Tomarata School - 05/08/2020

School Context

Tomarata School is a small rural full primary school near Wellsford. The school roll of 122 students includes 20 Māori students.

The school’s overarching vision and aims are focused on igniting students’ learning, developing success for all, promoting student wellbeing and building strong relationships with the school community. Tomarata School’s whakatauki is ‘Poipoia te kakano kia puawai. Nurture the seed and it will blossom’.

The school’s current achievement targets are for students to achieve expected curriculum levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

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

  • progress towards the school’s strategic goals
  • student engagement and wellbeing.

Since 2019, several personnel changes have occurred. Most trustees, the senior leadership team and many teachers are new. Teachers are participating in professional learning in mathematics.

During 2016 to 2019, the Ministry of Education appointed consecutive Limited Statutory Managers (LSMs) to improve stewardship, staff relationships and engagement with the school community.

Tomarata School has recently joined the Twin Coast Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL).

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?

Tomarata School is not able to provide reliable information to show how well the school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students. At the time of the review, there was a lack of valid and reliable achievement data to show how well all students and groups of students achieve over time.

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

School leaders are beginning to develop systems to identify, monitor and respond to those students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Leaders are identifying groups of students and their specific learning strengths, needs and abilities. This approach is helping to determine relevant learning programmes to support those students, including Māori, who need to make accelerated progress.

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?

School leaders and teachers are beginning to develop processes that promote community engagement, and consultation to contribute to the school’s vision and strategic direction. Consultation with the school community shows they have expectations that students will develop values of respect with empathy and understanding, growth through learning from mistakes, ownership of actions and working together harmoniously.

New school leaders are focused on strategically managing change to improve positive outcomes for children. The principal is proactively improving relationships with the local community and whānau Māori. Some community members generously resource opportunities for students to learn in a localised curriculum. Students make use of local whenua, native bush and awa that local families have allowed access to the school.

School leaders are improving the school’s learning culture. They have established educationally powerful connections with wider networks, including local schools, external professional providers and the community. These professional relationships are supporting the school to become a focal point within the local area. Parents and whānau comment that the school has a renewed focus on promoting an inclusive culture. Students comment positively about the improved school culture. They appreciate the leadership opportunities where they can share the ideas and actively engage in decision making to enhance the school environment. These opportunities enable students to feel empowered and connected to the school.

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

School leaders should develop a schoolwide approach to improving assessment processes and teaching practice. Key priorities include:

  • developing systems and processes that improve the monitoring and tracking of students’ learning and targeting those students who are at risk of not achieving
  • improving teachers’ use of valid and reliable assessment information to guide responsive teaching programmes and practice
  • documenting effective teaching strategies to more deliberately support students to achieve and accelerate their learning.

The principal acknowledges that continuing to develop a responsive curriculum is needed. Further work includes:

  • extending opportunities for students to learn in a more challenging and interactive curriculum
  • learning experiences that enable students to be critical thinkers and take more ownership of their learning
  • ensuring sufficient and equitable opportunities for students to develop written and oral language skills.

Teachers and teacher aides work with students who require additional learning support. School leaders should provide evaluative reports to the board of trustees on the effectiveness of teaching strategies and teacher aide support to lift achievement. This would inform trustees to better understand and respond to students’ progress and achievement in learning.

School leaders and teachers should continue to build their collective capacity to do and use evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for ongoing improvement and innovation.

A priority for trustees is to continue governance training to increase capability to evaluate how well the school is progressing towards the strategic goals and improving outcomes for all students.

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 Tomarata School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success 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:

  • leadership that is focused on strategically managing change to ensure positive outcomes for children
  • an improved school culture where children feel empowered about contributing to school decision making
  • positive connections with the wider community and relationships that enrich opportunities for students to become lifelong learners.

Next steps

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

  • providing effective, sufficient and equitable opportunities for students to learn
  • ensuring effective leadership continues to plan, coordinate and evaluate the school’s curriculum and teaching
  • professional learning for teachers to build capability for curriculum improvement and innovation
  • increasing the board’s scrutiny of work done to achieve the school’s valued student outcomes
  • developing coherent organisational conditions that promote evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to curriculum, personnel and governance.

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

  • the school analyses and reports student progress in relevant assessment information in literacy and numeracy achievement, and provides breadth and depth of learning related to students’ needs, abilities and interests as expressed in the New Zealand Curriculum 2007
    [National Administration Guidelines 1(b)]
  • an ongoing programme of self review in relation to the board’s policy framework is enacted
    [National Administration Guidelines 2 (b)]
  • an accessible child protection policy is documented and reviewed every three years
    [Children’s Act 2014]
  • the school’s appointments policy states clear procedures for safety checks
    [77A State Sector Act], [Children’s Act 2014]
  • the police vetting policy that states all non-registered staff are police vetted every three years, is documented
    [77A State Sector Act]
  • risk management procedures for school trips/education outside the classroom are documented
    [National Administration Guidelines 5]
  • in consultation with the school’s Māori community, develop and make known to the school’s community, policies and procedures, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students
    [National Administration Guidelines 1(e)]
  • consult with the community and adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum
    [Education Act 1989, Section 60B].

ERO recommends that the school seeks support from the Ministry of Education in order to bring about improvements in:

  • curriculum design, implementation and review
  • establishing effective assessment systems and processes
  • effective teaching and learning to improve students’ learning outcomes
  • governance.

Recommendations to other agencies:

ERO recommends that the New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the board to help it effectively meet its statutory legislative requirements.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services (Northern)

Northern Region - Te Tai Raki

5 August 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.