Mahana School

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School Context

Mahana School is a Years 1-8 rural school with 82 children.

The school’s vision is that Mahana children will be strong, positive, responsive, brilliant contributors to the world. Its valued outcomes for children are positive relationships in a safe and friendly environment, where cultural diversity is valued and children achieve well.

The 2017 school goals and targets are to improve writing achievement, especially for boys, and improve teaching and learning in science. A third target relates to promoting children’s wellbeing.

Since the 2013 ERO review, the school has experienced significant changes. Its roll has almost doubled and there are two new teachers. The school has joined the recently established Motueka Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning, and accessed Ministry of Education support to improve literacy learning.

The principal reports to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement against the National Standards

  • progress against school targets

  • outcomes of wellbeing surveys.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school has varied success in achieving equitable academic outcomes for its children. In other areas, such as providing equitable opportunities for children to participate fully in a wide range of experiences, and feel valued and supported holistically, the school is very successful.

At the end of 2016, 86% of the children achieved at or above the National Standards in reading. Half of these children were above the expected standard. In mathematics, 75% were at or above the standard, and in writing 63% achieved at or above the expected standard. Very good reading achievement has been sustained over time.

Boys’ achievement in writing was significantly lower, including for Māori boys. Boys’ reading was also lower.

Surveys about children’s safety and wellbeing show that, overall, children feel safe, supported and positive about their school. The school does not have information on how well other valued outcomes (such as its vision and values) are achieved.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is increasingly effective in enabling children who are below expected levels in literacy to improve their performance. Appropriate targets to lift achievement are in place. However, reporting to the board on progress against these targets needs to be more frequent and more clearly show rates of progress.

Targets in 2016 to lift achievement in writing for boys had limited impact. However, end of Term 3 2017 information indicates that more boys made accelerated progress against the writing target and that disparity is reducing.

Teachers know the children very well as individuals and as learners. They effectively use a range of assessment information to inform their teaching. They carefully track and monitor the progress of their children in reading, writing and mathematics.

Teachers have benefitted from recent professional learning about effective literacy practices. This has led to more deliberate planning and teaching and better analysis of the impact of their teaching strategies on students’ learning. Increased rates of progress are evident, resulting in reduced disparity.

Children with additional needs are very well supported and included. Teachers work closely with parents and external experts to set useful individual-learning plans and regularly review children’s progress against these.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Mahana has a very positive, inclusive and respectful school culture. Core Māori values of manaakitanga (care/kindness), tuakana-teina (older/more confident children supporting other children), whanaungatanga (family-like relationships), kotahitanga (togetherness) are highly evident. Children’s wellbeing is the heart of what happens in the school.

Children benefit from a flexible curriculum that is responsive to their interests, strengths and capabilities. They are seen as capable and confident, with older students having many opportunities to take responsibility and develop leadership. Māori concepts, values and language are integrated in ways that are meaningful for children, especially in the senior classes.

The school is very collaborative. Staff work effectively as a team and take collective responsibility to best support Mahana children. Teachers’ strengths and interests are used well to build staff capability. The school works constructively with local schools to improve practices.

The principal and trustees have built a culture of strong relational trust in order to best support staff and children. Appraisal systems have been strengthened, with a greater focus on improving teaching and learning. Trustees put children at the centre of their decision making. They have a good understanding of their stewardship role and consult regularly with the school community.

Information about children’s achievement against the National Standards is clearly presented and well analysed. Trends and patterns and areas of concern are identified, enabling the board to set useful targets and resource wisely.

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

Aspects of internal evaluation need strengthening. In particular, there needs to be better cyclical review of how well each curriculum area and other important areas of teaching and learning are enacted.

Trustees and staff need to review the school’s curriculum guidelines to ensure that these adequately reflect all aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum framework. The school’s commitment to valuing Māori culture is not evident in the present guidelines. This review needs to be in consultation with parents and whānau to ensure that the guidelines reflect their aspirations for their children’s learning, wellbeing and achievement.

The school’s charter needs to be reviewed. Strategic and annual goals need to be reduced and refined to better reflect key school priorities for the future. School targets need to be extended to include all children at risk in the target area.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that other priorities are to:

  • embed recent improvements in literacy teaching and learning

  • continue to strengthen the appraisal process for all staff, including mentoring and teaching as inquiry

  • strengthen partnerships with parents about how to best support their children’s 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 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 its:

  • positive, inclusive school culture and focus on children’s holistic wellbeing and development

  • prominence given to Māori values, concepts and language

  • collaborative staff, who take collective responsibility for Mahana School children

  • the experience and knowledge of its trustees.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening internal evaluation to enable better identification of what is going well, what is not, and what changes are needed

  • reviewing and improving the school’s curriculum guidelines and strategic and annual plans so that these provide better direction for trustees and staff

  • ensuring more regular reporting on the sufficiency of children’s progress (especially for target children) so that trustees and leaders can make timely and well-informed decisions

  • embedding and extending improvements in literacy teaching and staff appraisal so that recent improvements are sustained and built on.

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

26 January 2018

About the school

Location

Tasman District

Ministry of Education profile number

3201

School type

Full primary (Years 1-8)

School roll

82

Gender composition

Girls: 46 Boys: 36

Ethnic composition

Māori: 9
Pākehā: 61
Other: 12

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October/November 2017

Date of this report

26 January 2018

Most recent ERO reports

December 2013
July 2010
June 2007

1 Context

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

Mahana School caters for students from Years 1 to 8. It is a small rural primary school located in the Moutere Hills between Nelson and Motueka. A teaching principal and three teachers are responsible for three multi level classrooms. Older students are leaders and act as helpers and role models for younger class members. They take on class and schoolwide responsibilities. The school vision of “strong, positive, brilliant, responsible contributors” is highly evident in daily interactions.

