Palmerston North Boys' High School

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Education institution number:
202
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Boys School)
Definition:
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:
1650
Telephone:
Address:

Featherston Street, Palmerston North

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Findings

The school achieves very positive outcomes for learners, including Māori and Pacific. Shared values and traditions are embedded among the learners, staff and community. Curriculum developments reflect a well-considered response to meeting learners' interests and aspirations. Improving evaluation practice should strengthen the school's knowledge of the effectiveness of actions to achieve its identified priorities.

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?

Palmerston North Boys’ High School is located in Palmerston North City. Of the 1836 learners enrolled, 19% are Māori, 5% Pacific and 10% Asian. International student numbers have increased since the March 2014 ERO report. The board operates a school hostel with boarding facilities for 175 students. An enrolment scheme maintains roll numbers at a consistent level.

Palmerston North Boys’ High School vision is ‘to develop educated men of outstanding character’. The school mission aspires to challenge and extend students in academic, sporting and cultural activities. Co-curricular involvement and participation of boys in sport, cultural and creative pursuits are highly valued and embedded as a key part of the school’s curriculum.

Shared values of integrity, courage, pride, respect, industry and humility are fostered through delivery of the school curriculum. Students demonstrate pride in their school. Well-understood and reinforced expectations for positive behaviour and involvement at school promote a climate of mutual respect.

The school has a positive ERO reporting history. The school recently joined a Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning (CoL) with other local schools.

2 Learning

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

Assessment information is used successfully to make positive changes to learners' engagement, progress and achievement. Aligning school and department targets to learners requiring their achievement accelerated is likely to support better evaluation.

Most learners achieve well. Student leaver data reported at the end of 2016 showed overall National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) above boys nationally at Levels 1, 2 and 3. Nearly all learners achieve Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements. In 2016, qualifications endorsed with merit at Level 1, were above national figures. Raising endorsed qualifications, especially with excellence, is recognised as an achievement target for 2017. Thirtyeight New Zealand Scholarships were gained in 2016, slightly above 2015 figures. Undertaking Massey University papers is an option for some students in Year 13.

The school has increased the achievement of Māori students gaining NCEA at Level 2, since the previous ERO report. Qualifications gained by Māori students at NCEA Level 1 and 2 are well above national data for all boys. In 2016, all Pacific leavers achieved Level 2, showing a significant increase from 2015.

Student retention is positive. Māori student retention has increased significantly over the last three years with over 95% staying at school to a minimum of 17 years of age.

The percentage of students leaving with NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance represents a declining trend since the previous ERO report. School leaders believe increased options are promoting greater numbers of students choosing alternative pathways to University Entrance. Evidence is being gathered to inquire into this achievement trend. An initiative aimed at strengthening literacy practice across departments has also been implemented to increase achievement at Level 3.

Student transition into Year 9 is well considered. Achievement information gathered on entry and at key points during Years 9 and 10 shows most learners make good progress, with some accelerating their achievement. Tracking and reporting processes have improved at Years 9 and 10 to provide learners and parents with regularly updated achievement information and better identify individuals requiring additional support.

Clear processes support department reporting. Maximising this process by strengthening targets is likely to support better evaluation.

Learners are well informed about their progress and achievement. Information is accessible digitally and for some students through regular mentoring. Individual achievement is well tracked and monitored.

Parents and families receive useful information to support their knowledge of their child’s achievement. Written reports, access to digital information and parent/teacher interviews during the year provide opportunities to share information.

3 Curriculum

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

Well-considered curriculum developments have extended options and pathways promoting positive achievement and increasing rates of student retention.

In 2016, leaders and trustees collaboratively reviewed their strategic vision with their community. This provided a valuable opportunity to gather information aligned to the valued outcomes desired by parents, families and staff. An opportunity exists to revisit the schools’ annual planning format and goals as a result of the strategic realignment. Leaders and trustees should consider aligning the objectives contained in the strategic focus as the basis to guide their evaluation.

