Thames High School

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School Context

Thames High School is a co-educational secondary school catering for students from Years 9 to 13. It is located in Thames, in the Coromandel district. It has a roll of 464, including 157 Māori students. At the time of this report, 13 international students attended the school.

Since the previous ERO report, the school has developed a graduate profile which is referred to as the 7 Cs – communicative, courageous, creative, curious, connected, critical, collaborative.

Thames High School’s strategic goals for 2018 to 2020 are:

  • to raise student achievement to rates that are consistently above national comparisons

  • to ensure that the achievement rates for Māori students are consistently above national comparisons

  • that the school builds strong and productive relationships with families and whānau, so that students learn and achieve to their potential

  • that Thames High School is recognised as the school of choice in the community.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • school leaver qualifications and destinations

  • progress in relation to school targets for attendance

  • progress and achievement in the accelerating literacy learning (ALL) programme

  • progress in relation to school targets for writing in years 9 and 10.

Since the previous ERO review in 2015, there has been a new appointment to the role of Tumuaki Tuarua (Deputy Principal) and a new board chair. The board of trustees has made significant improvements to the school environment and this includes the moving of the wharenui to be at the front of the school in a joint initiative with Ngāti Maru.

The school is a member of the Thames Kauaeranga Community of Learning (CoL)|Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is not achieving equity and excellence for all its students. Significant disparity in the achievement between boys and girls, and Māori and Pākehā students is an ongoing challenge.

Overall roll-based achievement information for 2017 shows that most students have achieved well in the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1 and 2 and half of the students in Level 3. Approximately a third achieved University Entrance (UE). Half of the students that attained Level 1 and a third of the students that attained Level 2 and 3 were endorsed with merit or excellence. In 2017, the school gained one scholarship award in English.

Roll-based data over time shows ongoing significant disparity between Māori students and their Pākehā peers at NCEA Levels 1 and 3. Māori students achieved at similar levels for UE in 2017. This 2017 achievement information for NCEA Level 2 also showed Māori outperforming Pākehā students. However, achievement data for students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above in 2017 indicates a disproportionate amount of Māori students are leaving school without a formal qualification.

Roll-based data over time shows a fluctuating picture of disparity between the achievement of boys and girls. Achievement data for 2017 showed significant disparity with girls outperforming boys at all levels of NCEA and in University Entrance.

For Years 9 and 10 the school uses nationally referenced tools to assess achievement in literacy, mathematics and science. Lifting the achievement in writing at Years 9 and 10 is a COL goal and information on this is regularly reported to the board. Data that tracks the 2017 Year 9 cohort’s progress and achievement into 2018, shows that Pākehā girls make the most significant improvement in writing.

A strategic approach to attendance has shown a significant improvement in 2018 and the school is on track to achieving the 90% achievement goal.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is able to show some acceleration for Māori and other students who need this.

Cohort tracking over a four year period shows that for Māori and other students who began school at Year 9 below expected curriculum levels, and stayed to Year 12 and 13, most made accelerated progress to achieve NCEA Level 2 or above.

The school has literacy and numeracy support programmes for students achieving below curriculum levels in Years 9 and 10. Systems have been developed in some curriculum areas to show accelerated progress for students who require this. Leaders are still developing systems to monitor the extent, pace and sufficiency of progress, and determine how many make accelerated progress in other curriculum areas. Some teachers can show acceleration for individual students but this is not inclusive of all students who require it. The school is not yet consistently collating, analysing and reporting acceleration information for Māori and other students who are underachieving.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school provides effective technical and vocational education training programmes for students in partnership with tertiary and trade providers. Senior students have access to a large range of vocational courses. The comprehensive careers programme in Years 11 to 13 provides a personalised pathway for students based on their needs, interests and strengths. The school can show that most of the students in these programmes are successful in gaining qualifications. Students can access coherent, meaningful pathways to further education, training and employment.

Leaders and teachers work collaboratively with the wider school community to provide an environment conducive to learning. Initiatives to develop the presence of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school include a memorandum of understanding with Ngāti Maru, the introduction of compulsory te reo Māori in Years 9 and 10, and a revitalisation of the school’s kapa haka which is building a sense of pride, belonging and whanaungatanga. A cohesive approach to establishing community links prioritises student wellbeing, and a range of programmes and services are provided to support the physical and emotional health of students.

Useful links with contributing schools support students’ transitions into Thames High School. Students with additional needs are well integrated into classroom programmes. These students are effectively supported to access the curriculum alongside their peers by the SENCO (Special Education and Needs Coordinator), teachers and teacher aides.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Effective management and use of achievement information for targeted planning is now a priority for the school. This includes:

  • alignment of achievement targets at every level of the school

  • developing a coherent approach to tracking and monitoring of target students

  • regular reporting of progress towards achievement targets throughout year

  • developing a shared understanding of acceleration focused on at-risk learners.

