Pongaroa School

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School Context

Pongaroa School, catering for children in Years 1 to 8, is a rural school located sixty kilometres from Dannevirke, in the Tararua district. Of the 58 learners enrolled, 23 identify as Māori.

The school mission statement of ‘The Best I Can Be - Kei te kaharawa ahau’ is supported by the school’s vision to prepare confident learners for an every-changing world.

The school’s strategic aims are focused on strengthening and improving learning, teaching practices, community engagement and connecting to the local environment.

The school has established annual learning targets for 2018, focusing on increasing the number of students, particularly Māori and boys, achieving at their expected level in literacy and mathematics.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • progress in targeted programmes

  • progress and achievement for all learners at risk, and those who are identified as gifted and talented.

Since the December 2015 ERO report, there have been a significant number of changes to leadership and staff. A new principal was appointed in 2018. The board is made up of both long-standing and recently elected trustees.

The school is a member of the Tararua Kāhui Ako.

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 has yet to achieve equity and excellence for all its students.

Achievement data from the end of 2017 shows that most students were achieving well in writing. The large majority of students achieved at expected curriculum levels in reading and mathematics.

There is however, significant disparity for Māori, who achieved below their peers in mathematics and literacy. The achievement of boys was below that of girls in literacy. This is well known by trustees, leaders and teachers and strategies are in place to address this.

Learners with additional needs are appropriately identified, their needs recognised and programmes of support are put in place. External expertise supports this provision.

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

2018 school data shows a significant number of students, including Māori, have made better than expected progress in reading and mathematics, as a result of targeted teaching and classroom programmes.

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?

During 2018, the new leadership team is working strategically and collaboratively to develop schoolwide practices and processes to promote equity and excellence for all students. A well-considered approach to developing shared understanding of the school’s vision for successful learners is evident. This contributes to ongoing curriculum design. There is a measured approach to establishing clear expectations for consistent practice, and improved quality of teaching.

A suitable range of systems, processes and strategies have been introduced to identify, track and monitor individual students at risk of not achieving at expected curriculum levels. Teachers have revised assessment practices and continue to explore ways to show rates of progress and acceleration. Opportunities are used to purposefully discuss effective teaching and share strategies for promoting learning.

The current leadership team is improvement-focused. They provide a range of purposeful professional learning opportunities to increase teacher capability and support learner success. The appraisal system has been strengthened to align with the school’s goals and targets for improved student outcomes. There is an ongoing focus on further building the evaluative capacity of staff to understand the impact of their teaching programmes on achievement through a process of inquiry. Support staff are highly valued and supported to build their capability to positively contribute to learner outcomes.

School staff establish positive relationships with students and families. Parents, whānau and the community are welcomed and involved in a range of school activities. Recent school initiatives to strengthen parents’ knowledge of their children’s learning are supporting the development of learning partnerships.

The board actively represents and serves the school and community in its stewardship role. Trustees bring a range of skills to the board. An increased focus on accelerating student achievement for those children who require this is evident. Trustees demonstrate a strong commitment to the ongoing promotion of the school and the long-term success of learners.

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

In response to a period of significant staffing and leadership changes, leaders, trustees and staff are working towards establishing effective systems and processes for sustainable, improvement-focused school operation.

Trustees and leaders have plans to consult the community to inform the school’s strategic direction. Robust analysis of responses should support the clear identification of valued outcomes for all groups of students to better meet their needs.

Deeper analysis of achievement data and improved reporting of progress and acceleration for all groups of students at risk of not achieving, is a next step. This should better support the appropriate provision of a responsive curriculum for all learners.

School leaders have identified the importance of an ongoing focus on growing capability and capacity to support a culturally responsive curriculum for Māori learners. A key next step is to develop a shared vision of success for Māori, informed by whānau and iwi aspirations.

As a new leader to the school, the principal is actively gathering a range of information to inform decisions for improvement. Further developing a shared understanding and use of internal evaluation is an ongoing focus. This should better inform trustees, leaders and teachers’ knowledge of what has the most significant impact on raising achievement, and support continued development.

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 appropriate vision of trustees and leaders that focuses on raising levels of achievement and school performance

  • a leadership team that is focused on building consistent teaching and learning practices to promote positive outcomes for students

  • a culture of collaboration among trustees and staff that supports a collective response to the needs of all learners.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening inquiry and analysis of achievement information, by trustees, leaders and teachers, to systematically address in-school disparities

  • knowing the valued outcomes for Māori learners, as determined by parents and whānau, to better provide a culturally responsive curriculum

  • building schoolwide inquiry and internal evaluation to better determine the effectiveness of programmes and actions on student outcomes.
    [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

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

6 November 2018

About the school

Location

Pongaroa

Ministry of Education profile number

2962

School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll

58

Gender composition

Boys 34, Girls 24

Ethnic composition

Māori 23
Pākehā 34
Other ethnic groups 1

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

6 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2015
Education Review February 2013
Education Review February 2010

Findings

The board and principal set a clear direction for this community school. The curriculum provides an extensive range of experiences to motivate and promote student learning. Students are confident, respectful and active learners. The school has a settled tone and there are strong partnerships with parents and the community.

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?

