half of the students in Years 4 to 6, who were below curriculum expectation at the start of the year in reading and mathematics, made accelerated progress by the end of Term 3. One-third were making similar progress in writing. In the junior classes most who were below expectation in literacy made accelerated progress.

For most students the progress they make over a year is not sufficient to reach the expected level for their year group. Analysis completed by school to show progress over an extended period indicates the longer a student attends the school, the more likely they are to be achieving at expected levels.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

A range of school processes and practices contribute to improved outcomes for many students.

Positive, supportive and respectful relationships with students and their families are well established. Parent and whānau feedback identifies areas of strength. They are encouraged to take an active role in their children’s learning and are well informed about their progress. Children’s uniqueness is valued and celebrated. The school has identified the need to build on these relational links, through current PLD, to further develop learning partnerships.

Staff, leaders and trustees respond to the diverse school community by ensuring a culture of inclusion and care to support the wellbeing and learning of all students that is strongly evident throughout the school. 

Teachers are very aware of the needs of students and the next steps to support their progress. They develop action plans for meeting the needs of students in each class. A range of assessment tools are used to identify learning strengths and gaps, inform teaching and consider progress over time. Teachers use a range of strategies and differentiated programmes to respond to the requirements of learners. Teachers ask appropriate questions and provide relevant feedback that extends learning opportunities. In the classes observed by ERO, students were actively engaged in learning tasks for sustained periods.

Comprehensive programmes support students with additional learning needs. Leaders, teachers, education assistants and parents regularly share information about wellbeing and learning needs. Each child’s progress and achievement is tracked. Leaders and teachers have purposeful connections with external agencies to support individuals’ wellbeing and achievement. Students with high and very complex learning needs are well supported. Teachers and assistants demonstrate positive, purposeful relationships with these learners. They know the children well and engage them respectfully. Children regularly interact with other students in classrooms and the playground.

The principal provides to the board a comprehensive range of reports about the achievement of various groups of students. Board annual targets reflect the areas identified as requiring most improvement based on the previous year’s achievement information. The principal informs trustees of the progress of targeted students and factors that may be impacting on the extent of this. Trustees use the information to inform their decision making.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers are reflective and improvement focused. They should continue to strengthen systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of teaching and initiatives to support acceleration and improve student achievement.

To assist the school’s internal evaluation, reporting to the board should be strengthened by including consideration of the impact of actions and initiatives to support students with additional needs. It should also provide more information about the progress of all students below expectation, not just those who have been specifically targeted.

Teachers are developing shared understanding of classroom practices that will increase consistency of teaching to promote improved student outcomes. Well-considered, whole-school PLD about cultural responsiveness has led to a re-defining of expectations for teacher practice. Building consistent student understanding of the purpose of learning is a next step for teachers.

Teacher action plans that guide classroom learning are re-considered termly. Increasing the extent to which this review includes evaluation of the effectiveness of teacher responses to those learners requiring acceleration, should enable the plans to more successfully support progress.

The teacher appraisal process reflects Education Council expectations. To enable it to more effectively support teacher improvement and student outcomes leaders and teachers should: include individual development goals; continue to develop teaching as inquiry; and increase the extent to which teacher reflections on the Practising Teacher Criteria are linked to how well their practices are impacting on student progress.

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.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to consulting with the community about delivery of the health curriculum.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community.
[Section 60B Education Act 1989]

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the depth of knowledge of individual student’s learning strengths and challenges that enables teachers to focus on specific needs likely to contribute to progress
  • establishing belonging through respectful and inclusive relationships for children, their families and whānau that provides a platform for learning
  • programmes and initiatives that support a diverse range of learners to experience success. 

Next steps

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

  • building a shared understanding of quality teaching practices to support further acceleration in progress for those students who are below expectation
  • continuing to build culturally responsive practices to improve valued outcomes for Māori and Pacific learners
  • reporting to the board to enable trustees to ensure resourcing for students with complex and additional needs is appropriately targeted
  • strengthening internal evaluation processes and practices
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

2 March 2018

About the school 

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

2803

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

235

Gender composition

Male 53%, Female 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                                     41%
Samoan                                                 20%
Asian                                                      12%
Other Pacific                                           9%
Pākehā                                                     9%
Other ethnic groups                              9%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

2 March 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review, February 2015
Education Review, January 2012
Education Review, December 2009

Findings

Students benefit from a well-designed curriculum and an inclusive, caring school culture. Leaders support teachers' use of assessment and teaching practices that positively engage learners and increase student progress. Next development steps for the school include extending self-review practice and establishing a strategic focus for Māori success.

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?

Avalon School, in Lower Hutt, is a primary school for students from Years 1 to 6. The school roll of 194 students is made up of 19 different ethnic groups. Māori is the biggest group of students (37%). Samoan students make up 22% of the roll.

Large numbers of students are English Language Learners. The school roll changes a lot during the year as many students enrol or move away due to family circumstances.

Teachers, leaders and trustees respond well to the diverse Avalon School community by promoting a strong culture of inclusion and care. They are committed to building positive and supportive relationships with students and their families. This approach is appreciated by families and has facilitated student attendance, engagement in school life and progress with learning.

