How effectively does the curriculum of Pahiatua School promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?
School context and self review:
Pahiatua School draws its students from the township and surrounding rural areas. A small and dedicated group of parents gives valued support and local service agencies provide a part-time counsellor. Staffing has been stable for the last two years. The school is well resourced and maintained in good condition.
The board and staff have successfully addressed all of the areas for improvement identified in 2007 ERO review. Evidence-based self review effectively informs planning for improved student achievement.
Achievement information in literacy and numeracy/mathematics is collated and reported to the board. It is used to identify strategic achievement targets and students needing additional support or extension work. Student achievement has improved considerably since the previous review. In 2007, most students achieved at or just below school expectations. In 2010, 70% of students are achieving at or just above school and national expectations in reading and mathematics. The progress and achievement of the remaining 30% are being targeted for improvement.
Information about the achievement of Māori students is collated and analysed for individuals and the whole group. This shows that these students achieve at similar rates to students overall in mathematics. However, fewer Māori achieve in the upper bands for reading. This is being addressed through the Māori achievement plan.
Areas of strength
Governing the school
Trustees share a clear vision for student learning and demonstrate a good understanding of their students’ needs. Board planning is focused on school improvement. Generous budget allocations target teachers’ professional development, learning programmes and identified teaching resources. Trustees value staff and work collaboratively to foster positive relationships across the school and wider community.
Leading and managing the school
The principal continues to lead and manage change effectively. Since the 2007 review, school development has been maintained and well paced. Expectations for staff and students are clearly communicated and supported through the school’s monitoring processes. Together with the staff leaders the principal is building a committed, cohesive and well-functioning team. Student learning and well-being are central to school decision making.
Teacher commitment is strong. Personal inquiry impacts positively on improving their knowledge and skills. Teachers regularly reflect on information gathered from the recently reviewed and strengthened appraisal system. They develop individual teaching plans and use data to inquire into their own practice. The main impact of this is clearly focused classroom teaching with positive learning outcomes for students.
Safe and inclusive school culture
A strategic commitment to providing a safe, respectful and nurturing environment where students are valued as individuals is being successfully implemented. Deliberate initiatives have been put in place to foster student engagement. These include: the restructuring of the school day; the promotion of physical activity and healthy eating; introduction of adult and student mentoring; and specific provision for boys’ and girls’ learning. Staff are highly responsive to students’ identified strengths and needs and know how to support these. Students learn in a well-managed and secure environment.
Engaging parents and whānau
A range of strategies to increase engagement of parents and whānau is successfully implemented. Parent response to surveys is high and indicates a good level of satisfaction with what the school provides. Parents appreciate the availability of the principal and staff for discussion.
Board members are visible in the community and proactively seek feedback through informal conversations. Many of these conversations are with Māori whānau to ascertain aspirations for their children’s education.
Parent participation in social and educational activities such as the school production, camps and excursions and aspects of students’ learning has increased. They have frequent and regular opportunities to discuss their children’s progress. Interviews and learning logs provide parents with rich information about their children’s achievement and give them the chance to give feedback.
Curriculum design and teaching
The school’s curriculum is well designed and allows for teaching and learning to be flexible and responsive to students’ interests and needs. Learning modules and an integrated inquiry-learning approach allow teachers and students to choose sub topics that provide motivational learning experiences for meaningful student engagement. A well-documented curriculum delivery plan supports consistent teacher planning across the school and provides for its progressive and sequential implementation.
A range of effective teaching strategies is used. Teachers provide students with specific feedback about achievement and next steps for learning. Many build on and use each student’s knowledge in authentic ways. Learning modules incorporate relevant Māori language and cultural perspectives. Students’ learning experiences are enriched through visiting speakers, good use of resources and excursions into the local community and beyond.
Students clearly understand the purpose of learning and what they must do to succeed. They are increasingly involved in monitoring personal achievement, goal setting and reporting to parents. Students are well engaged in classroom programmes. Students and teachers confidently use information and communication technologies, such as computers, as tools for teaching and learning.
Classroom environments are welcoming and attractively presented with displays to support learning and behaviour. Students report they value the way teachers acknowledge their identity and celebrate their efforts and that these make them feel they belong and motivated to learn.
Future Action: ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four to five years.