West Gore School

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School Context

West Gore School is a Years 1 to 6 school in Gore with a roll of 216 students. Sixteen percent of students identify as Māori.

The school’s vision is: ‘e kikiri tatou: our place to grow’. Valued outcomes are for students to become lifelong learners, feel empowered and prepared for the future, and to experience self advocacy and agency.

Current school priorities are to introduce innovative practices across the curriculum for increased student engagement, have Māori learners experience success as Māori, and lift achievement levels in writing.

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

  • achievement in reading, writing, mathematics, science, technology and the arts
  • progress and achievement in relation to targets in writing and mathematics
  • aspects of the key competencies.

Since ERO’s 2014 review, there have been changes in senior leadership and teaching staff. The school has implemented Ministry of Education professional learning for building students’ social competency, and for teaching mathematics and writing.

West Gore School is a member of the Eastern Southland Kāhui Ako I 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 effective in supporting students to achieve its valued outcomes and is moving towards achieving equitable outcomes for all its learners.

Over the last three years, most students have achieved at or above school expectations in reading, writing and mathematics, and in aspects of the arts, science and technology. Parity of achievement has been reached between boys and girls in writing. Disparity for Māori learners in reading, writing and mathematics remains.

In 2018 the school reported that almost all students were self-managing according to school criteria.

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

Targeted responses to accelerate students’ progress have been effective for identified groups of learners. The majority of targeted students made accelerated progress in writing and mathematics.

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 caring, inclusive learning communities. Trustees and leaders have a commitment to forming educationally powerful relationships with parents and the community. Students are well supported in their transition to school. Their cultures and identities are recognised and valued. They have a strong sense of belonging to their school and community because they know their voice is heard.

Trustees, leaders and teachers are united in their purpose to realise the school’s vision. Leaders collaboratively develop and pursue strategies for innovative teaching and learning for all students. The principal has set, and models, the conditions for innovation at the school. Teachers work within a culture of high relational trust.

There are meaningful opportunities for teachers to continue to improve their practices and build a cohesive approach to teaching and learning across the school. These are achieved through:

  • building leadership capabilities that utilise individual teacher’s strengths

  • purposeful teacher inquiries for professional improvement

  • professional dialogue and sharing of good practice

  • ongoing coaching and teacher development.

The leaders and teachers are collectively building capability in order to better respond to students’ strengths, needs and interests.

Strong systems and structures are in place to support all students to make sufficient progress. Close scrutiny of learning information leads to the establishment of relevant targets. The board makes effective decisions to prioritise resourcing for those students who need it most. Actions and strategies are put in place for teachers to meet the needs of students. These systems and structures provide equitable opportunities for students whose wellbeing and learning need accelerating.

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

Leaders and teachers need to use the information gathered to evaluate the impact of teaching programmes and innovations, and measure the sufficiency of progress for all students.

The school has identified, and ERO’s evaluation confirms that leaders and teachers need to continue to refine structures and systems that support the school’s curriculum and other innovations. This should help to ensure learning is cohesive and coherent for students throughout their time at school.

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.

4 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of West Gore 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:

  • culturally responsive practices that recognise student identity and purposefully connect with whānau
  • its culture of collaboration and professional dialogue that leads to carefully considered innovations for improvement
  • clear alignment of purpose between trustees and leaders that maintains a commitment to equity and excellence.

Next steps

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

  • evaluating a range of achievement information to effectively identify what is working well for students’ learning and where improvements are needed
  • further integrating skills and knowledge from the breadth and depth of the curriculum, for better cohesion of learning for all students.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

7 June 2019

About the school

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

4050

School type

Contributing primary (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

216

Gender composition

Male 55%, Female 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 82%
Māori 16%
Other ethnicities 8%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

April 2019

Date of this report

7 June 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review October 2014
Education Review October 2011

Findings

West Gore School is a welcoming, inclusive, community school. Students are encouraged to believe it is ‘their place to grow’. Parents and the community are regularly involved in the life of the school. Students experience a broad, interesting curriculum. Students’ needs are quickly identified and their learning is well supported.

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?

West Gore School is a Year 1 to 6 school in a rural Southland town. There is a strong culture of inclusiveness and positivity throughout the school. The principal and teachers focus on developing and caring for the ‘whole child’. They foster a safe learning environment that supports students to be able to enjoy and take risks with their learning. Students benefit from the caring and respectful relationships they have with their teachers and school leaders.

Students and teachers know that the school is ‘their place to grow’.

School leaders organise the structure of the school and use teachers’ strengths within the syndicates to address the learning needs of all students. Māori students are full participants in all aspects of school life. Whānau are involved and contribute to the school’s planning processes.

The school actively builds learning partnerships with students, family and whānau. The school community is very supportive and proactive. Several successful programmes that support the wellbeing and learning of students are being well implemented. These include the Friday Breakfast Club, Whānau Class and Reading Together.

Trustees are often a significant, visible presence in the school. They:

  • actively engage with family and whānau
  • support the efforts of staff
  • show they appreciate and value students’ achievements.

The board and principal have effectively responded to the recommendations from the 2011 ERO report.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of learning information to make positive differences and accelerate the progress of students.

