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Homai School is located in Manurewa, South Auckland and caters for Year 1 to 6 children. Children who identify as Māori make up 37 percent of the school’s roll and 44 percent are from Pacific cultures. Both the board and staff reflect the diverse ethnic make-up of the school community.
In recent years the Ministry of Education has provided professional learning and development support working with senior leadership on systems and processes that support student achievement, acceleration and leadership. In 2015 the school developed a ‘community of practice’ with three other local primary schools with a focus on collaboratively raising the achievement of students across this group.
Since 2012 the board has managed the appointment of a new principal, a new senior leadership team and a significant number of teaching staff.
2 Equity and excellence
The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are centred on the core values of ‘Homai G.I.V.E.S – guardianship, integrity, vigilance, empathy and success’. This is aligned to the school vision ‘All people taking responsibility for the well-being and mana of the learner’. These values are underpinned by the school mission statement of ‘one vision, one journey, one people’ and align with the school culture of promoting student and staff wellbeing.
The school’s achievement information showed a significant drop in student achievement in 2014 and 2015 against the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, for Māori and Pacific students. However, 2015 Achievement information for reading shows that overall students are beginning to make progress. Achievement information for writing shows a consistent decrease in overall student achievement from 2013 to 2015. There is also a 23 percent disparity between male and female achievement in writing in 2015. Senior leaders and teachers are addressing these issues. They have put specific strategies in place to reduce the gender disparity. In addition, they report that strategies to accelerate the progress of targeted Māori and Pacific children are showing success and a good number of these children have now reached the appropriate Standard in reading, writing and mathematics.
School-wide systems and processes that support teachers to make robust and consistent achievement judgements against the National Standards are much improved. Moderation practices have been implemented within and across the levels of the school. School leaders acknowledge that it is now timely to develop a set of moderation guidelines and consider moderating with other schools to enhance the dependability of student achievement data.
Since the last ERO evaluation the school has focused on developing consistent and sustainable systems and practices to improve learning outcomes for children and to accelerate their learning progress. These practices include:
- ongoing professional learning development to support teaching and learning
- beginning to develop a responsive curriculum which reflects the local context of the school using and reflecting student, staff and whānau voices
- increasing teacher collaboration and establishing collective responsibility for student achievement
- providing teachers with opportunities for leadership across the school
- increasing the emphasis on students leading their learning to enhance student agency and achievement.
3 Accelerating achievement
How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?
Evidence over the last year shows the school is now responding more effectively to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Strategies and action plans to accelerate student achievement have been established with Ministry of Education professional learning and development support. There is also a clear focus on promoting educationally powerful links, connections and relationships with Māori whānau and the wider school community. Furthermore, the growth of staff knowledge, confidence and appreciation of te ao Māori is underpinned by a strong bicultural understanding. This is helping teachers to support students to experience success as Māori and to make accelerated progress in their learning.
Senior leaders and teachers are creating a school culture of aroha, diversity and acceptance. There is a strong sense of mahi tahi (working together) throughout the school. Teachers work alongside whānau to develop learning-centred partnerships. These help teachers to understand each child’s learning needs, interests and strengths.
Positive shifts in student learning are a result of regular professional conversations among school leaders and teams of teachers who focus on how they can best coach and support Māori students who need to make progress. Teachers identify children whose progress needs acceleration and use an inquiry approach to identify which strategies are having the most impact to support children and accelerate their progress. This approach is aligned with teacher appraisal and the school’s strategic and annual plans.
The board is committed to raising student achievement and providing resources that help teachers to support Māori children. They are building relational trust in a culturally responsive way that promotes transparent sharing of knowledge to improve student outcomes.
How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?
The board, senior leaders, teachers and staff use the same good quality processes and practices to support the learning of Pacific and other groups of children, as they do for Māori. Provision for children who require learning support is responsive to their needs. An inclusive approach to diverse individual needs ensures children participate in appropriate programmes and make progress.
4 School conditions
How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?
The school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices are effective in developing and enacting the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence.
The school is improvement focused. Senior leaders, teachers and staff work collaboratively to embed and extend new systems and practices which support school-wide sustainability.
There is a strong emphasis on building relationships and promoting a strengths-based approach to student and staff learning. The concepts of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, mahi tahi and ako feature significantly throughout school’s systems and practices. Parents, whānau and the school community are involved in activities as respected and valued partners in children’s learning.
Senior leaders are building collective capability for both teachers and students. Teachers’ professional and curriculum capability is supported through ongoing professional learning about biculturalism, curriculum and teaching, and assessment moderation. A growing culture of high expectations and success for students promotes student ownership of learning and encourages them to set holistic and genuine goals. Students’ contributions are valued and their thinking is clearly visible in the senior classroom.
School leadership is focused on building interpersonal trust and effective collaboration at every level of the school community. Senior leaders have introduced a number of new initiatives to strengthen teaching and management processes. These include ongoing external professional development with Ministry of Education support, a new leadership structure and a focus on strengthening student voice. As a result of these strategies, positive outcomes for students are very likely to be strengthened.
The school provides a learning environment where children feel included, and safe and secure in their language, culture and identity. This is an increasingly supportive environment that is beneficial to student learning and wellbeing.
Trustees represent and serve the school and wider community effectively. New and experienced board members have a commitment to raising student achievement. The board receives regular and useful reports on student achievement and acceleration. The board supports the senior leadership team in establishing good foundations which will strengthen student achievement and acceleration.
5 Going forward
How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?
Leaders and teachers:
- know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
- respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
- regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
- act on what they know works well for each child
- build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
- are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.
Homai School is well placed to embed and deepen systems and practices to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners. Foundations have been established to that will help with the implementation of ongoing school-wide development. A range of increasingly effective interventions and strategies are in place to ensure that children progress and achieve. There is a strong focus on student and staff wellbeing and gathering student, staff and parent/whānau input.
School leaders and ERO have identified relevant priorities for further development. These include:
- continuing with external Ministry of Education support to deepen and sustain the positive lifts in student achievement and to increase accelerated progress
- continuing to embed new initiatives including internal evaluation, to support culturally responsive student-led learning
- implementing systems and processes to strengthen the board’s stewardship of the school.
ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.
6 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 the following:
- board administration
- 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
- processes for appointing staff
- stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
- compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014
To improve current practice, the board should implement internal evaluation processes to ensure that policies and procedures are being followed.
ERO recommends that school leaders continue to embed and sustain new school-wide systems and practices.
Graham Randell Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern
23 November 2016