Students with high and complex learning needs are well supported both in the ‘Middle School’ Special Needs Unit and in mainstream classes. They have many opportunities to interact with students across the school, in classrooms and the playground.

2 Learning

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

Teachers and leaders use achievement information very well to help children learn and progress.

There are very good systems in place for identifying, monitoring and catering for students and their learning needs. Teachers analyse assessment data effectively to discover the individual learning strengths, needs and next steps of students. The information is used well for targeting teaching and helping students become aware of their personal learning goals.

Team leaders provide teachers with high levels of support to help them use assessment and teaching methods which result in increased student progress. This includes:

  • a collaborative culture, where teachers work together to share ideas and reflect on student achievement and progress
  • clear expectations for teaching which responds to students’ strengths, needs and interests
  • professional learning to help teachers make accurate judgements about achievement in relation to National Standards.

Learning support staff and professionals from outside the school work closely with teachers to support students with special needs. Individualised learning programmes for these children are clearly tailored to their strengths and needs.

Teachers use achievement information to identify students who may benefit from a range of additional teaching programmes. These include programmes in writing and English language learning.

The school’s reported achievement information shows that many students achieve at and above in relation to the National Standards in reading and mathematics. Leaders are aware that achievement in writing is significantly lower. They continue to investigate ways to raise achievement and ensure accuracy of National Standards judgements. The proportion of students achieving at National Standards expectations in reading, writing and mathematics has increased since 2011.

Families receive regular and clear information about how their children are progressing and achieving. This includes National Standards information. Trustees receive information throughout the year to show schoolwide achievement in relation to the National Standards and progress against the annual plan targets.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes learners’ engagement and progress in many ways. Positive outcomes include:

  • friendly learners who show respect and interact well with one another
  • students who are settled, confident and purposefully and enthusiastically engaged in their learning
  • very good individual progress for most students, as shown in class action plans
  • accelerated progress in literacy during the first year at school
  • steady progress in reading from Year 1 to 6.

Teachers and leaders contribute to these positive outcomes by implementing a curriculum which is responsive to the current students. Priority is given to their wellbeing as well as achievement in literacy and mathematics. Strategies which contribute to student success include:

  • a deliberate shift by teachers to ensure that students’ interests and needs are at the heart of curriculum decision-making
  • Foundation Statements, developed by the school community and closely aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum Key Competencies, which are promoted by teachers and underpin teaching and learning experiences
  • learning which is linked to real-life contexts
  • the development of a school culture which reflects whanaungatanga, aroha and manaakitanga
  • teachers knowing, respecting and valuing students, their families and their cultural identity
  • a range of teaching strategies which promote students thinking more clearly and deeply about their learning goals and next steps.

Families are regularly consulted about the school’s curriculum. Recent feedback has been very positive. As a result of this consultation senior leaders have identified that a next step is to increase the reflection of te ao Māori and cultures of other ethnic groups within the curriculum. ERO’s evaluation affirms this direction.

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

School achievement information shows that most Māori students achieve well in reading. As a group their achievement in mathematics and writing is similar to their non-Māori peers.

Māori relationship values, such as whanaungatanga and manaakitanga are a feature of the school culture and support success for Māori learners.

Leaders and ERO agree it is timely to make the school’s commitment to te ao Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi explicit by:

  • developing and formalising a strategic focus for Māori success, in consultation with whānau and iwi, and informed by Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013-2017 and current research
  • providing professional learning and development to teachers in Māori language and culture.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to maintain and improve positive outcomes for students.

Senior leaders are committed to supporting teachers to develop their practice in order to accelerate student progress. Processes for teacher appraisal are robust and effective. Teachers regularly reflect and inquire into their teaching practice, often in collaboration with others.

The principal leads a management team who are highly responsive to the needs and wellbeing of students and their families. They promote an inclusive and compassionate school culture.

Trustees are focused on supporting the principal, staff, school families and the relationship-based culture of the school. The board is made up of trustees with a range of experience. At the time of this ERO review, elections for two new board members were underway. Trustees should now investigate governance training opportunities with a focus on their role in promoting student achievement.

Annual planning in relation to targets should be extended to include a clearer focus on specific student numbers, strategies and resourcing to support accelerated progress. This should assist analysis and the evaluation of the effectiveness of initiatives to improve student achievement.

There are examples of highly effective self review practice. ERO and managers agree these should be extended further. In particular:

  • staff should continue to sharpen their teacher inquiries to ensure maximum acceleration of student progress
  • managers should ensure that reports which inform planning, decision-making and expenditure consistently include student achievement information. This is important to show the impact of strategies, interventions and professional development on outcomes for students.

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

Students benefit from a well-designed curriculum and an inclusive, caring school culture. Leaders support teachers' use of assessment and teaching practices that positively engage learners and increase student progress. Next development steps for the school include extending self-review practice and establishing a strategic focus for Māori success.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

24 February 2015

About the School

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

2803

School type

Contributing Primary (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

194

Gender composition

Male 55%

Female 45%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Pākehā

Other ethnic groups

37%

22%

17%

24%

Special Features

Special Needs Unit

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

24 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2012

December 2009

November 2006