1.Priority review report summary (to be published on school’s website)
1.1 School ContextWangaratta Primary School (Wangaratta PS)was established 166 years ago and is situated centrally in the north east Victorian town of Wangaratta.The school serves a student population of 190 students with a projected enrolment of 217 students by 2019.
Theprincipal was appointed in 2014 and the school’s staffing profile was 11.4 Equivalent Full Time (EFT) teaching staffing and 3.7 EFT Education Support (ES) staff. The school has 30 regular parent supporters working with students in classroom programs.
The school works with external student support agencies and employs a part–time school chaplain. Specialist programs include Languages other than English (LOTE) Italian, Music, Physical Education and Health and Art and Craft.
Grounds and facilities include three school buildings, Early Years (four classrooms), Senior (four classrooms) and Administration. Outdoor facilities include netball and basketball courts, grassed areas, playgrounds and a developing Community Garden and mountain bike track.
1.2Summary of the School’s Performance1.2.1 Summary of the School’s Performance against the previous Strategic Plan
The school achieved mixed levels of performance in implementing its School Strategic Plan (SSP), making some progress in introducing new key improvement strategies (KIS) to the school but not achieving some aspects related to set goals and targets.
The School Self Evaluation (SSE) rated itself as ‘evolving’ in most dimension areas of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) which, based on the findings of this review and on data sets 2013–16,was an accurate reflection of the school’s practice and achievements. The school’s focus in the student achievement goalwas maximising performance levels in Literacy and Numeracy. Based on teacher judgements against the Australian Curriculum and Victorian Essential Learning Standards (AusVELS) the Literacy and Numeracy average was around 0.25 below region and Stateaverage in English: Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening in 2015 at all year levels. The school performed around 0.1 below the State average in Mathematics: Measurement and Geometry and Statistics and Probability in 2015. Few students were assessed at level A or B in Speaking and Listening, Statistics and Probability.
In 2016, 25 per cent of students in Foundation–Year 6 achieved level A or B in Reading, 13 per cent in Writing and 30 per cent in Numeracy and Algebra. Fewer than 10 per cent of students achieved below expected levels. Threshold standards were met in English and Mathematics.
National Assessment Program–Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) aspirational targets over the period of the SSP were not met. Learning growth for Years 3–5 in Reading and Writing was below the State average. The school average was above that of similar schools (like schools) in Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation and close to the like school average in Number. In Reading, 95 per cent of students achievedmedium to high growth but growth in Number was significantly lower at 60 per cent of students.
The school developed a comprehensiverange of Literacy programs across all year levels however consistency of practice was a challenge.
A target to improve levels of staff satisfaction according to the State–wide survey was largely achieved.
The SSP included goals and targets in the area of Student Engagement. The school rated itself as ‘evolving’ against the FISO. Whilst the school continued to use the former Hume Region’s Literacy and Numeracy Instructional Placemats model a more succinct, localised Wangaratta PS model was regarded as being a much needed future strategy to build higher levels of staff accountability and collective responsibility.
Student Attitudes to School Survey (ATS Survey) targets for 2015 and 2016 were not met. Teacher Effectiveness and Stimulating Learning were below the 2014 levels and below region and State averages. The boys’ cohort was at the 10th percentile in 2016 in Years 5 and 6, much lower than State averages.
The parent opinion satisfaction levels trended upwards from 2013–15 but targets were not met in Student Learning and Professional Learning.
The school has made progress in the area of student wellbeing.
The student ATS Survey data in the Student Wellbeing area improved from 2014–16 and was now above region and State averages.
Parent opinion of the school was generally close to or above the State average in most areas but the parent satisfaction target for Classroom Behaviour and Transition was not met.
School Council and parent input to the review indicated that parent communication was improving at all year levels particularly since the inception of an electronic communications and data systems tool.
Parent participation in school programs and extra curricula initiatives was high, with a number of parents actively engaged in school support programs on a regular basis.
The Foundation–Year 6 absence rate was 17.89 days in 2015 which was almost 2.5 days above the State average. Year 6 absences averaged 21.79 days in 2015 with 40 per cent of absences being unexplained absences.
Punctuality was also regarded as a significant problem at the school with teachers and school administrators reporting that a core of students were regularly late for school
The school did not meet its transition target in relation to the Parent Opinion Survey (PO Survey).
Intra–school transitions were positive although screening of newly arrived students and delivery of a point of need teaching program was less apparent. There were no records available to confirm that new students were tested and placed in appropriate programs on enrolment.
The school maintained a healthy cash surplus whilst program budgets were well provided for.
1.2.2 Summary of the review findings against the Terms of ReferenceTerms of Reference (ToR) Question 1: To what extent are there clear, consistent and accountable teaching and learning practices to improve student performance Foundation–Year 6 with regard to an agreed approach to pedagogy at all levels and an early diagnosis of student needs and related point–of–need teaching practice?
The school had documented its curriculum over the period of the SSP based on the AusVELS and was working on aligning the documentation with the Victorian Curriculum. While the school met the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) minimum standards related to curriculum documentation, the review findings indicated that the school had not yet completed its Numeracy, Science or Inquiry curriculum documentation in sufficient detail to guide teachers more explicitly in relation to differentiated practice.
