Whangamata Area School

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Summary

Whangamata Area School is located on the Coromandel Peninsula and provides education for children and students in Years 1 to 15. There are 435 children enrolled and 148 identify as Māori.

Since the last review a new principal has been appointed, effective from January 2017. Under his leadership the senior leadership has been restructured. The school’s response to the findings in the 2014 ERO report is variable. Curriculum is more cohesive. However, targeted action to raise achievement, internal evaluation and assessment practice continue to be areas for development.

At the time of this review, most Māori and other children Years 1 to 8 are achieving the expected National Standard. Most Years 9 to 10 students are working within the expected curriculum level. The proportion of students achieving National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1 to 3, over time is comparable to other similar schools. There is disparity for boys and Māori across all year levels.

Teachers have participated in professional development focused on culturally responsive and relational teaching and learning. The outcome of this has been the development of an increasing presence of te ao Māori across the school.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school is responding well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

School processes that effectively enable the achievement of equity and excellence are professional leadership, performance management and curriculum design.

Further development is needed to develop more systematic, coherent internal evaluation processes.

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. However, disparity in achievement for Māori and/or other children remains.

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated

  • need to improve the school conditions that support the acceleration of children’s learning and achievement.

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate learning for children

  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and children’s progress.

ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop to support the school to develop effective planning and monitoring processes to support equity and excellence for all children.

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

Equity and excellence

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

The school is responding well to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

The majority of children in Years 1 to 8, including Māori, are achieving the National Standard in reading and writing, and slightly lower in mathematics. Data is indicating reducing disparity for Māori and other children in reading and writing. However, considerable disparity remains in mathematics. Data also shows significant disparity between boys and girls in reading, writing and mathematics. Boys overall are not achieving as well as girls.

The school’s standardised achievement data indicates that most Years 9 and 10 students are achieving at the expected level of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Leaders are continuing to strengthen the achievement information at their year levels to get a clearer understanding of trends and patterns of achievement for gender and ethnic groupings.

The percentage of students achieving NCEA Levels 1 to 3 has fluctuated between 2014 to 2016. The school’s retention/leavers data indicates that increasing numbers of Māori and others are continuing their education into senior levels. The proportion of students achieving NCEA Levels 1 to 3, including endorsements, is comparable with other similar schools and national comparisons.

The new principal is assisting the board to sharpen its response to Māori and other children needing acceleration. Charter reform has began in Term 1, starting with targeting achievement more specifically in the annual plan. Closer scrutiny of school-wide achievement information is necessary for the board to set specific targets for identified groups of learners across the school. Heads of department and syndicate leaders work collaboratively with teachers to monitor the progress of identified at-risk learners.

Teachers at Years 1 to 10 plan for the needs of all children who are working below expectation. The school has worked to improve the vocational learning pathways with students, and to identify meaningful learning programmes to achieve NCEA Level 2 and 3 are identified and made accessible to learners.

The school’s retention/leavers data indicates that increasing number of Māori and other students are continuing their education into the senior levels.

High priority has been placed on building relationships and culturally responsive practices. Outcomes of student voice surveys have indicated that students benefit from reciprocal relationships with teachers, leading to better engagement.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

School processes that effectively enable the achievement of equity and excellence are professional leadership, performance management and curriculum design.

The leadership team has a well-considered approach to leading learning across the school. Professional learning groups have been established in response to student voice. Identified leaders are working collaboratively with groups of teachers to develop and embed effective teaching practice. A more strategic approach to developing teacher capability is creating a shared understanding of agreed best practice.

The performance management system process has been modified and strengthened in response to on-going school-wide professional learning and development. Teachers’ appraisal goals are focussed on the learning needs of the children in their classes. There is a shared focus on developing culturally responsive practice and improving learning outcomes for all children. Teachers have an increased level of the performance management process.

The school’s curriculum closely reflects the area school context for learning. Core curriculum groups that include representatives from each level, are focussed on developing vertically aligned learning progressions and pathways. Students are benefiting from a more cohesive school-wide curriculum.

