2015 Annual Report

In 2015, our school undertook self-assessment using the elements of the School Excellence Framework.

At Lake Heights Public School we pride ourselves on our commitment to providing students with high quality educational opportunities. This year, our school has made significant gains in the rich learning experiences we offer our students, the quality of our teaching practices, as well as the leadership opportunities provided to staff to oversee the implementation of programs. An assessment of our progress against the School Excellence Framework has shown that we are working within the Sustaining and Growing phase in many areas.

We recognise that for education to be successful, the focus must be on the students and ensuring that our school culture builds educational outcomes and fosters engaged and independent learners. In order to promote student wellbeing and ensure prime conditions for learning, we have invested in the KidsMatter program to promote positive mental health. An action team has received professional development to equip them with the skills to drive the implementation of the whole-school framework and deliver training to staff. Further steps towards introducing this framework have been planned for the following school year.

As a part of our school’s holistic approach to wellbeing, we have also recognised the relationship between physical well-being and learning and have strived to improve our students’ health through a six-week nutrition program delivered in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 classrooms. Through this program, our students were equipped with knowledge about healthy eating habits and had the additional benefit of ensuring that students started the day on a full belly, which enabled them to focus on learning. Due to the success of this program, we plan to extend it into all grades during 2016.

This year, we have taken action to improve attendance rates as a part of our first strategic direction.  An attendance coordinator, who monitors daily attendance and provides a timely communication link between parents and the school, has been appointed. The Learning and Support Team has then used the data to monitor attendance and actively address issues relating to students with identified patterns of non-attendance. An improved culture of attendance has been achieved through class awards for attendance and individual recognition of improvement.

Whilst we have worked hard to promote learning through creating a positive learning culture, we have also focused on ensuring that curriculum programs and teaching practices, effectively develop the knowledge, understanding and skills of all students, using evidence-based teaching practices and innovative delivery mechanisms where appropriate. The leadership team has continued to monitor teaching programs to ensure that learning is well-planned and managed throughout the school and have supported teachers to improve and enhance their teaching strategies.

As a school, we have continued to invest in training programs that are grounded in research and are based on providing individualised learning objectives. This has resulted in the provision of ongoing training and support for teachers already implementing L3, TEN and reading recovery, with additional staff to receive training in these programs during 2016, as well as a new program, Focus on Reading. Our school plan included the purchase of new furniture and this has allowed more flexible movements for small groupings within the classroom and supported the L3 pedagogy through collaborative learning.

In order to cater for our students’ individual learning needs, our teachers have prioritised planning for their specific learning paths by consistently differentiating the curriculum. To promote this, we resourced a teacher-librarian to team-teach in each class with the specific focus of assisting in the differentiation of writing. This has provided students with a more personalised pathway to writing and has allowed classroom teachers to better support the needs of individual students.

In 2015, the use of technology in the classrooms has increased. An extensive range of writing tools have been investigated and the classroom teachers have been eager to engage students in the use of Google Applications to create, share and give feedback on student work. We have also planned for more access to individual technology during 2016, by investing in a class set of Chromebooks, which will ensure that technology and 21st century skills can be developed and integrated seamlessly across all curriculum areas.

Over the course of the year, the expertise of staff members has been recognised and capitalised upon, to up-skill other staff members. Our Year 1 teacher, who is also an L3 trainer, has ensured that the L3 program in our school is successfully implemented through the delivery of the most up to date pedagogical practices. Staff with expertise in specific areas have shared their knowledge and skills during staff meetings, staff development days and classroom observations. This has helped when trialling new programs such as Words Their Way, a word study approach to spelling, where the prior experience of a teacher helped with the introduction of the spelling program in the school, following discussions about the need for a more effective whole-school spelling initiative.

The school has begun its journey towards promoting active partnerships through school-wide classroom observations that drive and sustain ongoing improvement in teaching practice and student outcomes. We have prioritised teacher collaboration by releasing teachers to observe other skilled teachers. A team of teachers has received training in the implementation of observations and has been able to share this knowledge with the rest of the staff.  This team has been instrumental in developing a protocol for observations and a timeline for the introduction of whole-school observations. During 2016, all staff will participate in classroom observations using the lesson study approach, which will require them to plan, teach and reflect collaboratively with reference to curriculum documents and the Quality Teaching Framework.

This year, many current practices have been refined to ensure that teachers regularly use student performance data to evaluate the effectiveness of their own teaching practices and teaching programs used within the school. The use of PLAN to track student progress has become mandatory for all grades, with four scheduled cut-off dates each year. Allocated time during staff meetings has provided increased opportunities for teachers to collaboratively analyse data and reflect upon how this relates to their own teaching practices.

This data, along with NAPLAN results and classroom assessment, has been used to reflect upon teaching strategies and identify areas requiring further development for individual teachers, and for the staff as a whole. Members of the school leadership team have supported teachers to reflect upon their practice and form professional goals through the performance and development plan process. This has informed priorities for allocation of resources and professional learning within the school, and has allowed teachers to become actively engaged in planning professional development to improve their performance.

Beginning and early career teachers have been supported with mentoring provided by members of the leadership team, with the goal of supporting staff in their pursuit of the Professional Competence level of accreditation. Members of the leadership team have received professional development to better equip them with the skills required in this role.

At Lake Heights Public School, all members of staff have worked beyond their classrooms this year, to contribute to broader school programs, with various staff working to deliver professional development on new syllabuses and coordinate the purchase and organisation of resources.

Throughout 2015, members of the entire staff have been provided with release time to provide collaborative feedback and reflection during scheduled meetings to monitor and evaluate our progress towards the school plan. As a result of this, the school’s strategic directions have been reviewed and adjusted to ensure planned outcomes have been met. This year, we have provided opportunities for students and the school community to have input in decisions made regarding the effectiveness of current programs, and plan to extend our partnerships with the community during 2016.

At Lake Heights Public School, we continually strive to improve the quality of the teaching and learning occurring within our school. Whilst we have taken many steps towards achieving our set goals, we recognise that there are continuing improvement measures that we can take to achieve better outcomes for our students.

Our self-assessment process will further assist the school to refine the strategic priorities in our School plan leading to further improvements in the delivery of education to our students.