Waituna Creek School

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School Context

Waituna Creek School is a rural school for students in Years 1 to 8.

The school vision is for a nurturing and positive learning environment that includes valuing of te ao and te reo Māori, with success for all students. It aims for students to have their individual needs met, be confident, willing learners, and use their knowledge to make a difference.

The school values include respect, responsibility, resilience and relationships.

Key goals are for excellent achievement in literacy and numeracy, supported by strengthening of community partnerships, and development of a nurturing environment for all learners.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the 2015 ERO review, there has been a change in school trustees, principal and some other staff. The school has three multi-level classes. The board and community raise significant funds to employ an extra teacher and keep class numbers low.

The school is part of the Waimate Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

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 working towards equity and excellence for all its students.

Since 2016, schoolwide achievement information for reading, writing and mathematics shows that there has been improvement in achievement levels since 2016, particularly in mathematics. There is reduced but ongoing disparity for boys in writing, and reduced disparity for boys in reading.

At the end of 2018, schoolwide information for reading, writing and mathematics showed that over two thirds of students were at or above the school’s expected levels. Achievement for Māori students was better than school-wide achievement overall.

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

The school has had limited success in accelerating the progress for students who need this.

In 2018, small numbers of children below expected levels in reading and mathematics made accelerated progress towards reaching the school’s expected levels. Approximately half made expected progress. No children below expected levels in writing made accelerated progress. About a quarter made expected 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?

Waituna Creek students learn in an inclusive, caring and supportive environment. There is a strong focus on children’s holistic wellbeing. Restorative approaches are used to grow positive behaviours and caring relationships. Students transferring from other schools quickly settle and feel welcome.

Strengthened partnerships with parents and local schools are supporting children’s learning and wellbeing. The principal has introduced specific initiatives to better inform parents about and involve them in their children’s learning. Involvement in the local Kāhui Ako is providing relevant professional learning for staff, support for the principal, and social and sports opportunities for children.

Aspects of curriculum are particularly responsive to students’ abilities, needs and interests. Examples included, responsiveness to students’ emergent interests and hands-on learning, leadership opportunities for older students and intentional integration of different learning areas. Transitions into school are well supported, with intentional adaptation of assessment and teaching practices. Teachers have focused on involving children more in assessing their work and building their understanding of their progress, achievement and next learning steps.

The principal has established a collaborative staff culture. She is ensuring teachers participate in relevant professional learning and encouraging professional conversations as to how children at risk with their learning can be better supported.

A well-considered school charter and other school documents clearly set out the school direction and guidelines for school operation. There has been significant work to review and improve the school’s curriculum. The charter has clear annual and strategic priorities that align well with Kāhui Ako goals. A sound policy and procedure framework gives clarity to what should happen in the school.

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

Internal evaluation needs strengthening. The board regularly receives curriculum reports, updates about the implementation of annual goals and some achievement information. These need to be more evaluative. The principal and teachers need to better use progress and achievement information to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching strategies in accelerating children’s learning.

The board is largely new and trustees would benefit from professional learning about their governance roles.

School targets need to specifically focus on accelerating the achievement of children below expected levels and address the disparity for boys in writing. To know about the effectiveness of teaching, resourcing and interventions, the board needs well-analysed information that more clearly shows levels of achievement, rates and sufficiency of progress for target and other students. This should assist the staff and trustees when making decisions as to how to best support learners.

The principal has identified and ERO’s evaluation confirms, that to enable meaningful assessment in areas beyond literacy and mathematics, a next step is develop relevant skill progressions. There also need to be clear guidelines about expectations for effective teaching practice in core learning areas.

The school has well-considered and useful guidelines about how it will value Māori language and culture. However, further work is needed to better integrate te ao and te reo Māori into day-to-day learning. This includes regularly consulting with parents of Māori children.

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 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Waituna Creek School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

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:

  • a positive and caring environment that helps children be ready to learn
  • partnerships with parents that have an increased focus on children’s learning
  • constructive partnership with the Kāhui Ako that is benefitting staff and children
  • useful strategic priorities and policy and procedure framework
  • a flexible curriculum that provides opportunities for leadership and hands-on learning.

Next steps

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

  • strengthening internal evaluation so that leaders and teachers better know what is and what is not effective in making a difference for children’s learning
  • supporting new trustees to be confident in their governance role
  • setting more useful targets to lift achievement with clearer reporting about the sufficiency of children’s progress
  • establishing skill progressions and clear expectations about effective teaching practice to give clarity for teaching and learning
  • continuing to strengthen how the school values te reo and te ao Māori.

The school has forwarded to ERO an action plan that shows how the school will address these next steps.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

24 June 2019

About the school

Location

Waimate

Ministry of Education profile number

3579

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

44

Gender composition

Girls 21, Boys 23

Ethnic composition

Māori 6
NZ European/Pākehā 35
Other ethnicities 3

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2019

Date of this report

24 June 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review July 2015
Education Review April 2013

Findings

Students at Waituna Creek School benefit from a diverse and interesting curriculum in their rural setting. Overall, they achieve well in relation to the National Standards. Those who need additional support receive this through tailored programmes and interventions. The school is a focus for the community. The school is well governed and led. A next step is for students to have greater understanding about aspects of their learning.

