Latest ERO Review

Findings

How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

Rhode Street School places strong focuses on student/whānau well being, meaningful bicultural contexts for learning, environmental sustainability, and the urgent acceleration of academic progress for students who are yet to meet National Standards for their year levels. Leaders and teachers have high expectations for engagement and achievement.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years. - November 2014

1. Context

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

Rhode Street School is a Years 1 to 8 full primary school located in the western suburbs of Hamilton. Eighty-one percent of the students on the roll identify as Māori and 6% are from Pacific families. Since the 2011 ERO review, the board has discontinued the school’s bilingual class in favour of normalising te Ao Māori (Māori culture, language and world view) across the school. Many aspects of the school’s positive culture and context are immediately visible to visitors. Playground areas incorporate Māori perspectives and colourful pou that reflect students’ cultural heritages. A well-established emphasis on caring for the environment and using garden produce for food features prominently in the school’s landscaping.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. The 2011 ERO review noted many areas of good performance including strong focuses on raising student achievement, initiatives to teach and support environmental sustainability and cultural identity, and high expectations for teaching and learning. The board and senior leaders responded positively to areas for improvement identified in that review. This 2014 ERO review finds that the positive features identified in previous ERO reports have been sustained and enhanced.

Since the 2011 ERO review, there have been staff changes in the senior management and teaching teams. During this time, the principal and senior leaders have focused on ensuring minimal disruption to students’ engagement and learning. Teachers have engaged in professional development to improve teaching practices in writing and mathematics.

The school has established a positive partnership with Ngāti Mahanga. This is reflected in the school’s library/media centre and outdoor environment. Trustees, leaders, staff and students maintain an inclusive and positive culture based on the values of manaakitanga, whakawhanaungatanga, kotahitanga, respect, resilience and empathy. Parents/whānau regularly support assemblies, sports and cultural events. New families are readily welcomed into the school community.

2. Learning

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

The school uses student achievement information very effectively to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The board and senior leaders place high priority on accelerating the progress of students who are underachieving. Mid-year achievement information in 2014 indicates significant levels of more than expected progress for most targeted students this year. National Standards data is reported to trustees to demonstrate progress through the year. The board uses information to provide relevant resources and support.

Teachers use assessment information to identify priority learners, accelerate their learning, monitor their progress, inform next learning steps and reflect on teaching practice. Students have very good knowledge of their achievement and progress through explicit classroom displays and conferencing with teachers and parents/whānau. Parents are well informed about students’ progress and achievement. External agencies effectively support teachers and leaders in accelerating student progress.

Through robust self review, senior leaders recognise the need to further strengthen strategies and practices that provide opportunities for students to engage in self and peer assessment. In addition, senior leaders are implementing systems to promote greater confidence and consistency in teachers’ overall judgements about student achievement.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. There is a strong emphasis on the acceleration of progress and achievement in literacy and mathematics. A culture of environmental sustainability is strongly evident throughout the school. Students demonstrate interest and pride in gardens, tree plantings, plant propagation, and the current development of an ecological island that is a prominent feature in the school grounds.

In Terms 1 and 4 2014, the curriculum has a strong emphasis on the technology, science, marketing and practical experience of developing gardens for produce at the school’s Kai Festival in March. These activities are part of an integrated curriculum, which teaches literacy, mathematics and thinking skills in real-life contexts. Garden produce is used in kitchen science and for school lunches. Parents/whānau have access to fruit and vegetables from community gardens at the school. Learning from this Enviro Schools approach is shared with visiting schools and the wider community.

Teachers increasingly promote the use of computers as tools for learning. They are preparing for future years when students will bring their own devices to support classroom learning. Students appreciate a wide range of opportunities for education outside the classroom. Leaders, teachers and students are currently reviewing and refining the school’s curriculum expectations so that documentation continues to keep up with the curriculum in practice.

School leaders and teachers have high expectations for teaching, learning and engagement. Meaningful contexts for learning are contributing to students’ accelerated progress and achievement. There are positive, respectful relationships among teachers and students. Examples of print-rich and stimulating learning environments support students’ engagement and learning.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori as Māori. Tikanga Māori is valued and well established. Culture and identity are celebrated through sharing pepeha, and topic studies. Students have opportunities for participation and leadership in pōwhiri, kapa haka and harakeke weaving. Aroha Ngā Mokopuna, and positive partnerships with kaumātua from Ngaati Mahanga, involve story-telling, building relationships between students and iwi, and authentic learning about hauora and other aspects of kaupapa Māori. Trustees and staff share their cultural knowledge and are positive role models for students.

Teachers integrate te reo Māori within class programmes and discussions. There is a shared urgency among trustees, school leaders, teachers and parents to continue to accelerate the progress of Māori students who are at risk of underachieving.

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 because of the following factors:

Governance is effective. Trustees represent the local community and strongly support the principal, staff and students. They are committed to raising student achievement. There is also an emphasis on supporting local families to engage in their students’ learning.

The principal demonstrates high-quality professional leadership and is well supported by senior leaders. The senior leadership team maintains a focus on continuous improvement, giving urgent priority to raising student achievement and teacher effectiveness. The principal empowers teachers to develop leadership roles and pathways.

Senior leaders have established a professional learning community through robust appraisal, targeted professional development, and regular opportunities for feedback about teaching practice and professional dialogue. The leadership team welcomes opportunities to share knowledge about effective educational practices with the wider education community.

Parents appreciate the school’s open-door policy and the support provided to students and families. Senior leaders and teachers maintain a holistic approach to student and whānau well being and students’ readiness for learning. Parents are regularly consulted about curriculum matters through newsletters, surveys, displays and social media. A positive ‘phone-home’ approach informs parents of academic progress and good behaviour as soon as possible. Parents are increasingly becoming partners in their students’ learning, progress and achievement.

Well-established, effective self-review practices promote continuous improvement in student achievement, teaching practices, curriculum design and other aspects of school operation.

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

Rhode Street School places strong focuses on student/whānau well being, meaningful bicultural contexts for learning, environmental sustainability, and the urgent acceleration of academic progress for students who are yet to meet National Standards for their year levels. Leaders and teachers have high expectations for engagement and achievement.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

7 November 2014