Witherlea School

Education institution number:
3075
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
376
Telephone:
Address:

214-216 Weld Street, Witherlea, Blenheim

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Witherlea School - 15/08/2019

School Context

Witherlea School is located in Blenheim and has a roll of 396 students from Years 1 to 6. Most are New Zealand European/Pākehā and 66 identify as Māori. Students from a range of other ethnic groups are also enrolled.

The school’s valued outcomes for learners are expressed in the recently refreshed vision: ‘Ararangi Pathway to the Sky: Empowering ALL learners to reach their potential in an innovative community’. They are also expressed through the Witherlea Graduate Profile aspirations. These ideals are supported through the motto ‘Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Fair - Kia Atawhai, Kia Ora, Kia Tika’, and the school values.

The school’s current targets are for improved outcomes for groups of students in mathematics and science, and all students’ participation and success in culture and the arts.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to curriculum expectations
  • progress in relation to targets
  • attendance.

A new principal was appointed at the beginning of 2018. Recent changes to senior leadership and leadership structures have occurred. Many members of the board have continued service as trustees.

The school is a member of the Piritahi (2BCoS) Community of Learning | 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?

Most students continue to achieve at or above school expectations in writing and mathematics. Nearly all achieve at or above in reading, with a significantly large group achieving above expectations.

Māori students achieve as well as their non-Māori peers in writing and reading, with nearly all achieving at or above expectations in reading. Data for 2018 showed disparity for Māori in mathematics and boys in writing.

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

School data shows that some students had their progress accelerated in reading and writing in 2018.

The schoolwide picture of acceleration is currently unclear. Recent strengthening of systems for monitoring progress should assist in better showing and promoting acceleration for groups of students, and in relation to targets.

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?

Trustees are improvement-focused and demonstrate sustained commitment to enacting the school’s vision of success for all learners. They have worked effectively with the new principal and leaders to set clear direction for improvement through:

  • redefining aspirations for successful learners in consultation with the community
  • setting clear strategic goals, targets and actions
  • strengthening the quality of information to guide decision making
  • aligning and strengthening processes for evaluating progress toward goals.

In close collaboration with senior leaders and trustees, the new principal has established clear expectations and a well-considered approach to change. Development is well supported by the deliberate aligning of systems and processes and targeted professional learning and development (PLD). An improved appraisal process is in place. This should support teachers’ ongoing development, consistency of teaching practice and an increased focus on outcomes for learners.

Internal evaluation, reflection and inquiry are well used to review areas of priority and improve the school’s performance and practices. A shared understanding of effective internal evaluation is being supported through leadership PLD. Leaders are purposefully supporting teachers to develop their understanding and use of inquiry to improve their practice and student outcomes. They recognise the need to continue to strengthen the evaluation to determine impact for learners.

Leaders have worked collaboratively to develop comprehensive processes and systems to strengthen the use of student achievement information. This assists teachers and leaders to:

  • make more robust judgments about achievement
  • gather, monitor and analyse information to identify trends and patterns
  • share and report learning information to inform actions.

Leaders continue to develop the consistent use of student achievement to inform deliberate teaching that accelerates the progress of students at risk of not achieving expectations.

Students meaningfully engage in a range of well-considered, purposeful learning opportunities within a broad curriculum. Teachers support them in a range of ways within learning-focused classrooms. Children actively participate and collaborate in their learning. The well-understood motto provides a strong framework for students’ positive engagement in school life. There is an ongoing focus on supporting them to take ownership of their learning. Useful connections within the community enrich teaching and learning.

There is a deliberate approach to strengthening the school’s responsiveness to te Tiriti o Waitangi through inclusion of te ao Māori in the curriculum and a range of school practices. Development of teachers’ capabilities is ongoing. A strategic focus on promoting iwi and Māori engagement is being implemented. Whānau Māori are consulted and their aspirations and perspectives valued.

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

Recent work to define the school’s vision and reflect the community’s aspirations for learners has informed direction for development. This should provide a useful framework for reviewing and documenting a cohesive, localised curriculum that aligns with the vision for successful learners.

Leaders recognise the need to ensure a more consistent and cohesive approach is in place to provide targeted teaching for students with additional learning needs or who are not meeting curriculum expectations.

Newly established data monitoring and assessment processes should help the school to better track progress and acceleration for students at risk in their learning.

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 Witherlea School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance 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:

  • strengthened assessment practices and processes that provide more robust student achievement information
  • collaborative and improvement-focused trustees and leaders who provide clear direction for school development
  • well-aligned processes and practices that support operation and promote positive outcomes for learners.

Next steps

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

  • reviewing and documenting a cohesive, localised curriculum to align with the school’s vision for learners
  • ensuring a consistent, cohesive approach to the provision of targeted teaching for students with additional learning needs or who are not meeting curriculum expectations
  • better tracking of progress to help identify the impact of actions on acceleration for students at risk in their learning.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

15 August 2019

About the school

Location

Blenheim

Ministry of Education profile number

3075

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

396

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 17%
NZ European/Pākehā 70%
Pacific 2%
Asian 2%
Other ethnic groups 9%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

15 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2014
Education Review May 2011

Witherlea School - 09/09/2014

Findings

Witherlea School is an inclusive school that provides students with a range of opportunities to succeed in their learning. The school’s values are well promoted and support positive relationships between students. The board is reviewing leadership roles and responsibilities across the school. This, together with changes to school-wide planning and self-review processes should better support teachers and continue to ensure positive outcomes for students.