The board and school leaders are placing high priority on flexible learning opportunities in the curriculum. Leavers’ data is used well to inform decision making about course provision to encourage students to continue their studies at senior levels. Meaningful learning opportunities enable some students to pursue vocational pathways and others to prepare for study at a tertiary level. Curriculum design is increasingly enabling students to achieve equity and excellence.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Further development is needed to develop more systematic, coherent internal evaluation process.

Targeted action to raise and accelerate achievement needs to be strengthened and aligned. School-wide targets are not specific and measureable. Leaders are not yet monitoring and reporting rates of progress in a systematic way.

There is a need to further strengthen teacher capability in teaching and assessment. The learning to learn principle of The New Zealand Curriculum is not well embedded. Assessment systems and practices in Years 9 to 10 are developing. 

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

  • 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.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the code) established under section 238F of the Education act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were six international students attending the school.

The school has effective systems and processes in place to support the pastoral care of international students. Students are well integrated into the school and wider community and have many opportunities to develop positive relationships, learn and excel. The school monitors its provision and outcomes for students through internal evaluation, and regularly reports this information to the board to inform decision making.

Going forward

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

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all children. However, disparity in achievement for Māori and/or other children remains.

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated

  • need to improve the school conditions that support the acceleration of children’s learning and achievement.

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate learning for children

  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and children’s progress.

ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop to support the school to develop effective planning and monitoring processes to support equity and excellence for all children.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato / Bay of Plenty

27 June 2017

About the school 

Location

Whangamata

Ministry of Education profile number

428

School type

Composite (Years 1-15)

School roll

435

Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 60 %
Māori 34 %
Pacific 2%
Asian 2% Others 2%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

27 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014
Education Review August 2011
Education Review December 2008

 

Findings

Students are well supported by staff in a well-organised environment for learning. The majority of students are achieving well in comparison with the academic expected standards. The collective commitment of the board, principal and staff working well together in the best interests of students effectively provides for their all-round development.

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?

Whangamata Area School is located on the Coromandel Peninsula. It provides education for students in Years 1 to 13, and has a current roll of 340. Approximately 37% of these students are of Māori descent.

Since the 2011 ERO review, staffing has remained stable. The experienced principal continues to provide strong educational leadership for the school community. He is ably assisted by the longstanding members of the senior leadership team. The board chairperson has been in this role for several years now, providing much valued continuity of governance for the school. Other trustees were elected in the last year and bring a range of skills to their roles. There is Māori representation on the board.

In response to ERO’s findings in 2011, review and development of the appraisal process began in 2013, under the leadership of the assistant principal who has responsibility for personnel management. Development of the curriculum and assessment is ongoing and should lead to greater consistency of practice across the school. There has been an upgrade of the infrastructure for information and communication technologies [ICT] to support teaching and learning.

Management sets high expectations for students and staff, and there is a strong and shared focus on raising student achievement. The school’s agreed values of knowledge, organisation, respect and unity (KORU), are well embedded and underpin the inclusive school culture. The school’s active involvement in initiatives such as Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) and He Kakano have enabled students, staff and parents to develop consistent expectations for behaviour and social interactions.

The board and staff are committed to maintaining a high profile for the school in the local and wider community. Students have many opportunities to interact with students from other schools, and to contribute to the local community. Parents continue to provide high levels of support for the school, and strong home/school partnerships are evident.

2 Learning

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

The school gathers sufficient achievement information from a range of sources, and uses this well to track attainment and value added at all year levels across the school.

Assessment systems and practice, particularly in Years 1 to 10, have been modified and strengthened. An assessment schedule has been developed, and is providing clear expectations for teachers, and timeframes for the collation, analysis and reporting of student achievement. The board reports that it continues to receive achievement information that shows overall patterns and trends, and assists them to make informed decisions about resourcing and future development.

Parents are kept well informed about the progress and achievement of their children through informative written reports, meetings and information and communication technologies. Teachers know students and families well, and form strong relationships with them that are conducive to ongoing communication. The academic mentoring programme is an integral part of this process, providing opportunities for the parent, student and form (KORU) teacher to meet, set and monitor goals and share information. These goals are specific to the student’s wellbeing and all-round achievement and development. Through discussions with parents, students and staff during this review, ERO identified the need for management to review and more closely monitor this programme, to ensure greater consistency in its implementation.

