Otautau School

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School Context

Otautau School is in Western Southland. It is a full primary school catering for children in Years 1 to 8. There are 174 children on the roll, including 18% who identify as Māori.

The school states that its vision is for ‘Tau learning in the 21st century’. Its valued outcomes, described as ‘Tau competencies’, are for children to be friendly, thinkers, active and managers. The strategic aims of the school are focused on wellbeing, competencies and learning.

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

  • reading, writing and STEAM (science, technology, arts and mathematics)
  • learners with additional needs, including gifted and talented learners
  • progress against wellbeing and engagement indicators.

Since the 2016 ERO review teachers have participated in Ministry of Education funded professional learning on digital technologies, literacy and wellbeing.

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 progressively achieving equitable and excellent outcomes in learning, engagement and wellbeing.

The majority of students are achieving at or above the school’s expected curriculum levels in reading, writing and STEAM subjects. Over time achievement levels in writing have improved. In 2016 and 2017 girls achieved at higher rates than boys in literacy.

The school’s wellbeing and engagement information shows that a recent school-wide focus on building students’ social and emotional competencies has improved outcomes for students in these areas.

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

The school effectively responds to those students whose learning needs acceleration. Students are identified, a range of individualised interventions are put in place, and their progress is regularly monitored by teachers.

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 participate and learn in a caring, collaborative and inclusive community. They are involved in creating an environment that develops their learning and wellbeing. They know and enact the ‘Tau’ competencies and have opportunity to experience leadership and service. Leaders and teachers have established clear and consistent social expectations that are designed to support teaching and learning. This has been achieved through establishing effective systems for monitoring student engagement and wellbeing, and building a community-wide understanding of behaviours that are celebrated at the school. Transitions into, through and beyond school are proactively managed. The holistic development of each child is the core strategic intent of the school.

The learner is at the centre of curriculum design and decision making. Active engagement in learning is encouraged, and students develop an understanding of themselves as learners. Trustees, leaders and teachers ensure sufficient and equitable opportunities are in place for all students to learn and make progress. Clearly defined curriculum progressions and assessment rubrics provide scaffolded learning and indicators of progress. Leaders and teachers use achievement information as the basis of their professional conversations to decide next steps for improvement. Students are confident and competent learners.

Targeted professional learning builds teacher capability to respond to the diverse needs of learners. The school proactively identifies and draws on community resources and outside agencies to enhance student learning and social experiences. Leaders offer multiple opportunities for students, whānau and the community to have an input into the school’s direction, and to share their aspirations for learning and wellbeing.

Internal evaluation supports knowledge building across all aspects of the school’s strategic priorities. The process is systematic and coherent and draws on a range of valid data that is scrutinised by the board, leaders and teachers to decide priorities for improvement.

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

Leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that refining the school’s local curriculum to ensure they have prepared all students to be 21st century learners is a next step in their strategic development. This should include incorporating a bicultural focus as well as reflecting the languages and identities of all cultures represented at the school.

Trustees and leaders need to more regularly analyse and report on the effectiveness of the learning programmes they have implemented. This would lead to a more thorough understanding of what makes the greatest difference for all learners, and more clearly inform resourcing decisions.

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 Otautau School’s 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:

  • well-considered programmes that meet the holistic needs of each child
  • a future-focused strategic direction that includes the aspirations of students, trustees, teachers, whānau and community
  • systematic and coherent review of strategic priorities that lead to continual improvement.

Next steps

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

  • developing a curriculum that responds better to the local context, and students’ languages and cultures
  • refining processes for more regularly analysing the impact of resourcing decisions on each child’s achievement and progress.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

21 October 2019

About the school

Location

Otautau, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4001

School type

Full primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

174

Gender composition

Boys 50%, Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 18%
NZ European/Pākehā 70%
Asian 8%
Other 4%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

August 2019

Date of this report

21 October 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review December 2016
Education Review December 2013
Education Review November 2010

1 Context

Otautau School is a Years 1-to-8 school in rural Central Southland. It has an inclusive and welcoming culture with close connections to the local community. Since the last ERO review in 2013, there is a new principal and more recently two new trustees and board chair. There has been a recent up-grade of a multi-purpose learning space. Children enjoy the freedom and opportunities for challenging and creative play available in the spacious physical environment.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to enact the school's interpretation of the key competencies to become thinking, active, friendly and managing learners. These competencies are supported by the school mascot 'Tau' who is a significant living presence in the school. Tau helps children and families feel a sense of belonging to the school's community.

