ERO External Evaluation Kowhai School, Hastings
Kowhai School provides individualised learning programmes for students aged five to 21 years who have intellectual and/or physical disabilities.
The base, Kowhai School, is located in Hastings. Four satellites operate in four other schools that cater for primary, intermediate and secondary school students, including students transitioning beyond school.
There has been a 30% increase in the roll since the June 2014 ERO report. The current roll of 101 includes 40% who identify as Māori. All students are funded by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). In response to roll growth further staff appointments have been made. The school currently employs 11 therapists to provide therapy support to students, their families and whānau.
Continuity of trustees on the board has provided stability for the school.
Since the previous review, the base school has undergone a significant re-build.
How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?
A cohesive approach supports the progress and achievement of all children. The school has established sound systems, processes, and expectations for effective teaching to support individualised learning school wide.
There is a supportive environment that is conducive to students’ learning and wellbeing. Priority is given to promoting the use of augmentative and alternative communication devices and strategies to support students’ engagement in learning.
Useful curriculum frameworks have been developed and implemented to respond to students’ individual needs, and inform teaching programmes. High levels of collaboration by teachers, therapists and teaching assistants enable the implementation of these frameworks.
Children are achieving well. The school demonstrates successful progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.
ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.
Equity and excellence
How effectively does this school respond to the learning needs of children within the school?
Trustees, leaders and teachers have a cohesive approach to support the progress and achievement of all children.
Through well-developed individual learning plans, developed in collaboration with parents and whānau, and frameworks for the teaching of literacy, mathematics and key competencies, students are progressing and achieving well.
At the end of 2016, the school reported that all students made progress towards achieving at least one of their individual goals. Many students achieved their goals. Pacific students did not make as much progress as their peers. These students have been identified as requiring targeted support in 2017.
There continues to be a schoolwide focus on communication strategies to support students’ engagement in learning. All students have at least one communication goal.
Staff use a range of appropriate assessment tools and observations to determine the learning needs of individual students. There is a considered and collaborative approach to moderation of teacher judgements in relation to the learning frameworks developed.
School conditions supporting equity and excellence
What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?
The school has established sound systems and processes, and expectations for effective teaching to support individualised learning school wide.
There is a supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. Consistent approaches to promoting the use of augmentative and alternative communication devices and strategies support students’ engagement in learning.
Relationships between students and adults are positive, caring and respectful. Parents, whānau and community members are welcomed and involved in school activities and events. Success is celebrated.
There has been ongoing development in response to The New Zealand Curriculum, the expanded level one curriculum, and the needs of the students. Useful frameworks have been developed and implemented to respond to students’ individual needs, inform teaching programmes and monitor progress. These frameworks have enabled teachers to identify the small learning steps necessary to meet the complex needs of students. High levels of collaboration by teachers, therapist and teaching assistants support the implementation of these frameworks.
Assessment practices have been strengthened. Using the new frameworks, teachers are more accurately able to measure student progress and achievement against individual learning goals. Collaboration with therapists has resulted in more timely assessments to support ongoing needs.
There has been significant strengthening of transition processes. There is a well-considered and planned process to support student’s moving into, within and to life beyond school including possible career options. Plans are developed in collaboration with parents, whānau, external agencies and school staff.
Strategic leadership provides a strong framework for the school’s operation and student achievement and wellbeing. The building of teacher capacity and capability through involvement in well-considered professional learning and development has supported the building of collaborative practices, and lifted expectations for student achievement.
Re-structured leadership roles and a comprehensive performance management process, have provided timely support for teachers’ professional growth and development, and consistent implementation of new initiatives.
The board has sound systems and processes to enable the school to be well managed. Trustees have a clear understanding of their role and a commitment to the education and care of students.
Sustainable development for equity and excellence What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?
School leaders recognise the need to further refine and embed recently implemented teaching and learning frameworks and initiatives. Further developing the use of internal evaluation should enable them to better know the impact of these programmes and initiatives on outcomes for students.
Board assurance on legal requirements Before the review, the board 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 and certification
- processes for appointing staff
- stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
- school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.
Going forward How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?
Children are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.
Continuing to develop internal evaluation is a next step.
ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.
Alan Wynyard Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting) 21 June 2017