Waikaia School

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1 Context

Waikaia School is a small Years 1 to 8 school located centrally in the rural township of Waikaia. Children learn in two multi-age classes with 10 to 15 children in each. The school roll comprises approximately two-thirds boys and one-third girls. Most children travel to school by bus.

The school is an important part of the wider community. Staff know the children and their families well. The Home and School Committee provides considerable resources for the school. Local businesses also play an important role in supporting the school. The school appreciates and makes good use of local expertise and knowledge to support the children and their learning. Location does not constitute a barrier to learning or to effective communication. Good use is made of ICT for teaching, learning, and communication between school, families and the wider community.

A new principal has recently been appointed and will start in the role at the beginning of 2017. The school is a member of the Fiordland Northern Southland Community of Learning.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to 'begin their journey, be empowered and enrich the school/local community'. The school's recently developed WAIKAIA values are 'Whānau, Appreciative, Integrity, Kia Kaha, Achievement and Atawhai'. The children are working on the design of a logo that reflects these values. The school plans to extend this work to include its vision and values.

The school's achievement information for the period 2013 to 2015 shows that most children achieve at or above the National Standards (NS) in reading, writing and mathematics.

In 2016, no student was judged to be well below the NS in reading, writing or mathematics. The majority of students, based on a teacher judgement made in October 2016, are above the NS in reading.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has extended the curriculum for children. They are now provided with a wider range of learning opportunities, some of which make good use of local and regional contexts and expertise. A next step for the board, leaders and teachers is to ensure that students are sufficiently challenged by the depth of the New Zealand Curriculum at each year level.

Leaders and teachers have identified and are implementing what works at this school to engage boys in their learning. For example, the school has specifically focused on engaging boys in writing, and has used external expertise very successfully to motivate boys in writing. Children's ownership of their learning has been given more emphasis with them being more actively involved in decisions about their school and learning environment.

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 acceleration.

Leaders and teachers identify children at risk of not achieving equitable outcomes. They use a range of information from previous assessments (if available), children's behaviour, current assessment and information from parents.

The school's response to the identified needs of these children is specifically and thoughtfully tailored to their needs. This includes:

  • formal and informal planning to accelerate progress for each child
  • targeted additional support, often one to one, from teachers and external experts
  • monitoring these children's progress through ongoing reassessment
  • involving parents in supporting their children's learning at home.

The school's information shows that from the end of 2015 to the second half of 2016 nine, four and three children have made accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics respectively in relation to the NS. The school reports increased confidence and motivation in learning for these children.

The board and principal can see the value of extending the school's analysis and reporting of school-wide achievement and progress in relation to the NS. This includes monitoring and evaluating the sufficiency of progress targeted children or groups of children are making, to help inform school decision making.

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 and collaborative, positive culture are effectively supporting its focus on promoting equity and striving for excellence for all children. All groups associated with the school show a strong commitment to, and are working hard to support the children.

The board is providing effective governance for the school. It uses a strategic approach in its decision making. Trustees are supported by a sound governance framework and are clear about their respective roles and responsibilities. The board is well led and is making good use of relevant resources and learning opportunities. Trustees are aware of their responsibility to be assured about the quality of the information that is reported to them.

Children experience a broad curriculum. Years 7 and 8 children enjoy a regular programme, with similar aged children from other small schools, where they participate in a range of curriculum experiences. These include art, technology, international languages, learning about careers and additional camps. All children have increased opportunity to learn beyond the school. The children continue to contribute to community events in line with the school's vision. They enjoy their ongoing opportunities to learn te reo and tikanga Māori and local Māori legends. 

The board, principal and teachers are making good use of professional learning and development opportunities to benefit children. The board is receiving a good range of information about students' participation and achievement in the curriculum. It is important that the board is assured that the curriculum development that has occurred since the last ERO review is sustained and built on.

Teachers need to use a wider range of information to inform their overall teacher judgements (OTJs) about children's progress and achievement against the NS. At the time of this review, the school was primarily using standardised assessments to inform OTJs about children's achievement and progress in relation to the NS in reading and mathematics. Teachers use limited information from across the wider New Zealand curriculum to inform their OTJs in reading and writing. To significantly improve the reliability of OTJs in relation to the NS, the principal and teachers should:

  • evaluate the quality of the information used to make OTJs in relation to the Ministry of Education's guidelines
  • develop and implement school guidelines to support consistent judgements in relation to the NS
  • strengthen and extend moderation practices within and beyond the school.

The principal and teachers have begun to use a useful framework to support internal evaluation. This should be used more widely to strengthen curriculum evaluation and evaluation beyond learning areas.

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.

High levels of children's engagement, significant staff and community collaboration and support contribute to a positive school culture and a learning environment that effectively support all children to learn. Improved assessment and evaluation practices will assure the board and staff how well children are learning and progressing.

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.

ERO discussed with the board and principal the importance of current police vetting for all employees.

7 Recommendations

The principal and board should be assured about the reliability of teachers' judgements in relation to the NS in reading, writing and mathematics.

The principal and teachers should ensure that all children are being sufficiently challenged in the breadth and depth of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Internal evaluation practices and processes should be extended.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu Southern

18 January 2017

About the school 

Location

Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4036

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

25

Gender composition

Boys: 16

Girls: 9

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

25

Review team on site

November 2016

Date of this report

18 January 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2013

June 2009

February 2006

 

1 Context

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

This is a small, rural Year 1-8 school. Most students have siblings at the school and many are second or third generation students. Members of the wider community see the school as ‘their school’ and support it in many ways. Parents and the community contribute generously to fundraising, help with school events and share their knowledge and expertise with students. Students in turn participate in community events. 

