Ruawai College

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Findings

Students at Ruawai College benefit from a broad, relevant curriculum that supports their learning and achievement and fosters their wellbeing. The school engages positively with its community to promote and celebrate student success. School leaders continue to seek new approaches and opportunities to improve outcomes for students.

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?

Ruawai College is a well established secondary school in the Kaipara region with strong intergenerational links to the local community, including Naumai Marae. The roll has fluctuated over the past three years and is currently 152. The college is a bicultural school with 46 percent of students identifying as Maori, a significant increase over the past three years. Most Māori students whakapapa to Ngāti Whātua or Ngāpuhi.

Through its vision to be an outstanding rural school of choice for Years 7 to 13 students in the community, the school aspires to offer young people an educational experience where they are challenged and supported to become lifelong learners. Values of respect, resilience and responsibility, developed with the school community, define the expectations of staff and students at every level of the school.

There have been significant changes in school leadership since the previous principal’s resignation at the end of 2015. The new principal took up the position at the beginning of Term 4, 2016 and has initiated a process of reflection and consultation to confirm the school’s strategic direction. A positive, inclusive school culture has been sustained and continues to underpin school initiatives.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to make positive changes for learners. Students are actively engaged in their learning and are motivated to achieve personal success across a wide variety of school activities. Initiatives to improve outcomes for students are well considered, evidence based, and focused on strengthening learner centred relationships.

Ruawai College students’ results in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1, 2 and 3 compare favourably with national and similar schools’ results. Over the past three years more than 70 percent of students leaving school have achieved NCEA Level 2 or better. Māori student achievement is similar to that of non-Māori at all levels. In 2016 performance in Level 1 NCEA was significantly lower than expected. This has provided a positive catalyst for change in the school, including a sharpened focus on learning strategies that promote engagement and accelerate progress.

Students in Years 7 and 8 achieve well against the National Standards, particularly in reading and mathematics. The school has identified that student achievement in writing needs improvement, particularly for boys. Appropriate targets have been set and there is a school-wide focus on improving student outcomes in writing. Students use writing skills across the curriculum and this helps them to increase their knowledge about what they do well and where they need to improve.

The school systematically collates achievement information about students in Years 9 and 10. Teachers are increasingly confident in monitoring student progress and achievement across the curriculum. Analysing achievement information across Years 7 to 10, including information about accelerated learning progress, would further support decision making and resourcing. Working collaboratively with teachers from contributing schools to establish consistent moderation practices would help to make transition seamless for students entering at Years 7 or 9.

School leaders continue to make positive changes to improve learning outcomes for students who are not achieving to expectations, especially in the senior school. Teachers provide mentoring to help students set goals and plan pathways to achieve success. Students in Years 11 to 13 receive regular updates on their progress and achievement and are increasingly monitoring their own learning. Students in Year 10 have the opportunity to achieve a diploma, based on their progress and achievement across learning areas, which gives them confidence in their readiness for NCEA study.

Leaders agree that it is timely to place a more strategic emphasis on accelerating progress and achievement at Years 9 and 10. This shift in focus could better prepare students for NCEA success, and make use of many of the strategies that have proved effective at senior school level.

Achievement information is well used to identify students who require additional support. Learning assistance is well coordinated, with personalised programmes helping students to make progress towards their learning goals. Regular monitoring and review provides students and their families with ongoing information about their learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s broad curriculum is well aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and is very effective in engaging students in learning. It is designed to be inclusive and culturally responsive, and provides a range of high interest, topical contexts for learning for students in Years 7 to 10. There are relevant academic and vocational pathways at senior level. Learning environments promote and support learning and school values.

Relationships between students and teachers are mutually respectful and learning focused. Teachers are committed to improving outcomes for students and respond to individual student strengths and learning needs. The personalised curriculum for senior students is being expanded through access to the FarNet online learning community.

Adults are committed to guiding young people in their chosen pathways. School systems and processes support students to make considered choices and prepare for their future education, training and employment. The school proactively identifies and draws on community resources to enhance learning opportunities, achievement and wellbeing.

Leaders and teachers are building a culture of professional inquiry to help them develop and share effective teaching practices. The findings from these inquiries have the potential to improve teacher practice and influence further development of the curriculum.

