Teamwork raises school performance from the inside out

Issue: Volume 96, Number 18

Posted: 16 October 2017
Reference #: 1H9fRS

Ōrākei School in central Auckland is experiencing an increase in community support, achievement levels and student numbers. It’s principal says it started with their school connecting with the wider community to share their vision and work with parents, families, whānau and iwi to achieve it.

Originally built in 1938, Ōrākei School had a beautiful classroom building with good bones and a picturesque site. But the facilities were becoming tired, and the roll was falling.

These days the roll is increasing, and new facilities mean it can meet current and future enrolment numbers. Its current roll has increased from 113 in 2012 to 300 now.

Matthew Crumpton has been the principal for five years. He says his team has a shared vision and they’re working together to achieve it. “Best teaching practice is the key to a school’s success. So we started there, with better teaching and learning, and self-reflection, as the priority.

“For the first two years on our journey, we engaged with Team Solutions, who supported us through the change by facilitating their Leadership and Assessment professional development.”

From there, Matthew and his team worked with the Ministry to co-construct schoolwide change in their inclusive practices. This was based on the ‘Universal Design For Learning’ and ‘Success for All’ strategies.

He says external relationships are vitally important for a school and he has led the building of relationships in the community, including with parents and iwi, preschools, local media, retailers and businesses. He says families are now moving into the area to send their children to the full primary.

The Ministry of Education has built a brand new block with six teaching spaces to manage the growing roll. The two-storey building opened in September and the top floor has a view over to the waters of the Hauraki Gulf. It is a bright, sunny building that is state of the art, with teaching spaces that can connect, and a lift.

The existing main block is also being modernised by the Ministry to open up the siloed individual classrooms into spaces that connect, and the play area is new too.

The school is a valued part of the local community, and staff and teachers have significantly strengthened their engagement with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, whose marae is close by.

Ngāti Whātua Trust Board member Wayne Pihema says, “We have a closer relationship with the school. Our tikanga is valued; there is a special relationship recognised in the school charter, and we have ongoing input through the Māori Advisory Committee.”

Achievement of National Standards by the school’s students has increased greatly from 2012 to 2016.  

In 2016, 88.9 per cent  of students were at or above the standard in maths, compared with 72.4 per cent in 2012.

Reading has jumped from 69.1 per cent to 89.4 per cent. And writing has increased from 74.8 per cent to 84.3 per cent.

ERO’s 2016 report on the school said it has continued to develop and strengthen systems and processes to improve learner outcomes and accelerate progress and achievement. “The board has developed a new vision with information gained from recent community consultation. Ongoing strengthening of links with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has particularly supported the school’s Māori children and whānau.”

Matthew says parents from the Ōrākei community are now bringing children to the school. “The best advertisement is doing a good job but it’s important to let people know what’s being achieved. Word of mouth is the best way.

“Parents are especially important. We make it a point to know each child’s family, and explain to the parents what the school is doing, what our vision is, and their role in helping us achieve that vision.”

The existing 1938 main classroom building, with its expansive veranda, has charm and character and that will remain, but it will have a new roof, and walls will be knocked out to allow for team teaching. “The whole school will be better connected,” Matthew says.

There will be the option, however, for smaller spaces to be created for small group teaching. “We will have the best of both worlds, having retained the family feel of a country school right in the heart of Auckland, but with modern facilities,” says Matthew.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 16 October 2017

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