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?

Witherlea School provides education for students from Years 1 to 6. The school has an inclusive school culture where special needs students and students from other cultures are well supported. Students, teachers and parents are encouraged to take responsibility to act in a kind, safe and fair manner towards others.

The school has experienced significant roll growth in recent years which has led to the provision of additional classrooms, and increased teaching and support staff. The board and staff have been stable over a number of years.

2 Learning

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

Teachers are making good use of achievement information to identify and meet the needs of students.

Sound assessment practices include:

  • an assessment plan for each syndicate
  • a good range of assessments
  • improved emphasis on teachers working together to improve their judgements about student learning (moderation)
  • information used well to plan programmes for groups and individual students.

Analysis of achievement information at syndicate level has significantly improved. Syndicates set specific and appropriate targets for students. There is a strong focus on identifying targeted priority learners and planning to meet their learning needs. Students are closely tracked to monitor their progress.

Achievement information shows significant improvement in school-wide achievement levels for all National Standards over the last three years. The information shows that most students achieve at levels similar to other schools in Blenheim.

Areas for development

Leaders and teachers have identified the need to:

  • further develop approaches to meet the needs of targeted students whose achievement is still below the expected level
  • further develop teachers’ capabilities and confidence in making judgements about student achievement and progress
  • extend moderation of assessment results across syndicates and with other schools
  • better track students’ achievement over time to show progress within and between the National Standards levels
  • improve the tracking of special needs students to make sure their needs are being well met
  • seek professional development support where appropriate.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides students with a balanced curriculum that effectively promotes and supports learning.

Students are provided with many learning opportunities within and beyond the school to broaden their interests and experiences. School values are well understood by students. They are apparent in their relationships with each other and with teachers. Students are encouraged and supported to extend their leadership skills. Their learning is enhanced by access to a range of information and communication technologies.

To ensure the school’s curriculum is well taught, teachers are supported with clear expectations and guidelines for learning and teaching and targeted professional development. Teachers have extended the ways they teach the school’s curriculum including students’ use of thinking and inquiry skills.

The next steps to further enhance learning across the curriculum are to strengthen student voice by identifying what they want or need to know and do within all curriculum areas, and how information for each curriculum area can be gathered, assessed and reported.

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

Māori students are achieving as well as other students in literacy and mathematics.

All students have opportunity to extend their knowledge and understanding of te reo and tikanga Māori. The school has consulted with a group of Māori parents and has received useful feedback about how the school can better support their children to succeed as Māori.

The next steps to meet the expectations in the school charter are to:

  • better plan specific school-wide programmes that support Māori to achieve success as Māori and ensure all students have opportunity to understand and appreciate their bicultural heritage
  • continue to support teachers through professional development to confidently deliver aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school should be better placed to sustain and improve its performance when the board and senior leaders review and improve the effectiveness of leadership roles and responsibilities, and the initiatives taken to improve the staff culture.

Trustees bring a good range of skills and experience to their governance roles. They have responded positively to addressing staff needs and relationships.

Trustees and senior leaders have encouraged and supported some changes to strengthen the leadership roles and responsibilities of syndicate leaders. Senior leaders are effectively leading important initiatives to improve the appraisal process for teachers and the development of an e-learning culture across the school.

Areas for development

To continue to improve outcomes for students, the board, senior leaders and ERO have identified some next steps.

The board has begun a review of the school’s charter. To ensure that the board’s charter goals and priorities are addressed the board should:

  • prepare a detailed annual plan with clearly defined goals that will be understood by all staff
  • require the principal to regularly report on progress in achieving these goals
  • receive regular curriculum reports that are more focussed on showing how well students are achieving and progressing, and what teachers need to do to accelerate students’ progress.

There is a growing reflective culture within the school. To ensure self review is consistent and central to school improvement the board and senior leaders should develop:

  • a school-wide process for review at teacher, leader and board levels that is well understood by all staff
  • long-term and annual self-review plans that identify priorities for review and ensure changes made as a result of review are monitored and evaluated.

Changes have been made to the school’s leadership structure. The next step for the board is to review the roles, responsibilities and accountability of all senior leaders.

The board needs to ensure that it continues to meet its good employer role by regularly seeking feedback from staff about school-wide staff culture, and the wellbeing of all teachers.

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.

Recommendations to other agencies

That the board seek external support to address the areas for review and development raised in this report.

Conclusion

Witherlea School is an inclusive school that provides students with a range of opportunities to succeed in their learning. The school’s values are well promoted and support positive relationships between students. The board is reviewing leadership roles and responsibilities across the school. This, together with changes to school-wide planning and self-review processes should better support teachers and continue to ensure positive outcomes for students.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

9 September 2014

About the School

Location

Blenheim

Ministry of Education profile number

3075

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

367

Gender composition

Girls 50%; Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

European

Other ethnicities

76%

11%

3%

2%

6%

2%

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

9 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

September 2007

May 2003