Northcote College

Education institution number:
32
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
1170
Telephone:
Address:

Kauri Glen Road, Northcote, Auckland

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Northcote College - 30/11/2016

Findings

Students at Northcote College benefit from a well designed, responsive curriculum that promotes high levels of achievement and engagement. School goals drive improvement for all learners. Strong governance and leadership, effective teaching, and partnerships with parents and the community enhance learning outcomes for students.

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?

Northcote College is a well established Auckland secondary school with strong links to its local community. The student roll reflects the cultural diversity of the community and includes 16 percent who identify as Māori and 10 percent who have Pacific heritage. The school is a member of the newly founded Northcote Community of Learning (CoL).

Through its vision of ‘Successful Learning for All’ the school aspires to provide young people with an educational experience where they are challenged and supported to develop the skills and knowledge to become lifelong learners. A culture of high expectations for academic achievement is balanced with an inclusive focus on student wellbeing and equity. Māori students from all year levels have the opportunity to be part of Te Whānau o te Kākano, which provides a Māori pathway in an environment that embraces te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

The school has a history of positive ERO reports that have commended the robust self-review processes underpinning the board’s vision of the school as a community of learners. In 2012, ERO identified Northcote College as a high performing school. A responsive professional learning culture and high quality, collaborative leadership of teaching and learning were noted. Opportunities for students with special learning needs were an important feature of the college that impacted positively on student outcomes. These significant features of the school have been sustained.

In 2012, ERO made recommendations to further improve educational outcomes for students. These included giving greater consideration to students’ prior learning to support transitions into Year 9, and continuing the focus on teachers’ use of evidence to inquire into ways of more effectively enhancing outcomes for students. Adopting a more strategic approach to the setting of targets and achievement goals was also an agreed next step. Trustees and senior leaders have responded positively to these recommendations and have continued to develop high quality and innovative educational practices.

2 Learning

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

The school makes very effective use of achievement information to make positive changes for learners, particularly in Years 11 to 13 and increasingly from the time students enter the school in Year 9. Students are actively engaged in their learning and are motivated to achieve success across a across a wide variety of school activities, including kapa haka, sport, arts, cultural and student leadership opportunities.

School achievement information shows that most students are successful at all levels of the New Zealand Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). In the last four years the pass rates for Levels 1, 2 and 3 of NCEA have all improved by 10 percent or more. The school is already exceeding the 2017 government target of 85 percent of leavers achieving NCEA Level 2.

The achievement of Māori and Pacific students and of boys, while still lower than overall results, show consistent improvement over time. The proportion of Māori and Pacific students remaining at school up to and beyond 17 years of age continues to improve, enabling more students to achieve meaningful qualifications. Improving Māori, Pacific and boys’ achievement is a continuing priority for school leaders and teachers. Concentrating on strategies that support Māori and Pacific learners to make accelerated progress in their learning is also a focus for the Northcote Community of Learning.

Achievement information is used effectively to identify students who require learning support. Learning assistance is timely and well coordinated. Personalised programmes assist students to make progress towards their learning goals. Regular monitoring and review provides students and their families with ongoing information about their progress and achievement. The cohesion and responsiveness of learning support services reflects the commitment of the board, leadership team and teachers to supporting all students to be successful, engaged learners.

School leaders continue to make positive changes to learning outcomes for students who are not achieving to expectations, especially in the senior school. Leaders agree that it is timely to adopt a similar strategic emphasis on progress and achievement at Years 9 and 10, using approaches that are proving effective at senior school level. Developing greater consistency in assessing against curriculum levels will enable teachers and leaders to more readily identify and report accelerated progress, as well as final results.

Senior leaders and trustees make good use of well analysed achievement information to set achievement targets and school goals, and to make strategic decisions. Charter targets are focused on raising the achievement of all students and accelerating the progress of those students not meeting curriculum level or NCEA expectations. Trustees make resourcing decisions based on the evaluation of programmes designed to improve outcomes for students.

3 Curriculum

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

Northcote College’s responsive curriculum is very well aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The broad and differentiated curriculum provides a wide range of courses relevant to students’ personal interests and learning pathways, providing opportunities to continually experience success, and transition smoothly to tertiary courses and the workforce. Digital technologies and e-learning strategies support and encourage students to manage and lead their learning. The school’s commitment to relationship-based teaching underpins and enhances learning programmes.

The learning culture throughout the school is focused and purposeful. The board and school leaders use teachers’ expertise to promote innovative approaches and strategies. The impact of new programmes and initiatives on student wellbeing and learning success is closely monitored and evaluated in a systematic way.

High quality teaching practice is informed by an in-depth knowledge of students and the use of effective strategies that recognise, respond to, and enhance student engagement in learning. Sustained improvement in teaching and learning programmes is promoted through a deliberate process of professional inquiry involving all teachers.

The school is well placed to continue fostering, and maintaining the impetus for, innovative and responsive curriculum design. Course designs and pathways ensure that students, particularly Māori and Pacific, have equity of access to quality learning programmes in many curriculum areas. Senior leaders agree that next steps to enhance the curriculum include considering ways to develop specific pathways for junior students who are not succeeding in the current curriculum.

