Oxford Area School

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School Context

Oxford Area School is a rural Years 1 to 15 school in North Canterbury. At the time of this review it had 478 students, approximately one third of whom are in Years 9 to 13. The school roll has become more ethnically diverse. A number of students enter or leave the school within the year, however the roll remains stable.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, a new principal and deputy principal have been appointed. There have been other staff changes, including several middle leaders. The board, leaders, teachers and other staff have made considerable positive progress and changes in response to ERO’s last review. This has included embedding and extending the improvements identified in the 2014 ERO report.

Most trustees have served on the board for four or more years. The school opened a new collaborative learning space in 2017 (Aotahi) for students in Years 5 to 13.

The school states that its vision and valued outcomes for its learners are:

  • always aiming for personal excellence
  • being innovative, curious and independent thinkers
  • having respect for others, accepting diversity and working collaboratively
  • enjoy learning, know how to learn and be life-long learners
  • show commitment and participation
  • take responsibility for their learning and their actions.

The school has identified the core beliefs that underpin its valued outcomes and the desired teaching practices to achieve them.

Oxford Area School’s key aims and goals for its students are to achieve personal, academic and cultural excellence. Other strategic aims are to further strengthen teaching, learning programmes, partnerships with the community, and to enhance students’ learning environments.

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

  • achievement in relation to the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)
  • achievement for students in Years 1 to 8 in relation to the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement of students in specific learning areas
  • achievement for students in Years 9 and 10 in aspects of literacy and mathematics
  • progress for students who are receiving targeted support
  • attendance
  • trends and patterns with respect to students’ attitudes to learning.

The school is a member of the Tipu Māia 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?

The school is moving positively towards equity and excellence for all its students.

Most of the students in Years 1 to 8 achieved at or above the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics between 2014 and 2017. Overall achievement was highest in reading. Māori students, overall, are not achieving quite as well as their peers at the school in reading and more recently in writing. However, in 2017 greater proportions of Māori students achieved at/above the school’s expectations in mathematics. The school-wide picture for boys’ and girls’ achievement shows that greater proportions of girls are achieving at/above the school’s expectations, particularly for reading and writing.

The school’s Year 9 student achievement information in aspects of literacy and mathematics shows that fewer than half of these students are achieving at the school’s expectations. Year 10 information indicates more than half of students are achieving the school’s expectations in aspects of literacy. Almost all Year 10 students achieve success in the school’s Attitude to Learning (ATL) programme.

Over the last three years the majority of Years 11 and 12 students have achieved Levels 1 and 2 NCEA, respectively. Years 11 to 13 students’ achievement in NCEA shifted positively between 2016 and 2017. This is more marked for Year 13 students in Level 3 NCEA. The proportion of school leavers with an NCEA qualification is increasing. However, the overall trend in NCEA literacy and numeracy attainment is decreasing. The school can show, however, that all Year 11 students who complete the academic year achieve both numeracy and literacy at Level 1. More students are remaining at school until their 17th birthday. Some senior students are achieving vocational pathways awards.

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

The school is accelerating learning for targeted students increasingly well.

Over half of the Māori students who were part of an accelerated literacy programme in 2017 made accelerated progress.

Between 2016 and 2017 the school can show that it accelerated the progress for at least 40% of those learners targeted in Years 1 to 8 in reading and writing. This can also be seen for those learners targeted for mathematics improvement in 2017. Acceleration trends in Years 1 to 8 reading, writing and mathematics are increasing positively for targeted groups.

Since the on site stage of the review the school has provided ERO with an additional analysis of accelerated achievement for targeted students in Years 9 and 10. This information shows that these students are being very effectively accelerated in writing and effectively accelerated in reading.

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 school’s comprehensive, systematic approach to improving outcomes for students is enabling the school’s movement towards equity.

Students at risk in any aspect of their learning are meticulously supported and monitored. This includes carefully adapted learning plans. Learning mentors closely support all students in their progress. Information technology is being used very effectively as a tool to record, monitor, track and share students’ learning information and progress. Professional learning and development for teachers is specifically focused around building teachers’ capacity to better support students to succeed in their learning. Middle leaders and teachers comprehensively evaluate outcomes for students in Years 9 to 13, in relation to their departmental programmes.

Oxford Area School’s valued localised curriculum, strong community links and local partnerships are effectively supporting students and their learning. Many educational opportunities for students are meaningful, integrated, well-linked to the local environment and responsive to their needs and interests. Recent curriculum changes have included a play-based learning programme for new entrants, authentic integration of mathematics, social sciences and technology, and a programme to support students as they develop and progress towards adulthood. Such programmes make good use of teacher capabilities and willingness to try different approaches.

The school’s enduring positive and productive relationship with the local rūnanga, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, is supporting the school’s culturally responsive curriculum. Very good use has been made of the local Māori history and stories to enhance all students’ learning. The kaiako Māori successfully leads meaningful, frequent and regular hui with Māori whānau. This and other practices are enabling Māori students to see that their language, culture and identity are valued and celebrated at the school.

