Okains Bay School

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School Context

Okains Bay School is a very small school on Banks Peninsula. At the time of this review there were 10 Years 1 to 8 students. Almost all of the students identify as Māori.

The school’s vision is to achieve excellence in curriculum, teaching, internal evaluation for improvement and school-community relationships. The school aims to support children to achieve well academically, and develop positive life skills and self-confidence. To support these outcomes the school’s current goal is to improve the achievement levels in writing.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • student wellbeing.

Since the last ERO visit in 2014, the school has had three principals and a change of teacher and board chairperson. The school is currently working with the Ministry of Education developing school documentation and teaching programmes for writing.

Okains Bay School is part of a cluster with other schools and Early Learning Services on Banks Peninsula.

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 very effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students. Reports to the board over the past three years show that almost all children achieve at or above the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.

The school has good information to show the amount of progress individual children make over time. It is yet to analyse this progress information to be assured they are making sufficient progress over time.

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

The school has effectively accelerated learning and maintained appropriate rates of progress for children who were previously underachieving.

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?

Highly effective home-school partnerships have a very positive influence on children’s wellbeing and learning. Parents, trustees and teachers actively share high expectations for the children’s behaviour and achievement. The school appreciates that children are well prepared for learning and the subsequent ongoing support parents provide. Parents value the recent work of an external agency facilitated by the school. The agency worked with them to discuss their aspirations and concerns for their children and helped them to develop related plans. Children benefit from the active involvement the wider community has in their learning and school activities.

Children at risk of underachievement are well supported in their learning through a range of practices. Teachers have purposeful assessment practices to identify areas of concern. The board is committed to ensuring junior children receive a strong start to their schooling. Parents and community volunteers provide useful additional support as needed, especially for reading.

The school continues to value and respect Māori language and culture. This is seen through the continued emphasis within learning programmes and routines. Children display whanaungatanga and support others in tuakana-teina relationships where older children support younger children. Teachers are responsive to the wishes of the community for Māori culture and heritage to be part of children’s learning.

The board effectively resources the school to better enable the children to overcome some of the challenges of learning in a relatively isolated environment. This resourcing contributes to providing equity of opportunities for children to learn. Suitable ICT hardware and teaching and learning programmes align well with the school’s vision and aims.

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

There is a need for more specific planning that shows how teachers are responding to and extending children’s learning, particularly as they move through the school. This could meaningfully link in with the goals and next steps children set for themselves in discussion with their teachers.

The board has identified, and ERO agrees, that trustees need to actively pursue opportunities to extend their collective knowledge of the board’s stewardship role. This is to better support trustees to promote and sustain the community’s vision and goals for the children and the school.

There is some urgency that key school documentation is completed, in particular strategic plans, school curriculum, annual achievement targets and the principal’s annual performance agreement. Completion of these and other documents will make school direction and expectations clearer and help align all plans and associated actions in a coherent way.

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:

  • achieving outcomes for children that are equitable for all groups and show consistently good levels of achievement

  • a culture of collaboration among school staff, parents and whānau that maintains high expectations for teaching and learning in the school.

Next steps

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

  • extending outcomes for children to achieve excellence for all students

  • establishing and sustaining school and teaching direction to enable better achievement of the school vision.

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

24 April 2018

About the school

Location

Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3452

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 – 8)

School roll

10

Gender composition

Boys: 6 Girls: 4

Ethnic composition

Māori: 8
Pākehā: 2

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

24 April 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review January 2015
Education Review December 2011
Supplementary Review December 2008

Findings

The small school size helps teachers know students well and respond appropriately to their individual learning needs. Students are provided with a wide range of learning opportunities that successfully integrate Māori language and culture. The principal and board work closely together and are well supported by the community. Further development of the school’s curriculum document and self-review processes should help the school to sustain and improve its performance.

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?

Okains Bay School is a small, rural school on Banks Peninsula that has a close relationship with the local community. Many families have strong historic links with the area and school. A high proportion of the students identify as Māori.

In 2012, the school was marked for closure as part of the Greater Christchurch merger plan. The school community worked successfully to ensure that the school remained locally governed. In 2013, there was a change of principal, and new staff were appointed in 2014.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of student achievement information to support student learning, engagement and progress.

Teachers use a variety of ways to collect information about how well students are learning and progressing. Individual student learning is closely monitored and flexible approaches for support are in place as required. Teachers discuss with individual students what their strengths are and areas they need to work on.

The principal also uses student achievement information to develop appropriate and specific annual achievement targets to identify students who need extra support or extension, including ways that Māori students will be supported to reach their full potential. She provides the board with useful information about how well students are achieving and progressing towards the targets throughout the year.