Well-considered options and pathways meet the diverse needs and interests of learners. An extended range of options for learners in Years 9 and 10 provides greater choice in meeting their interests. Flexibility in course structures in the senior curriculum provides more responsive learning pathways that better suit individual student abilities, interests and aspirations.

School systems and practices are responsive to learners identified with additional learning needs. Academic mentoring, introduced in 2015, has impacted significantly on individuals in Year 13 achieving a Level 2 qualification. Learning support initiatives including, the Achievement Support Programme and Mana Potential provide relevant academic and pastoral support.

Provision for careers education and support valuably guide learners to choose suitable pathways and options that respond to their strengths, interests and future employment and training. Targeted programmes for Māori learners have contributed to increased engagement, retention and success.

Sound systems and processes are used effectively to support, track and monitor the wellbeing of learners. Communication between the many branches of the pastoral team, including between the school and hostel, ensures close monitoring of individuals.

Digital technologies are well used to support teaching and learning. Students from Year 10 up can bring their own laptop to support their learning. Professional learning and development (PLD) is building the capability of teachers with some digital assessments introduced.

The school continues to build practices promoting the recognition and integration of Pacific learners' culture, language and identity. Involvement of Pacific learners in performing arts and opportunities to learn and share culture through relevant contexts supports and values their unique heritage.

Learners develop positive relationships that are meaningfully fostered by Pacific leaders providing guidance and mentoring to individuals. In 2017, a mentoring programme is planned in partnership with the MidCentral District Health Board aimed at supporting the pastoral and academic needs of Pacific students.

The Pasifika Education Plan 2013 – 2017 is guiding development of a school Pacific achievement plan. There is further opportunity for the school to work in conjunction with Pacific families to develop shared goals to further promote the place of Pacific students in the school.

School leaders have a clear understanding about the quality of teacher practice. Examples of effective practice, observed by ERO, generally reflect the schools’ shared expectations for teaching and learning. In these classes, student engagement in learning is well supported by teaching strategies that meet the needs of learners.

Environments and relationships between students and staff are respectful, supporting a positive climate and tone.

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

Māori student culture is an integral part of the school. The curriculum offers optional te reo Māori from Years 9 to 13 with Māori performing arts recently introduced for senior students.

The Pūhoro Science Academy, in partnership with Massey University, has been implemented to advance Māori student engagement and achievement in science and technology. The positive achievement of learners in 2016, has resulted in extending the programme to Year 12 Māori students in 2017.

The Māori Achievement Komiti is an inclusive and knowledgeable leadership group facilitating Māori success across the school. They lead teacher PLD and facilitate valuable connections with iwi, hapū and whānau through the recently developed Māori Advisory Group.

Under guidance from the Komiti the school has begun exploring and contextualising the Māori concepts contained in Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners. External PLD is also planned to further this work. This is likely to strengthen the collective understanding of staff in reflecting and relating these in their teaching. They should also provide a shared basis to further build the confidence and cultural competencies of leaders and teachers.

In 2016, the Komiti began development of the Māori and Pacific achievement plan. Continued development in this area should provide a clear structure to further develop culturally responsive practices and provide a basis for evaluation.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain current practice and continue to improve its performance through strengthening evaluation practice.

Experienced trustees provide a range of valuable skills to facilitate their stewardship of the school. Regular policy review ensures they meet their legislative requirements. They work effectively with the rector, leaders and teachers to resource the school to meet their identified priorities.

The rector and senior leaders demonstrate a unified commitment to sustaining the traditional values of the school and promoting curriculum change to reflect the changing nature, aspirations and diversity of their learners. Distributed leadership allows staff to use their strengths and contribute to ongoing improvement.

