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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South End School ERO report 2011

Following on in the tradition of disgraceful governance of the South End School, and the Ministry of Education in general, here is the latest ERO report on the school:

Education Review Office report - South End School Carterton, Wairarapa 07/12/2011

Ministry of Education profile number - 2992

School type - Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

Decile [1] 5

School roll - 102

Gender composition
    Male 65%
    Female 35%

Ethnic composition
    NZ European/Pākehā 56%
    Māori 23%
    Pacific 12%
    Other European groups 5%
    Other ethnic groups 4%

Special Features:
    Two Montessori Classes
    Resource Teacher: Literacy
    Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour

Review team on site - August 2011

Date of this report - 7 December 2011

Most recent ERO report(s):
    Supplementary Review - August 2010
    Supplementary Review - May 2009
    Education Review - April 2008

The Purpose of an ERO Report:
The purpose of ERO’s reviews is to give parents and the wider school community assurance about the quality of education that schools provide and their children receive. ERO’s reports are intended to be clear, concise, constructive and evaluative. An ERO school report answers the question “How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?” Under that overarching question ERO reports on the quality of education and learning outcomes for children and for specific groups of children including Māori students, Pacific students and students with special needs. ERO also reports on the quality of the school’s systems for sustaining and continuing improvements.

This report has been prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

    1 Context

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

South End is a small full primary school in Carterton. Five classes cater for students from Years 1 to 8, and two of these provide a Montessori perspective. After considerable work by the board and staff, the two approaches are comfortably integrated within the school. Teaching staff are mutually respectful and supportive. Members of both parent communities are represented on the board of trustees. Most students transitioning at age five have attended a nearby Montessori pre-school or an adjacent kindergarten. Students interact positively with each other in the playground and the overall tone is harmonious.

In 2008, ERO identified many areas of school operation requiring development and has reviewed the school in successive years to evaluate progress. The August 2010 ERO report identified that professional and curriculum leadership remained a concern, with considerable support necessary to manage curriculum review, implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum, staff performance and effective communications.

A new board had been elected at the time of the previous ERO review. In October 2010 the Ministry of Education appointed a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) to oversee personnel and financial matters. The board reduced the number of classrooms from six to five. A new chairperson was appointed in 2011 and the principal has taken on some classroom teaching duties.

    2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Many students enjoy their lessons and are keen to participate in learning. However, they find it difficult to explain the purpose of their activities and describe their next steps. Student involvement in focused learning conversations is desirable to develop their ownership of goals and progress. At present, most feedback and next steps are given by teachers during writing activities, and less so in other learning areas. Written feedback from teachers in workbooks does not sufficiently help students and parents to reflect on learning, expectations and progress.

Nearly 50% of students are on the special needs register, for a range of reasons. In 2011, curriculum leaders presented information in literacy and numeracy to the board about the progress of underachieving students. The variety of programmes for students with gifts and talents are also described. The impact of these programmes on students’ learning is yet to be evaluated. Although students who have extra support mostly make gains, managers need to strengthen teachers’ use of data for these learners to plan purposeful, deliberate interventions and programmes that target identified needs.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Managers and staff are committed to catering for the needs of students who identify as Māori. Staff are showing increased confidence in teaching te reo Māori and in reflecting aspects of Māori culture within the planned programme. In 2010, a Māori trustee acted as the link with local iwi. The principal is keen to further enhance relationships and partnership with whānau, making the most of their knowledge, skills and expertise to enhance outcomes for tamariki.

Achievement targets for literacy and mathematics were agreed between school and whānau. However, a picture of how Māori students are achieving and progressing in comparison with their non-Māori peers at South End School is unclear. Improving assessment processes and practice should sharpen the school’s picture of Māori student achievement.

    3 Curriculum

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

Managers began developing the South End Curriculum in 2008 and reviewing the charter, vision and values. They have spent a great deal of time aligning mainstream and Montessori approaches in one framework. The New Zealand Curriculum principles still need to be made more visible. Documented expectations are in place for English and mathematics. Guidelines for other learning areas have been updated since ERO was onsite in August 2011. Managers should consider, and document, how coherence and integration across subjects and levels will be achieved. Meeting the requirements for curriculum development and implementation must be given priority.