School leaders agree that a key next step for further improving the school curriculum is developing and implementing a localised, connected, future-focused Ruawai College curriculum.

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers strongly support and accept shared responsibility for educational success for Māori students, as Māori. The school has a well established kawa and an understanding of tikanga and whakawhanaungtanga that is reflected in the school values. Teachers, the curriculum and the school culture affirm Māori students’ identity as Māori.

Māori students achieve well at all levels and leaders place a high priority on ensuring positive outcomes for Māori students. Their achievement and success is evident.

There is a range of opportunities for Māori students to explore their language and culture. Priority is given to senior Māori students learning te reo Māori for NCEA by accessing FarNet. Teachers and leaders are committed to continuing to develop and lift their bicultural awareness and classroom practice.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to improve its performance. The school’s vision and values are promoted and shared by all members of the school community.

The board and senior leaders share a commitment to school improvement through the school’s strategic goals and targets set to raise student achievement. Trustees understand their governance role well. Senior leaders provide the board with comprehensive reports on progress towards strategic goals, enabling trustees to make well informed decisions. Trustees are aware that they could now take a stronger role in strategically supporting and examining the effectiveness of initiatives for school improvement.

Shared respect and understanding are evident in the way the principal and board work together to establish a purposeful and successful learning environment for their students. Leaders at all levels of the school take responsibility for maintaining and sustaining improvement and innovative practices. To support this improvement leaders recognise that a next step is to strengthen teachers’ evaluation capability.

The performance management system for teacher appraisal is clearly aligned with the school’s charter goals and school-wide professional learning priorities. School leaders acknowledge the importance of continuing to strengthen teachers’ use of evidence to inquire into the effectiveness of their practice.

Relationships with parents, whānau and the wider school community are constructive and positive. The school continues to foster these relationships and build learning-focused partnerships with whānau and community, for the benefit of students in their learning and future pathways.

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

Students at Ruawai College benefit from a broad, relevant curriculum that supports their learning and achievement and fosters their wellbeing. The school engages positively with its community to promote and celebrate student success. School leaders continue to seek new approaches and opportunities to improve outcomes for students.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

21 April 2017

About the School 

Location

Ruawai, Kaipara

Ministry of Education profile number

22

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

152

Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

other

46%

49%

4%

1%

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

21 April 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2013

June 2010

May 2017



1 Context

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

Ruawai College is a composite Years 7 to 13 school located in Ruawai, Kaipara. Most students come from the surrounding rural areas and travel to school by bus. The roll has increased from 182 in 2010, to 200 currently. The proportion of students who identify as Māori has also increased and is now 35% of the roll. Most Māori students whakapapa to Ngāti Whātua and Ngā Puhi, and the school has strong links with the local Naumai Marae.

The knowledgeable principal has effectively led the development and progress of the school for 13 years. The school has had a positive reporting history with ERO and has responded well to the recommendations in the 2010 ERO report, by improving self-review practices and personalising learning for students. The senior leadership team works collaboratively to support ongoing school improvement. Teachers have engaged in professional learning and development in response to their identified needs and the school’s current priorities.

The school’s mission statement affirms that Ruawai College is dedicated to cultivating for each student an empowering belief system, an awareness of responsible citizenship, and a personal life story. This helps them to define who that student is and where that student is going, and is evident in the encouraging and positive relationships that students have with their teachers. There are high expectations for behaviour and achievement, and students also benefit from a friendly, family-like school culture where they and their families are well known. Students participate successfully in many local and regional sporting competitions and events, and achieve above national expectations in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), particularly in Levels 1 and 2.

The board of trustees is led by a capable chairperson. Trustees support the principal and the school, and work hard to achieve positive outcomes for students. The school enjoys the support of families and businesses in the local and wider community, and there are positive relationships with contributing schools.

2 Learning

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

The Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) collates school-wide achievement information in reading, writing and mathematics for students in Years 7 to 10. This information, along with data from contributing schools, is used to report to the principal and board, share with teachers, and identify students at risk of underachieving. The data shows that the majority of students come into the school achieving at or below National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2012, over 90% of Year 11 students achieved Level 1 NCEA. In addition, nearly all students achieved Level 2 NCEA in 2012, and 82% achieved Level 3. These NCEA results show Māori achieving at similar levels to non-Māori.

