Waikato Diocesan School For Girls

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Findings

Waikato Diocesan School for Girls continues to provide high quality education. Students achieve very well in NCEA, university entrance and scholarship qualifications. Highly effective systems are provided to support the girls’ academic and pastoral care. Close relationships with all parents and Māori whānau support a strong partnership in student learning, engagement and success.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

Waikato Diocesan School for Girls is a state integrated school located in Hamilton, catering for day and boarding students in Years 9 to 13. The school was founded in 1928 and maintains its special Anglican character and strong boarding heritage.

The current roll of 679 includes 60 students who are Māori and 29 international students. The school’s vision is to ‘prepare confident, resourceful and resilient young women to make a positive difference in their world’. The school promotes the values of courage, empathy, integrity, tolerance, respect and diligence, underpinned by the Christian faith.

Since the last ERO review in 2011, the principal has continued in her position. There has been a reorganisation of the senior leadership team with the appointment of two new assistant principals and the redistribution of leadership roles and responsibilities. Trustees include both elected parent and proprietor’s representatives. The board chairperson is an experienced trustee who is new to the role since 2011, and there have been minor changes to board membership.

Teachers and leaders have been involved in a wide range of externally and internally facilitated professional learning. The current school-wide focus is a Ministry of Education programme provided by Te Toi Tupu focused on learning with digital technology which is supporting the implementation of the ‘bring you own device’ (BYOD) initiative.

The school has responded very well to the areas for development identified in the previous ERO report and has a very positive ERO reporting history. 

2 Learning

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

The school makes highly effective use of student achievement information to inform decision making that improves outcomes for students.

Information about student achievement, based on results from National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) shows that all students, including Māori, achieve well above national averages at Levels 1, 2 and 3. The information also shows that senior students experience considerable success in university entrance and scholarship examinations. Data is gathered by the school for students in Years 9 and 10, using standardised tests in aspects of literacy and mathematics. This data shows that students enter the school achieving very well in literacy and mathematics and continue to achieve at these levels as they move through the school.

Trustees make very good use of the considerable data they receive to make decisions about school resourcing, strategic priorities and school direction. They also make very good use of achievement information to set targets that focus on improving very high levels of achievement. They have well-developed processes for the evaluation of school effectiveness, which enables them to focus on continual improvement.

School leaders systematically gather and use a range of high quality achievement data which they use to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum, teaching practice and student learning. This data enables them to make evidence-based decisions about resourcing, curriculum development and teacher professional learning needs. Heads of department prepare detailed reports that include substantial well-analysed information about student achievement, which is well used to ensure learning programmes are responsive to students’ learning needs.

Highly effective use of data is also made to identify students whose learning requires additional support or extension. Specific interventions are provided for these students and their progress is closely monitored. This approach to the use of achievement data enables the programme to continually be adjusted to meet individual learning needs. Teachers are systematically gathering quantitative and qualitative evidence to inform inquiries into their professional practice, which are focused on improving outcomes for students.

Since the previous ERO review, teachers have made considerable progress in the way they use data to inform their teaching. The school has recognised, and has processes in place, to further improve the way teachers use achievement information to differentiate programme planning and student learning.

Students are increasingly able to access information through the student/parent portal. This digital access is strengthening the home school partnership and enabling students to track their own learning progress. This contributes to students’ and parents’ understanding about student learning pathways in order to make well-informed decisions at critical transition points. 

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. The curriculum is broad, flexible and responsive to individual student learning pathways and preferences.

Aspects of the school curriculum that contribute to high quality outcomes for students include:

  • a well-designed and well-understood pedagogy based on shared understandings about effective teaching practice at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
  • a clearly defined and well-implemented approach to ‘blended e-learning’, which maximises the benefits of digital technology and effective traditional teaching strategies
  • the provision of opportunities to engage in authentic learning, be actively involved in the community through acts of service and making a positive difference to their world, in keeping with the school’s vision
  • planned opportunities for students to take part and excel in an extensive range of sporting, cultural, and academic pursuits at local, national and international levels
  • a wide range of opportunities for students to experience education outside the classroom, and to develop leadership skills.

Significant progress has been made in the development of an integrated junior programme that reflects coverage of all learning areas and key competences of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The school has prioritised the ongoing development of this curriculum and is currently exploring how this integrated approach can be implemented in the senior part of the school.

ERO observed teachers using a wide range of highly effective strategies, high levels of student engagement and responsive and respectful learner-focused relationships. The use of well-developed formative assessment strategies, including specific, timely feedback to students about their learning, is empowering and builds students’ self efficacy.