Student engagement in learning is fostered through interesting contexts for topic studies. Teachers work as a collaborative team, promoting development of the South End values and key competencies for learning. Classroom wall displays make these visible to students and help to reinforce school expectations. Also displayed are students’ questions for further investigation. In these ways student voice is heard, ideas are shared and it is evident that teachers value their participation.

The principal understands the importance of using assessment to guide teaching and learning. Feedback to teachers on their planning and assessment identifies good practice and reinforces school expectations for curriculum implementation. Managers need to support teachers to analyse data more deeply. This should inform more focused planning and strategies, and enable them to be responsive to the range of students’ abilities and interests.

    4 Sustainable Performance

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

Trustees show commitment to their role. Training has supported them to make progress in understanding their key responsibilities and to enhance their capability in governance. Financial management has been improved. Expenditure is tracked, and there is clarity around how the available budget will be used to meet annual objectives. The board is focused on improvement.

The principal has started to develop a distributed leadership structure to empower teachers in leadership roles. Delegations and responsibilities are being clarified. The principal should further explore this team approach, ensuring that effective communication and transparent structures for decision making underpin change.

The Ministry of Education has supported managers in refining the school’s annual student achievement targets. However, finalising the 2011 annual plan has been slow. In order to drive practice throughout the year, this document needs to be in place early in the year, underpinned by well analysed and interpreted data.

A clearer picture is needed of how students are achieving across the school, to guide strategic planning and resourcing. An ongoing area for development includes the provision of leadership to further develop staff assessment practices. Managers should collate, analyse and report information to show how well all students are achieving. This process should highlight trends and patterns of achievement, enabling leaders to identify targets and plan school-wide strategies with greater focus.

The board and managers need to establish sound self-review processes. Incorporating formal self review in strategic planning, with timeframes stated for revisiting and discussion, should assist the board to evaluate progress toward goals, and be responsive to emerging and changing needs.

Greater opportunities for needs-analysis and consultation is likely to have positive benefits at all levels. For example, helping the board and staff to identify, monitor and meet parent and whānau aspirations for children’s learning and development.

Implementation of the performance management system needs to be guided by the documented policy and procedures. Teachers have written their own performance goals, giving a framework for staff appraisal, but this has not been implemented. Teachers’ goals could be better aligned to the school’s overarching goals and informed by consultation with managers, so that professional development needs may be thoughtfully implemented. Roles and responsibilities should be clarified.
Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

    board administration
    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 students' achievement:

    emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
    physical safety of students
    teacher registration
    stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

The board expects to fully meet its legislative obligations by 2012. Priority should be given to students' learning and include ongoing curriculum development, career education and guidance, teacher appraisal and self review of the effectiveness of teaching and learning:

    the school has to further develop its curriculum, based on The New Zealand Curriculum principles and theory of teaching as inquiry
    provision for students in Years 7 and 8 should include second language learning, and implementation of the recently developed programme for career education and guidance to support transition to secondary school
    teacher appraisal should be strengthened
    self review should be regularly scheduled, evidence based and sufficiently evaluative to inform school improvement.

In order to meet requirements, the board of trustees must:

    through the principal and staff, develop and implement a curriculum for students in Years 1 to 8, provide students with effective learning programmes in all curriculum areas, and select curriculum achievement objectives in response to identified interests and learning needs
    [National Administration Guideline 1 (a)i, (b) I,ii, (c) iv,(d),(f)]
    implement its own personnel policies and procedures to promote highly performing staff
    [National Administration Guideline 3 (a)]
    maintain an on-going programme of self-review in relation to those policies, plans and programmes above, including evaluating information on student achievement.
    [National Administration Guideline 2 (b)]
 In order to improve current practice, the board should ensure that more work is done by managers to enhance school-wide understanding and practice in using the National Standards. This should include well-planned opportunities for teachers to be involved in team moderation and in forming overall teacher judgements about learning and progress.
Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends the continuation of the current intervention.
When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Kathleen Atkins
National Manager Review Services
Central Region

7 December 2011

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