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?

Waituna Creek School is a small, rural, full-primary school near Waimate in South Canterbury. Currently it has two classrooms. Almost all students travel to the school by bus. The school is an important part of the community and resources are shared between the local community and school to enhance learning programmes. The local mobile kindergarten now runs a session once a week from the school library. This has had a positive influence on new entrant numbers and assists the transition to school for some children.

The school vision is to meet individual needs and encourage success for all. Students learn and play in an inclusive, family-like environment. They have access to expansive school grounds, and use these well for vigorous physical play and games. Older students described their school as “fun and sporty.”

Parents are supportive of the school and learning programmes. The Board of Trustees and the Parent Teachers Association provide funding and resources to keep class sizes smaller within the year and to support students’ learning.

This year almost all teachers are new to the school. Within the school year a number of students enter or leave the school.

The school has progressed well in addressing the recommendations from the 2013 ERO report. The trustees have continued to make good use of external support. Policies and procedures have been updated and there have been improvements made to the performance management system. There has been further progress in developing the curriculum and reporting to parents.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is being effectively used by the school to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

At the end of 2014, most students were achieving at or above the National Standards in reading and writing. Fewer students were achieving at this level in mathematics, a slight drop from 2013. Overall achievement results in 2013 were similar for literacy. The school is targeting raising student achievement in mathematics and writing in 2015. Most students make good progress when they enter the school during the school year.

Teachers are using student achievement information to:

  • identify students who need additional support with their learning
  • group students and to set learning goals
  • celebrate students’ progress and success.

The principal is using student achievement information well to:

  • work with teachers to identify groups of students who need extra support to succeed
  • develop teacher capability and consistency in making overall teacher judgements about students’ achievement in relation to the National Standards
  • report school-wide achievement information to the board.

The board is well informed about student achievement. Trustees receive ongoing information on what has been done towards meeting the school’s charter targets. This information would be more useful if it specifically described the progress to date of the targeted groups of students.

Areas for review and development

Students should have a much clearer understanding of their place in the learning process. In particular:

  • how well they are achieving and progressing
  • what they need to do to improve their learning
  • how to assess their own performance and that of their peers.

The principal and teachers should carry out deeper analysis of achievement data and report on students’ rates of progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. It provides a wide range of learning contexts and practical experiences that students are interested in to engage them in their learning.

Students have many opportunities to learn beyond the classroom (on trips and camps locally and regionally). The principal makes every effort to extend students’ learning experiences beyond the school. This is supported by the local community through the provision of a van.

The curriculum is well developed and underpinned by the values, principles and key competencies that are important to this community. Parents’ contribution to students’ learning programmes are valued and useful.

The school’s values are explicitly taught and celebrated within learning programmes and the day-to-day life of the school. Students’ transition into the school is managed according to their needs.

The school is working towards teachers using innovative learning practices and ensuring there are suitable resources to support all students in their learning.

Area for review and development

The board, principal and teachers should strengthen curriculum reviews to more critically evaluate what contributes to students’ success to inform future planning.

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

Māori students overall achieve as well as their peers against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. They have increasing opportunities to identify with their language, identity and culture. Teachers are exploring ways to support leadership opportunities for Māori students. Some students have the opportunity to hear and use te reo Māori during the school day. Families of Māori students are consulted with and the school is beginning to develop connections with their local Marae. The principal and teachers have developed a useful Māori curriculum document.

Key next steps

The principal and teachers have identified their next step is to fully implement, monitor and evaluate the Māori curriculum. They also need to continue to build teachers’ capacity in teaching the bi-cultural curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The board:

  • has continued to strengthen its knowledge of its governance role through training and ongoing external support
  • has very useful current policies and procedures and a schedule for reviewing these
  • has developed a comprehensive governance manual to guide trustees in their responsibilities
  • uses comprehensive systems to closely monitor the school’s sound financial position
  • is well informed about all matters relating to the school through the principal.

The strategic plan accurately reflects the school’s current priorities. The board receives regular updates on progress towards meeting these. Annual planning provides useful detail as to how these priorities will be achieved. There is clear coherence between the strategic plan, appraisal and staff professional development.

The principal plays an active role in school professional learning and development. She:

  • continues to develop assessment and reporting practices relating to the National Standards
  • has implemented some useful frameworks and systems to guide teachers
  • takes leadership roles in the wider educational community.
Next step

The board have identified and ERO agrees that the strategic plan redevelopment will be a priority, informed by a comprehensive consultation process.

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

Students at Waituna Creek School benefit from a diverse and interesting curriculum in their rural setting. Overall, they achieve well in relation to the National Standards. Those who need additional support receive this through tailored programmes and interventions. The school is a focus for the community. The school is well governed and led. A next step is for students to have greater understanding about aspects of their learning.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

7 July 2015

About the School

Location

Waimate

Ministry of Education profile number

3579

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

38

Gender composition

Girls: 21

Boys: 17

Ethnic composition

Pākeha

Māori

Asian

29

6

3

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

7 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2013

March 2012

November 2009