Teachers of students in Years 1 to 10 gather assessment information about them, using nationally referenced tests, and some formative assessments. In junior classes, teachers also gather anecdotal information from day-to-day observations. Teachers use this assessment information to make sound judgements about students’ individual achievement against National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics in Years 1 to 8. Moderation processes, to ensure the validity and reliability of these judgements, are being strengthened through ongoing professional development in assessment.

Across the school, achievement data is analysed by teachers and leaders to show levels of attainment throughout the year. Targets for year-level cohorts are set and there is an expectation that teachers will closely track and measure student progress. This information is collated and reported to the board at key points throughout the year. National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data for each class, showing percentages of students achieving merit and excellence endorsements, is published in the school. The board’s view is that higher levels of teacher accountability, in keeping with the school’s high expectations for teaching and learning, are impacting positively on achievement levels in the senior years.

Following discussion, the principal and senior leaders understand and agree on the following areas for development.

  • Setting targets for groups of priority learners (student who are ‘at risk’ of not achieving the expectation/standard) and planning explicit teaching strategies to raise their achievement. Achievement patterns in school-wide data 2012/2013 indicate clearly the need to target boys and Māori as priority learners.

  • Strengthening the diagnostic interpretation and use of achievement information by all teachers to inform planning and teaching. Leaders recognise the importance of more deliberate/explicit teaching to raise achievement in the core areas of reading, writing and mathematics.

Students in Years 1 to 8 are making sound progress in relation to the National Standards. However, the 2012 data indicates that in reading, writing and mathematics, a significant proportion of students were not yet achieving the expected standard. The school has responded to this through targeted professional development for teachers in writing and reading. This has contributed to improved overall achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, with most students achieving the expected standard in 2013. Patterns of achievement for 2013 are similar, in that boys are not achieving as well as girls, and Māori students as a cohort are achieving slightly below their non-Māori peers. The proportion of students at the school who achieved the expected National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics is tracking slightly below the national comparison.

At Years 9 and 10, similar patterns continue for boys and Māori. However, school data indicates that most students at these year levels are achieving at the expected curriculum level. Assessment systems and practices at this level of the school require further development to ensure that achievement information is sufficiently robust to enable teachers and leaders to make consistently well-informed decisions about teaching, learning and programme differentiation.

The school’s achievement data for NCEA has been tracking up over successive years. In 2013, the school’s overall achievement exceeded that of other schools of similar profile in the region. A significant proportion of students gained endorsements and the number of students gaining University Entrance is increasing each year. A significant majority of students gain the compulsory literacy and numeracy credits at NCEA Level 1. The board and staff identify that initiatives such as academic mentoring, close monitoring, and high levels of intervention for identified students are likely to have contributed to the positive and continuing trends in the achievement of senior students at the school.

3 Curriculum

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

The school is continuing to develop its curriculum. Currently, the school provides a curriculum which is designed to meet the requirements of The New Zealand Curriculum (TNZC), and which is responsive to the needs, strengths and interests of its students. The agreed vision for learning, and the values (KORU) are clearly expressed, widely owned and understood.

The board and senior leaders understand the challenges of providing a broad curriculum in an area school setting. They work collaboratively with the community and manage available resources effectively to provide students with a suitable range of educational experiences. There is good support and guidance for students to transition into the workforce, and career guidance for those students seeking to move on to tertiary or university education. The school carefully tracks the destination of all its school leavers.

The recent up-grade of the school’s infrastructure for computer technology and the facility for senior students to bring their own device has been successful. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest enhanced learning and teaching for these students, through significantly improved access to computers.

The ‘learning to learn’ principle of TNZC, which promotes students as self-managing learners, is a curriculum priority and an area for continuing development. Teachers are developing an inquiry approach, using many local contexts for learning, and making good use of the school’s coastal location to enrich programmes. Leaders recognise the need for ongoing support and guidance for teachers to fully understand and embed this aspect of the school’s curriculum. This should enable teachers to integrate key learning areas and make the learning more meaningful for students.

