South Featherston School

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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

1 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, 59 students attend the school, 5 of whom are Māori.

There have been many personnel changes since 2015. The deputy principal started at the school in April 2015 and a new principal began in Term 2, 2016. All trustees are new, either joining the board near the end of 2015 or being elected in 2016.

Two of the three classrooms have been opened to enable teachers to work in a more collegial way. The principal and teachers are exploring innovative learning environments and they recently attended a workshop to assist with future developments.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to be 'creative, independent, knowledgeable lifelong learners'.

The school’s achievement information shows that at the end of 2015, most students were achieving at or above the reading, writing and mathematics National Standards. Those students who were achieving below the National Standards were identified as target students. During 2016 many target students have made accelerated progress.

In October 2016, all Māori students are achieving at and above the National Standards.

Teachers have moderated their overall writing judgements in relation to the National Standards across the school in 2016. Systems for moderating judgements in reading and mathematics have yet to be determined.

Since the July 2013 ERO evaluation the school has:

  • focused on developing a team culture of collaboration between staff
  • established a sound process of teachers reflecting on and inquiring into their practice to raise student outcomes.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

Teachers respond effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. They know the students well. They regularly reflect on individual student progress and what changes they will make to future practice. Teachers are inquiring into the effectiveness of their practice, using a sound framework.

Teachers use a suitable range of assessment tools, including many that are nationally-normed, to identify specific needs and appropriate teaching strategies. Well-considered, deliberate actions support learning and accelerate the progress of many target students.

Regular student achievement reports are presented to the board of trustees. Adding documented analysis of the data and strategies for improvement to these reports should better inform the board's decision-making and resourcing.

A next step is to use the analysis of student achievement data to inform the school's target setting. Targets should be specific and include groups of students not achieving the National Standards. Clear action plans should accompany each target.

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?

Some aspects of the school's organisational processes and practices develop and promote equity and excellence. It is timely to review all school systems and, building on sound practice from the past, document new plans and ways of working. This should give clarity and a shared understanding of the future direction of the school.

New trustees bring a range of experiences to their stewardship role. They are enthusiastic and are participating in board training opportunities.

The school's direction is guided by four useful strategic goals relating to student achievement, internal evaluation/self review, curriculum and the school's culture. Expected outcomes are documented and these provide clear indicators of success for measuring and evaluating progress.

The curriculum is clearly linked to The New Zealand Curriculum and reflects the local context. Students participate in a wide range of learning experiences. Bicultural practices are reflected in mihi whakatau for visitors. Students have regular kapahaka sessions led by whānau and participate in regional kapahaka events.

Further work is needed to consult, and strengthen links, with whānau to develop learning partnerships. The school charter includes Treaty of Waitangi procedures and current staff and trustees should revisit this as part of ongoing review to ensure that current practice reflects what is documented in the charter.

Students are highy engaged in their learning. They confidently talk about their achievement and next learning steps. Students work co-operatively.

Three-way conferences are a well-established way of discussing each student's achievement and progress. Teacher-written reports to parents inform them of their child's achievement in relation to the National Standards. They include information about what each student can do and note some next learning steps. Senior students continue to be involved in writing their own reports.

Parents are welcomed to the school and actively participate in school events. The school is a focal point for the local community. There has been a strong focus on the use of social media to communicate with families and whānau.

The charter is due for review in 2017 and this will be a useful opportunity to consult with families and whānau to determine the strategic direction and curriculum of the school. The principal is beginning this process.

The appraisal process has a clear focus on promoting ongoing development of the principal's and teachers' practice and positive outcomes for students. Teachers regularly reflect on strategies they have used and the impact on students' achievement and progress. Useful feedback following observations of teaching guides future practice. Student voice is sought and valued in the appraisal process. The appraisal policy should be revised to ensure that it refers to the Practising Teacher Criteria and teaching as inquiry and that it reflects current practice.

Evaluation is evident at the teaching and learning level of the school. A next step is to develop a shared framework for evaluation to inform future school direction and resourcing.

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
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

Teachers are responding effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

ERO is likely to carry out the next 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

In order to improve practice, the board of trustees should revisit the school's policies and procedures to:

  • make decisions about whether to keep and build on the current policy framework or to adapt it
  • determine a process for review
  • ensure that policies and procedures reflect current practice
  • update the appraisal policy
  • revise the Health and Safety policies using the Ministry of Education guidelines 'Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: A Practical Guide for Trustees'.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that new leaders and trustees prioritise the documentation and consistent implementation of school systems and processes. Development of a shared understanding of evidence-based evaluation should also strengthen future planning and decision making. 

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

13 December 2016

About the school 

Location

Featherston

Ministry of Education profile number

2993

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

59

Gender composition

Male 32, Female 27

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Other ethnic groups

5

52

2

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

13 December 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2013

December 2010

June 2008