The school’s achievement information shows that most students are achieving at or better than the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students in Years 2 to 8 show a strength in reading. In 2014, significant gains have been made in writing. Teachers have focused on increasing students’ engagement by closely linking writing to other learning areas, especially science.

Areas for review and development

The principal and teaching staff are aware that students’ learning would be enhanced by increasing the opportunities they have to know about how well they are achieving. This could include:

  • teachers sharing specific achievement and next learning steps with students, their parents and whānau
  • embedding the practice of student-led conferences.

Reports to parents need to clearly show achievement in relation to the National Standards and ensure that the timing of reporting for students in their first three years at school meets requirements.

3 Curriculum

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

While students benefit from a wide range of learning experiences, the school’s curriculum will be more effective and useful when it has been reviewed and updated.

Students are provided with relevant and interesting learning activities. They are able to broaden their learning beyond their immediate environment through a variety of opportunities. This includes visitors bringing their expertise to the school, and providing an interesting range of experiences beyond the classroom.

In 2014, the board funded additional teaching hours to provide greater targeted and small group learning for all students. The principal and teachers identified that a greater emphasis was needed in science. This has involved professional learning for teachers and a more integrated approach to the teaching of science. Students spoken with by ERO said that they really enjoy the practical learning experiences they now have in science.

Teachers integrate bicultural practices and local contexts in their programmes. They make very good use of the surrounding area and resources and have close links with the community, including the local museum. This helps students to learn about their local history and identity in meaningful ways.

Students have regular opportunities to participate in a broad range of cultural and sporting activities with students from schools in the nearby district.

Teachers know students and their families well and are responsive to their needs. ERO observed many examples of older students working with and supporting younger students.

Areas for review and development

The new principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that the documentation of the school’s curriculum needs to be updated to reflect current school practices and the local community.

The principal has also identified that appraisal and related policies and procedures need to be strengthened.

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

Māori students’ culture and abilities are recognised and valued and contribute to their educational success.

Teachers know individual students and their whānau well. There is a strong focus on celebrating and integrating Māori language and culture within the school. Students have good opportunities to hear and use te reo and tikanga Māori throughout their class programmes.

Students participate in Māori tikanga in a range of meaningful contexts. This includes leading pōwhiri for visitors at the local museum. The principal seeks advice from appropriate people to ensure that suitable protocols are followed.

The board has appointed staff who have expertise in tikanga and te reo Māori to further support the school in these practices.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The willingness of the board to undertake further training, a good partnership between the board and principal, and ongoing involvement from the community are supporting the school to be well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Since her appointment, the new principal has been appropriately focused on building positive relationships with students, whānau and the local community. She keeps the board informed about student wellbeing.

The school is actively involved in a local education cluster. This is providing the principal and teachers with opportunities to establish links and work collaboratively with other local schools and early childhood centres.

The board is proactive, supportive and becoming more involved in the school’s strategic planning. Trustees have had initial training to extend their understanding of their roles and responsibilities. They have identified further training as a priority for the board. Some work has been undertaken in 2014 on updating policies.

There are high levels of community involvement in the school. The principal keeps parents and community members well informed about school happenings and upcoming events. During 2012, the board undertook a significant amount of work in consulting parents and the community about the importance of retaining local governance of the school.

Areas for review and development

ERO has identified that for the school to move forward in a sustainable way, significant attention needs to be given to self review and updating some policies and procedures.

The board and principal agree that self review would be strengthened by establishing better processes and systems to guide the process.

Policies and practices that should be strengthened include:

  • personnel management, including police vetting
  • clearer guidance for staff on child protection and reporting abuse
  • detailing how the board will respond to complaints
  • the awareness of privacy requirements, such as the storage of confidential documents.

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.

The school has identified some aspects of compliance that need to be strengthened. These have been identified previously in this report.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends the principal and board are supported by:

  • the Ministry of Education to develop a deeper understanding about and process for self review
  • the School Trustees Association in strengthening some governance systems and practices.

Conclusion

The small school size helps teachers know students well and respond appropriately to their individual learning needs. Students are provided with a wide range of learning opportunities that successfully integrate Māori language and culture. The principal and board work closely together and are well supported by the community. Further development of the school’s curriculum document and self-review processes should help the school to sustain and improve its performance.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern Region

19 January 2015

About the School

Location

Akaroa, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

3452

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

15

Gender composition

Girls 8;

Boys 7

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

9

6

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

19 January 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

December 2011

December 2008

November 2007