Students use achievement information purposefully to:

  • have ‘learning conversations’ with their teachers about how well they are progressing and what they need to do next
  • work with their teacher to set and monitor goals for improvement
  • talk with their parents at interviews about their learning.

Teachers use progress and achievement information well to:

  • identify students’ current levels of achievement, those at risk, those requiring extension or challenge, and next steps to meet students’ needs
  • help plan learning programmes
  • report clearly and explicitly to parents about each student’s progress and achievement.

School leaders make effective use of a wide range of learning information to:

  • make school-wide teaching decisions about programmes, resourcing and targeted professional development
  • monitor the effectiveness of learning programmes
  • report to the board about the progress being made towards achieving the school’s targets to raise student achievement.

Trustees use learning information provided by senior leaders to:

  • know how well students are achieving in relation to the National Standards and which students need extra focus
  • work with senior leaders to set annual targets for students to make accelerated progress
  • contribute to wide consultation to set the school’s strategic direction.

Students show high levels of interest in their learning and can talk confidently about their progress and achievement. Most students are achieving and progressing well in reading, writing and mathematics against the national standards.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. The ‘West Gore Way’ of learning supports students to have the skills, attitudes and values they need to achieve well and make suitable progress.

Teachers ensure the learning programme:

  • helps students understand the importance of their community in their learning
  • gives priority to reading, writing and mathematics
  • uses an inquiry approach that combines many curriculum areas in a way that meets the different needs of the age levels in the school
  • includes Māori perspectives wherever possible.

Students benefit from a curriculum that:

  • is interesting and engaging
  • makes effective use of teacher expertise
  • is well linked to the school’s determination to be a community school.

Students know their work is valued. Samples of their achievements are well displayed and celebrated in a range of ways across the school.

Students who need extra learning help or who would benefit from extra challenge or extension are identified and well supported.

The principal and other curriculum leaders have high expectations that students will learn and make appropriate progress. School leaders use a range of systems to support staff to follow the school’s comprehensive guidelines, meet the high expectations set for teaching, and improve where needed. ERO observed good to high-quality teaching across the school.

Next step

The principal needs to work with teachers to strengthen the way achievement decisions are made, recorded, and reported to trustees in curriculum areas other than reading, writing and mathematics. This should provide senior leaders and trustees with a clearer idea of how well students are achieving overall.

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

School leaders are finding and using many innovative ways to support Māori students to be successful learners and to succeed as Māori.

Leaders take particular care to ensure the school is a welcoming place for Māori students and their whānau. Students’ art work and writing that strongly reflect Māori culture are valued and displayed in the whānau room and in the school’s main office area.

The 39 Māori students on the roll at the time of the review are benefiting from a learning environment that is specifically designed to meet their needs. Some of these students experience all of the whānau-class sessions. Others join the class for activities that are appropriate for them. Positive attitudes to their learning are well supported in this class. Some students are mentored by other Māori students when they are back in their home class. The learning programme in the whānau class focuses on:

  • identifying the needs of these Māori learners and responding in culturally relevant ways
  • improving the writing skills of the students
  • using Māori students’ language, culture and identity to promote their success as Māori
  • supporting Māori students to share their knowledge and success across the school.

Trustees and school leaders have worked effectively to strengthen the school’s links with whānau of Māori students and the local runanga. Trustees and school leaders have placed a priority on:

  • encouraging Māori whānau to share their knowledge within the learning programmes
  • supporting and being involved in events that are specific to Māori tamariki and whānau
  • including in board planning the ideas and wishes of whānau to strengthen provision for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Factors supporting this statement include the following.

The school benefits from strong professional leadership. The collaborative senior leaders:

  • share a clear sense of the school’s philosophy and direction
  • model the high expectations they have for staff members
  • work effectively as a team to be innovative and support the innovations of others
  • effectively manage the school through well-established systems.

Staff members are well supported by robust and comprehensive performance management and development system. The system supports what is expected of them, identifies what is going well, and determines what needs improvement. This process is well linked to the strategic plan and is a strong contributor to sustainability and improvement.

The school has a well-understood process for self review. Self-review practices in the school:

  • contribute to strategic planning, action planning and monitoring of effectiveness
  • are well used and documented to know what contributes to success, what to sustain and what to improve.

Governance is a strength in the school. Board members are keen to continue to:

  • support strong leadership
  • use and strengthen their well-developed processes and systems
  • ask good questions about the learning information they receive.

Since the 2011 ERO review, the induction of new staff, the appointment of new middle/senior leaders, and the election of new trustees to the board have all been managed effectively with a focus on maintaining a stable learning environment for students.

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

West Gore School is a welcoming, inclusive, community school. Students are encouraged to believe it is ‘their place to grow’. Parents and the community are regularly involved in the life of the school. Students experience a broad, interesting curriculum. Students’ needs are quickly identified and their learning is well supported.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

2 October 2014

About the School

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

4050

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

244

Gender composition

Male: 53%

Female: 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

84%

16%

Special Features

Blind Learning Education in NZ, office on-site (BLENZ)

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

2 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

July 2008

November 2005

ERO has also published an exemplar report on West Gore School: Exemplar Review - West Gore School - June 2018