Dipton School

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Findings

Students continue to receive a high-quality education within a very inclusive, nurturing environment. They are learning increasingly through innovative teaching programmes where they are supported to manage their own learning and ICT is used purposefully and effectively. Teachers know their learners well and are responsive to their identified needs and interests.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

Dipton School students continue to receive a high-quality education within a very inclusive and nurturing environment. They demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and ownership in their school where their ideas and views are regularly sought and valued. This is seen in their involvement in school and playground development and through the enviroschool programme.

Dipton School is a small rural school for Years 1 to 8 students. There are strong and caring relationships among the students and between the students, adults and community. The school values are well embedded and evident. They contribute greatly to the positive culture within the school.

Trustees, leaders and teachers place an emphasis on literacy and mathematics achievement, and students developing the skills for managing themselves and taking responsibility for their own learning.

Trustees, leaders and teachers are very proactive in establishing and maintaining positive relationships within the school community. Of particular note are the effective strategies the principal, teachers and trustees use to engage with the families of students who have English as their second language.

There continues to be an effective transition-to-school programme in conjunction with the local playgroup that operates on the school grounds.

Since the last ERO review in 2011, the school has continued to improve teaching and learning programmes. It has addressed the areas for review and development noted in the previous ERO report. 

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Achievement reports to the board show that students achieve well in relation to the National Standards for writing, mathematics, and particularly in reading.

All students’ achievement is closely monitored. Teachers identify students’ learning needs and next steps. This information is used carefully to inform planning for class lessons and for teacher aides’ programmes. Teachers rigorously track students at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Students are highly engaged in the learning process and their learning. They can talk about their learning, including their achievements, goals and next steps.

The board makes good use of the information reported to them when making decisions around how best to support current students and students in the future.

The principal needs to increase the analysis of student achievement data to better:

  • identify trends and patterns of achievement and progress school wide and for groups of students
  • identify the amount of progress students are making and evaluate the rates of progress
  • evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and intervention programmes to identify what is working well and what needs improving
  • identify specific areas of need and strength within a learning area.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports student learning.

Students benefit from a rich and broad curriculum that is designed to develop the whole child. They are learning increasingly through innovative teaching programmes where they are supported to manage their own learning and ICT is used purposefully and effectively.

Teachers follow detailed curriculum guidelines. The guidelines are based on the New Zealand Curriculum, community aspirations, student needs, interests and strengths. These enable consistency of practice and judgements across the classrooms.

Opportunities to learn are enhanced because of:

  • well-resourced learning support from skilful teacher aides and a part-time teacher
  • small class sizes greatly helped by the extra funding the board makes to resource a fourth class for each morning
  • settled, respectful classrooms. 

A collaborative and collegial teaching team has increased the level of shared responsibility for student achievement and progress, especially for students at risk of poor outcomes. Teachers discuss and share teaching strategies to improve student achievement and progress. They know their learners well and are responsive to their identified needs and interests.

Other significant features of the curriculum include:

  • students supporting each other in and out of the classroom
  • authentic leadership roles for all senior students
  • purposeful use of the local environment to provide meaningful contexts for learning
  • specific teaching programmes for students with English as a second language.

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

Māori students experience aspects of their identity, language and culture.

All students are developing an awareness of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage. This awareness includes te reo and tikanga Māori. Class and school-wide studies and activities include Māori perspectives where appropriate.

The values of manaakitanga/caring, whanaungatanga/inclusion, mahi tahi/working together and tuakana-teina are highly evident throughout the school. Leaders and teachers could use the Ministry of Education’s resource Tātaiako to build their understandings of these concepts more.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is in a strong position to sustain and improve its performance. There is a constant focus for on-going improvement in all aspects of the school with student learning and wellbeing at the centre.

Trustees have good knowledge and confidence in their roles and responsibilities as board members. They use robust processes to evaluate the effectiveness of their school policies and procedures, and their performance as a board.

The school has a rigorous performance-management system for teachers that includes all aspects to meet the requirements. Teachers regularly reflect on their progress against their personal goals. They feel well supported by the principal and their colleagues.

The principal, supported by the teachers, has a wide-ranging review cycle to evaluate class and school-wide programmes. Deeper analysis of achievement information should lead to more evaluative and useful reports on programme effectiveness.

ERO has identified, and the school agrees, that strategic and annual planning in the school’s charter needs to better reflect the priorities the school is currently developing. This should provide for better alignment to related plans such as professional development, property, budget and appraisal 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

Students continue to receive a high-quality education within a very inclusive, nurturing environment. They are learning increasingly through innovative teaching programmes where they are supported to manage their own learning and ICT is used purposefully and effectively. Teachers know their learners well and are responsive to their identified needs and interests.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

30 November 2015 

School Statistics

Location

Dipton

Ministry of Education profile number

3943

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

66

Gender composition

Girls:  39

Boys:  27

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Asian

54
  3
  9

Review team on site

October 2015

Date of this report

30 November 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2011
February 2008
June 2005

1 Context

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

Dipton School is a small rural school located in a central Southland farming community. There is a strong culture of learning embedded in school practices. The board focuses its efforts on supporting student achievement.

