Opunake High School

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Summary

Opunake High School is a co-educational state secondary school in coastal south Taranaki. The roll of 331 students includes 41% who identify as Māori.

Since the September 2014 ERO report, significant changes of leadership and responsibilities have occurred in senior and middle management. The DREAM values of diligence, respect, exceeding expectations, aroha and mana are highly evident in the school’s thinking, planning, actions and relationships.

Several new developments and ongoing improvements have occurred across the school including in the areas for development identified in the 2014 ERO report. Improved achievement and reduced disparities are evident, especially in the senior school.

School leaders and the board chair are actively involved in and value the expected benefits of collaboration and shared professional learning within the South Taranaki Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL).

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all learners?

Learners are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

In the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) in 2016, more than 80% of students overall achieved success at Level 1 and nearly 90% at Level 2. Students who left with NCEA Level 2 went on to further education, training or employment with many leaving for employment and trades. NCEA data for the past three years shows steadily improving achievement. Trustees, leaders and teachers have continued to increase their focus on strategies to further reduce in-school disparity and promote equity.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school provides increasingly responsive programmes and support to improve learning and engagement for those Māori and other students whose achievement needs acceleration.

Cohesive and embedded vision and values underpin the inclusive learning culture that is promoted across the school. Trustees, leaders and teachers maintain a focus on strategies to reduce in-school disparity and promote equity, particularly for identified groups of boys, girls and Māori at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Previous disparity for Māori has been reduced, especially at senior levels. Since the 2014 ERO report, achievement for Māori in the NCEAs has improved significantly to be similar to their peers in the school for Level 1 and 2 and above their peers for Level 3 and University Entrance in 2016. Retention at school up to age 17 and percentages leaving with NCEA Level 2 are equitable with their peers.

Improved collection and use of student achievement, engagement and wellbeing information supports programmes and initiatives to promote improved outcomes for learners. Information is gathered for year groups, target groups of boys and girls, and literacy and mathematics in Years 9 to 11. Next steps are for trustees and leaders to:

  • use this information to better understand what works and what needs to improve, leading to more effective and deliberate targeting of acceleration for learners at risk of not achieving
  • more explicitly align actions for identified groups of target students, at classroom, faculty and board level, to enable a more coherent approach to promoting equity and excellence.

The Whare Atawhai centre provides a supportive environment and specific programmes for a range of students to learn and access the curriculum. Students’ additional needs are catered for in the learning support centre and in mainstream classes. Interventions focus on students’ literacy and mathematics needs. The school reports on progress of individual students, and the support in place, including from external agencies. Transitions for students with high needs is individualised and well catered for.

Leaders and ERO agree that the next steps are to review:

  • department improvement plans so that they includes goals that focus on students whose achievement needs acceleration
  • students’ individual education plans (IEPs) to meaningfully link to specific goals that can be used to evaluate and report on progress.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Responsive curriculum design, pathways and timetabling for diverse groups of learners to achieve valued outcomes, has continued to develop. Recent reviews of the curriculum led to increased course flexibility and the development of learning academies to further extend opportunities that cater for students’ interests and strengths. The design and provision of these programmes are driven by student choice and use of consultation and feedback to review and refineprogrammes.

Senior leaders drive, model and support ongoing innovation and improvement in teaching programmes. They build strong educational relationships across the school community to increase opportunities for student learning and success.

A collective focus on building positive relationships and a sense of belonging for Māori learners promotes success and supports meaningful participation and leadership. Teachers and leaders are strengthening the curriculum to reflect te ao Māori and local perspectives. Hapū Awhina student grouping supports individuals and models tikanga Māori and the school’s values within a Māori context and culture. The school has committed to long term professional learning and development (PLD) in collaboration with the CoL to continue to build teachers’ cultural knowledge, capability and understanding and further strengthen iwi relationships.

The school has developed some effective processes to strengthen teaching and schoolwide capacity for improvement through:

  • responsive and regular PLD
  • ongoing development of teacher inquiry to improve outcomes for learners
  • an emergent good teacher profile to define expectations for effective teaching practice.

An improved process for appraisal is being implemented in 2017 to provide closer support and building of teacher capability.

