Dargaville High School

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Summary

Dargaville High School has a roll of 461 students in Years 9 to 13. Approximately a third of students are of Māori heritage who whakapapa to local hapu and Ngāti Whatua iwi. There is a large group of Pākehā students and small groups of Pacific and Asian students.

At the start of 2016, the previous principal resigned. The board successfully lead the school through the challenges that this change presented. During 2016 the deputy principal took on the acting principal role, and other leaders and teachers took on extra duties. This helped to ensure that students experienced a good level of continuity and that their education was not affected. A new principal was appointed for the beginning of 2017.

The school is a member of the Community of Learning |Kahui Ako (CoL).Northern Wairoa

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

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners. However, there is some persistent disparity in achievement between Māori and Pākehā, except at National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2, and for boys at all year levels.

The school is developing worthwhile processes that are designed to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners. These processes are underpinned by increasing responsiveness to Māori and other learners who need to make accelerated progress.

The board, leaders and staff show commitment to improving practices to support equity for all learners. The board and senior leaders agree that next steps include:

  • further developing the school’s capability to support learners to make accelerated progress and sustain positive shifts in achievement

  • extending students’ opportunities for pathways to future employment, training or study.

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 is becoming more effective at responding to Māori and other students whose progress needs to be accelerated.

Teachers are at different stages in developing their understanding of how to use achievement data to plan learning programmes, and reflect on their practice. Data are becoming more accessible to leaders and teachers. Leaders acknowledge it is necessary to further build capability in data analysis, and to make better use of analysed data to evaluate teaching and learning programmes.

The school’s analysis and use of achievement information is improving. For example, there is increased awareness on the part of leaders and teachers about how learners make progress towards NCEA qualifications. Greater use of formative assessment in Years 9 to 10 would provide teachers with a clearer picture of how well students are making accelerated progress over time.

In the NCEA, the majority of Māori students achieve Level 2 and 3 qualifications. However, only half achieve Level 1 and this low achievement requires strategic action. There is increased retention of Māori students through to Year 12 or 13, and an increase in Māori students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 qualification or above.

In-school disparity persists between Māori and Pākehā, except at NCEA Level 2, where for the past two years Māori achievement has been higher than Pākehā. There is also an evident and ongoing disparity in achievement for boys, across all year levels.

Over the past three years there has been a positive shift in overall NCEA Level 3 attainment, including that of Māori. There has also been an increasing trend in merit endorsements in NCEA Level 3. Māori are not so well represented in the school’s NCEA endorsements.

School leaders use standardised assessment tools to track students’ achievement from the beginning to the end of Years 9 and 10. They are aware of the benefits of using this information more deliberately to differentiate learning programmes to promote accelerated shifts in achievement. Doing this would also help them to identify groups of students who need targeted learning support.

The school’s moderation of NCEA assessment is developing well. School leaders should continue to extend teachers’ understanding of assessing and moderating student work in Years 9 and 10.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

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

School processes are being developed to enable equitable and excellent outcomes for students.

The new principal is leading school wide improvements for better outcomes for students. He demonstrates a strong learner focus and is setting clear expectations to improve the quality of curriculum pathways and teaching and learning. Senior leaders are being supported by some good leadership capability among the staff, to grow effective teaching practice through the school.

The development of effective teaching practice is now more aligned with the Education Council requirements. Expectations of teachers are more robust, and teachers’ inquiry processes consider the effectiveness of their teaching practice. This increasingly reflective, professional culture will support teachers and leaders as they adapt practice to improve learner outcomes.

Learners are benefitting from the school’s positive and inclusive culture. They have increased awareness of pathway opportunities, and appreciate the many adults who support them in selecting these pathways. The provision of Gateway programmes is a part of the pathways structure. These programmes are responsive to individual students’ interests, learning needs and aspirations.

Students particularly appreciate the broad range of opportunities to visit tertiary and career institutions. Past students and members of the community visit the school to share their work and experiences with students. These opportunities give students real insights into career pathways and encourage them to consider their own potential and the possibilities for their future.