The school’s appraisal processes, system and structure meets the requirement for endorsing teachers' practising certificates. Alignment to the teaching inquiry process supports collaborative engagement of staff in professional learning groups. Continuing to promote consistency in the effective use of the appraisal and inquiry process should further enhance individual and collective practice.

Extensive partnerships with other educational institutions and community networks fosters student learning, health initiatives, wellbeing and guidance. Recent involvement in a Kāhui Ako|COL is a further opportunity to work with local schools and develop their shared achievement priorities.

Regular review and reflection is a valuable part of leaders' and teachers' practice to promote ongoing improvement. Leaders should continue to build internal evaluation, particularly in relation to understanding the added value of changed practice aligned to their achievement priorities.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (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 49 international students attending the school, including one exchange student.

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. Systems and processes that guide provision for international students are comprehensive and clear.

Students have access to very good quality learning experiences, enjoy participation in co-curricular activities and are well supported by effective pastoral care systems. Student wellbeing, academic progress and achievement are appropriately monitored and reported regularly to the board of trustees.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, College House, accommodates 175 students, 10% of the school roll.  It is owned by the Palmerston North Boys’ High School board of trustees. The hostel owner has attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

There is a sound orientation process for new students. Meaningful opportunities are provided for boys to take on leadership roles and responsibility. Ready access to recreation activities and facilities is valued. Feedback from boarders about hostel systems and relationships through the student council is regularly sought and responded to.

Relationships within the hostel and between the hostel and the school promote a safe environment that supports students' learning. Boarders spoken with by ERO valued and appreciated the traditions of College House and the supportive family like atmosphere. There is an appropriate focus on academic progress and achievement.

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

The school achieves very positive outcomes for learners, including Māori and Pacific. Shared values and traditions are embedded among the learners, staff and community. Curriculum developments reflect a well-considered response to meeting learners' interests and aspirations. Improving evaluation practice should strengthen the school's knowledge of the effectiveness of actions to achieve its identified priorities.

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

Alan Wynyard

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

29 June 2017

About the School

Location

Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number

202

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1836

Number of international students

47

Gender composition

Male 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Pacific
Other ethnic groups

19%
61%
10%
5%
5%

Special features

Boarding hostel

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

29 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

March 2014
November 2010
May 2007

1 Context

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

Palmerston North Boys’ High School has a current roll of 1743 students and 20% are Māori. The boarding hostel, College House, is an integral and valued part of the school.

The school prides itself on being a traditional boys’ school. Increasingly it is looking to respond to the needs and aspirations of individual and groups of students while maintaining its unique character. The long established values of integrity, courage, pride, respect, industry and humility continue to be at the forefront. A settled tone in and out of classrooms is closely linked to well-established values and relationships.

Students benefit from involvement in a range of academic, cultural, sporting and service activities. The growth of leadership skills is deliberately supported from Years 9 to 13. All round involvement in school life is encouraged and recognised. This is an important aspect of the school’s vision to “develop educated men of outstanding character.”

A range of opportunities are in place for gifted and talented students. Academic achievement is supported through accelerate programmes at all levels. A number of regional and national representatives and champions are current or recent past students.

Since the November ERO 2010 report, a new rector, members of the senior leadership team and board of trustees chairman are in place. The school has identified priorities for moving forward. These include an increased focus on promoting effective teaching strategies.

2 Learning

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

The school is beginning to use nationally referenced literacy and mathematics information to show achievement and progress in Years 9 and 10. The teacher inquiry process recently introduced includes reference to junior school data to identify target students.

The use of Years 9 and 10 assessment information should continue to be extended to more effectively consider:

  • teaching priorities and the focus of learning
  • progress for individual and groups of students, including the extent of acceleration
  • the impact of initiatives and teaching.

Increased use of assessment information should also allow better reporting to the board about the effectiveness of junior curriculum and teaching.

Well-coordinated and designed programmes in learning support classes increase progress for students who have fallen behind in their learning and promote success in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1.

