Huntly College

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Findings

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Huntly College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Huntly College is a small secondary co-educational school with 214 students, 81 percent of whom identify as Māori. The 2018 ERO external evaluation identified significant concerns in relation to student outcomes, curriculum design, teaching effectiveness, learning opportunities and leadership.

In 2018, several areas of non-compliance were noted. These related to health and safety, performance management, student and staff wellbeing, assessment, teaching, and New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) requirements for Years 9 and 10. The school’s property also required significant remediation.

In 2018, an experienced principal was recruited using the Principal Recruitment Allowance (PRA). Over the past two years, several new leaders and staff have been appointed. New trustees joined the board in mid-2019 and the board members have strong links with the Huntly community. The school is an active member of the Huntly Kāhui Ako: Te Kāhui Ako o Rāhui Pōkeka.

The Ministry of Education (the Ministry) has provided ongoing targeted support to the school, including a Ministry funded literacy coordinator and other additional school resourcing including teacher aides. A Student Achievement Function (SAF) practitioner is working with school leaders to improve attendance. Long-term property matters continue to be discussed with the Ministry.

For the past two years ERO has worked closely with the school. This has included regular onsite monitoring and evaluation visits, observations, meetings and interviews with the board, leaders, staff, students, whānau and outside agencies.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

The school has made significant progress in addressing many of the priorities identified in 2018. Leaders are steadily addressing the key areas requiring further attention to continue to improve outcomes for learners.

High expectations for Huntly College students as successful learners and leaders underpin the school’s kaupapa and approach. Leaders model an unwavering optimism and belief in the potential for their students to lead, learn and succeed.

The school is a more organised and settled learning environment that places learners at the centre of school decision making. Students are demonstrating a sense of pride and belonging at school as their wellbeing and aspirations are better supported and individual needs are met.

Leaders have been highly strategic in the sequencing of school improvement initiatives, beginning with a strong focus on designing an innovative and more relevant curriculum and improving planning. Leaders have promoted a strong focus on writing and provided for a broader curriculum.

Priorities identified for review and development:

In 2018, the key priorities focused on effective professional school leadership centred on:

  • improving learner outcomes to raise achievement for Māori and other students whose learning required acceleration
  • building teaching capability for effective teaching and learning, including implementing a professional teacher growth cycle that is improvement and accountability focused
  • designing a relevant and inclusive curriculum with an emphasis on literacy and mathematics
  • promoting a positive school culture and student wellbeing provision, including a pastoral care system to ensure students accessed a range of health and wellbeing supports
  • increasing attendance and providing a safer physical and emotional environment for students and staff.
Key areas of progress and development
Leadership

Capable and collaborative senior leaders role model effective leadership practices. They actively promote the school’s vision and values. They have made strategic decisions about what benefits their students the most.

Senior leaders have deliberately fostered and supported the development of leadership capability in others and support staff to engage in professional learning. Leaders have implemented a carefully structured, planned approach to manage the pace of change.

School leadership have worked consistently to expand school networks and connections with the community and the wider educational environment. This is evident in the external learning partnerships developing with other schools, agencies and organisations including teaching training.

Improving Learner Outcomes

Student outcomes for 2020 in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) show a significant improvement at Level 1 and a continued rise at NCEA Level 2.

Students are now achieving at the national level at NCEA Level 1, and above the national level at NCEA Level 2. NCEA results also show that over time students are gaining more NCEA Level 1 and 2 qualifications. These are substantial improvements.

Student outcomes at NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy have also improved considerably. They are almost at national levels with a substantial shift from 2019. Boys at NCEA Levels 1 and 2 have made the most progress with girls achieving better than boys at Level 3.

As a small school, some of the patterns and trends may be affected by small numbers of students. The significant shifts in school performance highlight the impacts of key changes and the direction being set by school leadership and the board from Year 9 through to the senior school.

Building on the positive results at Level 2, the board and leaders are better placed to prioritise NCEA Level 3 achievement. NCEA Level 3 is similar to other like schools, however University Entrance (UE) is well below the national, and below similar schools.

UE is now a strategic school target with more students aiming for university and other tertiary learning. Improving UE and school levels of NCEA course endorsement would assist students to meet entry requirements to a wide range of pathways beyond school.