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

The school promotes and celebrates Māori students’ educational success. Trustees, school leaders and key staff are committed to improving outcomes for Māori students. This is apparent in the school’s annual goals and priorities. The input of whānau Māori is valued in school-wide planning and decision-making.

Te Whānau o te Kākano provides a focus for Māori language, culture and identity. Students in te Whānau participate in te reo Māori programmes and kapa haka, and are mentored and supported in their learning choices as they move through the school. School leaders agree that encouraging all Māori learners to take further advantage of the opportunities available, is a priority.

Trustees and school leaders agree that the next steps in further promoting success for Māori students as Māori are to:

  • evaluate the extent to which the curriculum reflects te ao Māori, to ensure that Māori language and cultural identity are recognised and promoted through all learning areas and pathways
  • incorporate cultural competencies into the school’s appraisal processes
  • continue to build on positive relationships with whānau Māori, to grow partnerships in learning and support the development of plans to continue improving Māori students’ achievement.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Northcote College is very well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance.

School leadership is highly effective. The experienced principal and capable leadership team work strategically and collaboratively to foster strong relationships in the school and its community. Senior leaders mentor and support teachers, growing leadership at all levels of the school. School leaders are active and influential in local, regional and national educational community networks.

Senior leaders use the school’s robust performance management system to promote ongoing teacher improvement and accountability for student progress and achievement. Systematic and well structured professional learning programmes promote effective, culturally responsive teaching practices.

There is a shared commitment to ongoing improvement across the school. Trustees ensure that students are at the centre of the school’s strategic thinking and planning. Board members have high expectations in their stewardship role. They focus closely on progressing charter goals and key strategies in order to achieve the school’s vision.

School leaders and trustees agree that development points for ongoing growth are:

  • more regular and timely reporting of the progress of groups of students at risk of not succeeding
  • continuing to take an active role in the development of the Northcote CoL with contributing schools and local early childhood services to provide seamless learning pathways for students.

An inclusive, student-centred culture and positive respectful relationships support the board, school leaders and staff to continue the school’s growth as a dynamic learning community.

Provision for international students

The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) was introduced on July 1st 2016. The school is aware of the need to update its policies and procedures to meet the new code requirements by December 1st 2016.

At the time of this review there were 110 international students attending the school.

The school is making good progress in aligning its policies and procedures to meet requirements for the 2016 Code.

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 Northcote College benefit from a well designed, responsive curriculum that promotes high levels of achievement and engagement. School goals drive improvement for all learners. Strong governance and leadership, effective teaching, and partnerships with parents and the community enhance learning outcomes for students.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

30 November 2016

About the School

Location

Northcote, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

32

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

974

Number of international students

110

Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Tongan

Chinese

South East Asian

Indian

Samoan

other Asian

other European

other Pacific

other

16%

53%

6%

4%

4%

2%

2%

5%

4%

2%

2%

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

30 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

September 2009

June 2006

Northcote College - 26/11/2012

Findings

1 Context

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

Northcote College is a well established co-educational high school on Auckland’s North Shore. The school serves its diverse community very well. An emphasis on knowing each student and responding to them individually underpins the school’s educational philosophy.

ERO’s 2009 report acknowledged the school’s positive culture, underpinned by well organised pastoral care that supports student learning and achievement. School leaders have continued to build on these strengths and are currently embedding a reflective inquiry approach to improving school performance. Student voice is respected and is a significant component of school self review.

Student diversity is embraced and celebrated. Māori staff and students are affirmed and positive about their successes. Another significant feature of the school is the effective and inclusive services provided for students with high learning needs. The school attracts a high number of international students who benefit from the welcoming and supportive learning environment.

The school’s vision and values are clearly evident and reflect those of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The senior management team and the board of trustees make well informed and responsible decisions based on evidence and educational research. These decisions enhance the learning outcomes of all students.

2 Learning

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

Students engage well in learning. They enjoy collaborative, interactive teaching approaches where they can share ideas and experiences. Students benefit from the mixed-ability learning environment. Teachers plan lessons that are interesting and relevant and are increasingly making use of achievement information to ensure that learning programmes meet students’ different learning needs. Teachers could give greater consideration to building on students’ prior understanding of learning to support their transition to Year 9.

Classrooms are settled and well managed environments that reflect purposeful learning. Teachers make good use of digital technologies to engage learners. Systems for sharing achievement information with students, in ways that support their learning progress, are increasing. A continued focus on teachers using evidence to inquire into the effectiveness of their practice will further enhance outcomes for students.

Students make good progress and achieve well overall. Information about the achievement of Year 9 and 10 students is being well used. An identified group of students entering the school in Year 9 are achieving below expected curriculum levels. The school has set meaningful targets to accelerate the achievement of these students and is able to track their progress individually using a new student profiling system. This high quality target setting reflects the purposeful planning of curriculum leaders.

School leaders monitor student achievement in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) closely. In most aspects student achievement compares very favourably with that of similar schools. Since 2009, pass rates in NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 have increased by 13% and 7% respectively. Level 1 literacy and NCEA endorsements at Levels 1 and 2 have also increased significantly since 2009, and the high pass rate in Level 1 numeracy has been further extended.

