South Featherston School

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Findings

South Featherston School has effectively addressed its priorities for improvement. There is sound collaboration between board members and the principal to ensure positive outcomes for students. The board is well informed. Key school practices are successfully supporting an improvement focus and are likely to continue to improve and sustain student progress and achievement.

1 Background and Context

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

South Featherston is a rural school in South Wairarapa, providing education for students in Years 1 to 8. The current roll is 48 students, of whom 29% are Māori.

The school has been supported by a limited statutory manager (LSM) since June 2019. The LSM has been working with the board to develop and strengthen school and board systems and processes. The board has also participated in governance workshops with the New Zealand School Trustees Association. Since February 2020, the principal has been involved in leadership programmes and the principal and teachers have undertaken professional development on literacy, digital learning, mathematics and science.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The February 2020 ERO report identified the following areas for development:

  • processes and practices relating to assessment, and tracking and regularly reporting progress and achievement
  • documenting curriculum delivery guidelines and the local curriculum
  • school and board systems and processes, including strengthening community engagement.
Progress

The board, principal and teachers have made significant progress in all areas identified for development.

A suitable assessment and reporting schedule was implemented at the start of 2020. Teachers identify target students in their class, implement teaching strategies to meet their needs, and track their ongoing progress.

The principal reports analysed information on student progress and achievement to the board. Reports keep board members well informed about initiatives to improve outcomes for students.

Assessment information from mid-2021 shows that almost all students are achieving at or above curriculum expectations in mathematics and reading. In writing, this is the case for most students. Of the students achieving below expectations at the start of 2021 in reading, writing and mathematics, all have made progress with some students making accelerated progress.

Teachers use a range of sound deliberate teaching strategies effectively to engage students in thinking and learning. All children are fully engaged in interesting, purposeful learning experiences.

A curriculum delivery plan provides clearer guidance for teaching and learning. This document includes procedures about careers and second language learning for students in Years 7 and 8. Documentation of the local curriculum is ongoing.

Board members have a shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities and ensure that the school is meeting statutory requirements. The board and principal have introduced new initiatives and strategies to strengthen relationships with parents and the community.

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 made good progress with developing processes and practices to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

Communication between the board, principal and teachers is collaborative and reflects a commitment from all to ongoing school improvement.

The principal and board collect information to make sense of what is currently happening and identify future actions. To further strengthen evaluation for ongoing improvement, it is important to focus on the effectiveness of an initiative in terms of outcomes for students. This is a key next step.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

Conclusion

South Featherston School has effectively addressed its priorities for improvement. There is sound collaboration between board members and the principal to ensure positive outcomes for students. The board is well informed. Key school practices are successfully supporting an improvement focus and are likely to continue to improve and sustain student progress and achievement.

The school will transition into ERO’s Evaluation for Improvement process.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Director Review and Improvement Services (Southern)
Southern Region - Te Tai Tini

8 December 2021

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

School Context

South Featherston School is a small rural school in South Wairarapa that caters for students in Years 1 to 8. At the time of this ERO review, 58 children attend the school, of whom 12 are Māori.

The school’s motto is ‘We’re a SMALL school doing BIG things’. The vision for children is to be ‘creative, concerned, connected lifelong learners’.

Strategic goals for 2019 focus on student learning and wellbeing and the school’s cultural responsiveness, environmental awareness and active participation in the South Wairarapa Kāhui Ako. Professional Learning and Development (PLD) for teachers in 2019 has focused on understanding behaviour and responding safely.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Two of the four teaching staff are new to the school. Most of the current trustees are new to their board roles.

In June 2019, a limited statutory manager (LSM) was appointed to have the powers of employer and to advise on financial operations, board communications, board organisation and management.

The school is a member of the South Wairarapa 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?

Achievement information from mid-year 2019 shows that most students were achieving at or above curriculum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

Māori students are achieving at similar levels to their peers.

More girls than boys are achieving well in reading. In mathematics, more boys than girls are at or above curriculum expectations.

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

The school has begun to develop a template to track the acceleration of priority learners and report their progress to the board of trustees.

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?

Children benefit from a wide range of learning experiences that inform them of the significance of the local area and its history. An environmental emphasis is clearly evident.

A sound appraisal process supports teachers’ ongoing development. Relevant professional learning opportunities are linked to the school’s strategic initiatives and teachers’ goals and inquiries into their practice.

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

Continuing to develop and implement a clear process for tracking, monitoring and regularly reporting the progress and acceleration of priority learners to the board is a next step. In addition, reports of schoolwide achievement, with analysis, need to be provided to the board more regularly.

The curriculum delivery plan should be further developed to include documentation of:

  • assessment and moderation guidelines
  • a statement about the teaching of careers
  • procedures supporting the second language learning for students in Years 7 and 8.

The board has identified that continuing to strengthen ongoing community engagement is an area for development. While parent responses are collated, and analysed, increased sharing of planned actions will strengthen the ongoing input from, and relationships with, parents.

Newly elected trustees acknowledge that they need to continue to extend their knowledge. The LSM will support this.

Developing a framework to support evidence-based evaluation is an important next step. Evaluation, including analysis of data, should better inform future school direction.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of South Featherston School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

5 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • professional development for staff that is linked to the school’s strategic direction and promotes ongoing improvement to teaching and learning
  • new trustees’ willingness to work with the LSM to extend their knowledge.

Next steps

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

  • processes and practice relating to reporting the progress and achievement of priority learners
  • documenting the curriculum delivery plan to provide clearer guidance for teaching and learning
  • understanding and using internal evaluation to better inform future school direction.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should strengthen

  • documentation of approval of overnight education outside the classroom
  • guidelines for behaviour management and stand downs and suspensions
  • appointment processes.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

10 February 2020

About the school

Location

Featherston

Ministry of Education profile number

2993

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

58

Gender composition

Boys 34, Girls 24

Ethnic composition

Māori 12
NZ European/Pākehā 35
Other European 8
Other ethnic groups 3

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2019

Date of this report

10 February 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review December 2016
Education Review July 2013
Education Review December 2010