Education Review Office Report - 2016
Knighton Normal School is a large urban, contributing primary school that provides education for children in Years 1 to 6. The school’s current roll of 670 includes many children who come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Māori children are the largest group, making up approximately 40% of the school population. Approximately one third of the school’s roll comprises children who are English Language Learners (ELL). The school provides Māori immersion education at Level 2.
The school continues to have close ties with the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato, and fulfils its status as a ‘normal’ school by providing initial teacher education.
Continuity of leadership in the school has been maintained. The long-serving principal and an experienced team of senior leaders lead the school. However, the board of trustees is made up of trustees new to their respective roles in the last year.
The school is a member of the Hamilton Central Community of Learning, which is in the early stages of its formation.
2 Equity and excellence
The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to provide a culture of learning that fosters respect, belonging, resilience, creativity, success and wellbeing. Cultural diversity is accepted and valued, and the unique position of Māori within New Zealand society is well recognised in the school’s environment and curriculum.
The school’s achievement information shows that of all children (2013 to 2015), approximately two thirds are achieving at and above the National Standard in reading and mathematics. The proportion achieving the expected standard is lower in writing. While most Māori children were achieving at and above expectation, a significant proportion (30%) are achieving below the expected National Standard in reading and mathematics, and 40% in writing. This pattern is similar from 2013 to 2015. The proportion of Māori children achieving the National Standards is similar to national comparisons, but below non-Māori groups in this school.
The school’s achievement data in writing indicates that Māori, Pacific and boys are over represented in the below categories of National Standards. Pākehā and Asian children are out performing other groups in the school, with a significant majority achieving at and above the expected standard. The school recognises the need to accelerate the progress of Māori and Pacific children.
Leaders are continuing to work with teachers to progress moderation processes. Priority is being given to strengthening the validity and reliability of overall teacher judgements that teachers make in relation to progress towards and achievement of the National Standards.
Since the last ERO evaluation the school has undertaken the following developments, designed to improve equity and excellence across the school:
- The appraisal process has been strengthened, with an increased focus on accelerating the progress of at risk children.
- There has been focussed professional learning and development for teachers in writing, mathematics and te reo Māori.
- Priority is placed on student wellbeing and engagement.
- An extensive review of the school’s curriculum has highlighted agreed priorities for learning and best practice.
- The process for Teaching as Inquiry is providing ongoing opportunities for reflective dialogue amongst teachers.
- There is consistent implementation of the sequential te reo Māori programme.
- The board makes funds available to enable equitable access to-out-of school cultural and sporting programmes for all children.
3 Accelerating achievement
How effectively does this school respond to Māori children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?
There are well-embedded systems to promptly identify and respond to the individual learning needs of Māori children. Careful consideration of assessment information, networking within the school’s pastoral care team and with outside agencies, contributes to highly relevant programmes and interventions, specifically designed to raise the achievement of at risk learners. The school’s literacy centre provides targeted interventions in reading and writing for at risk learners, most of whom are Māori. Close monitoring of these children shows that the majority are achieving high levels of success in literacy learning.
Across all classrooms, teachers are committed to raising achievement, and in keeping with the school-wide target, are working consistently to accelerate the progress of children who are working just below the expected level. Māori children are included in these target groups. This teaching as inquiry process provides a valuable forum for reflective dialogue and sharing of effective practice. The school’s analysis of variance document for 2015 indicates that most of the children targeted in reading made accelerated progress, and about one third in mathematics. The school recognised that in writing fewer than expected were accelerated. Leaders have responded with focussed professional learning for teachers, which includes work on literacy learning progressions and collaborative moderation within and between teams in 2016.
The school’s approach to accelerating progress for Māori needs to be made more deliberate. A more explicit approach that includes clearly defined targets for Māori and other groups of at-risk learners is needed to bring about greater shifts in achievement.
How effectively does this school respond to other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?
Leaders and teachers make very good use of the achievement information gathered to identify all children who are at risk. A clear school-wide profile of achievement patterns and trends and regular reporting to the board assists trustees to make informed decisions about future resourcing that is designed to improve learning outcomes for children who are underachieving.