The school now provides a range of programmes to assist students to access meaningful pathways beyond school. This is a key area of school improvement. Special programmes are being designed and developed, working closely with community connections and agencies. Evaluating the overall success of these programmes and initiatives over time is a key next step.

Student attendance remains a significant area for ongoing focus through board strategic targets and the school’s broadened approaches. Some specific groups of students whose attendance is of concern, have had success in specific programmes linked to employment pathways. Whānau feedback to leaders and teachers is appropriately informing the next steps for these programmes.

Key areas leaders strengthened in 2019, were their NCEA assessment systems and processes. They responded well to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) external evaluation. The school has also put into place programmes and strategies to support Years 9 and 10 students to achieve success.

Leaders and teachers have begun to more systematically gather, analyse and respond to information about students’ learning and wellbeing needs. Student progress is now more closely monitored with leaders and teachers responding to support individual students. Teacher aides receive useful professional training and work closely with students and staff to support engagement and learning.

A new learning support team has been established to work with students whose learning is most at risk. Systems for evaluating student progress, for those students receiving additional support, are developing as student learning information is gathered and analysed. More appropriate junior assessment is in place as leaders explore a wider range of appropriate assessment tools.

School information highlights that many students in Years 9 and 10 require additional supports to make more progress to be ready for NCEA. To improve student outcomes, leaders and teachers have implemented a comprehensive schoolwide focus on writing, mathematics and reading. Supporting the literacy focus and initiatives, the Ministry has helped the school resource the library with leaders effectively and strategically using this to promote reading and literacy.

Recently collated school student achievement information shows that many students are now more confident and developing writers. The writing programme is helping to build students’ writing skills as a key foundation for future curriculum success.

The reading focus is increasing students’ engagement in reading, and data is beginning to be collated to establish a baseline of student progress and achievement. Monitoring and tracking of mathematics in Years 9 and 10 shows more students are making progress, and some are beginning to accelerate in their learning.

Teaching and learning including curriculum design

The school has created an innovative curriculum, designed to engage students by:

  • primarily focusing on writing, reading and numeracy skills, and te reo and tikanga, through carefully structured Puna Ako classes
  • offering a range of learner-centred courses, where junior students often learn alongside seniors in I AM modules, many of which are suggested by students themselves and where they can follow their interests and find new pathways
  • involving local expertise and building meaningful community connections.

The school curriculum includes a strong focus on building interesting and meaningful courses that draw on a range of learning areas grouped together. The courses are delivered in longer blocks of time to help promote in-depth learning with other opportunities for students to work on their learning with the guidance of teachers. Leaders are implementing a tracking system to ensure each student experiences the required coverage of all the key areas of The New Zealand Curriculum.

The senior curriculum in particular is promoting students’ key competencies and helping learners make decisions and choices about their learning. Senior students work alongside junior students and are increasingly taking responsibility and care for junior students.

Teachers have been well supported to improve their teaching practice through regular, well planned and targeted professional learning. This is a core focus for leaders and teachers who now work closely together. Teachers are expanding their teaching skills and curriculum expertise.

Increased expectations of teaching effectiveness are underpinned by a strong, positive
relationship-focused kaupapa with learners and teachers. The professional learning approach has helped promote a positive culture of ongoing professional improvement, and support teacher growth.

School culture and student wellbeing

The school has maintained a deliberate and unrelenting focus on establishing a positive learning environment that supports student engagement and wellbeing. This has been achieved by clear messages that emphasise the value and potential of every student through high expectations.

Students are encouraged to set learning and future goals. They are becoming more involved in
co-curricular activities, contributing to school events and engaging in leadership roles. Increasingly, learners are showing pride in themselves and their school.

Strategies to increase students’ sense of belonging and participation continue to be implemented and are beginning to show results. There have been improvements in engagement and a reduction in serious misbehaviour and bullying.

The school continues to provide a wide range of wellbeing and care supports to students and their families. Staff know their students well and as individuals, and this is a strength of their approach and commitment. Recent improvements in the pastoral care network system and additional Ministry resourcing includes the appointment of a full-time guidance counsellor and an attendance officer.

