Rai Valley Area School

Education institution number:
291
School type:
Composite
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
110
Telephone:
Address:

6700 State Highway 6, Rai Valley

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Rai Valley Area School - 22/01/2019

School Context

Rai Valley Area School is a rural school located between Nelson and Blenheim. It caters for students in Years 1 to 13. The roll is growing and is currently 109.

The school’s overarching vision is ‘Growing and Learning towards a Great Future’. The school states that they want students to succeed in national curriculum areas and to develop attitudes and values promoted through the RAI WAY values. These values are Respect, Achieve and Inspire.

The board’s strategic goals relate to student achievement, communication, celebrating student success and wellbeing. Student outcome targets are the same as the Kāhui Ako targets. These targets are:

  • raising the achievement in writing for Māori and boys from Y1 to 10
  • acceleration of learning in reading for students after 40 weeks at school
  • raising the achievement in mathematics from Years 4 to 8
  • raising NCEA achievement at Levels 2 and 3, and/or University Entrance (retention and engagement.

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

  • achievement across Years 1 to 10 in reading, writing and mathematics
  • NCEA achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework
  • achievement across the school in relation to the board’s strategic targets
  • information relating to engagement, e.g. attendance, behavioural data and the recent student wellbeing survey
  • students with additional learning needs
  • participation and success in sporting, curriculum and community activities and events.

Since ERO’s 2015 review, the board is made up of elected trustees with one Ministry of Education appointee who provides ongoing support. The board has recently appointed a new principal following the previous principal’s retirement. The school also has other senior leaders new to their roles.

Over the past three years, staff have participated in professional learning and development (PLD) in literacy and mathematics. The school has also undertaken considerable development of the RAI WAY as part of a Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) contract.

The school is part of the Top of the South Island (TOSI) Area Schools Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL).

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 making good progress towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

Since 2017, the school has used, and generally achieved, the CoL targets.

School data, over the past three years, shows a general trend of improvement for students in Years 1 to 8 in reading, writing and mathematics, with most students achieving at or above national expectations. Girls’ achievement reflects this improvement and work is being done to further lift the achievement of boys.

School leaders are very aware of the need to address disparity and promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. They are now tracking each student’s progress and achievement over time to monitor accelerated progress.

In Year 10, 2018 data show that most students achieve at or above national expectations in reading, writing and numeracy. The 2018 data shows that most students at Year 9 achieve at or above national expectations in reading and mathematics. School leaders are considering alternative curriculum approaches to increase student engagement in learning and to improve overall outcomes.

Students with additional needs are identified. The school has specific interventions in place to help promote wellbeing and learning for their students. Support strategies for this group, and all students, include their needs being well known to staff, a focus on developing positive relationships and their active engagement in learning. The school is developing more effective systems for reporting student progress. This should include reporting on outcomes of interventions for identified students.

There are increased levels of retention through to the senior school. Achievement information from 2015 to 2017 shows significant improvement in NCEA for all students, including Māori. The school reports that most students, by the time they reach Year 11, achieve NCEA Level 1. The school’s achievement information for 2017 shows that almost all Year 11 to 13 students achieved the relevant NCEA Level 1, 2, or 3 qualification. There is also an increase in the number of students achieving level endorsements and university entrance qualifications.

Students are well supported and prepared to determine their future direction and participate in further education, training and employment.

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

Acceleration in learning for Māori students is evident across the school.

The school effectively identifies students whose learning requires further support. There has been ongoing disparity for Māori students in reading, writing and mathematics at each level of the junior school. However, 2018 student achievement data for Māori students in Years 3 to 8 shows that they are achieving as well as, or better than, other students. There is good evidence of acceleration of Māori student progress, particularly in writing.

2018 data also shows that there is acceleration for some students in reading, writing and mathematics. School leaders are aware that some students’ achievement has regressed over time. They are using specific initiatives and interventions to address this trend and to achieve equitable outcomes for all students.

Accelerated student progress for students in Year 10 is evident in 2018. Numeracy data shows that they have improved from being at national expectations to above since the beginning of that year. Disparity in boys’ achievement for reading, writing and mathematics continues to be an area that requires ongoing focus.

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 curriculum is highly responsive to students’ individual strengths and capabilities, particularly at senior secondary level. Flexible course design and responsive planning allow students to explore new interests and develop skills to support their individual future learning pathways. The curriculum emphasises collaborative approaches to, and choice in, learning.

