Takitimu Primary School

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School Context

Takitimu Primary School has a roll of 77 Year 1 to 8 children. Children come from a range of countries and cultures. Some children are English Language Learners (ELL). With changes in local employment opportunities, some children arrive or leave during the school year.

There have been significant changes in the school in the last three years. These include changes in principal, a new teacher, board chair and trustees.

The school’s vision is for students to ‘Be the best you can be’. Other stated priorities are that students will be confident, connected, lifelong learners. The school’s strategic goals are to improve student achievement in mathematics, school culture and community engagement. There are also targets to lift achievement for identified children in reading, writing and mathematics.

Leaders and teachers report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress against school targets to lift achievement in literacy and mathematics
  • student wellbeing.

The school is part of a cluster of Western Southland schools, who work together for professional learning (PL), and activities for students, such as sport. Teachers have also participated in Ministry of Education (MOE) funded PL in literacy, mathematics and science.

The school has made good progress against some of the recommendations in the 2015 ERO report. Some recommendations remain as areas to further strengthen.

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 positive outcomes for most of its students.

Most children achieve at or above the school’s expected levels in reading. The majority achieve at or above expected levels in writing and mathematics. Over time school-wide achievement levels have remained fairly consistent.

There is some variability in achievement between different groups. Pacific and Māori children achieve at similar levels to NZ European in reading but not as well in writing and mathematics. Achievement rates are more varied for Filipino children because some are ELLs.

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

The school successfully accelerates the learning of the majority of children identified as below expected curriculum levels in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2018 at least half of these children achieved at or above expected levels by the end of the year.

The school’s end of 2018 information did not include an analysis of progress for different groups of children, for example by gender or ethnicity. This means that ERO cannot evaluate how well the school is accelerating the learning of Māori or other groups of children.

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 children are settled and well engaged. They learn and interact well alongside each other. Between children there is a respectful culture. Most children know and can explain the school values.

The learning support leader and teachers have developed very effective practices to identify, monitor and support children who need extra help to succeed in their learning. These children, especially ELLs, benefit from deliberate teaching and additional interventions. Teachers relentlessly seek the best way to support these children.

Children benefit from very effective teaching and assessment practices. Teachers plan carefully to meet the different needs and abilities of their children. They use an appropriate range of assessment methods and tools to make reliable judgements about children’s progress and achievement in literacy and mathematics. Deep analysis of standardised assessment data has enabled teachers to monitor children’s progress, identify gaps in learning and inform their planning and teaching. With recent changes in staff, it is important that these effective assessment practices are maintained.

Over time, teachers have benefitted from purposeful professional learning. This and their appraisal goals align well with the school’s strategic targets and goals. With external support, they carried out a comprehensive review of the mathematics and science curriculum guidelines. The review process used provides a useful model for ongoing review of other curriculum areas.

The school has a capable board of trustees. They understand that student wellbeing and achievement are their primary focus and use data to inform their decisions. Trustees have clear delegations and have sought relevant PL.

The new principal is well supported by the board, an external advisor and relevant professional development. He has developed action plans as to how the school will move forward.

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

The school has identified, and ERO’s evaluation confirms, that the next steps are to:

  • develop a more collaborative staff culture
  • strengthen community engagement (especially learning-focused partnerships with parents)
  • strengthen the way Māori and other cultures are valued.

Other priorities are to:

  • ensure the principal manages changes effectively, including better involvement of relevant staff in decision making and planning
  • ensure effective internal evaluation of different learning areas, and teaching and learning over time
  • complete the review of Takitimu Primary School curriculum, including reviewing with parents the school’s vision, valued outcomes for children and local curriculum priorities
  • strengthen aspects of reporting to the board by deepening analysis of student progress and achievement in mid and end of the year reports; extending reporting to include student outcomes in other curriculum or school priority areas; and more regular and evaluative reporting about progress towards meeting school targets and annual goals.

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.

During the onsite stage of the review, ERO found non-compliance related to managing bullying, cyber safety, physical restraint and post disaster relief.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Takitimu School 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:

  • settled and engaged students who are ready to learn
  • effective assessment and teaching practices that contribute to students’ progress and achievement
  • the relentless focus by teachers on children who need extra support to succeed.

Key next steps

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

  • improving staff culture and ensuring a more collaborative approach to decision making
  • implementing effective internal evaluation practices that identify what is working and what is not
  • strengthening aspects of reporting to the board
  • maintaining a strategic focus on better valuing of Māori and other cultures in the school to enrich learning and foster inclusivity.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to physical restraint and search and retention.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • ensure it meets all the requirements of the physical restraint rules. Specifically policies and training for staff in physical restraint
    [Education (Physical Restraint) Rules 2017]
  • ensure it has policies and procedures for retention of property and searches of students
    [139AAA to 139AAH of the Education Act]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • develop procedures related to managing cyber bullying and post-disaster relief.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

30 May 2019

About the school

Location

Nightcaps, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

398

School type

Full primary (Years 1-8)

School roll

77

Gender composition

Girls 42, Boys 35

Ethnic composition

Māori 17

NZ European/Pākehā 47

Other ethnicities 13

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

No

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

March 2019

Date of this report

30 May 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review October 2015

Education Review June 2012

Education Review October 2008

Findings

Students appreciate the family-like atmosphere and the caring and respectful relationships with each other and their teachers. The school has high expectations for students’ learning and behaviour. Most students are achieving very well in writing, reading and mathematics. They enjoy a wide range of learning experiences. The principal needs to review, improve and formalise many aspects of the school’s operations.

