Balfour School

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

School Context

Balfour School is a rural primary school catering for children from Years 1-6 in northern Southland. At the time of this review the roll had increased to 96 students. The school has small numbers of children from a range of ethnicities. A number of these children are second language learners.

Since the last ERO education review (2015) the school has appointed new staff, including a principal. The Board of Trustees has an experienced board chairperson and members who are focussed on board sustainability.

The school has responded positively to the recommendations in the last ERO report. Teacher appraisals now reflect school priorities and targets to raise achievement and there have been recent reviews of the school’s curriculum documents.

There is strong support for the school within the community. A playcentre and Plunket are attached to the school providing continuity in learning for young children.

The school’s vision for children is that they are equipped with the skills, attitude and knowledge to face tomorrow’s challenges confidently, with respect, responsibility, kindness and honesty.

To support these outcomes, the school’s strategic goals are to improve student achievement to develop and maintain effective curriculum programmes for all students with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy.

School leaders regularly report to the board on:

  • children’s achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress in meeting the school targets
  • the wider curriculum e.g. information technology and arts. 

The school belongs to the Fiordland, Northern Southland 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 achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for most children. A high level of achievement and progress of children in reading and mathematics has been maintained through a period of leadership and staffing changes.

School information shows that most students have achieved at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. It also shows that some groups of students are not achieving equitable learning outcomes. The school is currently targeting raising boys’ writing achievement. The school has good processes in place for monitoring and supporting students who require extra support to achieve excellent outcomes.

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

School leaders and staff have a strong focus on supporting children whose learning needs acceleration. They have consistently succeeded in accelerating learning for most children who need to make additional progress.

School information shows that:

  • most students are achieving at or above expectations in reading and mathematics
  • most girls are at or above expectations in writing
  • most Māori learners achieve at or above expectations in mathematics and reading.

There is disparity evident in achievement results for boys’ writing and some disparity in mathematics for boys. This is well identified by leaders and teachers and targeted is for focused improvement.

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 leadership has effectively established systems and practices to better support positive outcomes for all children. A strong focus has been placed on establishing consistency across the school, in particular with the delivery of curriculum and with close monitoring of children’s progress and achievement.

The school’s vision and values are highly evident in interactions in and out of classrooms. Children are confident and well informed about their learning. Teachers maintain a strong link between children’s learning and involvement with the local community.

Teachers have been supported to quickly identify children who need to accelerate their learning. Their rates of progress are regularly monitored, reviewed, reported on and used to inform future planning. Teachers effectively use external expertise and special programmes to support improved learning outcomes. This includes English as Second Language learners and learners with high and complex needs.

The new principal and curriculum leaders are effectively building teachers’ professional practice. Teachers work collaboratively and share information and data to inform professional conversations for promoting children’s learning.

Learning networks formed with other schools provide further opportunity for high quality professional development, enhancing moderation practices and sharing good practice in teaching and learning.

The school is well managed. The board is regularly informed about students’ progress and achievement. Trustees use this information to inform decisions made for school improvement. They regularly seek the views of staff, students, parents and whānau.

A strength of the school is a deliberate focus on building meaningful connections with children and their families, whānau and the wider community. A recent initiative with parents of children requiring acceleration with their learning was highly successful. The expertise of parents and adults external to the school is regularly sought.

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

The school trustees, leaders and teachers need to strengthen bicultural learning for all by consistently modelling, promoting and integrating the Māori language, culture and identity. This should include a review of:

  • the board’s leadership, documentation and processes regarding bi-cultural practices
  • how leaders and teachers integrate Māori language, culture and identity into their planning, daily practices and self-review /internal evaluation
  • how well specific teaching practices and innovations are improving learning outcomes for all 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 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • effective leadership focused on supporting children’s learning, engagement and development
  • a culture of respect and collaboration
  • the building of professional practice.

Next steps

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

  • promoting Māori language, culture and identity and bi-cultural learning for all
  • continue to strengthen and embed effective internal evaluation that best promotes positive outcomes for all learners. 

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

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

22 May 2018

About the school 

Location

Balfour

Ministry of Education profile number

3932

School type

Contributing

School roll

96

Gender composition

Girls 39: Boys 57

Ethnic composition

Māori        8

Pākehā    79

Pacific       3

Asian         6

Review team on site

March 2018

Date of this report

22 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review       March 2015

Education Review        October 2011

Education Review       June 2009

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

The 2012 ERO report identified several areas for review and development. These areas related to school-wide assessment practices, curriculum management and how well placed the school was able to sustain or improve its performance. ERO found:

  • variability in the quality of assessment across the school
  • there needed to be better systems and guidelines for assessment
  • curriculum policies and procedures to support teaching and learning needed to be updated
  • self-review practices needed to be strengthened.

ERO has provided ongoing evaluation over the course of two years as the school has worked to improve its overall performance.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The school has made significant progress in addressing the areas for review and development in the 2012 ERO report.

Progress

Assessment practices. The principal and teachers have developed useful guidelines to ensure that achievement information is well used. The guidelines include expectations for recording, tracking and monitoring the progress of students in relation to the National Standards.

The principal and teachers analyse achievement information to identify next steps for teaching and students’ learning. Teachers are now well placed to involve students more in their learning. Students are encouraged to set learning goals and follow their own interests through the ‘Learning Pathways’ programme.

The principal provides the board with detailed reports about student achievement in relation to the National Standards. These reports show the progress that students have made and useful next steps for how the board and teachers can further support students’ learning.

School achievement information for 2014 shows students achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards.

Curriculum. The principal and teachers have developed the school’s curriculum in line with the New Zealand Curriculum. The trustees and principal have updated teaching and learning policies to ensure that they reflect legal requirements and best practice. The school has developed a three year plan to systematically review these policies and procedures.

The principal and teachers have reviewed and revised the English, mathematics, the arts and social sciences curriculum statements. These statements provide detailed guidelines for teachers and are helping to ensure consistency of practice. The school plans to revise other curriculum statements following the useful model already in place. The principles, key competencies and values are evident in all programmes and are now included in planning.

Key next steps

The principal has identified, and ERO agrees, that the key next steps for the school are to:

  • extend teachers’ appraisal goals to better reflect the school priorities and targets for raising student achievement

  • continue to review and develop the school’s curriculum statements.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. The trustees, principal and teachers have undertaken relevant professional development to help them understand their roles and responsibilities more fully.

The board has a useful strategic plan which clearly identifies the school’s priorities for the future. The annual plan supports the achievement of these priorities. School initiatives, activities and regular practices now align well with the annual plan and targets to lift achievement. The board discusses aspects of its charter and strategic plan at each meeting with evaluative progress reports as the basis of these discussions.

There has been significant improvement in the way the board and principal review the effectiveness of the school’s planning and practices. There are well-designed guidelines and templates to support self review. Self review is an integral part of school practices that lead to ongoing improvement.

The appraisal process now includes Registered Teacher Criteria and the Professional Standards.

The board is receiving achievement reports in learning areas other than mathematics and literacy. These reports include appropriate recommendations to guide trustees and teachers in what needs to be done.

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

The board and principal have made significant progress in addressing the areas for development in the 2012 ERO report. The school is now well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Students achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics. Students continue to enjoy interesting and varied learning experiences.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer-Southern

3 March 2015

About the School

Location

Northern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

3932

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

75

Gender composition

Boys: 45

Girls: 35

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 64

Māori 3

Other 8

Review team on site

December 2014

Date of this report

3 March 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review October 2011

Education Review June 2009

Education Review March 2006