The school is responding promptly to children who are below expected levels in literacy. The board employs a large number of learning assistants who work with teachers in classrooms to support learning and teaching. There are teachers who have particular expertise in teaching the significant number of English Language Learners in the school. This specialist assistance enables these students to successfully engage in additional learning support and many make accelerated progress. High levels of teacher capability and collaborative ways of working amongst teaching staff are contributing to the positive learning gains that all identified at risk learners are making.
School leaders now need to make more comparative use of achievement data. This should lead to closer scrutiny, enabling the board to sharpen its targeted response to raising achievement through the charter. In addition, dialogue about comparative data will be instrumental in raising awareness of all staff about achievement patterns and disparities between groups of learners in the school, leading to a collective sense of urgency to make a difference for at-risk learners.
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?
There are many conditions in the school that are enabling the board, leaders and teachers to enact the school’s vision for equity and excellence.
The school's culture for learning is inclusive. High levels of relational trust amongst staff and with children and parents, and a willingness to work collaboratively are evident. The priority placed on children’s wellbeing is contributing to higher levels of student engagement and cooperation. Consistently responsive practices are having a positive influence on children’s social and emotional learning and development in an increasingly multi-cultural setting.
The school’s curriculum is wide ranging and responsive. Characteristics of effective learning and teaching are well defined. Agreed best practices for learning and teaching, substantiated by current research, are well understood and consistently implemented. The strong bicultural focus is evidenced by positive whānau engagement, and a school-wide commitment to the implementation of the school’s sequential programme for te reo Māori. In addition, Te Hihiri (the partial immersion classes) are providing learning and teaching in the Māori medium, using The New Zealand Curriculum. This initiative adds richness to the language, culture and identity for Māori children across the school. Children are engaged in purposeful learning and consistent implementation of the curriculum is enabling the school’s vision and values to be enacted.
The leadership team is providing effective school-wide leadership of learning. Senior leaders are very well informed about current research in education and use this information to inform their work with teachers and children. Expectations for teachers are clearly articulated and consistently high. Strong leadership capability is enabling teachers to improve teaching practice. Leaders and teachers are working effectively to raise the achievement of all children, and through inquiry, are increasingly focussed on understanding which teaching strategies are likely to make the most difference for at-risk learners.
There is a high level of commitment to involving parents as partners in their children’s learning. Leaders and teachers use many different ways to deliberately engage parents of all children, and in particular those with children who are receiving additional assistance with their learning. Parents are kept well informed about their children’s learning and development, and are supported and guided to help learning at home. This inclusive approach is strengthening the connections between parents, whānau and teachers, leading to positive learning outcomes.
Performance management systems, including appraisal the process for teachers has been revised and strengthened. Clear expectations for staff and consistent school-wide implementation is making this process more robust and relevant to the work of teachers. The teaching as inquiry process is central to teacher appraisal, providing a very relevant focus on the effectiveness of teaching practice in relation to the Professional Teacher Criteria. In this way, the appraisal process is contributing to equity and excellence of outcomes for children.
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.
The school is well placed because of the high level of professional leadership and teacher capability in the school. A thorough approach to ongoing review for improvement is reflected in many of the school’s organisation processes, such as curriculum review, annual charter review, and the more spontaneous inquiries into learning that are integral to the teaching as inquiry process. Consideration should now be given to extending this process so that specific teaching practices, likely to make the greatest difference for at-risk learner, are deliberately embedded across the school, and sustained over time.
There needs to be a more strategic approach to achieving parity across the school, for Māori and other at risk groups of learners. The school now needs to:
- give closer scrutiny to data about disparity
- set clearly defined targets and plan to specifically address the needs of identified groups
- more closely monitor the impact of interventions for particular groups (Māori, Boys, Pacific).
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:
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
processes for appointing staff
stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014
provision for international students
Provision for international students
The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) was introduced on July 1st 2016. The school is aware of the need to update its policies and procedures to meet the new code requirements by December 1st 2016.
At the time of this review there were two international students attending the school.
The school is making good progress in aligning its policies and procedures to meet requirements for the 2016 Code.
ERO recommends that the school sustains its school-wide focus on targeted achievement to reduce the disparity between groups of learners in the school, over time.
Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty
31 October 2016
About the school
Ministry of Education profile number
Contributing (Years 1 to 6)
Number of international students
Boys 53% Girls 47%
Review team on site
Date of this report
31 October 2016
Most recent ERO report(s)