Student achievement goals are set in relation to trends and patterns reported to the board and priority learner groups are monitored closely. The majority of Māori and Pacific students leave school with Level 2 qualifications. Students with special needs achieve success in programmes that are designed to meet their learning needs. School leaders agree that targets to achieve better outcomes for all Pacific students could be implemented more strategically.

The number of students leaving the college with national qualifications is increasing. This positive trend has occurred at the same time that student retention has risen. The school has endeavoured to provide meaningful pathways for all students to maintain their engagement and retention in learning. The school has achieved the Ministry of Education’s target of 85% achievement at Level 2 NCEA.

3 Curriculum

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

Students speak highly of the school’s curriculum. They appreciate the enthusiasm teachers have for their subjects and the high quality teaching that encourages their success. Students gain Scholarship passes in a range of different subjects across the curriculum. School wide professional development is focused on the use of achievement information and teacher inquiry. Curriculum managers are leading these improvements through shared models of good teaching and learning practices.

The school offers a modern 21st century curriculum. Contexts for learning draw on relevant concepts such as social responsibility, bicultural perspectives, environmental issues, sustainability and critical thinking. Students are confident and articulate. They enjoy learning challenges, and extend their interests through foreign languages, computer technologies, visual and performing arts and media studies. Te reo Māori is an increasingly popular choice, with additional teaching time needed this year to meet student demand.

Curriculum pathways and careers services are being extensively reviewed. As student retention levels in the senior school have increased, the curriculum has become more diverse. New programmes, including foundation courses and a wider selection of courses based on the realigned achievement standards have been introduced. The majority of subjects are NCEA-based with some vocational qualifications, such as those connecting to carpentry, hospitality, tourism and childcare industries, available through Industry Training Organisations.

The curriculum is well resourced. Trustees are supportive of new directions in education and make well considered decisions. Students and staff are benefitting from additional computer and information technology resourcing. The board has recently formalised staffing for students with special learning needs who seek specialist and mainstream education through the school’s well managed Learning Support Centre. This support reflects the ethical and social principles that guide the board’s decisions.

Senior leaders agree that continuing to build the capability of middle managers to analyse and interpret achievement information and report on department planning, would enhance wholeschool curriculum development.

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

Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education’s Māori success strategy, has been well used by school leaders to enhance outcomes for Māori. The board has used the opportunity to review its Treaty of Waitangi policy and evaluate progress against school-wide goals for Māori success. The school’s Māori staff are valued and the high quality learning and pastoral support they provide is helping Māori students to experience success as Māori.

Māori students are confident in their culture and identify. Those who select the option of the whānau-based form class and those in mainstream form classes both express a collective sense of whānaungatanga. Māori whānau and iwi have responded positively to opportunities to meet and to consider ways to further support students’ learning.

School-wide staff development and the school’s revised performance management systems incorporate criteria that should continue to support teachers’ awareness of biculturalism and cultural responsiveness.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very capable of sustaining and continuing to improve its performance. Board leadership is effective and trustees are well aware of their roles and responsibilities. Governance and management systems are underpinned by a clear strategic direction, shared values and a commitment to meeting the needs of all students. These factors are enabling the school to provide:

  • an inclusive environment that supports diversity
  • a responsive, professional learning culture
  • a high level of reflection and systematic self review.

The school management team is ably led by an experienced and capable principal. The team works collaboratively and has high expectations of staff performance. School leaders value educational research and seek models of purposeful whole-school professional learning and development. The recently established professional learning groups are based on staff sharing practices that improve teaching and learning.

Planning and reporting systems are well aligned. Strategic goals are embedded in the management plan and evaluated in an ongoing manner throughout the year. Well selected targets are designed to improve outcomes for groups of students who are not achieving their potential. It is important that targets are shared with all staff and embedded into action plans at all levels.

School improvement is based on critical self-reflection and relevant external review. Staff appraisal systems have been reviewed to support school improvement and in response to the new registered teacher criteria. ERO supports school leaders’ plans to explore the best use of target setting in improving outcomes for students.

Provision for international students

Northcote College is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there were 128 international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

The school responds to the interests and needs of international students. Services for international students are well integrated with English language teaching programmes. Well documented systems are efficiently managed by experienced coordinators and support staff, and good procedures are in place to integrate international students into school life.

International students value the programmes of tikanga and te reo Māori that enable them to learn more about biculturalism and Māori culture. They also speak highly of the opportunities to join sport teams, music and drama groups and to be included in the wider life of the school.

The international student director and the home-stay coordinator provide regular information about the engagement and achievement of international students to the board of trustees.

Board assurance on legal requirements

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

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

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

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

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

26 November 2012

About the School

Location

Northcote, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

32

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1209

Number of international students

128

Gender composition

Boys 55% Girls 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

Chinese

Indian

African

Middle East

other

53%

17%

10%

9%

5%

2%

2%

1%

1%

Special Features

Learning Support Centre for students with high learning needs, including 17 students with additional funding through the Ongoing Renewable Resource Scheme

Review team on site

August 2012

Date of this report

26 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2009

June 2006

July 2002