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?

Students enjoy their learning at Takitimu Primary School They appreciate the family-like atmosphere and the caring and respectful relationships with each other and their teachers. The school has high expectations for students’ learning and behaviour, and for students to be ‘Simply the Best’.

Students attend school from a large catchment area and most arrive by bus. This rural school is set in well-maintained, spacious grounds. Students from Years 1 to 8 learn in multilevel classes. The long-serving principal and most teachers provide stable staffing. They know the students and their families, and the wider community very well. In recent years the community has become increasingly involved in school events.

Students come from a diverse range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

The recommendations from the June 2012 ERO review about providing meaningful opportunities for Māori to succeed as Māori for the strategic plan to be more focussed have been successfully addressed.

2 Learning

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

Teachers make effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learning.

The school’s achievement information against the National Standards indicates that most students are achieving very well in writing, reading and mathematics. Māori students are achieving at slightly lower levels.

Students have a useful awareness of how well they are learning and achieving. They know about their next learning steps with senior students increasingly deciding these next steps with their teachers.

Teachers make effective use of learning information to:

  • identify students who need extension or extra support
  • set targets and determine students’ next learning steps
  • develop planning to meet student’s learning needs
  • report to parents with detailed information about their child’s learning.

Assessment leaders gather and analyse rich information to:

  • set school-wide targets
  • implement suitable interventions
  • analyse and identify trends and patterns
  • monitor the progress and achievement of all students, especially those who are at risk of not reaching the National Standards.

Trustees receive some information about student achievement. They provide resourcing for teacher aides and support programmes for students who need extra help to succeed.

Area for review and development

The principal needs to make better use of the rich data provided by assessment leaders to provide trustees with more detailed reports of achievement information. These reports should include evaluative discussion and the reasons for the recommendations about how the board can support students' learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum, although in need of review, is effective in promoting students’ learning.

The values programme is well embedded and underpins the curriculum. There is a strong emphasis on the holistic well-being and achievement of all students. Teachers are aware of the need to focus on building students’ competency in oral language and have specific programmes supported by teacher aides in place to do so.

Students experience a wide range of interesting learning opportunities such as; sporting, cultural, the arts, school and interschool speech competitions.

Years 7 and 8 students benefit from a programme specifically developed to prepare them for high school and to help them become responsible leaders and citizens. Students are expected to take responsibility for organising school events, giving community service, running weekly sports activities and teaching younger students (tuakana teina). They experience challenging outdoor activities and join with another local school for technology learning.

Students appear to be highly motivated in their learning. Students are given some choice about learning contexts (topics) and their ideas are respected and used by teachers.

Teachers expect all students to succeed in their learning. They involve themselves in professional development so that they can do their best for individual students. They are very responsive to students’ needs and use a range of different approaches and programmes to support success. Students’ progress and achievement are closely monitored throughout their years at school. Teachers actively include outside agencies when students’ wellbeing and lack of progress and achievement put them at risk of not succeeding.

The beginning teacher is well supported towards becoming fully registered.

Area for improvement

The guiding documents to support consistent practices across the school need to:

  • link back to and reflect the current vision
  • be reviewed to reflect best practice and learning from professional development that teachers have been involved in.

The principal then needs to monitor how well these guidelines are being implemented across the school.

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

About one third of students are Māori.

The board, principal and teachers have made a genuine effort to use and include the language, identity and culture of Māori within students’ learning experiences. Aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori are a natural part of the school day. This is evident in activities such as kapa haka, Polyfest, a community hangi and students learning their own personalised mihi. Students have opportunities to celebrate, learn and feel good about who they are and where they come from.

The school has held gatherings on the local marae and is seeking further ways to gather whānau views to better support Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

When the areas for review and development in this report are addressed, the school will be better placed to sustain and improve its performance. To support this process, ERO recommends that an action plan be developed outlining how the principal will carry out these improvements and that this be sent to ERO.

Trustees are very committed to the school’s direction and work well together to represent and serve the Takitimu School community. They have high expectations for students’ learning. They have undertaken training to support them in their stewardship role.

Areas for review and development

ERO found, and the principal has agreed that many of the systems within the school are informal and could be more effective. The next step in the school’s improvement journey is for the principal to ensure that all aspects of school operations link to the vision and strategic priorities. He then needs to evaluate how well the planned actions have supported the goals, priorities and the intent of the school’s vision.

As professional leader, the principal needs to ensure that:

  • the vision is refreshed and more purposefully used to drive the aim of having students ‘being the best’
  • the curriculum is redeveloped in light of current best practice
  • systems are formalised and records kept of agreed actions and decisions
  • outcomes of professional learning and development are linked back to the intent of the vision
  • all learning areas are evaluated over a reasonable time frame with outcomes reported to the board.

The principal needs to ensure that appraisals are rigorous to support ongoing improvement and to embed a culture of teaching as inquiry. Each year all registered teachers need to be appraised against the Practising Teacher Criteria to meet the requirements of the Education Council.

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 appreciate the family-like atmosphere and the caring and respectful relationships with each other and their teachers. The school has high expectations for students’ learning and behaviour. Most students are achieving very well in writing, reading and mathematics. They enjoy a wide range of learning experiences. The principal needs to review, improve and formalise many aspects of the school’s operations.

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

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

About the School

Location

Nightcaps, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

398

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

110

Gender composition

Girls:      51%

Boys:     49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Other

62%
33%
  5%

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

5 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2012
October 2008
December 2005