Appropriate emphasis is placed on literacy and mathematics in the curriculum. In response to achievement data showing low levels of achievement in writing, there has been considerable development of this curriculum area, especially for students in Years 1 to 10. Teachers report that this has clarified the learning progressions and is enabling them to teach more specifically to meet the identified learning needs of students in writing. Leaders plan to apply this model of curriculum review and development in other curriculum areas to achieve greater cohesion and continuity of learning and teaching across the school.

Currently, teachers in Years 1 to 10 are involved in professional learning and development about reading. As part of this process and in conjunction with the appraisal process, they are inquiring into their practice, using assessment information. This process is assisting teachers to plan and teach more explicitly to meet the identified needs of students.

Significant work to strengthen the appraisal process for all staff is a current area of review and development. This change process is being effectively led and teachers are being well supported and informed about the purpose of the appraisal process in developing their teaching practice. Teachers are gaining ownership of this process. They share and reflect on best practice and are beginning to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching, using assessment information to inform this process.

ERO and the school agree that a priority area for development is for senior leaders to work with teachers to develop and document a cohesive school-wide curriculum. This should give clarity about agreed best practice, and shared teacher expectations, particularly in the teaching of literacy and mathematics.

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

The school is continuing to develop strong links with tangata whenua. A strategic plan for raising the achievement of Māori students has been developed and clarifies the school’s goals for raising the achievement of Māori. The school is continuing to provide instruction for Years 1 to 9 students in te reo and tikanga Māori. This programme is being supported by the teacher in charge of Māori across the school. Teachers in Years 1 to 9 have recently integrated contexts for learning such as Matariki and local geographical features of the environment which are of significance to Māori.

School protocols to observe Māori cultural values and traditions involve all students, with junior and senior kapa haka groups leading the pōwhiri. The school’s wananga, Te Piringa, provides a place for Māori students to meet and appreciate some Māori artefacts, and share and celebrate their knowledge of te ao Māori.

At the beginning of 2013, the principal established a mentoring programme for Māori students requiring additional learning support. An experienced kaumātua who has strong links to tangata whenua was appointed to work with these students. This programme is continuing in 2014, with a high level of involvement of parents and whānau. Students receiving mentoring are benefitting from this approach.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance because:

  • governance is effective
  • the principal is experienced and understands the unique nature of area schools
  • there is a commitment to professional development for staff, and good use is made of internal expertise
  • there are high expectations for teachers and students
  • teachers work collegially in the best interest of students
  • there is a high level of teacher commitment to student learning and all-round achievement
  • relationships between home and school are strong and learning focused
  • there is an effective pastoral care network for students and whānau.

In order to strengthen sustainability, the board and ERO have agreed on the following priorities:

  • To strengthen self review. The process should be planned and documented so that effectiveness of initiatives can be more easily monitored and reported.
  • To plan strategically for the development of a cohesive, seamless curriculum.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this ERO review there were four international students attending the school, including one exchange student.

International students are well integrated into the life of the school. The school has sound systems and practices to monitor the wellbeing and all round achievement and progress of these 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.

The board must ensure that the attestation process for all teaching staff, including the principal, is implemented annually in accordance with the relevant professional standards and registration criteria.[National Administration Guideline 3; Interim Professional Standards; Teacher Registration Criteria]

Conclusion

Students are well supported by staff in a well-organised environment for learning. The majority of students are achieving well in comparison with the academic expected standards. The collective commitment of the board, principal and staff working well together in the best interests of students effectively provides for their all-round development.

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

Dale Bailey
National Manager Review Services
Northern Region

About the School

Location

Whangamata

Ministry of Education profile number

428

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

340

Number of international students

4

Gender composition

Boys      60%
Girls       40%

Ethnic composition

NZ European Pākehā
Māori
Other

59%
37%
  4%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

30 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Supplementary Review

August 2011
December 2008
December 2006