2015 ERO Report– Click here for the full report.
What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?
Silverdale Normal School is located in Hamilton, near the University of Waikato and provides education for students in Years 1 to 6. It has a current roll of 214. The school has ‘Normal School’ status, and in this role is affiliated with the Faculty of Education at the university, to provide in- school practicum for trainee teachers.
At the time of this ERO review the school’s roll included 214 students. Approximately 66 students attending the school are of Māori descent. There is a growing number of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and currently there are 4 international students enrolled. In addition, two satellite classes from Patricia Avenue Special School are located on school grounds and these students are well integrated into the life of the school. Staff are committed to the provision of a safe and inclusive school environment in a multi-cultural setting.
During 2014, tensions between trustees, some parents and the previous principal, led to unstable governance, and ultimately, to the resignation of the board. A commissioner was appointed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in August 2014, to govern the school. The principal retired at the end of Term 3, and there was a short period of fragmented leadership until a new principal was appointed to take up the position as leader of the school at the start of 2015.
The 2012 ERO report identified areas for development in relation to curriculum development, teaching practice and classroom environment. While some work has been undertaken, this is mostly very recent. The new principal, with support from the commissioner and the deputy principal, has prioritised development in these areas and work is already underway.
Leadership in the school has been restructured, this new structure having been designed to provide well-informed, school-wide leadership for learning and teaching. Two deputy principals have been appointed, one of these being an internal appointment. There has been some turnover of teaching staff, which has seen new teachers joining the teaching team.
How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?
The principal and deputy principal have recognised the urgent need to strengthen the quality and use of information about the progress and achievement of students at all levels of the school. An explicit assessment overview has been developed and shared with teachers. This document sets clear expectations about the assessment information to be gathered, tools to be used and timelines for reporting. This should lead to timely and relevant reporting of achievement information to parents, community and the future board of trustees. The school’s professional leaders, under the guidance of the new principal, should be better placed to report accurate information to the board when trustees are elected. This should also enable board of trustees to make well-informed decisions about resource allocation and ongoing school development.
The leadership team is already providing professional learning for teachers about the analysis and interpretation of the assessment information they gather. Frequent team meetings and whole staff meetings provide a forum for dialogue, coaching and mentoring about learning progressions and realistic expectations for progress and achievement. Teachers are beginning to respond to the expectation that they will each identify target students in their classes (those students who are achieving just below expectation), and plan and implement learning experiences to meet the identified needs of these students. The use of achievement information is providing a sound platform for teachers to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching practice focused on raising support student progress and achievement.
Leaders have worked with the commissioner to analyse the school’s 2014 achievement information, and develop achievement targets for the current school year. Data has been well analysed for trends and patterns, and students ‘at risk’ of not achieving the expected standard identified. Achievement targets in the annual plan for 2015 aim to accelerate the progress of the significant group of students who are underachieving in reading, writing and mathematics. These students are identified and additional support for their learning is provided.
The school’s Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) oversees interventions and programmes in literacy and mathematics, designed to support and extend identified learners. The two deputy principals, in their roles as leaders of learning, plan to provide additional learning support and expert teaching for students who are underachieving. The commissioner and principal acknowledge the urgent need to apply deliberate acts of teaching to ‘at risk’ students across the school in order to accelerate their progress by the end of the year.
The school’s 2013/14 achievement information for reading, writing and mathematics indicates that approximately 26% of students are achieving below and well below the National Standard in each of these areas. Māori students are over represented in the group of ‘at risk’ students. Currently, the school is not able to demonstrate students’ rates of progress through its data. However, leaders recognise that by strengthening the quality and management of school-wide data, they are likely to be much better placed to ascertain and report progress in the next annual report.
How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?
The school’s curriculum is undergoing extensive review. This process began at the beginning of 2015, under the leadership of the principal, and the deputy principal. School leaders are promoting a vision for learning and teaching that is well grounded in current theory and research, and is strongly learner focused. This process is collaborative and is providing opportunities for parents to express the aspirations they have for their children’s education.
School’s leaders of learning, are working with teachers and beginning to clarify and share agreed best practice. This will underpin a learner-centred approach to learning and teaching. Leaders are coaching and mentoring teachers in practice/strategies to support students to become self-directed learners. The school’s infrastructure for information and communication technologies (ICT) is being developed further to enhance learning and engage parents and whānau. The principal and deputy principal are particularly knowledgeable in this area and able to support staff to up skill.
School leaders recognise the need to allow time for teachers to trial and embed recently introduced school-wide approaches to assessment, teaching and learning that reflect the school-wide vision for learning and teaching.
How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?
The commissioner began to liaise with Māori and whānau in the school community throughout Term 3 and 4 in 2014. This work is continuing under the leadership of the principal. A Māori advisor who is of Tainui descent, is providing support and guidance. The school’s kapa haka group has been revitalised and students proudly perform and lead waiāta for the school.
School leaders recognise the need to strengthen the culture, language and identity of Māori students through the school’s curriculum, and in the environment. Senior leaders will work with teachers to include the principles of Ka Hikitia, the Māori Education Strategy, Ministry of Education and Tātaiako, the Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori, New Zealand Teachers’ Council (2011).
4 Sustainable Performance
How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?
The school is well placed to improve its current and recent performance because:
- the principal brings recent, successful leadership experience to his role
- the developing leadership structure has the potential to provide effective leadership for learning
- the commissioner and principal have reviewed the charter, including the strategic and annual
plan for timely reporting to the MOE
- the commissioner and principal are networking with the school community to re-engage parents
in the life of the school
- the commissioner and principal have made financial provision for the development of
information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance learning and teaching, and for
ongoing classroom refurbishment to support the curriculum
- expectations for teachers about agreed best practice have been developed.
Education Review Office
Confirmed Education Review Report
In order to continue and sustain this development, the leadership team will now place priority on:
- electing a board so that the school can become self governing
- building a staff/team culture that is learner-focused and based on relational trust
- clarifying leadership roles and responsibilities and building the leadership capability of the two
- embedding a robust and transparent performance management process, leading to consistently
high levels of teacher performance
- effective leadership for learning to build teacher capability, leading to higher levels of student
achievement and progress.
The school has developed an action plan that makes explicit the strategies, timelines and personnel responsible for achieving these priority areas.
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. These students are well supported in an inclusive culture for learning.
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
- 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
Education Review Office
Confirmed Education Review Report
Teachers form respectful relationships with students and value their diversity. Most students achieve well as they progress through the school. The school is undergoing significant change and the new principal is working collaboratively with staff and parents to develop a shared sense of ownership and understanding of the school’s new direction.
ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.