Many students are very successful in gaining NCEA qualifications and a number gain these at Levels in advance of their age group. Cambridge and Massey University courses further extend and challenge able students. NCEA results are similar to comparable boys’ schools. Students gained 43 New Zealand Scholarships in 2013.

Māori students as a group achieve significantly below their peers in NCEA. Improving the outcomes for Māori and Pacific students, by reducing the achievement gap with other groups in the school, is an already acknowledged priority.

The retention of students into the senior school has increased since 2010, significantly so for Māori. Approximately 90% of students stay at school until they are 17. This applies to all ethnicities. The percentage of student leavers with at least Level 2 has also improved, including at a faster rate for Māori. Leaver qualifications are at a level similar to comparable schools.

Achievement targets and supporting actions are in place to further improve NCEA and leaver qualifications. These include:

  • a greater focus on Māori and Pacific learners' progress and achievement
  • identifying specific groups of Year 11 and 12 students for closer tracking and monitoring
  • increasing student leadership of their own learning
  • closer tracking and monitoring of senior progress towards NCEA
  • extending inquiry into the impact of teaching.

Target setting should be strengthened by more consistently identifying students who need additional support to reach their academic potential. In addition, the success or otherwise of actions to improve achievement should be more fully evaluated.

Extensive analysis by departments of NCEA achievement is reported to senior leaders and trustees. The effectiveness of courses is considered and next steps for improvement are identified. The recent focus of these reports has been on supporting literacy and increasing Māori and Pacific achievement.

Regular written communication with parents of Years 9 to 13 students shares current progress and allows early identification and response to students at risk. Currently parents receive limited information on progress students make through the curriculum levels in Years 9 and 10.

3 Curriculum

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

Teaching programmes and the supporting guidelines are firmly based on The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) objectives. School values and NZC key competencies underpin teaching.

The curriculum is focused on well-established academic courses. Some extension of senior pathways to broaden options includes:

  • increased access to NCEA Level 1 courses
  • more vocationally-based courses and greater links with tertiary and other providers
  • a range of class levels within subjects to provide alternatives for groups of students
  • some multi-level classes.

The school agrees it should continue to extend pathways that are available in the senior school, particularly for students whose interests lie outside more traditional subjects.

A planned strategy is underway to increase the use of new communication and web-based technologies for teaching and learning. Enhanced communication with parents and other learning communities should also result from this initiative.

Expectations of effective teaching practice are clearly defined. ERO observed a settled tone in classrooms. Students were well engaged in their learning and supportive of each other. Teachers worked positively with students, especially in one-to-one situations. Students observed were challenged to strive for individual excellence.

A current priority is to build literacy skills to support academic success as students move through the year levels. Deliberate practices to extend vocabulary and maintain a reading culture are evident in all learning areas.

An increased focus on transition into Year 9 includes collecting information from a wider range of sources. Parents are invited to contribute information about incoming students. There is increased liaison with contributing schools.

A wide range of well-considered strategies support and respond to student wellbeing. Students feel well provided for by the pastoral and guidance care available. School leaders respond to feedback students provide. Older students are regularly involved in positive activities with younger ones.

Planned activities assist students with their career planning. The charter identifies careers as an area needing strengthening. Ongoing review of the effectiveness of career information, advice and guidance should ensure a cohesive, sequential, schoolwide career education programme.

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

Improving outcomes for Māori is identified as a strategic priority and various actions are being implemented. School leaders recognise that engaging Māori learners and their whānau is a key element in meeting the goal.

The emphasis on positive relationships, clear values and high expectations provides a sound foundation for Māori students to experience success. The extensive range of sporting and cultural activities offers many opportunities to be involved in the life of the school.

The percentage of Māori students who remain at school to 17 years of age has increased since 2010.

Strategies to promote success for Māori students as Māori include:

  • a Māori Achievement Komiti, comprising school leaders, teachers and iwi representatives
  • involvement in two kapa haka groups
  • mentoring to support improved engagement and academic achievement
  • whānau hui to share desired pathways for students.

