Westport South School

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School Context

Westport South School is a Year 1-8 full primary with a roll of 304. Due to fluctuations in employment opportunities within the local community, there is high student transience. The school has a long serving principal and staff. Since the 2014 ERO review, a new deputy principal, board chair and some trustees have been appointed.

The school’s mission statement is ‘Together We Can’. The overall vision is for children to be capable communicators, effective thinkers, self-managers, able to interact with others and their environment, and make positive contributions in a range of communities. The school’s valued outcomes are based on the HEART values of honesty, encouragement, attitude, respect and together we can.

Current strategic goals and targets focus on:

  • ensuring high levels of literacy and maths achievement
  • taking collective and individual responsibility for progress and achievement of all students
  • extending students’ critical, creative and reflective thinking
  • extending students’ fitness and participation in sport.

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

  • achievement and progress for reading, writing and mathematics
  • behaviour, wellbeing and engagement
  • information about programmes and interventions for targeted groups of children

The school is a member of the Buller Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL). 

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 needs to continue to address in-school disparity in order to ensure equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

School data shows that most children consistently achieve well in reading over time. Boys’ reading achievement has improved slightly over time, however disparity remains.

Writing has been identified as an ongoing area for targeted support. Most girls achieve at or above expected levels but there is significant disparity for Māori and boys. Many of the children who are not reaching expectations in writing are new to the school.

Mathematics achievement for all children is lower than reading and writing. Achievement over time has been consistent, with little disparity for all groups of children.

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

The school effectively supports accelerated learning for some Māori and other children who need it.

Children whose learning requires additional support are clearly identified, assessed and tracked closely. They are actively supported to develop the skills to successfully access learning, and are provided with many valuable opportunities to enable engagement in learning. School data shows that many of these children make accelerated progress.

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 inclusive culture supports a strong sense of belonging for children and provides a positive and welcoming environment. The school’s HEART values are highly evident in practice and are consistently modelled across the school by children, staff and parents.

Children’s learning and wellbeing is closely monitored. Leaders and teachers carefully consider the individual learning and pastoral needs of children and their whānau. They provide appropriate support and learning opportunities for children with specific learning and behavioural needs.

Children benefit from a wide range of meaningful opportunities which support their engagement in learning. Teachers ensure that children experience meaningful learning contexts which reflect children’s understanding of the world. The broad and interesting Education Outside the Classroom programme supports connections with and extends children’s knowledge of the local and wider outdoor areas.

A number of well-considered organisational structures allow for a cohesive and collective approach across a range of school programmes and practices. The experienced and caring leadership team have clear and consistent expectations to support teaching and learning, children’s wellbeing and positive behaviour. Leaders have led and participated in a range of appropriate and targeted professional learning opportunities. They are highly supportive of staff and make good use of individual strengths. The principal is building leadership through a distributed approach.

The board is genuinely responsive to the needs of the school community and is supportive of staff and children. Trustees regularly receive reports about school operations through a well-thought through and applied process for internal evaluation. This is capably led by school leaders.

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

School leaders and teachers have identified, and ERO agrees, that there is a need to evaluate how well the curriculum:

  • embeds and integrates te reo and tikanga Māori across all school programmes and practices, as well as aligning te ao Māori to the school’s HEART values
  • provides greater opportunities for children to have responsibility for their learning .

The board and leaders agree that it is timely for the schools strategic and annual plans to be strengthened. School leaders and teachers need to continue to improve target setting processes and planning related to identified students, including having specific expectations for accelerated achievement for these students. The board’s internal evaluation process needs to be strengthened. This will enable trustees and leaders to know about the effectiveness and impact of strategies in raising achievement and to help inform their decision making.

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 the:

  • inclusive and supportive culture that is responsive to individual strengths and needs
  • adapted approach for children whose learning needs accelerating to support their wellbeing and positive outcomes
  • reflective culture that is effectively supported by the leadership team.

Next steps

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

  • strengthen understanding of internal evaluation in order to inform future school directions and decision making, including strategic planning processes
  • review aspects of the school’s documented curriculum. 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard
Director Review & Improvement Services

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

15 October 2018

About the school 

Location

Westport

Ministry of Education profile number

3236

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

304

Gender composition

Boys:   53%

Girls:    47%

Ethnic composition

Māori                       14%

Pākehā                     79%

Other ethnicities      7%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

15 October 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review       November 2014

Education Review       July 2011

Education Review       January 2008

Findings

Westport South School has a welcoming, family-focused culture. Student achievement information is very well used at an individual level, to support learner engagement, progress and achievement. The school’s curriculum provides students with a wide range of appropriate learning experiences. Māori culture is valued and well integrated throughout the school. The principal and board provide effective leadership and governance.

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?

Westport South School provides a welcoming, highly inclusive and positive school culture.

The school staff know students and their families well. Supportive and caring relationships exist between staff, students and the community, with a focus on family. Students and staff are proud of their school and its attractive and well-maintained grounds.