Internal evaluation needs strengthening. This includes:

  • robust evaluation of initiatives and interventions to understand the effectiveness and impact on outcomes for target students

  • a review of course design and the pathways for at-risk students to improve retention, engagement and achievement

  • a review of roles and responsibilities to ensure that systems and processes are cohesive, and there are shared expectations and accountability across all levels of the school

  • continued review and development of teacher capability and collective capacity through targeted professional development.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board and principal of the school completed the ERO board assurance statement and self-audit checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • finance

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the code.

At the time of this review there were 13 international students attending the school.

The diverse cultures in the school are acknowledged and celebrated.ERO confirmed that the school‘s self-review processes for international students are thorough and well considered. Thames High School provides international students with high-quality pastoral care. Students integrate well into the school’s education programme and are involved in all aspects of school and community life.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • productive partnerships with tertiary and trade providers that enable successful transition into vocational training and employment

  • programmes and initiatives that are responsive to students’ cultures, wellbeing and pastoral needs.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • the management and effective use of achievement data

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning
    [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school.]

  • internal evaluation processes and practices
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in the capability of leaders and teachers in:

  • the management and effective use of achievement information

  • internal evaluation.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing external evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa – Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region

23 January 2019

About the school

Location

Thames

Ministry of Education profile number

111

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

464

Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori 34%
Pākehā 59%
Asian 4%
Other 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

23 January 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2015
Education Review August 2012
Education Review September 2010

Findings

Students at Thames High School benefit from a wide range of academic, sporting, cultural and social opportunities. They participate and enjoy success within an affirming, inclusive and friendly school culture. School and board leadership is experienced and staff show strong commitment to helping students achieve their potential.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Thames High School is a co-educational secondary school providing education for students in Years 9 to 13 from the township of Thames and surrounding areas. The student roll has remained stable since the last ERO review. Currently there are 584 students enrolled of whom 32% identify as Māori. There are 18 international students from a range of countries on the roll.

A strength of the school is the stability and experience of school and board leadership. The principal and trustees have a well-established relationship based on mutual trust and respect. Senior managers work collaboratively with curriculum and pastoral leaders and staff, providing a clear sense of direction and purpose for the school. Students benefit from a warm, safe and inclusive school culture that promotes positive educational outcomes. The school’s mission statement is ‘to inspire life-long learners who actively build a diverse, just and sustainable society’.

Developments since the 2012 ERO review include a significant increase in staff and student access to, and effective integration of, digital technology for teaching and learning. Teachers have continued to strengthen processes for reflecting on, evaluating and sharing good practice. Initiatives in curriculum design at the senior level have increased flexibility and opportunities for students to achieve success in a broad range of learning pathways. At the start of 2015, the school adopted a timetable that had fewer but longer teaching periods each day, with the intention of maximising learning time.

The school benefits from the community’s traditional inter-generational identification with Thames High School. This is reflected in close relationships and networks with parents, whānau and the community. School events and activities benefit from wide interest and support.

The board and school leaders responded positively to recommendations in the 2012 ERO report. There has been progress in the use of achievement information at all levels of the school. An increased focus on attendance, retention to the senior school and transition is benefitting all students. Aspects of evidence-based self review have also been strengthened.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The school makes effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Staff from the pastoral care team, liaise closely with the contributing schools to gather comprehensive, relevant personal and achievement information on students entering Year 9. This information is well used to place students in appropriate classes and social groupings, and establish positive relationships with students and families in need of additional support for successful transition to high school. The school is currently working with contributing schools to give greater emphasis and importance to National Standards data at the time of entry.

All teachers have ongoing access to academic and pastoral information to inform their planning and build productive relationships with students and their families. Each curriculum area provides an annual report for the board and senior management which summarises achievement information with a particular focus on the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). These reports inform schoolwide self review and assist the board to set targets and guide decisions on resourcing and strategic priorities.

Students and families have ready access through the parent portal, to a range of important information, including progress, attendance, useful course and assessment details, achievement data and other information relevant to their education. This sharing of information is building productive relationships with parents and whānau so they can be partners in their child’s learning. Monitoring student progress in the senior school has been enhanced through the appointment of an academic dean, and several initiatives such as a 'direction day' with a focus on planning learning pathways, and the vertical whānau system.

At Years 9 and 10 the school gathers achievement information from a range of sources, including standardised tests, which is used to track progress. This information indicates that the proportion of students entering Year 9 at or above expected achievement levels is similar to national comparisons. The information also shows that students continue to make age expected progress through Years 9 and 10. School leaders recognise the need to review how the progress of individuals and groups of students is evaluated and reported to parents and the board.

The board and school leaders have set and closely monitored achievement targets for students at Levels 1 and 2 NCEA. Data for 2014 shows that the proportion of students gaining Level 1 and 2 qualifications has increased over time and is now comparable to national averages and similar schools. The proportion gaining compulsory Level 1 literacy credits is also comparable to national averages, while numeracy remains below. The school now recognises the need to set appropriate and challenging targets to improve overall student achievement for Level 3 NCEA and University Entrance qualifications. Three students attained National Scholarships in 2014.