Leaders are strategically and progressively strengthening a culture of learner-focused collaboration and professional practice amongst staff. Key stakeholders are being involved in decision-making, creating greater ownership of change. There are clear expectations and frameworks to support teachers to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching. The principal and other senior leaders are deliberately building a reflective culture amongst staff, which is very evident in the school’s revised appraisal process. There are clear accountabilities around this and other system expectations. Departments specifically identify what is and is not working for students and plan what needs to be improved. 

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

Leaders and teachers need to continue their relentless focus on improving outcomes for learners. This should include raising student achievement and accelerating progress for learners who require acceleration so the school achieves equitable outcomes.

Continuing to seek and implement the best ways to meet learning needs will be particularly important for students:

  • who enrol at the school within the school year
  • with special abilities and talents
  • who are Māori, to succeed as Māori.

Leaders and teachers should extend the analysis and collection of learning information, with particular reference to the sufficiency of progress students and specific groups of students are making. This should better inform the school’s internal evaluation and strategic decision making and resourcing.

It is timely for leaders and teachers to review and clarify the school’s expectations across the curriculum for achievement and progress for students from Years 1 to 10.

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

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review, there were seven international students attending the school.

International students are welcomed and are well supported to integrate into the school and local community. These students receive a high level of pastoral care. The school has effective systems for orientation, homestay arrangements and for managing individual concerns. International students’ wellbeing and achievement are monitored effectively and parents receive regular reports. 

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the coherent systems that enable learners and their needs to be better known and supported
  • the responsive and local curriculum that provides many opportunities for students to learn, progress and succeed
  • its relationship with the local rūnanga, and its resources that provide well for a culturally responsive curriculum
  • the focused, strategic and progressive ways in which staff capability and collaborations are being built, with learners at the centre of decision making.

Next steps

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

  • evaluating and responding to the sufficiency of progress some learners are making
  • reviewing the planning and provision for students with special abilities and talents to best meet their learning needs
  • extending the analysis, collection and reporting of students’ achievement and progress information, so that it clearly identifies what is and what is not working
  • reviewing the school’s expectations for achievement and assessment for students in Years 1 to 10.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

18 May 2018

About the school 

Location

Oxford, North Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

310

School type

Composite (Years 1-15)

School roll

478

Gender composition

Girls 52%
Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 75%
Māori 10%
Asian 3%
Pacific 1%
Other 11%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

18 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2014
Education Review September 2010

1 Context

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

Oxford Area School is a large, rural school providing education for students from Years 1 to 13. The school is experiencing roll growth. This is resulting in increasing diversity amongst its students. For example, there is a growing number of Māori students attending the school.

Since the September 2010 ERO review, two new deputy principals have been appointed. They have played an important role in promoting improvements to teaching and learning.

School leaders have initiated, and staff are working together on, many new initiatives and approaches to help improve students’ learning and wellbeing. Ongoing improvements to the school’s culture have been promoted by professional learning and development (PLD).

The school works closely with local community groups and agencies in ways that successfully support students’ wellbeing and extend their learning. Senior leaders are actively working with outside agencies on improving outcomes for some students school wide.

In 2014, the school is participating in PLD provided by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to support the school’s efforts to raise the achievement of older students. Extensions to school buildings are also planned.

2 Learning

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

The school is increasingly making better use of student achievement information to help make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Findings

The board, school leaders and staff have a strong focus on raising student achievement and acknowledging and celebrating student success. For example, closer monitoring of students’ ongoing progress to help identify and support those at risk of not achieving the National Certificates for Educational Achievement (NCEA) has helped to raise achievement.

Students achieve best in reading. School achievement information shows that National Standards results were higher in 2012 than 2013. Achievement is higher in Years 1 to 6 than in Years 7 to 8.

School leaders have developed a more systematic approach to gathering, analysing and sharing achievement information. They are also placing appropriate emphasis on making sure this information is accurate and increasingly used to target, support and modify programmes.

School-wide student goal-setting processes, including 3-way conferences with students, parents and teachers have significantly increased parents’ engagement with the school. A well-coordinated range of additional learning support is helping the school to respond well to students with the greatest needs.

There have been some recent improvements in achievement for students in Years 12 to 13. For example, there are increased numbers of students gaining NCEA Levels 2 and 3 and more students gaining NCEA certificate endorsements. Achievement in Year 11 is lower than other year levels.

Areas for review and development

In order to further support the school’s efforts to raise student achievement:

  • school charter targets should be set to lift the achievement of all students performing below the expected levels and include how school leaders plan to address this
  • school leaders need to improve the way they track the progress groups of students make over their time at the school.
  • further analysis of student leaver qualifications, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the additional learning support provided for students, should help inform school self review
  • more regular and formal communication between school leaders and the senior assessment manager is needed to assure leaders that senior assessment is being well managed
  • the school’s analysis of senior achievement information should also include all students enrolled at the school, not just those who participate in NCEA.

Senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that greater provision needs to be made for analysing and reporting student achievement in Years 1 to 8 in areas beyond literacy and mathematics.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is helping to promote and support most students’ learning. Current curriculum initiatives have the potential to further promote student achievement.