Pastoral care processes are assisting students and their families. Learners with additional educational needs benefit from social and health promoting services and in-school support. Teacher aides assist learners in class. Leaders could develop a framework of the pastoral care provision in the school to show how the systems and approaches are interconnected to ensure maximum benefits for students.

The school’s curriculum is becoming more responsive to individual student aspirations and learning needs. It is also more focused on teaching and learning in authentic contexts. In recent years a junior diploma has been introduced for Years 9 and 10 that is linked to the New Zealand Curriculum levels. This initiative could be extended by focussing more on developing students’ understanding of themselves as learners, and providing activities for them to explore their preferred future directions.

The board is well led, and its operation is supported by sound documentation that is regularly updated to meet legal requirements. Connections between the board and community are now more transparent. As a result, there is greater community involvement in the school’s curriculum to support students’ learning and pathway success.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

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

The board, leaders and staff show commitment to improving practices to support equitable and excellent outcomes for learners.

Relevant development priorities include:

  • developing students’ agency in determining their learning progress and their individual pathway development

  • closer monitoring of students’ progress in Years 9 and 10, and increasingly responsive teaching to accelerate progress and lift achievement

  • documenting a longitudinal picture of the progress and achievement of identified individuals and groups of students from Years 9 to 13

  • developing a school-wide pathway framework for Years 9 to 13

  • increasing the formative evaluation of initiatives, planning and targets.

ERO also recommends the development of a Māori strategic education plan with a focus on increasing parity in achievement for Māori students. Whānau involvement in this planning will be a critical contributing factor in its potential for success.

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

  • 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 theCode 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. At the time of this review there were no international students attending the school.

Going forward

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

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners. However, disparity in achievement for Māori and other learners remains.

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the learners whose progress and achievement need to be accelerated

  • need to build teacher capability to accelerate learners’ progress and achievement.

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate progress for learners

  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and learners’ progress

  • discuss the school’s progress with ERO.

The school has requested that ERO provide them with an internal evaluation workshop.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

14 November 2017

About the school

Location

Dargaville

Ministry of Education profile number

19

School type

Secondary (Year 9 - 15

School roll

461

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Tongan
Fijian 
other European
other Pacific
other

30%
49%
3%
2%
3%
1%
12%

Provision of Māori medium education

Yes

Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)

25

Number of students in Level 4 MLE

25

Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

14 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2014
May 2012
October 2008

Findings

Dargaville High School has made good progress since its 2012 ERO report. The board is managing its governance role well. School leaders are targeting the needs of students who need learning assistance. Māori students are being affirmed through their language, culture and identity, with Māori community involvement in this kaupapa.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Dargaville High School is a co-educational, Year 9 to 13 school that provides secondary education for young people in the Kaipara district of Northland. The roll comprises 43 per cent Māori students. Students of New Zealand European/Pākehā descent make up the balance of the school roll.

The 2012 ERO report identified concerns about aspects of the school’s performance. These included strategic direction, leadership, communication, curriculum planning, the evaluation of student achievement and the extent to which Māori student success was supported and promoted.

In April 2012, Dargaville High School’s board of trustees accepted ERO’s offer of an Arotake Paetawhiti (longitudinal) review to assist school progress in the agreed areas for development.

ERO has visited the school and evaluated progress over a two-year period, meeting with school leaders, trustees, members of the community, staff and students. ERO has also visited classrooms. A concluding visit to the school was made in June 2014.

This report assures the Dargaville High School community that good progress has been made in the designated priority areas. The school now has a range of positive practices in place that have improved educational outcomes, potentially for all students.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The agreed priorities for review and development between the board of trustees and ERO were:

  • the strategic direction of the school to meet students learning needs in the 21st century
  • the quality of internal and external communications, within the school and with the community
  • the review of curriculum direction and planning
  • the extent to which Māori students achieve success as Māori
  • the school-wide use of student achievement data to improve teaching and learning outcomes.
Progress

Dargaville High School has made good progress with each of the priorities listed above.

There is evidence of improvement in the quality of communication practices both within the school and with the local community. Communication systems are more transparent and positive. Members of the community report that they have increased confidence in the school.