Since the July 2011 ERO review there have been few changes of staff and the roll has continued to grow. The board and teachers have addressed some of the recommendations in the 2011 ERO report. For example, they have increased the use of te reo and tikanga Māori and have reviewed the technology curriculum.

2 Learning

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

Teachers make very good use of achievement information to support student learning and provide targeted learning programmes.

School achievement information shows that in 2013 most students were achieving at or above the National Standards. The majority of students achieve better in reading than in mathematics or writing. Teachers collect a wide range of student achievement information to develop suitable programmes that will meet the interests, needs and abilities of all students.

A strength of the school is the provision for students with special needs. These students are quickly identified and well supported. Teachers develop appropriate programmes to meet individual needs. Students’ progress is closely monitored and reported to parents in a variety of ways. A significant number of teachers, with board assistance, have undertaken specific training to help students who are at risk of not achieving in reading.

Teachers make good use of external advisors to develop targeted programmes that support positive learning outcomes for students with learning needs and abilities. Additional assistance and resources are provided within all classrooms to support learning and behaviour for individuals and groups of students.

ERO observed students engaged in their learning. Students spoken with by ERO said they enjoy their learning and appreciate the help that they receive from teachers and teacher aides. They knew the purpose of their learning, how well they were achieving and what they needed to do to improve. Parents receive regular and useful information about how well their children are progressing and achieving through written reports and student-led conferences.

Teachers and senior leaders have close liaison with the local secondary school and early childhood centres. They work together to support students’ positive transitions into and beyond the school.

To further improve the school’s student achievement targets, school leaders need to ensure they specifically identify priority learners based on the wide range of achievement information collected within the school.

3 Curriculum

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

Overall the school’s curriculum is promoting and supporting students’ learning. The teachers have identified they will be reviewing and further developing the integrated theme approach. This will include other curriculum areas, such as science.

The school’s values are clearly visible and well known by students. Senior leaders and teachers regularly reinforce these values with students to ensure that they are well understood and support the positive school culture.

Students are provided with a good range of learning experiences within and beyond the classroom. The school curriculum effectively reflects the local context and makes good use of the wider West Coast environment. External expertise is used well to extend and enrich students’ learning.

Students’ ideas are valued. For example, the recently formed student council provides all students with authentic opportunities to contribute to decision making at the school. Senior students take on leadership roles and are supportive of younger students.

Senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that the next step is to review and develop the ways students know about their learning and how they will be assessed in all strands of mathematics and other learning areas.

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

The school has made significant progress in the ways it promotes Māori language and culture and supports Maori students to succeed as Māori.

Strong professional leadership is contributing to the greater emphasis being given to Māori language and culture across the school with greater involvement of the local Māori community.

The very large and successful kapa haka group helps to foster older students supporting younger students across the school.

A number of students told ERO that they are proud of the ways Māori culture is valued and represented within the school.

Teachers are well supported with resources to use in the teaching of te reo and tikanga Māori. They have participated in a number of professional development sessions to extend their knowledge and understanding of te ao Māori. It is now timely for senior leaders to review how well teachers are actively incorporating te reo and tikanga Māori within their class programmes.

Most Māori students achieve very well in comparison to other students at the school. School achievement information shows that these students are achieving at or above National Standards in literacy and mathematics.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is continuing to grow its capacity for ongoing improvement.

The principal and senior leaders provide strong professional leadership. They set clear expectations for students and teachers. They make very good use of teachers' skills and strengths and encourage them to take appropriate leadership roles. The principal and senior leaders successfully foster and model a culture of collaboration across the school.

A number of well-considered initiatives have been introduced to help improve outcomes for students. These include a new process for appraising teachers and a focus on behaviours that effectively support learning and teaching.

Trustees have a wide range of experience and have undertaken some training to help with their roles on the board, particularly with planning. They are highly supportive of the school and have a strong focus on raising student achievement. For example, the board provides additional staffing and resources and funds targeted training for teachers to support learning and teaching programmes.

The board and senior leaders proactively seek feedback from parents and whānau and keep them well informed. They actively make links with the local community to help reinforce students’ learning.

The next steps for school leaders and teachers are to:

  • establish a systematic self-review process, which will enable them to effectively identify what is working well and next steps for improvement
  • develop manageable annual priorities that can be effectively evaluated and are clearly linked to appropriate strategic 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.

Conclusion

Westport South School has a welcoming, family-focused culture. Student achievement information is very well used at an individual level, to support learner engagement, progress and achievement. The school’s curriculum provides students with a wide range of appropriate learning experiences. Māori culture is valued and well integrated throughout the school. The principal and board provide effective leadership and governance.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

18 November 2014

About the School

Location

Westport

Ministry of Education profile number

3236

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

319

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other Ethnicities

84%

10%

3%

1%

2%

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

18 November 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2011

January 2008

December 2004