Student wellbeing and the RAI WAY values are prioritised as foundations for learning success. Recent curriculum reviews have focused on increasing collective teacher responsibility for literacy and mathematics learning across the school, and continuity in learning across Years 1 to 13.

Trustees, leaders and teachers build their professional capability and collective capacity through relevant professional learning and development (PLD). This PLD builds their understanding of current effective practice aligned with the school’s strategic direction. The PLD is positively impacting on school culture and student achievement.

Since ERO’s 2015 report, the board and school leaders have continued to provide effective leadership and a positive learning culture. This gives a sound foundation for new leaders and trustees who are working collaboratively to further develop, refine and extend learning opportunities for students. The new leadership team is focused on giving students equitable opportunities to learn within a rich curriculum, and promoting student wellbeing in a positive learning environment. They lead, model and engage in professional learning with and alongside teachers. They also encourage and recognise leadership and innovation amongst staff.

The school has deliberate and successful ways of building community partnerships. School facilities are used by the community. Well–supported events such as Pet Day, and students’ involvement in aspects of community service, raise the school profile and benefit students. The “Reading Together” programme is building a partnership in learning with parents. Connections with the Pelorus School Cluster and the TOSI CoL are contributing to school improvement.

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

The principal and leadership team are strengthening practices to clearly identify where disparity in outcomes occur and to better track the progress of at risk learners. Leaders and teachers need to ensure that the practices aimed at achieving equity of outcomes for those learners whose progress and learning require acceleration are fully implemented. This includes very close monitoring of target learners’ progress, inquiring into teaching and learning practices, and more frequent reporting to trustees. Deeper analysis, reporting and use of student achievement information for groups of students over time, including students with additional learning needs, will assist the school to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of initiatives and interventions in accelerating student progress.

School leaders should now extend curriculum review to include all learning areas across Years 1 to 13 in order to continue the development of a coherent, authentic curriculum that reflects the school’s valued outcomes for students and promotes continuity in their learning. As part of this curriculum development, they should continue to prioritise culturally responsive perspectives that build teachers’ cultural competency and respond effectively to Māori students’ language, culture and identity. Strengthening the partnership with the Māori community is an important part of increasing cultural responsiveness.

School leaders are aware of the need to strengthen the teacher appraisal process. This process needs to include meaningful and specific goals, indicators and robust evidence that includes achievement information.

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.

Appraisal audit

The school should continue to develop a robust appraisal system, focused on positive outcomes for students, that meets all the requirements of the Education Council.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review the existing policy framework to ensure they meet all current legislative requirements and align with board expectations

  • ensure effective cyclical policy review is maintained.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the highly responsive curriculum that caters for students’ individual strengths and capabilities, particularly at senior secondary level

  • effective leadership that promotes a positive learning culture

  • PLD that positively impacts on school culture and student achievement

  • the deliberate and successful ways of building community partnerships.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to build trustees’ and staff cultural competence and expertise in providing an inclusive and productive bicultural learning environment to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for Māori and all students

  • improving internal evaluation to enable evidence-based judgements about the quality, effectiveness or value of policies, programmes, practices and new initiatives in terms of their contribution to equity and excellence for all students.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review & Improvement Services

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

22 January 2019

About the school

Location

Rai Valley

Ministry of Education profile number

291

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

109

Gender composition

Girls 51% ; Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 16%

Pākehā 82%

Other ethnicities 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October 2018

Date of this report

22 January 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review November 2015

Education Review November 2012

Education Review September 2010

Rai Valley Area School - 02/11/2015

1 Context

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

Rai Valley Area School is a small rural school located between Nelson and Blenheim. The school has spacious, well maintained facilities and is well resourced.

A number of community activities are based at the school, including a playgroup. The strong links with other schools and education providers extend learning opportunities for students and teachers.

Students come from a range of backgrounds with a variety of strengths, needs and interests. A number of students stay at the school for short lengths of time. Small classes and well targeted programmes enable students to receive individual attention.

The school has had a period of significant challenge, including a period when a commissioner led the board. It is currently governed by a board of Ministry of Education appointed trustees, parent-elected members, staff representative, student representative and the principal.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the board, school leaders and teachers have made very good progress. They have significantly improved learning and teaching practices and partnerships between the school and community. The school’s evaluation processes have strengthened, and the school’s leaders can now use these strong processes to improve outcomes for all students and to manage change.

