Tapanui School

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School Context

Tapanui School is a rural school in West Otago. It provides education for children in Years 1 - 6. The school has a roll of 111 students, 17% of whom identify as Māori.

The school’s vision is for students to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners. In supporting this vision the school’s valued outcomes are for students to:

  • achieve across all learning areas in the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)

  • exhibit the school’s values of perseverance, excellence, equity and respect

  • acquire the skills to be active participants in their learning.

In line with this focus the school’s current targets and strategic goals include: improving student achievement and engagement in reading, writing and science; teachers developing the school’s play-based and future-focused curriculum; and lifting the profile of te ao Māori.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing, mathematics, oral language and science in relation to NZC levels

  • achievement and progress in relation to the school’s targets of reading, writing and oral language

  • achievement and progress against the key competencies in the NZC.

Since the school’s last ERO review (2015) there have been several staffing changes, including the appointment of a new deputy principal. Staff have participated in sustained professional development in the areas of oral language, play-based curriculum, te reo and tikanga Māori, writing and the digital technology curriculum.

The school is a member of the Pomahaka 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 is moving positively towards equity and excellence for all its students.

In 2018 the school moved to assessing student achievement against the curriculum levels of the New Zealand Curriculum.

In 2016 and 2017 most students achieved at or above national expectations for reading, writing and mathematics. In 2018:

  • almost all students achieved within or beyond their expected curriculum level in reading, writing, mathematics, oral language and science

  • all Māori learners achieved within or beyond their expected curriculum levels

  • most students were demonstrating the key competencies consistently while at school.

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

The school has had variable success in accelerating the achievement of students whose learning needs to progress at a faster rate.

Between 2016 and 2018 the disparity of achievement between boys and girls in reading and writing was significantly reduced.

In response to identified needs the school has recently placed a greater focus on oral language. The 2018-related target resulted in 30% of targeted students making accelerated progress in this area.

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?

Student wellbeing for learning is a priority of teachers, school leaders and trustees. Students have positive relationships with the adults at the school. Teachers and leaders have a strong focus on the development of the whole child. They are proactive in supporting positive behaviours for learning and regularly reflect on the effectiveness of their approaches. Students are well placed to learn in the positive and caring learning environment provided for them.

The school’s curriculum is very responsive to students’ needs and interests, and to the aspirations of the community. Students have increasing degrees of agency in their learning to choose their next areas of study and learning steps. Teachers use learning information well to inform their specific teaching and choice of teaching strategies to best meet the learning needs of students. Identified students have their learning supported and/or extended through a range of interventions within and beyond the classroom.

The school’s high level of engagement with whānau Māori and the local runaka is leading to increased inclusion of te ao Māori in school practices and learning programmes. The responsiveness of the curriculum is providing students with equitable opportunities to learn.

Effective senior leadership ensures a culture of ongoing improvement. The leaders are actively involved in the planning, co-ordination and evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching. There is a clear line of sight from the school’s vision through to class programmes. Senior leaders have established robust practices and processes to guide school-wide teaching and learning programmes.

Effective professional development has resulted in teachers establishing shared understandings of teaching practices and approaches across the school and within collaborative teaching teams. Teachers work together closely and have a shared responsibility for the students who need extra support. Appraisal and the inquiries teachers undertake to investigate the effectiveness of their teaching are consistently based on improving practice for better student outcomes. Teachers have regular and useful formal and informal professional conversations about what is working well and what could be better. The consistent and cohesive practices of teachers and support from senior leaders are key contributors to effective teaching and learning.

Trustees are highly engaged and effective in ensuring improvements to outcomes for students. They carefully scrutinise the data reported to them and information they gather themselves from teachers and school families. From this scrutiny relevant goals and targets are set. Trustees effectively resource professional development and additional staffing to help achieve their charter goals and targets. The board has an ongoing focus on supporting the wellbeing of students and staff. The board works with school leaders and teachers meaningfully to realise the school’s vision and valued outcomes.

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 use the learner information available to monitor and report on the rates of progress of all students to better identify if sufficient progress has been made.

In their charter targets, trustees and leaders need to clarify what curriculum levels they are wanting to achieve and for how many students.

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 Tapanui School performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

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:

  • the strong leadership and stewardship capability to work with data to know about student achievement
  • teachers’ ability to gather and analyse meaningful learning information about the development of the whole child
  • the school’s ability to evaluate its practices with the intention of improving outcomes for students.

Next steps

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

  • using the data already within the school to know about the sufficiency of progress of all students
  • establishing targets that give clarity about what the school wants to achieve and for how many students.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

14 May 2019

About the school

Location

West Otago

Ministry of Education profile number

3842

School type

Years 1 to 6

School roll

111

Gender composition

Boys 51%, Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 17%
Pākehā 77%
Asian 4%
Other 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

March 2019

Date of this report

14 May 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review August 2015
Education Review May 2012
Education Review October 2008

1 Context

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

Tapanui School is a small rural school for students in Years 1 to 6. It continues to provide a positive and safe learning environment for students.