The staffing is stable and the school roll is increasing slowly. There has been a number of students with English as their second language enrolled at the school recently.

The community provides high levels of support and involvement. The board funds a fourth teacher to ensure all students’ needs are well addressed. Teacher aides and support teachers provide specific programmes for individual and small groups of students that require support or extension. Students’ learning is enhanced by the high levels of community interest in school-wide projects, such as, the Castle Rock environmental project and an up-grade of the school library.

There are positive relationships between students and adults. Students show care and concern for one another. There is a very friendly and inclusive atmosphere in the school.

The parents, teachers and the school community place a strong emphasis on sporting and physical activities. Students participate in a range of competitive events with neighbouring schools.

An active playgroup has been established within the school grounds to cater for the local preschool children and support transition to school.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The 2010 achievement data showed the majority of students in Years 3 to 8 are achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Some students are achieving significantly above National Standards. Students in Years 1 and 2 are making good progress towards meeting the National Standards expectations, at their year level. The 2010 target to increase levels of reading comprehension was achieved by almost all students. Results from mathematics achievement information gathered in 2010 indicate that numeracy will be a 2011 target. All the students are making good progress in their learning across all the curriculum areas.

Strengths

Engagement in learning. ERO observed high levels of student engagement in all classrooms. Teachers have high expectations that all students can achieve. Teachers know the students well and plan for the strengths, needs and capabilities of all students in the class. Students can talk knowledgeably about their learning. They know the purpose of the learning and what their next learning steps are. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for managing their learning.

Assessment information. Students benefit from assessment practices that are a critical part of their learning. Teachers make effective use of assessment information to inform planning, identify individual students for support and extension and to set targets. They share assessment information with the students and discuss aspects for improvement. Teachers systematically gather achievement information across the curriculum with a focus on literacy and numeracy. Parents receive good information about how well their child is progressing and achieving against the National Standards. These reports include information about how parents can help their child’s learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum reflects the priorities of the community and the principles, values and key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. The school vision, “making an impact”, was developed in consultation with students and the school community and guides the direction of the school’s curriculum. Students confidently articulate the vision and its meaning.

Strengths

Curriculum implementation. Teachers have developed and implement a well-structured curriculum that sets direction for student learning in line with the vision, principles and values of the New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum plans provide clear guidelines for teachers to follow when planning classroom programmes. Students’ learning is enhanced by the wide range of interesting learning experiences and activities, such as, the active schools programme and an inquiry approach to learning. Teachers regularly monitor and review aspects of curriculum implementation to make sure it continues to meet the needs, interests and abilities of the students.

Teaching practice. Students benefit from high-quality teaching practice. They learn in a positive and constructive learning environment. Teachers work well together as a team to plan and implement programmes. They have developed a strong culture of reflective practice where they are constantly questioning the effectiveness of their teaching and the impact it is having on students’ learning. Teachers take into account the increasingly diverse ethnic backgrounds of the students. They apply an effective school-wide behaviour-management system that enables them to focus on learning rather than behaviour.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

This review has identified Dipton School as a high-performing school. It is well placed to maintain and improve its performance. The board focuses on raising levels of student achievement, including the alignment of resources, policies and practices. It has developed effective systems and processes for managing its governance roles and responsibilities.

The board, principal, teachers and the school community share very positive and supportive relationships. The principal provides high quality professional leadership to the teaching team. The principal and teachers have built an effective learning culture where decisions are based on evidence about student achievement. Teachers’ professional development is well monitored and linked to identified school priorities.

Area of strength

The board has an ongoing cycle of robust self review that identifies priorities for improvement, develops and implements plans, monitors progress, and evaluates effectiveness. At the time of this review they had already identified priorities for 2011. ERO’s findings confirm these.

Areas for review and development

The school's internal-review process and ERO's findings have identified the following areas for continued development:

  • assessment practices in relation to the National Standards and consistency of assessment tools;
  • the alignment of mathematics achievement indicators with National Standards; and
  • reporting to the community on school-wide student achievement.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

ERO found that the board of trustees did not comply with the requirement to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community. The board through its review systems had already identified this as an area to be addressed and have included it on the March 2011 Board meeting agenda.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

6 May 2011

About the School

Location

Northern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

3943

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

71

Gender composition

Boys 37;

Girls 34

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other

62

3

6

Review team on site

February 2011

Date of this report

6 May 2011

Previous three ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2008

June 2005

June 2002