Pongaroa School is a rural, Years 1 to 8 primary located sixty kilometres from Dannevirke in the Tararua district. The majority of students leave to go to boarding school.

The roll of 60 includes 23 students who identify as Māori. The carved entrance, makes ties to the school’s community and local iwi. It reflects the school’s motto: “The best I can be – Kei te kaharawa ahau.”

In the past three years two nearby schools, Akitio and Tiraumea have closed. Children from these communities now attend Pongaroa School. Through community consultation, provision has been made to integrate these communities into all aspects of school life. Rebranding, rebuilding and the employment of a new principal have set a new direction for the school.

The strong ties to the adjacent early childhood service have facilitated an easy transition for children into the new entrant classroom.

The school has addressed the areas for development identified in ERO’s February 2013 review. It has a good ERO reporting history.

2 Learning

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

The board, principal and teachers make effective use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Teachers use a range of assessment tools to inform their overall judgements about students' learning in relation to National Standards. Their analysis of student progress and achievement facilitates planning and student goal setting for reading, writing and mathematics. Students confidently discuss their goals. Most achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The school's publicly available achievement data indicates that achievement levels are above schools nationally.

Most Māori students achieve at or above the National Standards. Those that are at risk of not achieving National Standards are identified and specific strategies are in place to support their progress.

The board has set targets related to students that require additional support to achieve equitable outcomes. There is a strong focus on accelerating achievement for these students and the principal regularly reports on their progress. School data show some students are making significant progress. Continuing to scrutinise achievement data in relation to these students should enable teachers to identify additional strategies to further support their learning and progress.

Collaborative, robust inquiry among teachers and the principal contributes to a shared knowledge of all students’ abilities. Achievement information is appropriately used by teachers as part of their inquiry into the outcomes of strategies used to accelerate students at risk of not achieving.

The school provides parents with comprehensive information about their child’s achievement, engagement and progress through a range of communication approaches. The next step is to review the structure of the reports to parents in order to make students' progress towards meeting the National Standards more explicit.

3 Curriculum

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

In 2014, following extensive community consultation the curriculum was reviewed. It is well designed to promote and support student learning and strongly aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum, the school’s charter and strategic plan. Curriculum documentation provides useful guidelines for planning and implementation of programmes. The curriculum is regularly reviewed to continue to embed the good practice and make further enhancements.

The school curriculum is responsive to students’ needs and the community’s wishes. It prioritises development in numeracy, literacy, key competencies and student inquiry. Students have a wide range of opportunities including a special science programme, arts and, as a result of valuable community support, outdoor education.

Students take increasing responsibility for their learning and behaviour through a school emphasis on promoting competencies such as self-management. They use digital technology within the curriculum. The school, through its rebuilding programme, is preparing well for digital learning.

Teachers are capable and experienced. They have collaboratively reviewed and changed the way they teach. They have embraced change positively. They have developed inquiry practices that promote engagement, thinking and learning. Continuing to strengthen formative assessment practice is likely to increase their effectiveness.

Classes are settled and students are purposefully engaged in interesting and authentic learning experiences. The learning environments include well-considered displays of learning prompts and purposes.

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

The school has increasingly developed strategies and approaches to effectively promote success for Māori as Māori.

Since the 2013 ERO review, relationships with Te Hika o Papauma, the local iwi, have been strengthened.

A kaumātua supports schoolwide development of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori through a weekly programme for students. There is a strong focus on helping Māori children understand who they are as well as accelerating their achievement. Emphasis is placed on local Māori history.

The board continues to place importance on increasing participation and success for Māori through initiatives consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Plans to support Māori students are well embedded in school and class practice. The analysis of Māori student achievement data is an important part of school decision making.

Teachers are developing confidence in using te reo Māori. The recent introduction ofTātaiako – Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners will support this teacher development.

A number of Māori students have taken advantage of the range of available leadership opportunities.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance, as evidenced by the:

  • board’s efficient management processes to sustain good governance of the school and commitment to ongoing improvement
  • strong community engagement and appropriate response to wide consultation
  • clear alignment between the school’s strategic and annual plan targets and teachers’ professional learning
  • useful way that the school’s policies and procedures are organised and reviewed.

The board has managed change successfully. It has supported and been well advised by the newly appointed principal.

The principal effectively leads and manages the school. In consultation with the teachers, she has: implemented useful ways to track and monitor student performance and progress; developed a more robust appraisal process that supports teachers to inquire into their own practice and promotes and leads targeted professional learning. School decision making is soundly based on relevant research.

Since the 2013 ERO review, some school self-review practices have been significantly improved and are robust. These can be further developed by using success indicators to gauge strengths and areas for development.

This is a strong community school. Wide consultation through “charter chats” has enhanced community relationships, considerable local participation and collaboration.

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 board and principal set a clear direction for this community school. The curriculum provides an extensive range of experiences to motivate and promote student learning. Students are confident, respectful and active learners. The school has a settled tone and there are strong partnerships with parents and the community.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 December 2015

School Statistics

Location

Pongaroa

Ministry of Education profile number

2962

School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll

60

Gender composition

Male 36, Female 24

Ethnic composition

Pākeha

Māori

37

23

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

10 December 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2013

February 2010

April 2006