The Dargaville High School curriculum is now more effectively aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and is more purposefully focused on student pathways. The school is establishing useful links with tertiary providers, providers of foundation and bridging courses, and local employers. This enables students to gain National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) credits and experience outside of school programmes, adding to their qualifications success. The Dargaville community has provided substantial support for these initiatives.

The NZC vision, values and key competencies are woven through the school’s learning programmes. Teachers are beginning to broadening the focus of traditional school subjects to include contexts for learning that are more authentic and relevant to students' lives.

The school’s collection of achievement information is supported by Auckland University’s Starpath initiative. An academic counselling system is implemented and students share more responsibility for tracking and monitoring their own progress towards achievement. Teachers are asked to adopt a tutoring role that sits alongside their subject teacher role, and this is expected to strengthen successful outcomes for students.

School leaders are reporting to the board more frequently on the achievement of students as a whole, and on identified groups of students. Some evaluation that leads to action plans is improving the educational provisions of particular groups of NCEA students.

School leaders and teaching staff have taken steps to raise Māori achievement. This approach includes targeted strategies to work with Māori students at Level 1 and 2 NCEA who are at risk of not achieving. Māori student achievement has improved markedly since the 2012 ERO report. The most recent NCEA results for Māori students show a 75% pass rate at Level 1, and 64% pass rate at Level 2.

The board, principal and school leaders have consulted with Māori whānau in meaningful ways. Hui have been held within the different Māori communities. Feedback from whānau continues to indicate that they would like to see ongoing development of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school. Whānau Māori also have aspirations for the school to find more opportunities for students to connect to Māori pathway initiatives in the wider Kaipara region.

Middle leaders, teachers and support staff work hard to provide and facilitate learning programmes that reflect the essence of the school curriculum and that focus on potential learning pathways relevant to individual learners. They show commitment and high levels of interest in the students whom they teach and support.

Key next steps

ERO considers the following developments would consolidate and sustain the improvements made by the school:

  • identify Year 9 and 10 groups of students at risk of not achieving in literacy and numeracy and introduce school interventions to accelerate their progress at an earlier stage
  • continue to develop teachers’ inquiry into data in order to improve their professional practice as well as improving student achievement
  • lift the agreed expectations and accountabilities of teachers in regard to their academic counselling role
  • continue to develop the curriculum to open up further pathways and opportunities for Māori learners.

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 well placed to improve its current performance and is likely to sustain this improvement through self review. Consultation is assisting the board of trustees to purposefully consider the school’s long-term direction and develop a more cohesive strategic plan.

ERO has confidence in the capability of the board of trustees. The board is working diligently to improve its effectiveness. Most trustees have attended training to enhance their governance skills. ERO supports the board's view that the school’s charter is a working document that is regularly revisited and reviewed for progress.

The board has made new appointments at senior leadership level and this team is working collaboratively and productively. Each senior leader brings a different skill set to strengthen and build leadership capability to the team. Priorities for targeted action to support student achievement and wellbeing are now an intrinsic part of the leadership team’s strategic thinking.

The school has a more settled culture and tone. Positive profiles of the school are publicised on the school website and in high quality newsletters, informing the school community of events, successes and celebrations.

School leaders and ERO agree that sustainability of the school’s effectiveness will be strengthened through:

  • continuing to develop evaluative capacity at all levels of the school
  • continuing to develop the quality and effectiveness of self review
  • continuing to develop and extend good communication practices with parents, whānau and the community
  • increasing the rigour of the staff appraisal system through strong links with the Registered Teachers Criteria and with Tātaiako, the Ministry of Education's (MoE) guidelines for the development of teachers’ cultural competencies
  • the ongoing monitoring of student attendance.

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

Dargaville High School has made good progress since its 2012 ERO report. The board is managing its governance role well. School leaders are targeting the needs of students who need learning assistance. Māori students are being affirmed through their language, culture and identity, with Māori community involvement in this kaupapa.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

10 September 2014

About the School

Location

Dargaville, Kaipara District

Ministry of Education profile number

19

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

464

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Tongan

South East Asian

other European

other Asian

other Pacific

other

43%

47%

2%

2%

3%

1%

1%

1%

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

10 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2012

October 2008

February 2006