Gorge Road School

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School Context

Gorge Road School is a Year 1 to 8 rural school. It has a roll of 36 students. Although the roll has remained stable over the last three years, a number of students leave and others arrive throughout the year.

The school’s vision is ‘Learning for Life’. Its values statement is ‘To ensure students are able to take their place in the world they will be resilient, resourceful, respectful and responsible individuals’. To support the school’s vision and values statement, the current strategic goals and targets include:

  • to enhance student achievement by providing a student-centred, future-focused, culturally responsive curriculum
  • to encourage an actively engaged parent community, board of trustees and staff
  • that 80% of target students will achieve at or above their age-appropriate level in mathematics.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets for reading, writing and mathematics.

Over the last four years the school has been part of professional learning and development in literacy, with a focus on writing and the digital technology curriculum.

Gorge Road School is an active member of the Lower Mataura 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 effectively achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students.

Over the past three years most students achieved at or above the school’s expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2017, proportions of students achieving at or above in writing and mathematics dropped. Since then, school data shows significant improvement.

Māori students achieve at similar levels to their non-Māori peers. English language learners (ELL) make good progress against the ELL progressions and school expectations. This progress accelerates when these students have been at the school for over two years.

School data shows that by Year 4 almost all students are reading at expected levels.

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

The school is highly effective in accelerating the learning of those students who need this.

School progress reports show that most students targeted to make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics did so.

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?

Students learn in a caring, collaborative learning environment that is inclusive of all students. There are respectful relationships between teachers and students. The diverse cultures and languages represented within the school are acknowledged, valued and included into class and school programmes. Students who are English language learners are well supported. Students have a strong sense of belonging to their school.

Teachers know their students’ learning needs and dispositions well. Children benefit from the personalised, intentional teaching they receive. Teachers’ instructional organisation, modelling and grouping practices contribute positively to students’ learning. They adapt and adjust programmes and practices appropriately to better meet students’ learning needs and wellbeing. As a result, students are engaged in their learning and make appropriate progress.

The board, principal and teachers have high expectations and are committed to all students achieving well and making sufficient progress in their learning. They make effective use of learning data to guide target setting, know what specific areas of learning need to be focused on and how well students are progressing, in particular students whose learning is at risk.

The board resources extra teaching hours to maintain low class numbers. Teachers participate in relevant professional learning that is increasing their content and teaching knowledge. This commitment ensures there are equitable opportunities for all students to succeed.

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

The principal and teachers need to explore further ways to engage parents and whānau in reciprocal learning-centred relationships.

Internal evaluation systems and practices need to be further strengthened, so that leaders and trustees know what is or is not going well and what changes are needed. This includes providing the board with evaluative reports about progress towards implementing the annual plan, the impact of interventions, the effectiveness of curriculum implementation and the analysis of student learning.

Strategic and annual planning would be strengthened by refining the strategic plan to allow for closer focus on the school’s identified development priorities.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Gorge Road School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success 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 principal’s and teachers’ comprehensive knowledge of students and their learning, and ongoing building of teaching skills
  • effective processes to gather and analyse learning information.

Next steps

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

  • extending learning partnerships with parents
  • being more evaluative in reviewing how well programmes are supporting students’ learning to provide a clearer focus on the things needing to be strategically developed.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

27 November 2019

About the school

Location

Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

3957

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

36

Gender composition

Boys 19 Girls 17

Ethnic composition

Māori 5
NZ European/Pākehā 22
Pacific 1
Asian 8

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October 2019

Date of this report

27 November 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review August 2016
Education Review June 2014
Education Review November 2011

1 Context

This is a small, rural school and almost all children travel to school by bus. Children learn in two multilevel classes. They come from very diverse cultural backgrounds and many have English as a second language. No Years 7 and 8 children are currently attending.

This school is emerging from a very unsettled period. The school has had five principals since the last ERO review in 2014. The long-serving teachers and past board chairman provided continuity and stability for the children during this time. The board has received support from the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) over the past three years. The trustees are mostly inexperienced in this particular role but each brings to the school a range of useful skills. Their backgrounds are representative of the school community. A new, experienced principal began at the school in the middle of 2016.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to be resourceful, resilient, respectful and responsible (4Rs). The school priorities are for children to succeed in reading, writing and mathematics. Graduate students are also expected to be competent users of technologies and care for the environment.