There has been a small increase in the school roll and few changes to the staff. The school values the ready support it receives from its parent and wider community.

The school’s vision is for children to leave Tapanui School as confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners.

The principal and teachers have continued to develop their knowledge and skills of current best teaching and learning practices. In 2015 the teaching staff, with the support of the principal and board of trustees, are implementing a curriculum that embraces these new approaches. The school is now organised into two learning areas, junior and senior. Teachers collaborate to plan for and monitor the learning of all students in their respective areas. Parents are being kept well informed and consulted about these changes.

In 2014 most students were achieving well in reading and mathematics. Achievement in writing was slightly lower.

Since the 2012 ERO review, the school has made significant progress in teachers reviewing their own practice and school-wide evaluation. The principal, board and teachers acknowledges that more work is required in building aspects of bi-culturalism within the school curriculum.

2 Learning

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

Teachers and school leaders very effectively use achievement information to make positive changes to students’ learning.

Findings to support this judgement

Teachers and leaders have comprehensive information about students’ achievement in literacy and mathematics. They are becoming better placed to gather information about other aspects of students’ learning, in particular achievement in relation to the school’s vision and learner qualities. (See key next step.)

Students know about their achievements against expectations. They know what the intended learning is in different curriculum areas and what they need to do next to improve.

Teachers know their students well as individuals and learners. Together, teachers use achievement information well to:

  • identify students’ learning needs and abilities
  • guide their planning and teaching
  • evaluate the impact of teaching programmes.

This collaborative approach is building teachers’ confidence in making assessments more reliable and enabling the teaching group to have shared responsibility for all students in their area.

School leaders carry out comprehensive analysis of school-wide and cohort data. This leads to:

  • identifying areas of need and setting targets to address these areas
  • purposeful performance management systems, including relevant professional learning and development (PLD) and teachers’ appraisal goals
  • informative reports to the board.

The trustees use the provided information to make decisions about additional staffing and PLD. The principal and trustees need to ensure that additional staffing is being prioritised to meet the areas of greatest need.

3 Curriculum

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

Students’ learning is well promoted and supported by the school’s curriculum and responsive teaching.

Findings to support this judgement

The school-based curriculum is well designed. This is a result of community input, teacher knowledge and on-going revision. It has a clear vision and the values are well developed. It is strongly aligned to the New Zealand Curriculum.

Students experience learning across a broad range of subjects and activities within and beyond the school. They are carefully supported to develop independent learning skills and other qualities as expressed in the school’s vision. 

The benefits for students of the reorganised junior and senior areas include more frequent opportunities for:

  • targeted teaching of identified students
  • small group instruction
  • student choice for a range of activities to reinforce and practice new learning
  • students to choose where and how they learn best.

Teachers use a range of ways, including increasing use of ICT, to build learning-centred relationships with parents. ERO saw examples of purposeful information given to parents to better help them support their children’s learning at home.

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

A significant number (14%) of students at the school identify as Māori. Māori students achieved very well in reading, writing and mathematics in 2014.

Māori students are seeing and hearing aspects of their culture within school programmes and practices. This is evident in the school culture of tuakana-teina/older students supporting younger students and ako/everyone seen as a learner. All students have regular te reo Māori lessons and take part in waiata sessions.

The school held a hui to gather Māori whānau perspectives and aspirations in 2012. Some broad goals were established. Action plans need to be developed to ensure that these goals are achieved. The outcomes of these goals need to be evaluated and reported to whānau at the next hui planned for 2015.

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. There is a strong alignment between governance, leadership, teaching, the curriculum and student learning.

Findings to support this judgement

The school’s charter includes useful strategic and annual planning. Teaching staff and trustees worked together to develop the direction, goals, priorities and targets. This has led to extensive and focused PLD for teachers and trustees, especially in the development of the new teaching approaches. Currently the goals do not make strong enough connections to the desired student outcomes as expressed in the school’s vision. Planning concentrates on what is to be done rather than what is to be achieved. (See key next step.)

The principal has embedded a culture of reflection and improvement. He leads effective on-going evaluation of teaching and learning programmes. Evaluations are based on student achievement and progress, and how well PLD is being implemented and sustained.

The trustees and principal seek and respond appropriately, and in a timely manner, to the opinions and perspectives of students, parents and staff.

The trustees have high expectations that all students will achieve well. They value and support the professionalism of their teaching staff.

Key next step

Trustees, leaders and teachers need to continue developing a strong focus on all desired student outcomes as expressed in the school vision. This needs to happen at all levels, including for individual and groups of students, and across the whole school. Evaluations need to show how well these desired outcomes have been met.

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 enjoy learning across a broad range of subjects and activities within and beyond the school. Teachers know their students well as individuals and learners. New approaches to teaching are giving students increased responsibility to know about and manage their own learning. The trustees have high expectations that all students will achieve well.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

4 August 2015

About the School

Location

Tapanui

Ministry of Education profile number

3842

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

111

Gender composition

Boys: 53%

Girls: 47%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 78%

Māori 14%

Asian 3%

Other 5%

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

4 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2012

Education Review October 2008

Education Review August 2005