A strong family atmosphere and high levels of community involvement are apparent. Students, parents and trustees all know each other well.

Since the July 2010 ERO report one classroom has been extensively refurbished and a hard surface play area extended. The removal of some fencing has improved access to the outdoor areas where extensive grounds provide for students’ gardens, recreation and sports.

Trustees and staff are working to promote the school in early childhood services and the wider community, using a variety of media, with intent to grow the school roll.

All areas identified as agreed priorities in the previous ERO report have been actioned. Mahana School has a positive reviewing history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

This school makes very good use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

National Standards data is well analysed and clearly reported to trustees. They use this information to develop strategic learning goals and targets. Teachers clearly identify key actions to support targeted students to achieve. These students are carefully tracked and monitored. Target student information is reported to trustees.

Student achievement is high. The school reports that in 2012, most students were achieving at and above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students show improvements in achievement over time.

Well-analysed results from a range of formal assessments provide teachers with information about each student's levels of achievement. Assessment results are used to identify gaps in students' understanding which become specific teaching areas. Data is used to plan programmes for groups and individuals. Ongoing discussions among teachers identify student progress and the effectiveness of teaching strategies. Clear guidelines for making overall teacher judgements in relation to National Standards has increased consistency in making such judgements.

Students identified as having gifts and talents are provided with many opportunities to extend their abilities. A review is planned for evaluating provision for these students, to strengthen inquiry learning. ERO affirms this decision.

Students are actively engaged in classroom activities. Positive respectful interactions are a feature. Students seek clarification, ask questions and problem solve. An environment where students’ voice and opinions are highly valued, where risk taking is encouraged and individuals are treated as competent, confident learners is highly evident. It is apparent that students enjoy their learning.

As a result of established restorative practices, students take responsibility for their own actions and behaviour. Teachers promote, and students talk about, goal setting and participation in self and peer assessment.

Informative reports to parents identify each student’s achievements, and next steps for development are clearly shared. In these reports, students self assess against the school’s vision.

3 Curriculum

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

This school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

The broad-based curriculum is clearly aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum and the school's charter vision, values and key competencies. Education outside the classroom and co-curricular activities within the school, allow children to become involved in a wide range of projects.

The theme approach is responsive to student needs, interests and knowledge. It incorporates Māori perspectives and local relevant features. The principal plans a review to refine and strengthen the thematic approach to inquiry learning and more fully integrate curriculum areas, key competencies and skills. ERO affirms that the planned review is likely to provide a structured and considered approach to promoting students’ decision making and foster increased responsibility for their own learning.

A range of effective strategies are used by all teachers. These include:

  • clearly sharing the purpose of learning activities and explaining to students what they must do to be successful in their work
  • effectively using open ended questions to promote thinking
  • using and building on students’ prior learning and personal knowledge
  • including authentic contexts for learning activities.

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

Educational success for Māori, as Māori is very well promoted at this school. Māori students achieve well as a group, particularly in reading and mathematics.

The Mahana School Charter has clear reference to improving learning outcomes for Māori students. Teachers and school personnel consult regularly with the Māori community, gathering and responding to the aspirations whānau have for their children to succeed. Relationships are a key priority.

Staff willingly embrace te reo me nā tikanga Māori and acknowledge that Māori students strengths, interests and needs are unique and different. They ensure that students are able to lead and contribute. As a result, students are proud to be Māori and are well engaged in their learning.

Management have decided to continue developing teachers’ confidence and competence in their knowledge and use of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori using Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners in the appraisal process.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. There is a strong schoolwide culture of critical reflection. Frequent staff discussions identify areas that can be improved.

A cohesive board uses the individual strengths of trustees who work together collaboratively. They are proactive and future focused, for example, in funding a teacher aide to work with target students.

A strong understanding of self review processes is evident. Trustees regularly review their own effectiveness and succession planning is well considered. Self review is highly valued as a tool for continuous improvement. A good framework for self review is established. There is evidence of using data and considerable consultation with key stakeholders to inform strategic planning and decision making. Strengthening evaluative questions and specific indicators will help support ongoing evaluation of changes to practice.

A strong collegial team who share a strategic vision is ably led by the principal. The board is well informed about student achievement and review outcomes. Well-defined systems ensure the school operates smoothly. The team are improvement focused. Strong relationships between staff, trustees, parents and the wider community are evident and effectively fostered. A wide range of well-established communication strategies engage families in their children’s learning and promote school/family partnerships.

Managing staff change is identified by the principal as an area for continued refinement and development. Documentation that supports staff roles, induction of new staff and implementation of administrative changes will be developed. ERO affirms this intention.

Appraisal processes are robust. Meetings, formal observations and coaching discussions are the basis for teachers to be affirmed in their practice, developmental steps identified and plans for improvement implemented.

Planned review of the appraisal process will explore alternative approaches that are more time manageable and supportive of teachers’ self appraisal with outcomes aligned to schoolwide and personal goals.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

21 June 2013

About the School

Location

Mahana, Tasman District

Ministry of Education profile number

3201

School type

Full Primary (Year 1 to 8)

School roll

46

Gender composition

Male 17

Female 29

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other

39

2

5

Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

21 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2010

June 2007

May 2004