Teachers and school leaders have successfully established a shared understanding of key school priorities and implemented changes to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Teachers are committed to ongoing professional learning and development, utilising both internal and external expertise. They demonstrate a highly reflective approach to improving their practice and building their collective capacity to improve outcomes for students.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori through high expectations for Māori achievement and engagement and close partnerships with whānau. Achievement information shows that Māori students are achieving at levels that are comparable to their peers and well above national averages. In order to further promote success and achievement for Māori students, senior leaders and teachers have developed a strategic plan to guide the promotion of Māori language, identity and culture across the school.

Aspects of the school that contribute to success and achievement for Māori as Māori are:

  • a pastoral care team specifically focused on Māori student wellbeing and achievement
  • the ‘Mana Wahine’ initiative, which is focused on valuing Māori culture throughout the school and promoting leadership for Māori students
  • ongoing opportunities for parents and whānau to meet, connect and build relationships with teachers and one another
  • the opportunity for students to learn about their whakapapa, iwi affiliations and history
  • the involvement of leaders and teachers in school-wide professional learning about culturally competent practice, including correct pronunciation and appreciation of te reo and tikanga Māori
  • opportunities for Māori students to take part in kapa haka, experience marae protocol and show leadership in aspects of tikanga Māori.

Teachers and senior leaders meet with whānau to share achievement information and set targets to further improve outcomes for Māori students. There are successful Māori role models in student leadership roles and within the staff leadership team. Māori whānau feel their daughters’ sense of cultural identity is strengthened and validated as a result of initiatives to promote success and engagement of Māori students and whānau.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. A key factor contributing to school sustainability is the high quality leadership provided by the principal and her leadership team in setting school direction for teaching and learning. Senior leaders have established clear alignment of the school’s vision, values and goals and have a coherent and well-managed approach to building leadership capacity across the school. In addition, they have successfully established a culture of high expectations, review, reflection and ongoing improvement.

Other aspects of the school that contribute to the school’s ability to sustain and improve its performance are:

  • the provision of highly effective governance and strategic direction for the school by the board
  • heads of department and other middle managers who provide high quality leadership and support for teachers
  • a pastoral care team that provides comprehensive support for student health and wellbeing
  • robust processes for teacher appraisal, incorporating Tātaiako and encouraging reflective practice to build teachers’ collective capacity to improve outcomes for students
  • a range of highly effective communication strategies to create home school partnerships focused on student engagement, learning and wellbeing
  • the gathering and use of multiple voices, including parent and student perspectives, to contribute to decisions about ongoing school improvement.

School sustainability is underpinned by highly effective internal evaluation at all levels of school operations. 

Provision for international students

Waikato Diocesan School for Girls is a signatory to The Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international learners is thorough and effectively informs ongoing improvement.

At the time of this ERO review there were 29 international fee-paying students enrolled in the school. Provision for these students is well managed by the Dean of International Students and there is a strong focus on ensuring their well-being and sense of belonging in the school.

International students have access to high quality learning opportunities. They are well integrated into the life of the school and participate in a range of co-curricular activities. Their learning, well-being and academic progress are closely monitored.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, Bishop’s Hall, accommodates 149 students, 22 percent of the school’s roll. It is owned by the Waikato Board of Diocesan Schools. The hostel owner has attested that all requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

The policies and procedures for guiding the operation of the hostel are clear, well documented and are subject to ongoing review. This includes regular opportunity for feedback from students and parents.

The hostel provides a warm and caring environment for students and strongly supports their learning and wellbeing.

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

Waikato Diocesan School for Girls continues to provide high quality education. Students achieve very well in NCEA, university entrance and scholarship qualifications. Highly effective systems are provided to support the girls’ academic and pastoral care. Close relationships with all parents and Māori whānau support a strong partnership in student learning, engagement and success.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years. 

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

9 August 2016

About the School 

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

140

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

679

Number of international students

29

Gender composition

Girls       100%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Chinese
Indian
Other Asian
Other European

77%
  9%
  3%
  3%
  4%
  4%

Special Features

Host for Itinerant Teachers of Music Scheme

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

9 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

January 2012
January 2009
January 2005

1 Context

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

Waikato Diocesan School for Girls is a well-established state integrated school in Hamilton catering for day and boarding students in Years 9 to 13. At the time of this review there were 669 students enrolled, 49 of whom identify as Māori.

Students benefit from an attractive, well-resourced and maintained learning environment. A comprehensive building programme including new arts and sports education facilities is nearing completion. The school’s provisions for boarders have been extensively reviewed, and systems have been restructured and improved.

