Students, staff, and parents interviewed in the course of the review were enthusiastic and unanimously positive about their school. A common theme running through most comments was the caring, supportive nature of the place, Christian values-based curriculum, and respectful relationships.
While all groups had these views in common, each group provided the review with information reflective of their own experience of the school.
Students were able to articulate what helps them to learn such as learning based on themes, good classroom organization, classroom posters and displays, one-on-one work with teacher, additional time - “you get time to think”. For most student learning is fun and teachers are seen as friendly and approachable. A comment such as “the teacher has helped make my brain stronger and smarter” illustrates the feeling students have about their teachers who are clearly helping students with their learning.
Student leadership structure is something students see as a very positive development and they were proud to show off their leadership nametags. Some were in favour of regular class meetings which assisted decision making.
Facilities are clearly important to students who appreciate lots of space, shaded playground, big oval and an extensive carpeted area under the front verandah. They also like their classrooms and the big assembly area in the church next door.
Greater frequency of camps and excursions was also mentioned as an improvement since the start of the new Sunrise Christian School.
In summary, students are describing their school as pleasant environment conducive to their learning, with friendly teachers and sound curriculum.
When asked what they appreciated about the school, the parents focused on the school’s strong value system, small size, caring and safe environment and an emphasis on good behaviour.
Those who have been associated with the school before the change to the Sunrise Christian School establishment appreciated positive changes that have taken place:
committed new teachers
better organized school
better communication with parents
improved student behaviour
reward system for student achievements
a smart new uniform
a more welcoming school
All parents were very positive about the school staff, whom they described as accommodating, friendly and welcoming. A consistent follow up of issues raised by parents, was another strength highlighted by parents. Increasing enrolments from 47 at the beginning of 2009 to the current 84 is seen as a direct outcome of the positive changes and attributed to the Principal’s vision for the school and wider community support for the school.
One of the reasons for the support is what parents have described as the school’s ability to deal with discipline issues firmly but with compassion. This approach has extended to the way the school has been dealing with bullying, which has not appeared as an issue during this review. The recently introduced ‘buddy system’ was mentioned as a contributing factor to healthy student relationships. Parents felt that their children were getting ‘good quality of education’ which included teachers’ focus on individual student needs.
Communication between the school and parents was described as effective – individual teachers are easy to approach; there are parent-teacher interviews, student diaries and a school newsletter which goes home every week.
Organisationally, the school’s membership of the wider Sunrise Christian Schools community is seen as a positive development, which has resulted in improved support for the school.
“Love and respect” is how a parent summed up the school’s culture. “Teachers talk to me in the way I can understand” was another parent’s assessment of how she felt about the school staff.
In conclusion this comment from a parent sums up what current parents think about the school now: “You are doing a great job and there has been a big difference. Keep it up! I just need to look at my kids’ happy faces!”
Staff responses confirmed much of the information provided by students and parents. They felt the school culture has greatly improved since the establishment of the new school. There is now a sense of learning community with sound decision-making and consistently applied boundaries, understood by all. They attributed this largely to the current Principal’s leadership style and skills. The principal demonstrates a caring approach to students and regularly gives encouragement to staff.
Like the previous two groups interviewed, the staff are pleased with improvements in facilities. Staff relationships have been described as harmonious and supportive.
There is a sense among the staff that belonging to the Sunrise group of schools has been a positive move reflected in the improved degree of administrative support, professional development and being part of a wider community.
Small classes are also appreciated by the teachers. They describe their students as eager to learn, generally well behaved and respectful. “Children know that the teachers care, it’s not just a job”, is how one teacher explained what underpins teacher - student relationship at the school. Teachers characterized the curriculum as based on Christian values, well balanced and catering for a range of abilities.
The staff feels that the current parent body is positive and strongly supportive of the school. Improved student behaviour, more excursions and a change of uniform all contributed to the sense of renewal and optimism. “There is now excitement and pride present in the school” (staff).
1. That an integrated whole school literacy and numeracy program be developed based on a systematic collection and analysis of all available data – NAPLAN as well as school-based tests.
2. That staff access and take part in professional development tailored to underpin literacy and numeracy outcomes improvement as suggested in the previous recommendation.
3. That the school develop an integrated and documented professional development program that encapsulates the four components - a whole school focus on a learning area (e.g. literacy and numeracy); sections or an area focus(e.g. junior primary and primary); documented personal areas of focus resulting from individual feedback during a performance review; and documented personal learning to ensure ongoing professional competence.
4. That the school develops role statements for support staff as a basis for regular performance appraisal practices.
5. That performance appraisal for teachers based on agreed expectations, teaching program and classroom observations be developed and implemented to ensure that staff are being provided with targeted feedback appropriate to their individual needs.
6. That professional development program for all staff be developed on the basis of the performance appraisal information as well as the school’s development plan. The program needs to address whole school, group, and individual professional learning needs.
7. That the school develop an ICT strategic plan NP_School_Plan_Sunrise_Whyalla_2012.pdf