Experienced trustees drive innovation and are future focused in their strategic priorities and resourcing to promote equity. They actively promote the school vision and motto of “Growing good people for a rapidly changing world”.

The school continues to build strong community relationships through:

  • regular consultation and communication about priorities and initiatives
  • using local expertise and contexts in learning programmes
  • collection and use of student voice to inform ongoing improvement
  • building more productive relationships and links with the wider education community and agencies to support learning and transitions.

Critical reflection on effectiveness of programmes informs change and improvement initiatives. Senior leaders increasingly make evidence-based decisions to promote ongoing improvement. They are developing their knowledge of internal evaluation processes, concepts and frameworks.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Many school processes and systems work well to support improved achievement and quality of education programmes to meet diverse groups of students’ needs and interests.

Key next steps for trustees, leaders and teachers are to:

  • further refine and robustly implement appraisal to support greater consistency in meeting the school’s expectations for highly effective practice. This includes strengthening evidence collection, evaluative feedback and links between goals and outcomes
  • continue to build understanding and use of internal evaluation to inform ongoing school improvement, with emphasis on increasing use by heads of faculty to develop their focus on improved outcomes for priority learners
  • improve monitoring and responses to those students whose achievement needs acceleration through greater alignment of systems and processes across the school.

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.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Learners are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are for leaders to:

  • closely align processes and monitoring practices across the school to coherently focus on identified groups of priority learners whose achievement needs acceleration
  • further develop internal evaluation capability schoolwide.

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

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

14 November 2017

About the school

Location

South Taranaki

Ministry of Education profile number

181

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

331

Gender composition

Male 57%, Female 43%

Ethnic composition

Māori 41%
Pākehā 53%
Other ethnic groups 6%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

14 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2014
Education Review September 2011
Education Review September 2008

Findings

Student learning and wellbeing are the focus of school values. NCEA results match national data. The curriculum, driven by student needs and interests, uses the local community and environment. Schoolwide commitment to te ao Māori is visible. Strong relationships are emphasised. The next step is to strengthen evaluative inquiry.

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?

Opunake High School serves a rural region in coastal Taranaki. It caters for students from Years 9 to 13. The roll of 315 includes 42% who are Māori.

Significant changes of staff and responsibilities at senior and middle management levels have had an impact on setting school direction. The school motto is “Growing good people for a rapidly changing world”. This is underpinned by the values, encapsulated in the acronym DREAM. These are diligence, respect, exceeding expectations, aroha and mana.

Trustees and school leaders emphasise building strong relationships with students and parents as key to student wellbeing and effective learning.

The school has a good reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Achievement information is used well by leaders, teachers and deans to effectively track and monitor individual student progress.

An appropriate range of nationally referenced and local tools provide a wealth of student achievement information about students in Years 9 to 13. Data is collated and analysed to inform class placement, identify students in need of extension or support, and to help set broad annual achievement targets.

The school’s 2013 NCEA data shows achievement is similar to all students nationally. Māori student achievement has improved over the past three years and is slightly lower than schoolwide results overall. Teachers are working to increase the number of merit and excellence endorsements.

Year 9 and 10 achievement information contributes to students being awarded the Junior School Certificate, developed to promote participation and success.

The use of different sets of literacy data, for different purposes, in Year 9 has led to an inconsistent picture of the achievement of these students. Although staff have a clear literacy teaching focus, they are not able to show accelerated student progress. Providing clarity about the use and analysis of literacy data should lead to teachers having better data on which to monitor and report student achievement.

All students have individual development plans (IDPs) which support improved rates of achievement. These are generated from student, whānau and staff discussions. Students identified with special learning needs and abilities receive support with well coordinated initiatives organised by the student support centre and the inclusive school philosophy.

Students show engagement in their learning and make good use of the choices available to them. Students demonstrate understanding of the DREAM values. The curriculum provides many opportunities for students to develop leadership. Tuakana teina relationships are strong.

Communication with parents and whānau is a strength. Upgraded technology has meant that students and families can more readily share, and quickly respond to, assessment and other information. Teachers are increasingly using feedback to promote engagement and completion of work, especially in the senior school.