Trustees have responded positively to recommendations in the 2009 ERO report. They are supportive of the principal who is successfully managing well-planned and strategic school-wide change and improvement. A newly appointed senior leadership team is leading effective professional learning and development programmes to further enhance the quality of teaching.

Waikato Diocesan’s special Anglican character, strong family values, nurturing and supportive relationships, and effective restorative practices, are clearly evident in all aspects of school life. Bicultural perspectives are being increasingly embedded throughout the school.

The majority of students participate in, and experience, considerable success in a wide range of sporting, cultural and academic pursuits.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

All students, including Māori, make significant progress during their time at the school. A range of assessment tools is used at entrance, and in Years 9 and 10, to gather achievement information about the learning needs of students. Entrance and subsequent data show that most students, including Māori, achieve at or above national expectations in English and mathematics. Progress and achievement during Years 9 and 10 are monitored within the learning areas. The information gathered is increasingly being used at classroom and department level to inform teaching and learning programmes, report to parents and the board, and guide decision-making and resourcing.

Senior students achieve at levels well above those of similar schools in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), Levels 1, 2 and 3. School leaders have set targets to further raise the endorsed with excellence grades and the number of scholarships.

High levels of attendance and engagement contribute to student achievement. An effective learning support programme helps to address students’ identified learning needs. Students needing further extension are well provided for by an Advanced Learning Programme. To better recognise the importance of academic success, an Academic Achievement Council and position of student Academic Leader have been created.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

There is now a wide range of initiatives to support Māori student success. Under the leadership of the current principal, staff and board have undertaken training in the principles and concepts of Ka Hikitia and have made changes to school practices and protocols. The kaiawhina provides a te reo Māori programme that caters for students from Year 9 to 13. The establishment of a central whānau room and focus group is effectively engaging Māori parents and families. The kapa haka group has grown in size and diversity, and Māori student leaders continue to be role models for other students. Māori students surveyed were positive about the initiatives that supported their success.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s comprehensive curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Good quality school-wide overviews and guidelines provide useful frameworks for each curriculum area. The principles, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum are aligned with the school’s special character and strategic goals. Timetable and option choices have been reviewed so that students are able to access a wide range of subjects and learning pathways. In addition, they are provided with opportunities to experience success in an extensive range of leadership roles and co-curricular activities.

Teachers establish strong, supportive and affirming relationships with students. They are committed to helping students achieve their goals, and provide many additional opportunities for them through coaching, mentoring and tutorials outside of regular class times. Good quality careers advice and guidance supports students with subject choice and pathways beyond school. Team participation in professional development encourages reflective practice and the trialling of new approaches to teaching and learning. These approaches include integrated cross-curricular topics that use authentic local contexts.

The quality of the teaching and learning in most classrooms is contributing to high levels of engagement and achievement. However, school leaders have identified, and ERO agrees that the priorities for ongoing improvement include:

  • increasing the use of student achievement and other information to better inform classroom planning and programmes in order to maximise students’ individual potential
  • reviewing shared understandings about effective teaching and learning at Waikato Diocesan
  • more closely aligning school-wide teaching and learning goals with individual teacher appraisal.

These priorities are likely to continue to further increase the consistency in the quality of teaching and learning across all curriculum areas.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has made good progress since the previous ERO review and is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Factors that influence this include:

  • high quality internal and external self review at all levels of the school
  • a knowledgeable, well-informed board, that is led by an experienced chairperson and is committed to maximising the potential of all students
  • deliberate and effective management of change by the principal who sets high expectations for the well-being and achievement of students
  • the effective senior leadership team who provide clear direction for school improvement
  • hard working and enthusiastic staff who are committed to high levels of student achievement
  • a supportive and committed school community
  • an extensive pastoral care and guidance network that promotes a safe, nurturing physical and emotional environment for staff and students.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there were 21 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

The school’s International Department’s systems and processes effectively support students’ integration into the school and achievement of their academic goals.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school boarding house accommodates 150 students, 22% of the school roll. It is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki.

Girls’ well-being and learning are supported by effective systems and procedures that promote a safe emotional and physical environment. The school regularly reviews the boarding house practices. A 2004 external review of hostel operations and the subsequent new structure is providing positive outcomes for students.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Recommendations to other agencies

Not applicable.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 January 2012

About the School

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

140

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

669

Number of international students

22

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

NZ Māori

Other European

Chinese

Other Asian

81%

7%

6%

3%

3%

Special Features

Host for Itinerant Teachers of Music

Review team on site

October 2011

Date of this report

11 January 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

January 2009

November 2005

December 2001