The students and adults describe their school as family like. Older students play well with younger students and often support them in their learning. Teachers know all the students and their families very well. Parents appreciate the school’s welcoming, open-door approach.

A Home and School group holds monthly meetings where information about school activities and board news is shared. This group raises significant funds to buy learning resources, fund trips beyond the school and additional teacher hours. These extra funds enable the school to provide smaller literacy and mathematics classes.

Teachers have high expectations that students will make good progress and achieve well in literacy and mathematics.  Students increasingly use ICT to support their learning, especially in these subject areas. Teachers also have high expectations for behaviour and the presentation of students’ work.

2 Learning

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

Teachers are making effective use of student achievement information in literacy and mathematics. 

Areas of strength

Teachers know their students’ strengths, interests, needs and abilities well. In literacy and mathematics, they make very good use of assessment information to target their teaching to individual and small-group needs. Students told ERO that work in these areas was set at the right level of challenge for them.

Teachers are working well with the National Standards. School data at the end of 2011 showed that about two thirds of the students achieved at or above National Standards for writing and mathematics and three quarters for reading. 

Students who are below the National Standards, or not making sufficient progress, are identified early. Specific interventions are in place and the school can show that most of these students have made accelerated progress. These students are now more confident about their learning.   

Teachers work closely with parents. For example, the morning teacher in the junior room communicates with parents of new entrants at 6, 20 and 40 weeks. She also meets with parents of students who have not made sufficient progress to talk about the child’s learning and how parents can help. All parents get easy to understand written reports about their child’s progress, achievement and their next learning steps.

In 2012, the board has received regular information about student progress and achievement in literacy and mathematics. Trustees are increasingly using this information when making decisions about what resources might best help their students.

The 2012 targets to lift student achievement are now more specific. These identify priority students.  Separate plans have been developed for each student by their teachers and the students’ progress is regularly reviewed.

Areas for review and development

Some aspects related to the use of assessment information could be improved.  These include:

  • ensuring that all curriculum areas are assessed and reported to the board over time 
  • better tracking of the progress each student makes as they move through the school
  • better identification and provision of programmes and opportunities for students who have special abilities.

Older students should have more opportunities to take responsibility for their learning.  For example, they would benefit from:

  • more opportunities to assess their own and other students’ work against clear criteria and/or individual goals
  • better understanding how well they are achieving and what they need to do to improve
  • more choice and opportunities for appropriate self-directed learning
  • better use of the school day, especially during the afternoon.

3 Curriculum

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

This school’s curriculum has a strong focus on literacy and mathematics and effectively supports students’ learning in these areas. Other areas of the curriculum could be more systematically planned for and taught. This should lead to better depth and coverage of the wider curriculum. 

Areas of strength

Students learn in settled and well-managed classrooms. ERO observed some literacy teaching. During this time reviewers observed very good to high quality teaching. Most students showed enthusiasm for their learning. This was especially evident in the junior room. 

The school’s curriculum provides detailed and useful guidelines for teaching and learning. In literacy and mathematics teachers ensure that they meet the individual needs and abilities of all the students in their multi-level classes.

Teachers make very good use of their local context and resources in learning programmes. Students often participate in or help with community events. Many aspects of this learning are well integrated into students’ literacy learning.

Teachers and students are using ICT well for individualised programmes in literacy and mathematics. Some older students are using ICT to support other learning.

Areas for review and development

Teachers should carry out regular and appropriate reviews of teaching and learning. The school needs to develop guidelines and a schedule for this. 

ERO identified some areas that would benefit from review and improvement. These include investigating how well:

  • inquiry/topic learning is taught
  • programmes for students in Years 7 and 8 are meeting their needs and abilities, including their access to careers education and second language learning
  • the wider curriculum is planned for, taught and assessed over time.

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

There are no Māori students on the school roll.  However, the school has detailed procedures and plans as to how it will support any Māori students in the future. 

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Recent changes indicate that the school should be well placed to sustain and improve how it provides for students. However, ERO noted that three of the areas for review and development in this report were also identified in the previous ERO report.  

Findings

The board and wider community remain committed to providing the best for students. This can be seen in their funding of additional teaching hours for the past eight years.  The school remains in a sound financial position.  

In 2012, a new board chair was appointed. Board members have had recent training to help them better understand their governance role. As a result, they are much more focused on student progress and achievement. They are also making better use of data when making decisions.  Other positive developments include:

  • the development of a new governance policy framework that clarifies trustees’ roles and responsibilities and board processes
  • an audit committee to ensure that review of policies, procedures and practices is thorough
  • regular documented meetings between the chair and principal
  • a system that ensures that decisions made at a board meeting are acted on.

Areas for review and development

The school and ERO have identified that the school’s next step is to review and revise the strategic plan to better reflect the current priorities of the school community. 

Future school priorities should include:

  • a better separation of operational and strategic planning
  • ensuring that the annual plan is manageable and clear as to who will do what and when
  • ensuring that the board gets regular updates about the progress made in achieving the goals in its annual plan
  • embedding the 2012 developments
  • further developing trustees’ understanding about effective self review.  

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.

Some systems and documentation related to physical safety could be more rigorous.  For example; risk assurance plans for trips should not be signed off by the person preparing the plan, and emergency practices need to be more systematically documented and reported to the board. 

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell
National Manager Review Services
Southern Region

18 February 2013

About the School 

Location

Waikaia, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

4036

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

25

Gender composition

Boys:     16
Girls:        9

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Filipino

24
  1

Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

18 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2009
February 2006
December 2002