Comprehensive achievement and other data, including student surveys, are used by teachers, the principal and the board to inform school-wide targets and decision making. Students at risk of underachieving are identified and provided with good quality extra support. School goals and targets are clear and are being used increasingly to focus on the achievement of priority learners and inform teacher professional learning goals. Recent initiatives such as Starpath, the introduction of the learning advisories, and academic counselling programmes, are beginning to make a positive impact on student learning. The school is aware of the potential to further engage students and families in learning partnerships, monitor and support student progress, and encourage students to take greater responsibility for their learning.

The Year 10 Diploma programme motivates students to develop work and study skills that help them gain Level 1 NCEA in Year 11. In Years 12 and 13, Gateway and Star courses, and ongoing careers counselling, are preparing students for the world of work and further study. The principal is using feedback from students and a range of other information to evaluate and refine these programmes and initiatives.

Teachers are making progress in the way they use achievement information to plan their classroom programmes. They now need to extend the use of this information to target the learning needs of groups of students and individuals. There was variation in the way that teachers shared specific achievement information, progress, and next learning steps, with students.

3 Curriculum

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

The Ruawai College Curriculum, based on The New Zealand Curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning. The principal has provided leadership of curriculum development. He has introduced a range of initiatives, monitored their effectiveness, and used self review to make decisions leading to improvement.

The college curriculum has been developed through community consultation, teacher reflection and in response to the diverse learning needs of the students. It reflects the distinctiveness of the school community and the local rural environment. Inquiry-learning programmes and a new Enviro Science course are encouraging students to explore and investigate their local environment, including visits to local marae.

Teachers provide good levels of curriculum expertise across the learning areas. They engage in professional learning led by the principal and senior leaders, and in response to their own needs and interests.

Students learn in positive and affirming classroom environments, where relationships with teachers promote a sense of belonging and encouragement. Students benefit in classrooms where:

  • they see their own work celebrated and displayed
  • they engage in practical hands-on learning activities
  • effective questioning occurs and they receive useful feedback
  • they can access one-to-one coaching as individuals or in small groups.

Senior leaders and teachers have agreed that the current priorities for teaching and learning are:

  • promoting an inquiry approach
  • personalising the learning and differentiating the learning activities to cater for diverse needs
  • co-operative learning and the concept of ako, where the teacher and student learn from each other.

Continuing to unpack the learning-to-learn component of The New Zealand Curriculum and teaching as inquiry, will guide further improvements to teaching practice.

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

The college is meaningfully engaged in promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori. As mentioned in the previous ERO report, teachers have integrated the teaching practices identified in Ka Hikitia, (The Government’s Māori Education Strategy) and Tātaiako, (Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners) into classroom practice. Other factors that are helping to promote educational success are:

  • the appointment of key staff who are role models for students in the teaching of te reo and tikanga Māori, vocational course development, class teachers and learning advisers
  • the place of pōwhiri, tikanga sessions and kapa haka as valued practices within the school
  • the relationship with Naumai Marae and Te Uri-o-Hau hapu
  • the increasing use of the student voice to inform self review and decision making.

Teachers should continue to embed bicultural perspectives into classroom programmes, school documentation, relationships, and strategic partnerships with parents and whānau.

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. Contributing factors are that:

  • the well-informed board continues to effectively govern the school and support the principal and teachers in promoting positive outcomes for students
  • the principal models and uses evidence-based self review to evaluate programmes and initiatives, inform decision making, and bring about improvement
  • senior leaders set high expectations for the school community, ensure the efficient day-to-day management of the school, and provide ongoing support for staff and students
  • middle managers and teachers provide effective leadership of initiatives and programmes
  • staff are collegial and supportive of one another
  • parents/whānau are regularly informed about their child’s progress, surveyed about school matters, and encouraged to participate in a range of activities
  • students interviewed by ERO spoke of the friendly and inclusive school culture that supports their wellbeing and sense of belonging.

Ongoing commitment to a shared approach to professional leadership of learning will help sustain improvement in the college’s performance.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

3 September 2013

About the School

Location

Ruawai, Kaipara

Ministry of Education profile number

22

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

200

Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other

64%

35%

1%

Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

3 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

May 2007

September 2004