The school’s achievement information shows that most children achieve at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement is highest in reading. Writing has been identified as an area for on-going improvement. Māori children achieve well, particularly in reading and mathematics. The principal has acknowledged there is an urgent need to accelerate the progress of those children who are achieving below expected levels.

Since the last ERO evaluation, the school has:

  • developed a system for tracking individual progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for each learner, with a focus on priority learners
  • set specific targets linked to the groups of students who are below the National Standards
  • introduced individual plans to accelerate achievement of those children who are of concern
  • improved moderation practices to support valid and reliable achievement judgements.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school effectively identifies and responds to individual Māori children whose learning needs accelerating.

Teachers have a clear definition of what acceleration means at this school. They use an appropriate range of ways to assess children’s learning. They make very good use of this assessment information and their knowledge of children to identify those at risk of not achieving. They ensure classroom planning for each Māori child is well linked to tailored learning support and other interventions. 

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

The school responds effectively to all children whose learning and achievement need accelerating. Teachers plan specifically for individuals, and adjust their programmes and approaches in response. Children receive in-class support from skilled learning assistants. The school has re-entered the ALL programme (Accelerating Literacy Learning) to address the under achievement of a group of students. This is linked to the school's writing focus. Teachers monitor children's learning and progress closely and adapt their teaching to respond appropriately.

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 effectively promotes equity and excellence for all children.

The vision and values are well understood across all levels of the school and are clearly visible and articulated through Tau, the school’s mascot. There is a strong focus on 'Tau' values throughout teaching and learning programmes. Children are able to articulate these values and make them a part of how they engage positively with their learning goals.

The curriculum is relevant and closely reflects the local context. Children are provided with a range of engaging experiences and well-planned support to help them achieve in their learning. Children set individual goals with their teacher across reading, writing, mathematics and the competencies. Goals are revisited regularly.

Teachers closely monitor all children's learning. Children benefit from the positive relationships adults in the school have with each other, with children, parents and the community. Parents are made to feel welcome and there is good communication between home and school.

The revised reports to parents provide good quality information about achievement, progress and involvement in school activities. Discussions with parents include how parents can help at home.

The school is well supported by the community and, together, they raise significant funds to support teachers, children and learning programmes.

Leaders and teachers are responsive to identifying and catering for individual children’s learning needs. They have introduced systems for tracking children’s progress and the information is regularly reported to the board.

Teachers provide opportunities for children to be involved in their learning, seek their ideas and opinions, and include the perspectives of children in learning plans.

Staff members benefit from positive professional leadership, especially in support of the high expectations for teaching and learning in this school. This leadership is collaborative and reflective, and has a positive influence on the continuing development of students' learning and the enhancement of a highly inclusive school culture. Leaders and teachers are receptive to new ideas and change, based on their investigation of best practice and current research. Teachers are benefiting from a collaborative team approach to continuous improvement. 

Trustees:

  • are supportive of the principal and staff
  • have a range of skills and expertise
  • provide additional locally raised funding to add support for children’s learning
  • are improvement focused and prioritise high expectations for learning.

Next steps for leaders and trustees are to:

  • make strategic planning more developmental over three years
  • regularly evaluate the board’s effectiveness
  • strengthen the board's evaluative practices so that there is a clearer focus on answering the ‘how well?’ question
  • continue to up-date policies and procedures
  • include regular curriculum review in the board's yearly work plan.

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.

Otautau School has an inclusive and welcoming culture with close connections to the local community. The vision and values are well understood across all levels of the school and are clearly visible and articulated. Children are provided with a range of engaging experiences and well-planned support to help them achieve in their learning.

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

To continue to promote equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners, ERO recommends the school acts on the next steps identified in this report.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu Southern

20 December 2016

About the school 

Location

Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4001

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

174

Gender composition

Male: 55%

Female: 45%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Filipino

Other

79%

17%

3%

1%

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

20 December 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

December 2013

November 2010

November 2007