The school acknowledges there is work to be done about what ‘success as Māori’ looks like. There is potential for things Māori to have a higher visibility and profile in the school.

ERO found the reporting of school-wide assessment data in 2015 to be confusing. The new principal also found this to be the case and is establishing baseline data from which to measure future progress.

At the end of 2015, the school reported that 64% of all students were at or above the National Standards (NS) in writing. The school has appropriately made the improvement of writing a focus for 2016. 

The school’s April 2016 achievement information shows that a high percentage of junior class students were below the National Standards (NS) in reading. Recent achievement data shows that many of these children are making accelerated progress and most are now on track to reach the NS by the end of this year. In the senior class, all students but one have reached or are on-track to reach the NS in reading and mathematics by the end of the year.

Teachers make overall judgements about students’ progress and achievement using multiple sources of information. They work together to test their judgements and are collaborating with other schools to help ensure valid judgements.

Since the last ERO evaluation, teachers have been involved with other schools in professional development to build their skills in raising student achievement, particularly in writing. They have also sought to build their knowledge and capacity in teaching and learning for children with specific learning needs.

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

This school responds effectively to children whose learning and achievement need to accelerate.

Teachers know the children very well. They have rich data about the learning of individual children. Children who need extra support with their learning are quickly identified. Teachers use a variety of effective strategies to engage children in their learning and to accelerate their progress. Children with other needs, such as speech or behaviour, are supported through the speech language therapist and Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour.

Teachers use assessment information effectively to identify children's learning needs, plan specifically for individuals, and adjust their programmes and approaches in response. Children receive in-class support from the skilled teacher aide and teacher. A teacher and the principal are just beginning the ALL programme (Accelerated Literacy Learning). Teachers monitor children's learning and progress closely.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum documents are well developed. The principal and teachers are aware that some need to be reviewed and updated to reflect the expectations of the current community. Trustees recognise the need to simplify the many policies and procedures so that these are more accessible and useable.

Trustees are aware of the opportunity and the need to move the school forward. They are focused on improving outcomes for children. Trustees are committed to training to support them in their roles in developing their stewardship of the school.

In preparation for appointing a new principal, trustees consulted with the community about the direction of the school and attributes they wanted in a principal. The response from the community allowed the board to identify clear priorities to develop strategic actions for school improvement.

The board, principal and teachers have worked well to regain the trust and support of the community. Parents are more involved in the life of the school and public perception of the school is improving. 

Classes are settled with the emphasis on learning. Children appreciate the support teachers give them to help them learn and the variety of lessons provided. They like that learning is fun. They have individual access to digital technology so they can work at their own pace.

Children are positive about their school and the opportunities they experience inside and outside the classroom. They enjoy the leadership opportunities they are given.

The new principal has a clear focus on the achievement and progress of children. She is putting this focus into practice through her careful and considered approach. This sensitive approach is helping to ensure that relationships and systems support the school's vision and values, and future direction. In 2016, changes are leading to positive and improved outcomes for children.

It is important for the board, principal and teachers to develop and implement an evaluation process to support robust review of school operations.

The principal reports clear and useful information about student achievement and progress towards the school's goals to the board. This improved information places the board in a better position to make strategic decisions. In time, these reports need to become more evaluative.

The principal has reviewed the school's appraisal process. The revised system sets high expectations for ongoing development in teaching practice. The examples of good quality reflection and evaluation that teachers have documented could be modelled and used more consistently across the school to share effective approaches.

5 Going forward  

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:  

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

In order for the principal and teachers to continue to improve and sustain equitable outcomes for all children, trustees should use the support of MOE advisors and NZSTA to help them ensure wise stewardship and governance.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • 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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance
  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the school develops an Action Plan to show how the next steps and areas for improvement noted in this report will be prioritised and managed. This Action Plan will need to be sent to ERO. 

Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

19 August 2016

About the school 

Location

Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

3957

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

36

Gender composition

Girls:  22

Boys:  14

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Filipino
African
Other Asian

18
  6
  7
  2
  3

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

19 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2014
November 2011
June 2008