ERO report

1. Context

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

Waipa Christian School is an integrated special character full primary school catering for Years 1 to 8 students. The school is located in Te Awamutu and operates under the proprietorship of Waipa Christian School Ltd. The current roll is 49, including one international student. The school vision is ‘to empower each student to grow in their relationships with God and others’. There is a warm, inviting family atmosphere focused on providing a Christian based curriculum.

The school is part of the Learning Cluster Network: Kawhia Moana King Country. This provides opportunities for professional discussion and sharing. Teachers have been involved in professional development related to writing and mathematics, and the board of trustees has accessed professional development in their governance roles.

Since the last ERO visit in 2012 there has been a change of principal. New teachers have been appointed and a new board of trustees chair elected in 2013. The charter was re-developed in consultation with the staff, board of trustees and school community to give a better and clearer focus on raising student progress and achievement. Progress has been made in relation to the areas for development identified in the 2012 ERO report. The principal is leading the continual improvement in these areas related to student achievement analysis, teaching tools, and feedback to students.

A new administration block has been built and an early childhood centre opened on the school grounds this year. Construction is about to begin on two teaching and learning spaces to replace current classrooms.

2. Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The school uses achievement information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The school reports that in 2014 the vast majority of students were achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

The board is well informed about student progress and achievement. This information helps them to make appropriate resourcing decisions and set school-wide achievement targets. A teacher aide, support programme and external agencies, including an English as a second language tutor, provide strategies, programmes and initiatives for students with identified learning needs.

The principal designed an assessment schedule which is leading to a more consistent approach by teachers. He analyses school-wide data to monitor and report student progress and achievement. Teachers use ability grouping within multi-level classes, cross-group between classrooms, and use an inquiry approach to investigate topics and students’ interests. It would be beneficial for teachers to identify more specific group and individual goals for teaching and learning from ongoing assessment information.

Teachers have established positive and reciprocal interactions with students who are confident to contribute to whole class discussions and group activities. Students are making more use of digital technology to support learning, and modelling books are constantly evolving. Portfolios have been introduced to track student progress and celebrate achievements. Parents are kept well informed of their children’s progress and achievement through informal discussions with teachers, three-way conferences, and two written reports each year.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. In 2014 the principal and staff reviewed and refined the curriculum, in consultation with trustees, proprietors and parents. This resulted in an increased alignment with The New Zealand Curriculum and provides more focus on literacy and numeracy. The strong integration of the Christian character is a feature of the school’s curriculum.

Hard working teachers know students and their families well. They plan collaboratively and are involved in professional conversations focused on improving student outcomes. Teachers use in-depth discussions and open ended questioning to extend and challenge students’ thinking. Students benefit from a variety of authentic learning experiences.

Students participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities including sports, the arts and outdoor education. Parents are actively involved in school events and support school initiatives. They attend parent education evenings and the Parent/Teacher Association organises working bees and fundraising activities. There is a positive school/parent partnership and clear two-way communication including regular parent surveys.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

There is a very small number of Māori students attending Waipa Christian School. Progress has been made in integrating a Māori dimension since the last review. The school welcomes visitors with a powhiri, students learn waiata and karakia, and teachers are beginning to use te reo Māori for commands and greetings in their classrooms. There is now a need for teachers to strengthen the inclusion and visibility of te reo and tikanga Māori throughout the school programme.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance because:

  • the school is effectively governed by dedicated trustees and led by an experienced chairperson. The board is supportive of the principal and staff, and committed to school improvement
  • the enthusiastic principal is providing strong professional leadership for the staff, board of trustees and school community. He is well respected and provides clear school direction focused on positive outcomes for students
  • effective self-review practices are leading to improved school development and student outcomes
  • the school’s Christian values underpin a family-oriented culture that encourages community engagement. Respectful and reciprocal relationships provide a foundation for sustaining and improving student learning
  • an effective appraisal process includes teacher inquiry practices that monitor and review teaching and learning
  • the school places high priority on the importance of a safe and inclusive school learning environment.

ERO and management agree that the next steps for Waipa Christian School are to:

  • empower students to take more responsibility for their own learning
  • review classroom environments and how they can more effectively support and extend student learning.

ERO recommends that management access the relevant expertise to respond to the next steps identified in this report.

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. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school. This student is well catered for within school programmes, including access to regular English language tuition. He is well supported by other students, teachers and the school community and enjoys many opportunities to participate in school activities. Information and relevant guiding documents relating to the international student are well organised and up-to-date.

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
  • curriculum
  • 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
  • attendance.

Conclusion

The principal, teachers and trustees focus on improving school development and outcomes for all learners. Students are well engaged and experience success in a wide range of academic, sporting and cultural activities. Effective partnerships with parents and the school’s community support a positive learning environment and strong special Christian character.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.