A new study from the Education Review Office (ERO) has found that a shared vision and approach to teaching across a school can lead to greater improvements in student achievement.
The study looked at the teaching approaches used in 40 schools that had shown a significant increase in the number of students at or above National Standards in the Years 5 to 8. It aimed to shine a light on any short-term interventions or long-term strategies that helped bring the lift in student achievement data.
The study found that most effective schools had agreed approaches across the school and a shared understanding of the data and vision between school leadership, staff and the board of trustees.
“These schools had teachers and leaders with a strong sense of collective responsibility for all children and an urgency to accelerate the progress of those who were behind. Learning started on day one of the school year. Well-paced lessons kept children engaged and learning. Achievement issues were identified and addressed quickly, with every teacher contributing to improvement strategies for priority learners. In some of these schools genuine learning partnerships with parents increased children’s learning opportunities at home and at school,” the report states.
The report also said it is “vital all schools have organisational structures, processes and practices that enable and sustain collaborative learning and decision making designed to continuously improve student achievement”.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said the report highlighted the need for teachers to be freed to teach and to have access to professional development.
“We need to invest in schools and teachers, so principals are freed to lead, teachers are freed to teach and students can enjoy the full curriculum and be inspired in their learning,” she said.
“The ERO report cited the achievements at Rosscommon School in Manurewa, where teachers had spent their weekend upskilling in order to make maths learning work better for children. That shows great dedication, but shouldn’t have to be the norm,” said Ms Stuart.
A senior ERO advisor also pointed out on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme that when teachers had the time to teach, were backed by their boards, and the curriculum was exciting and fun, their schools didn’t have problems recruiting, and these schools didn’t suffer from problems associated with the national teacher shortage.