3 Sustainable performance and self-review

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

The school is better placed to sustain and make further improvements. The school is taking steps to continue to improve student engagement in education and improve valued learner outcomes. A more positive and settled school culture is supporting student learning.

Significant school progress is evident with further work required to consolidate and develop rigorous evaluation practices with a focus on outcomes to inform decision making. To continue to improve school performance, ongoing capacity building and continuity for stability and sustainability are key.

The Board has worked closely with the Principal and the senior leadership team to support improved outcomes for students. They have strong representation and leadership from the local community showing their commitment to the school.

There are some areas of compliance and improvement that require systematic assurance processes. External training from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) would assist the board to continue to build their collective capacity to meet all key accountabilities. This could also support the board manage trustee change and build ongoing sustainability.

The board should continue to strengthen their scrutiny in relation to the charter goals and targets, student progress monitoring and valued student outcomes. Recording the outcomes of these discussions should help inform ongoing review and evaluation to enhance school performance.

The board discussions with the Ministry about the quality, suitability and condition of school property are ongoing. This remains an urgent priority to better serve the learners and community of Huntly College.

Summary of the key next steps

As identified through this report, the board, school leaders and staff are continuing work to:

  • develop and implement a more strategic approach to addressing attendance and retention, including the use of target setting, close monitoring and evaluation
  • more formally evaluate the effectiveness of curriculum initiatives, in relation to the expected improvements and impacts on student outcomes
  • increase students’ access to university pathways and qualifications, including supporting teaching for excellence and merit endorsements
  • build teacher capability to understand and use data to inform programme and lesson planning effectiveness to meet individual students’ learning requirements
  • define and further develop effective teaching practices enhancing current professional learning initiatives.

4 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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

Areas of non-compliance

  • Report to the school’s Māori community on the progress and achievement of Māori against plans and targets
    [National Administrative Guideline 2d]
  • Ensure that the board receives regular reporting on its compliance with health and safety.
    [Health and Safety at Work [HSW] 2015.]

5 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the school continues to receive the additional staffing resources for the literacy coordinator and for guidance and counselling services.

ERO recommends that the Ministry continues to progress the school property plan.

ERO recommends that the NZSTA provides ongoing training to strengthen board skills, accountability and assurance processes and to provide for long-term sustainability.

Conclusion

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Huntly College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

24 March 2021

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Findings

Student wellbeing and the overall levels of low achievement are matters requiring urgent attention. In order to achieve equity and excellence for all students the board of trustees and school leaders must address the priority areas for improvement in this report. Community engagement is crucial for bringing about these improvements. The board and staff should continue to work collaboratively with community groups and iwi to build an environment for learning and teaching that is relevant, engaging, and enables student to experience success.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Huntly College provides education for students in Years 9 to 13. The school is located in the North Waikato town of Huntly and has a roll of 282 students. A significant majority of students are of Māori descent.

In 2012 ERO identified significant concerns in the school. The school was then placed on the longitudinal review process. ERO has monitored the school’s progress since that time. In 2014 significant concerns remained, particularly in relation to curriculum design, assessment, and the use of achievement information. Leadership and governance were also identified as areas needing to be improved. A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) was appointed by Ministry of Education (MoE) in September 2015 to assist the board of trustees in matters of employment, communication, health and safety, and curriculum and assessment.

Patterns of low achievement remain for a significant majority of students at all year levels.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development
  • leadership, including appraisal and management systems
  • governance, including self review.

Significant personnel changes occurred in 2017:

  • two deputy principals were appointed end of Term 1
  • the principal resigned end of Term 3
  • a new LSM was appointed end of Term 3.

Following the on-site stage of the 2017 ERO review, a new principal was appointed. This appointment includes the Principal Recruitment Allowance (PRA).

Progress (since 2014)

The school’s response to areas for review and development has been inconsistent and slow. School leaders have not worked effectively with staff and the board to bring about the necessary changes to improve the quality of appraisal, the use of assessment information, and self review.

However, work began in curriculum design and development in Term 2 2017. Currently the two deputy principals, with support from an external facilitator, are working collaboratively with teachers. They are leading a deliberate and inclusive process, with the view to developing an integrated curriculum that is personalised and responsive. Some initial consultation with parents, whānau and students has occurred, and these voices are influencing planning for Term 1 2018.