Findings

Recent school development has resulted in a well-developed and understood vision for learning. The school’s curriculum incorporates well key aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

A feature of the school is the strong pastoral support it provides for students.

The school provides students in Years 1 to 8 with a well-balanced curriculum. The variety of learning pathways for students in Years 9 to 13 continues to be extended through revisions to the school’s timetable and the inclusion of courses that take into account senior students’ interests and choices. Some courses, such as agriculture, outdoor education and introduction to trades, lead directly to vocational pathways.

Teachers are extending the range of practices they use to promote student learning. School leaders are giving appropriate focus to building teachers’ capacity to reflect on and improve their teaching practices.

Targeted internal and external PLD for staff has contributed to a more positive learning environment for students. This has resulted in greater school-wide consistency in the way teachers respond to students. An outcome of this has been a reduction of behaviours that get in the way of student learning.

Areas for review and development

School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that they need to further develop the school’s expectations for high-quality teaching and extend systems for ensuring that these expectations are being consistently met.

Evidence of classroom programmes being modified to respond to the unique characteristics of students was stronger in some Year 7 to 13 classes than in others. School leaders need to make sure that all teachers use the school’s planning tools in ways that help them to meet the specific learning needs of their students.

Initiatives aimed at improving the written language skills of students in Years 1 to 8 have had mixed success. School leaders and teachers need to further analyse the factors that are contributing to this and explore further ways to improve achievement.

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

The school is developing processes that will help Māori students to better achieve success as Māori. Further work is needed to raise educational success for Māori, particularly in Years 1 to 8.

Findings

There have been some significant school initiatives since the 2010 ERO review in relation to promoting bicultural awareness, tikanga Māori, and building relationships with the parents of Māori students and the wider Māori community. These have included:

  • establishing a whānau group as a forum for parents of Māori students to share ideas and give advice
  • some leaders and teachers extending their knowledge and use of te reo and tikanga Māori through PLD
  • developing a strong kapa haka group which performs with pride and enthusiasm
  • increasing opportunities to celebrate cultural diversity such as the school’s culture day and community hangi.

There is a growing sense of partnership that is providing a good foundation for developing a school culture in which Māori students feel their culture is valued.

Areas for review and development

Māori students’ achievement patterns are lower than their peers in Years 1 to 8. It will be important for senior leaders to continue to extend and monitor closely the plans in place to raise their achievement.

To help build on recent initiatives ongoing consideration should be given to the employment of suitable staff eg kaiako for te reo Māori and the establishment of a place within the school where aspects of tikanga Māori can be further nurtured.

School leaders need to build on work begun to extend teachers’ knowledge of the best ways to further include Te Ao Māori across the curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is extending its capacity to sustain and improve its performance.

Findings

The school’s senior leadership team works collaboratively and in ways that make good use of individual strengths. Leaders give suitable emphasis to reviewing management structures as the school roll continues to grow. Senior leaders are increasing leadership opportunities for teachers by extending the delegation of responsibilities. This is helping to build leadership capacity and more sustainable practices.

School leaders have introduced a variety of well-targeted and planned initiatives to improve aspects of teaching and learning. While some of initiatives are still in their early stages, they have the potential to bring about positive change.

School leaders undertake a variety of curriculum reviews that are providing some useful information for decision making. Appropriate priority is being given to teachers becoming increasingly reflective about their teaching programme and practices.

The board uses a range of good governance practices. It contains a suitable mix of experienced and less experienced trustees who bring a variety of skills to their roles. A positive working partnership exists between the board and senior leaders.

Trustees are improvement-focused and receive regular reports about aspects of student learning and achievement. The proposed major revision of the school’s strategic plan is timely given factors such as the challenges associated with a growing school roll.

Areas for review and development

It is now critical that school leaders make sure that recent and planned initiatives result in ongoing improvements to teaching and learning. To help ensure this occurs, self-review practices need to result in:

  • more regular and rigorous evaluation of the quality of teaching
  • greater opportunities for gaining feedback from students and parents about teaching and learning
  • better systems for making sure recommendations arising from self reviews are acted upon.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review, there were nine international students attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school has thorough processes for identifying, monitoring and supporting international students’ learning and wellbeing.

As noted in the 2010 ERO report, the board should receive reports, at least annually, on the quality and effectiveness of programmes and practices in supporting the learning, progress and wellbeing of international students.

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.

There are a number of areas in which the board and senior leaders need to extend practices to enhance their quality. These include:

  • regularly finding out how safe students are feeling at school
  • giving ongoing consideration to any safety issues arising from roll growth, particularly in technology classes
  • documenting an Education Outside The Classroom procedure to support the implementation of the school’s health and safety policy
  • more regular reporting to the board from the principal about how well the school is meeting its legal obligations.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

19 May 2014

About the School

Location

Oxford, North Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

310

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

551

Number of international students

9

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other Ethnicities

84%

7%

1%

2%

6%

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

19 May 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Education Review
Supplementary Review

September 2010
September 2007
November 2004