Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Education Review Office Visit Part 1


The Education Review Office (ERO) Visit of Term 3 2012 (Part 1)

It would be reasonable to say that the majority of schools take a visit from the Education Review Office very seriously. Moanataiari School certainly does. The ERO are New Zealand’s audit team for education. They are the recognised authority for ensuring the health and quality of our schools.
Leading up to the Review we go over everything that needs to be done. We prepare. We plan. We go over the list of things not done yet. We prepare some more. This response is quite normal. We all want to do the best we can. The review is a snapshot in time of what is happening at the school at that particular time. It will cover the period of time since the last review until the present.

The Review Process
The review process will vary from school to school. About eighty percent of New Zealand schools will be in a three yearly cycle. We are.

The review normally starts with a letter from the ERO office giving a time when the school’s review will take place. The principal and Board of Trustees travel to the local ERO office, (in our case Hamilton), where we are briefed on the latest review procedures. The government will have specific priorities that they will investigate and so the ERO team will be directed to look more closely at these matters. Of course teaching and learning are at the heart of what the ERO team looks at. This year the government’s priorities are to do with Maori achievement and National Standards.

Depending on the size of the school the ERO will spend between three days to perhaps a week in the school. There is always more than one reviewer so that they can form a more accurate view of what is happening. At Moanataiari, we had three reviewers (including a senior reviewer) and they were here for approximately three days.

The ERO schedule was very structured and streamlined.

16 July




Powhiri  (25 mins)  

Meet with BOT

Meet with students  

Student walk (10 mins)

Meet with Principal and SLT

Staff  Meeting

ERO synthesis

Governance, achievements and challenges since last review, self review information, curriculum

Curriculum, priorities, PD, teaching practices, assessment, etc
17 July
9.00 am


Classroom observations.  

Parent meeting

ERO synthesis

SLT discussion re emerging findings

18 July
9.00am onwards

NETs -  Synthesis worksheet

Compliance check with principal
Reading school documentation

ERO’s Synthesis of findings

ERO team draft report and reflect on practices against selected principle(s)  

BOT - share evaluation findings

19 July

ERO work in office to write unconfirmed report

In the course of their visit the Education Review Office are looking for evidence. The evidence that the team are looking for will need to be confirmed (triangulated) from multiple sources if they are to see it as being accurate. Sometimes this information will be in a document at other times it will oral but the information is not taken in isolation and it therefore begins to tell a much more accurate and complete story about what is happening in a school.

Preliminary Findings
Once the ERO team have completed their investigations they put their thinking out to the school for comment and discussion. There is opportunity in this process to correct anything that is factually incorrect.

Our preliminary findings looked like this:
Curriculum Observations - ERO team
We felt that this was fair. We agreed with the last two points in the Next Steps but wanted clarification about relevant contexts. We were unsure of what was meant because we do use relevant local contexts a lot. In discussion it emerged that in one of the lesson observations there had not been local context. This was day two of the term and local context is not always going to happen in a lesson.

We also sought clarification around “some expectations for teachers.” There are a large number of expectations that we hold, especially around work ethic, team playing and being professionally open to new learning. The point being made here is: “There are expectations of teachers at this school.”

Goverance and Leadership
Governance and Leadership Observations - ERO team
The school is being well led and governed presently. We want to ensure that this continues. A significant point that we made to ERO was that we are keen to manage a Board of Trustees transition.
We are encouraging prospective Board parents to think about putting their hands up. We will hold a meeting to let parents know what is involved. This meeting will occur in September.

One of the things that we have done well, and that ERO have specifically noted, is that we have as a school been very successful in creating a positive, supportive, respectful culture. As a leadership team we have worked on this consistently and successfully.

Community and School Culture
Community and School Culture Observations - ERO team
One of the things that we have done at Moanataiari is to focus on relationships. Before students are able to learn or staff and BOT are able to engage effectively in their tasks it is essential that we all are working together. This has become a strategic goal of the school’s and we believe that it is important to have good communication systems and to connect with our families and whanau as often as is realistically possible.

In terms of Next Steps we are looking at more professional learning for our staff in working bi-culturally. Although we have made great strides in this area, there are things that we need to know and do to be more effective. The last two blog posts have been around the other recommendation of ERO’s in consulting with the community about our reporting formats. We would encourage you to contact us about our reports, if not now, then when you come and meet with us for interviews about your child’s learning.

Our Children and ERO
To close this post I will briefly comment on our children. Our children were awesome! They were friendly, respectful and polite. They represented our school well and were a credit to their parents and whanau. Two things stuck out in my mind. One was the haka-powhiri. Our children after much coaching by our beloved Ella did this flawlessly. Thanks Ella and tamariki! The other thing that I am really proud to be associated with was the remark by ERO which said: “Classes are settled, good humoured, with students high level of on-task behaviour.” Thank you, staff and kids!

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