2 Learning

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

The school effectively analyses and uses student achievement information to monitor students’ progress, and identify suitable interventions, particularly for targeted students.

Senior leaders and teachers make very good use of a range of analysed achievement information to set targets, consider new initiatives and allocate resources. Teachers are taking appropriate steps to raise student achievement through well targeted teaching and support. They use an appropriate range of assessment practices to accurately assess student progress and achievement. This information is used to modify programmes and practices and provide suitable support for targeted students.

Partly because of the ongoing changes in the school’s roll, student achievement patterns vary from year to year. Mathematics and writing achievement against National Standards improved between 2013 and 2014. Groups of students, including Māori and boys, tend to achieve less well than their peers. An increasing number of students are achieving merits, subject endorsements and Level 2 in NCEA.

The board receives good information about student achievement and progress and uses this to make well informed decisions about raising student achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively supports and extends student learning.

Students are provided with a broad and varied range of interesting learning experiences. These experiences increasingly target students’ strengths, interests, and needs, particularly at Years 11 to 13. The effective use of tertiary and other provider extends students, and provides good opportunities for all students to develop their leadership skills.

The board, leaders and teachers are strongly committed to going the ‘extra mile’ to ensure students’ learning is relevant and authentic. Flexible use of staffing and the use of a wide range of effective teaching practices engage students in learning. This includes teaching students at their level of learning, and providing high levels of targeted individual support.

Ongoing improvements to the quality of teaching programmes and practices are occurring through effective, well targeted professional development and support. Teachers make good use of the opportunities that exist in this school’s setting to make sure students move successfully through and from the school.

High and clear expectations for learning and behaviour have significantly improved the culture of learning throughout the school. This includes building stronger relationships between students and teachers and their peers, collaborative learning and active teaching of the key competencies and values.

The school leaders and teachers have developed strong systems for supporting students’ wellbeing. Teachers have made effective use of external agencies to complement the significant efforts they and the recently appointed school counsellor have made.

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

The school is actively working towards promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Educational success for Māori as Māori has been thoroughly reviewed in consultation with parents of Māori students. This has resulted in a well considered action plan to raise the achievement of Māori students. This is in the early stages of implementation. This review indicated Māori students feel a sense of belonging, and their cultural identity is recognized and valued. Practices that are contributing to this are:

  • the increasing use of te reo Māori and Māori signage and art works in the environment
  • leadership and learning opportunities for older Māori students, including the recently introduced kapa haka
  • the involvement of a range of Māori leaders and role models and increasing working relationships with local resource people.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is currently well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The successful change from this board to a new board in 2016 will be critical to building on the very good processes currently in place to promote ongoing school improvement.

The principal and the senior leadership team provide strong leadership and have created a positive learning culture in the school. They have high expectations, model what they expect from others and have the capacity to promote ongoing improvements to the quality of education for learners. Professional knowledge and experience, reflective practices and ongoing self review lead to well considered, targeted and managed change.

Appropriate use of staff strengths, ongoing professional development and support, along with robust appraisal systems, is promoting improvement to teaching and learning.

The board performs its governance role effectively. Trustees are seen around and involved with the school. They bring a range of suitable knowledge, skills and experience to their roles and continue to upskill through board training. The board has a very good framework for its operations. This includes understanding roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, running efficient and effective meetings and the prudent use of funds to ensure programmes are resourced.

There is a strong sense of partnership between the board and school leaders who are working collaboratively towards clear priorities. Trustees are well informed through effective reporting practices and ongoing self review.

The board is making good progress with strengthening the links between the school and community.

Areas for review and development

ERO agrees with the priorities that the board and school leaders have identified for review and development. This includes ensuring the change to a new board is successful in promoting further self management, and consolidating and building on a range of recent well targeted initiatives.

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

This small, rural school, located between Nelson and Blenheim, has spacious, well maintained, facilities and is well resourced to provide education for Years 1 to 13 students. Teachers effectively adapt programmes to support students who stay for short periods of time. Students are provided with a broad range of interesting learning experiences. The school is strongly led and governed.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

2 November 2015

About the School

Location

Rai Valley

Ministry of Education profile number

291

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

92

Gender composition

Boys 46;

Girls 46

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

67

25

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

2 November 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

September 2010

August 2007