Next step

Data collected can be used more effectively. Deeper analysis of the collated data should enable the setting of more specific targets. This should assist with more effective evaluation of the impact of initiatives and teaching programmes on student outcomes.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides a range of responsive programmes and learning pathways that cater well for the needs and interests of the diverse student population.

The curriculum is driven by student needs and interests. The philosophy behind timetabling is innovative and responsive. Students participate and succeed in an extensive range of academic, sporting, cultural, artistic, service and leadership opportunities. The school operates whole-day courses every fortnight from which students choose an appropriate range of programmes, often held off-site. Extensive use is made of the local community and environment to extend learning opportunities. This interest-based learning provides students with opportunities for success in non-traditional areas.

High priority is placed on building strong, respectful relationships. A schoolwide focus on restorative practices and the DREAM values, promotes an environment conducive to productive learning. This has a positive effect on school tone and climate.

Next step

It is timely to undertake a review of the school curriculum to consolidate its design, documentation and delivery. This is necessary to evaluate the impact of programmes, schemes, and initiatives on student outcomes. Development of a shared schoolwide approach and understanding of this school’s curriculum should strengthen what is offered.

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

There is visible, schoolwide commitment to supporting Māori learners. The number of Māori students has increased over the past five years and retention to Year 13 is in line with that of other students in the school. Improving Māori achievement is a strategic goal and is part of the Māori Achievement Plan. Two kuia and two co-opted trustees guide and advise the school on appropriate kawa. Work is in progress for establishing a dedicated wharenui at the school.

Teacher commitment is seen in the whole-staff kapa haka group, Te Kahui Whetu, competing for the past three years in a local festival. Here, students are the experts and staff the learners. Staff have developed a poutama to individually track their next development steps in te reo Māori. Tikanga Māori is established practice.

Ongoing professional development for teachers has suitably focused on teaching practices to better engage Māori students. Students participate in programmes tailored to their needs, interests and aspirations. Students are able to gain credits in Māori performing arts. Some of the whole-day courses every fortnight, and other initiatives, are deliberately targeted to Māori students. Trustees and leaders actively promote these initiatives.

For the past two years, all Year 9 and 10 students have completed full year courses in te reo Māori as part of their curriculum. The impact of this is currently being reviewed.

Engagement with whānau has noticeably increased over the last few years with more attending whānau hui.

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.

Governance is sound. There are well-developed guidelines to inform trustees’ roles and responsibilities. They receive regular reports and data which support board decisions about funding initiatives, for example, increased counsellor hours and resourcing of whole-day courses. Trustees maintain a high level of involvement in school activities.

The principal and senior leaders effectively share and promote a common vision for school development. The school’s professional learning groups use internal and external expertise to develop teaching and learning across the school. Continuing to strengthen the appraisal system should support ongoing development of high quality teaching practice.

Meaningful and productive relationships exist with families and businesses in the wider community. The school actively promotes increased involvement of parents and whānau in the school. Students benefit from this close partnership.

Self review, reflection and inquiry practices are developing across the school. It is timely to integrate these into a shared understanding of high quality evaluative inquiry. To make such a process systematic, there needs to be:

  • specific, measurable outcomes with clear indicators
  • close monitoring of progress against these indicators
  • evaluation of the impact of interventions on student outcomes.

This approach should assist ongoing improvements and raising student achievement.

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. No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

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.

ERO’s review identified an area of non-compliance.

Police vetting of non-teaching staff has not been kept current.

The board must, through the principal, ensure that:

  • procedures for maintaining up-to-date police vetting of non-registered staff are coordinated and reviewed regularly so that all staff are vetted at least every three years. [Education Act 1989 sections 78C and 78CC]

Conclusion

Student learning and wellbeing are the focus of school values. NCEA results match national data. The curriculum, driven by student needs and interests, uses the local community and environment. Schoolwide commitment to te ao Māori is visible. Strong relationships are emphasised. The next step is to strengthen evaluative inquiry.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

11 September 2014

About the School

Location

Opunake, South Taranaki

Ministry of Education profile number

181

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

315

Gender composition

Female 53%, Male 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ Pākehā

Other ethnic groups

42%

55%

3%

Special Features

AE provider on site

Technology provision for local primary schools

Review team on site

July 2014

Date of this report

11 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2011

September 2008

November 2005