Some staff have benefitted from professional development in restorative practices as a reciprocal behaviour management strategy.

Key next steps

Leadership for learning requires urgent development. Priority must now be placed on:

Managing and using achievement information

Leaders need to collate and analyse school-wide achievement information, particularly at Years 9 and 10. This should enable leaders and teachers to monitor and track rates of progress for groups of learners, such as Māori, boys, girls, and year level cohorts. Consistent data analysis and reporting is necessary to inform decision making at all levels (governance, leadership, departmental and classroom). Improved use of achievement information will lead to improved internal evaluation systems.

Curriculum design and development

Leaders must adopt a strategic approach to curriculum development. There needs to be a focus on:

  • expectations about teacher planning and assessment
  • agreed best practice for learning and teaching, particularly in reading, writing, and mathematics
  • strategies to engage all students as active participants in their learning
  • differentiated teaching in response to the identified learning needs, abilities, and interests of individual students.
Professional learning and development

A planned approach is required to build the capability of teachers to teach effectively in this school context. Professional learning and development for teachers needs to be:

  • relevant and ongoing
  • informed by achievement trends and patterns (low levels of literacy at Years 9 and 10)
  • aligned with the school’s annual plan, particularly achievement targets for at-risk learners.

There needs to be a particular focus on:

  • the use of assessment information to plan specifically to meet the identified learning needs of students, particularly in reading, writing, and mathematics
  • culturally responsive teaching practices.
Performance management

In its review of performance management systems and practices, school leaders must place priority on clearly documenting:

  • roles and expectations for appraisers and appraisees
  • the process and timelines.

This process must align with the school’s professional learning and development, annual plan and teacher inquiries in relation to the Education Council requirements.

Pastoral care and student wellbeing

Pastoral care systems and practices need to be better resourced and consistently implemented. Currently, access to counselling services is limited. Priority now needs to be placed on ensuring better access for students to specialist services to support their health and wellbeing, in a timely manner.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Immediate challenges are:

  • the recruitment of suitable staffing in the school’s context is an ongoing challenge for the board of trustees
  • building and fostering connections between the school and its wider community, including local iwi.

Priority must now be placed on:

  • developing and maintaining a safe physical and emotional environment for students and staff
  • the provision of a relevant and inclusive curriculum for Years 9 to 13 students that enables them to experience success
  • raising achievement, particularly for Māori and others whose learning needs acceleration
  • the provision of effective professional leadership of learning and teaching to build teacher capability
  • the consistent implementation of a performance management system that is both improvement and accountability focused leading to consistently high levels of teacher performance.

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.

Areas of non-compliance

The board of trustees must:

  1. ensure that performance management systems meets legislative requirements and are consistently implemented
    [Section 77c, State Sector Act 1988]
  2. implement the appraisal process for teachers and leaders to include sufficient evidence in relation to the standards for the teaching profession in order to meet New Zealand Education Council requirements
    [Part 31 Education Act 1989 ]
  3. improve the range of assessment practices at Years 9 and 10 to be sufficiently comprehensive to enable the progress and achievement of students to be evaluated, and develop and implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies to address the needs of all students
    [NAG 1 (3 & 4)]
  4. ensure that current practice for students in Years 9 and 10 to achieve success meets the requirements and base teaching and learning programmes on the New Zealand Curriculum.
    [NAG 1 (1)]

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • review practices in relation to health, safety and welfare of students and staff to better manage and protect their wellbeing.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider continuing the intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the following improvements in employment, communications, health and safety, curriculum management and student achievement.

Conclusion

Student wellbeing and the overall levels of low achievement are matters requiring urgent attention. In order to achieve equity and excellence for all students the board of trustees and school leaders must address the priority areas for improvement in this report. Community engagement is crucial for bringing about these improvements. The board and staff should continue to work collaboratively with community groups and iwi to build an environment for learning and teaching that is relevant, engaging, and enables student to experience success.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

22 May 2018

About the School

Location

Huntly, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number

119

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

282

Number of international students

3

Gender composition

Girls 52%

Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Cook Island Māori
Fijian
Pacific
Indian
Other

71%
20%
2%
2%
2%
1%
2%

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

22 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

December 2014
August 2012
June 2009