For continued improvement, the school needs to strengthen ways in which Māori language, culture and identity are valued and celebrated. Leaders should continue to explore ways to seek and hear the voice of parents, students and the community to increase students’ sense of belonging in the school.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

The school provides a range of well-coordinated services and strategies that support the learning and success of Pacific students.

Staff carefully monitor students’ wellbeing and progress. Mentoring relationships are established in Year 9 and maintained until students leave. Goal setting and leadership development are the key features of the support programme. Success and achievement are recognised and celebrated.

At a fono organised by the school, parents indicated that their sons would benefit from help with their homework. The school responded to this by setting up a homework centre staffed by teachers. The centre is well used by many students.

The Pacific performing arts group takes part in the regional festival. Some teachers incorporate elements of Pacific cultures in the curriculum. In these situations, Pacific students are able to see something of themselves reflected, making learning more relevant and meaningful.

Leaders and teachers should ensure that the recognition, integration and valuing of Pacific cultures continues to develop school wide.

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. A range of self-review practices usefully identity the focus for ongoing school improvement. External review effectively complements school processes.

The charter includes clear strategic direction through its identified objectives and education priorities. It provides the framework for sustainability and improvement based on the vision and values of the school.

Board members are appropriately involved in a range of decision-making groups. They are well informed about curriculum and achievement in the senior school. Greater consideration of progress in Years 9 and 10 would increase the ability of trustees to support improved outcomes for all students.

A modified teacher appraisal process, more focused on improvement, has been introduced in 2014. It is aligned to the Registered Teacher Criteria, professional standards and the school’s strategic goals.

Teachers are beginning to use evidence more critically to consider how their teaching could improve student achievement, including for learners at risk. A structured, well-considered programme for new teachers appropriately supports them towards registration.

School leaders have high expectations for individual student learning and achievement. The extended senior leadership team has established priorities to continue to improve wellbeing and achievement. This includes an increased focus on providing high quality teaching and learning.

Leaders work actively to cater more effectively for the strengths, needs and aspirations of Māori and Pacific students. Resources are deliberately targeted to improvement. Good practice examples are sought from other schools. Whole-school initiatives and professional learning opportunities are well supported by teachers.

Parents and the community are well informed about school priorities, activities and successes. Partnerships are built to obtain feedback that contributes to sustainability and improvement.

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. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there were 33 international students attending, mainly from Thailand, China and Japan.

The welfare of international students is monitored and supported by international student staff. Programmes, including English second language learning, enable students to meet their education goals. Involvement in a range of school activities assists international students to feel included in school life. Students indicated to ERO they felt well supported.

The school monitors its compliance with the Code. To improve its processes in relation to international students:

  • self-review should be more comprehensive and ongoing throughout the year
  • the board should receive reports based on the self review and strategic plan of the international programme. These reports should include student progress and achievement information.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, College House, accommodates 170 students, 10% of the school roll. It is owned by the Palmerston North Boys’ High School Board of Trustees. The hostel owner has attested that all of the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

Since the previous ERO report, facilities have continued to be improved. The new dining hall, gym, dorms and various refurbishments are positive enhancements of the hostel physical environment. Students spoken with by ERO felt well supported by hostel staff. Transition into the hostel is well managed. A wide range of appropriate activities is provided for boarders.

ERO recommends that:

  • further opportunities be developed for regular collection and consideration of boarder and parent views on a range of hostel practices that directly affect them
  • pastoral wellbeing and academic achievement be a focus of reporting about the hostel to the board.

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.

To improve current practice the board should ensure all relevant non teaching staff are appropriately police vetted.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

6 June 2014

About the School

Location

Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number

202

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1743

Number of international students

28

Gender composition

Male 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

20%

64%

9%

4%

3%

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

6 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2010

May 2007

November 2003