Students at risk of underachieving are identified, closely monitored, and well supported through individual and group intervention programmes. The special education needs coordinator (SENCO) works effectively with experienced teacher aides, the pastoral care team and outside agencies to provide appropriate support for success in Years 9 and 10. Curriculum design at the senior level provides learning pathways to meet the diverse needs of all students.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning by offering a wide range of academic, sporting, cultural and social opportunities. The Ministry of Education funded Attendance, Retention and Transition initiative has resulted in improved attendance rates, increased retention of students to Years 12 and 13, and the integration of Vocational Pathways into career advice and curriculum documentation.

Students participate and experience success in a range of sports, and celebrated the winning of the 2015 Hillary Challenge for outdoor challenge. Performing and visual arts are valued and celebrated within both the school and parent community. Students are encouraged to take initiatives that have a focus on serving or helping others, as well as undertaking leadership roles.

Teachers successfully establish and maintain respectful and affirming relationships with their students. Classrooms are settled and conducive to learning and teaching. In recent years the use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning has become increasingly effective and consistent across the school. Sustained professional learning has promoted the sharing of best practice in e-learning amongst staff. Many examples of high quality teaching were observed where teachers:

  • shared the purpose of learning
  • used student achievement information effectively to inform their planning to meet differing learning needs
  • empowered students to take responsibility for their learning through structured feedback and advice about ‘next steps’
  • gave additional time and support to students to encourage their progress and success.

Senior and middle school leadership is effective and retains a focus on positive educational outcomes for students. School documentation provides clear guidelines for curriculum delivery and pastoral care. The Positive Behaviour 4 Learning (PB4L) initiative has resulted in improved communications based on shared values and restorative practices.

School and curriculum leaders recognise that next steps involve:

  • identifying, formalising and strengthening learning links across departments
  • professional learning and development for curriculum leaders.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Māori students continue to have opportunities to experience academic, sporting and cultural success. The Whare Wananga provides a focal point for the school’s te reo Māori, cultural studies programmes and kapa haka. Special guests are welcomed with a whole school pōwhiri. Initiatives have included an emerging Māori student leadership programme offered by Te Wananga o Aotearoa, and the mentoring of Year 11 Māori students with a focus on attendance and achievement.

The board and school leaders are currently involved in developing a memorandum of understanding with Ngāti Maru to enhance iwi/school partnership. The building of a new Whare Wananga at the front of the school is a significant project. In 2014, some trustees and staff undertook the ‘Te Pumaomao’ language and culture course. This learning was extended through a student-led initiative to improve the pronunciation of Māori names and words for all staff.

The school recognises the ongoing challenge of ensuring success for Māori as Māori, and raising Māori student achievement to the level of their peers. It is now important to develop a strategic approach that incorporates the principles of Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Māori Success, and enacts the school’s mission statement to building a ‘just and sustainable society’. This plan should include:

  • a clearly defined and shared commitment to realising the positive potential of Māori, as Māori
  • a critical self review of the bicultural dimensions in all aspects of the curriculum, operations and environment
  • the valuing of Māori student voice by providing opportunities to empower them to share, initiate and advocate
  • the strengthening of the relationship with whānau and iwi as integral partners in the education of their tamariki.

This strategic approach to promoting Māori success as Māori is likely to bring coherence, agreed expectations, and shared responsibility for sustainable growth and change.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Positive factors include:

  • highly effective governance by well-informed trustees who set and monitor clear strategic priorities for the school
  • the well-respected principal who models collaborative and inclusive leadership
  • the cohesive, knowledgeable and effective senior leadership team
  • curriculum leaders who are open to leading educational change in their subject areas
  • a strong and experienced pastoral care team that coordinates a ‘wrap around’ support network for students
  • dedicated teachers who have high expectations for students, and facilitate many additional opportunities for students to learn and succeed
  • a school culture that encourages students to participate, experience success and celebrate their achievements
  • self-review processes that are systematic and focused on school improvement.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of the review there were 18 international students attending the school.

Thames High School has a well-developed international student department to support each aspect of international student education. There is an effective and affirming induction process which includes orientation time, the careful allocation of academic courses informed by each student’s ability to access the curriculum, and respecting parent aspirations for each student. The international dean coordinates pastoral care and liaises closely with the homestay organiser. She closely monitors student welfare and academic progress, and ensures parents are well informed. International students are well integrated into all aspects of the school’s academic, sporting, social and cultural life.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Conclusion

Students at Thames High School benefit from a wide range of academic, sporting, cultural and social opportunities. They participate and enjoy success within an affirming, inclusive and friendly school culture. School and board leadership is experienced and staff show strong commitment to helping students achieve their potential.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

2 October 2015

School Statistics

Location

Thames

Ministry of Education profile number

111

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

584

Number of international students

18

Gender composition

Girls 50%

Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Other European

Other Asian

Pacific

South East Asian

Chinese

Indian

Other

56%

32%

3%

3%

2%

1%

1%

1%

1%

Review team on site

July 2015

Date of this report

2 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2012

September 2010

November 2007