Consistent implementation of the curriculum across Foundation–Year 6 remained an issue. There were yet no non–negotiables in how to teach Literacy and Numeracy consistently adopted at all year levels. Professional Learning Team (PLT) planning however enabled greater consistency about what to teach across year levels.
The school implemented the former Hume Region’s learning and teaching framework and instructional model which was referred to as Literacy and Numeracy placemats. A simplified Wangaratta PS based series of teacher expectations had not been developed or implemented. As a result, consistency of teaching practice and curriculum differentiation was not apparent in all classrooms or in the specialist programs.
There was a lack of a rigorous coaching and mentoring, teacher observation and performance and development systems based on the FISO. Planning documents were comprehensive but not monitored nor feedback provided on a whole school basis. Whilst the school had an extensive Assessment and Reporting schedule, new students entering the school were not comprehensively assessed in order to provide an immediate point of need learning program. In the Foundation year however this matter was well implemented based on an effective transition program and extensive analysis of entry information.
Whilst the school developed a comprehensive Compass database, a full understanding by staff of the role of evidence based practice, point of need teaching and intervention, moderation and data literacy and targeted programming was only in the formative stages of development.
ToR Question 2: To what extent are staff leadership structures, role clarity, feedback and accountability and capacity building processes linked to improved student outcomes and the development of the whole school as an effective learning community?
School leaders have worked extensively with staff in the initial stages of curriculum development and data collection, analysis and programming.
However, Performance and Development processes specifically linked to Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) targets and non–negotiables in the teaching of Literacy and Numeracy consistent with the school instructional model were at the emerging stage based on the FISO.
There was an inconsistency in teaching between learning teams. A leadership team had been formed in order to drive school improvement in Literacy and Numeracy, data gathering and data literacy and pedagogical practice. The leadership meetings were not timetabled and were therefore irregular. Effective and powerful instructional leadership where all members of the team drive school improvement, provide accurate feedback and utilise whole school data to improve student performance has only been partially established.
Although the staff worked well together, the findings of this review suggest that as yet the school could not be characterised as high performing or an effective learning community.
The school provided some professional learning at staff meetings and curriculum days. However a professional development plan based on staff and school needs as related to the SSP was not apparent. The provision of best practice leadership development and professional learning for the leadership team had not been implemented. Leadership team members had limited time and training in order to drive the pedagogical practice and the teaching of Literacy and Numeracy in order to improve student learning outcomes.
ToR Question 3: To what extent is the school promoting student empowerment and connectedness to the school and maximising parent and community engagement with the school in order to enhance student outcomes?
Evidence gathered during this review indicated that students were well connected to their school although this was only partially supported by the attitudinal data over the SSP.
Student focus groups suggested that the students have pride in their school and valued the leadership and teaching staff. This was also supported by the parent focus groups and interviews conducted as part of this review process. There was a strong belief in the school as a supportive learning environment which provided strong social and emotional learning programs which enabled a safe and supportive environment, particularly for students with specific learning needs.
There was strong evidence to suggest that parent participation in school programs and special events was extensive. School governance was effectively managed according to individual participants although building a vibrant learning community was regarded as evolving, based on the FISO model.
School communications were extensive.
Student empowerment was rated as emerging. Three layers of student leadership were operative in school life although authentic leadership, where students were involved in the Teaching and Learning aspects of the school were not yet apparent.
ToR Question 4: To what extent are the school’s processes and programs linked to the Victorian FISO?
There was evidence to suggest that the school had partially embraced the FISO. The SSE and AIP in particular demonstrated a growing understanding of the FISO model and its priorities and dimensions.
Whilst most of the continuum status ratings in the SSE were at the emerging or evolving stages there were three dimensions rated as embedding. A number of questions were raised in regard to school practice which proved to be key areas for discussion in the ToR and review fieldwork processes.
1.2.3 Key findings: areas for improvement
- Non–negotiable expectations related to Teaching and Learning and program delivery have not been established across the school.
- Staff accountability processes have not been effectively linked to the pedagogical non–negotiables and expected approaches in the teaching of Literacy and Numeracy across all year levels.
- A greater understanding of evidence based and point of need teaching, assessment moderation and data literacy and usage has not been embedded across all PLTs.
- Leadership role clarity, mutual accountability and capacity building were limited. As a result, strong instructional leadership was not driving ongoing school improvement.
- Whilst the school created an inclusive, safe learning environment, consistency in behaviour management was not always evident across the entire school.
- The school was well connected to its parent community and some broader community groups. However creating a stronger reputation as a high performing learning community was still at the evolving stage.
- Student empowerment structures had been implemented at the school. However, involving students in the Teaching and Learning programs, particularly in areas such as critical thinking, social responsibility and global understanding had not yet been established.
1.2.4 Next stepsThe school has demonstrated a capacity and willingness to embrace changed practice, processes and programming. Empowering leadership by building capacity and role clarity will enable such change. There was also recognition that stronger staff mutual accountabilities and professional learning would need to occur in order to ensure that this caring and supportive school would make the transition to a best practice, high performing learning community.