Ellesmere College

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School Context

Ellesmere College is a co-educational school with a current roll of 578 students. It provides education for students from Years 7 to 13 in the Leeston and the Ellesmere district.

The school states that its mission is: “to fully engage students in their learning, and to enable and equip students with the abilities, skills and knowledge to excel in their school achievements and to be successful citizens”. The school’s current aim is to improve the learning opportunities and academic performance of all students identified as not achieving to their potential.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in relation to the National Standards

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • progress towards NCEA

  • school leaver qualifications

  • learning support programmes

  • achievement in relation to school and national targets

  • achievement information for Years 9 and 10 students in most learning areas.

Since the last ERO review in 2014, there has been an increase in the school roll and changes in the leadership structure and team. The school has been part of Ministry of Education initiatives. These include an achievement, retention and transition programme to support identified students in the senior school, and accelerating literacy learning programmes for students in the junior school. All staff have been involved in professional learning and development to increase their confidence and knowledge in te ao Māori.

The school is part of the recently established Ngā Mātāpuna o te Waihora Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is achieving equitable outcomes for most of its senior students. It is not achieving equitable outcomes for some groups of students in Years 7 to 10.

Over the last three years most students have achieved NCEA Levels 1 and 2. In this time there has been an upward trend of Level 3 achievement. Almost all students achieve the literacy and numeracy requirement at all three levels. In the last two years almost all Māori learners have achieved Levels 1 and 2. There is disparity of achievement for boys at Level 3 and University Entrance. The school continues to identify the need to increase its levels of NCEA certificate endorsements, especially at the merit level.

The 2016 reports to the board on Years 9 and 10 achievement against school expectations indicate for:

  • mathematics, most Year 9 students were judged to be at or above school expectations, and the majority of Year 10 achieved at or above expected levels

  • science, the majority of both year levels were reported to be at or above the school’s expectations

  • both of these learning areas, greater proportions of boys and Māori students were underachieving.

Most students in Years 7 and 8 achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. There is disparity of achievement for boys and Māori students in aspects of literacy, including reading, and in mathematics for Asian students.

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

The school is responding effectively to some Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

The school reports that for the last three years the majority of students in targeted programmes have made accelerated progress. This progress has been particularly effective in enabling students in Years 11, 12 and 13 to gain their NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

Students, and Māori students in particular, benefit from culturally responsive schooling. In response to the 2014 ERO report the school is implementing a useful Māori and Pacific strategic plan. There is greater involvement of whānau Māori and the local rūnanga. The concepts of tuakana teina and whakawhanaungatanga are integral to the way school provides for Māori students. Some Māori protocols and te reo Māori have been meaningfully integrated into the life of the school. Full NCEA courses in te reo Māori and Māori performing arts are part of the curriculum offered.

The school is effectively supporting student wellbeing. Over the last two years counsellor hours have been increased to better meet the needs of students in this area. The school is successfully implementing a school-wide programme to develop positive behaviours that support students’ learning.

The responsiveness of the curriculum for students in Years 11 to 13 is benefitting their achievement. Staff in key positions effectively:

  • identify students at risk of poor achievement

  • set targets with relevant and effective support programmes

  • ensure the students’ courses are appropriate, tailoring programmes as appropriate

  • track and monitor student progress throughout the year.

The board of trustees provides a range of support and resourcing to sustain or extend programmes and support in order to achieve equity of achievement.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence?

School leaders need to make in-depth use of school-wide learning information to know:

  • the impact of programmes and interventions throughout and at the end of the year

  • if all students in Years 7 to 10 are making sufficient progress each year

  • about the achievement of the school’s valued outcomes

  • about the progress and achievement of international students and English language learners.

These next steps were identified as areas for development in the 2014 ERO report.

The curriculum for Years 7 to 10 needs development to better respond to the needs and abilities of students in these year levels. Leaders and teachers need to establish clear and consistent learning progressions to know what a year’s worth of progress looks like for each year level. This should also include what meaningful engagement in learning looks like across year levels.

Assessment and moderation practices need to be strengthened to assure the school community of the reliability and consistency of achievement judgements made in Years 7 to 10. Systems need to be more coherent to ensure that those students most at risk of not achieving are identified, included in targeted actions, and that their rates of progress are regularly monitored.

School leadership needs to ensure the school’s appraisal system is consistently implemented to assure the board that all teaching staff are being appropriately appraised.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board and principal of the school completed the ERO board assurance statement and self-audit checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • finance

  • asset management.

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

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

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 eight international students attending the school.

The students receive a high level of pastoral care. The school has effective systems for orientation, homestay arrangements and for individual concerns. The students are assessed on arrival and given good support for improving their English if required. Learning and achievement are monitored with regular reporting to students and parents. Students are placed with buddies on their arrival and are integrated into the school through a carefully-managed whānau system. Students are actively encouraged to, and many do, access sporting and cultural groups. Many students undertake volunteer work in the community.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in the:

  • responsiveness and cohesiveness of its Year 11 to 13 curriculum

  • support given to identified students needing to make accelerated progress.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, development priorities are in:

  • making more in-depth use of learning information to improve internal evaluation that includes knowing about the impact of school programmes

  • implementing a responsive and cohesive curriculum for all students in Years 7 to 10 that embeds high expectations for all.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

16 January 2018

About the school

Location

Leeston, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

349

School type

Secondary School (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

578

Gender composition

Boys: 50% Girls: 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 14%
Pākehā: 78%
Pacific: 2%
Other: 6%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

October 2017

Date of this report

16 January 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: October 2014
Education Review: October 2011
Education Review: August 2008

Findings

The school has an inclusive culture and positive relationships. There is strong support from the community. Increasingly effective use of achievement information is promoting student progress, engagement and achievement. There is a positive trend in NCEA achievement over time. Curriculum choices and vocational pathways are being extended to meet students’ individual interests and needs. The board is currently consulting staff, students, and parents about the future direction of the school.

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?

Ellesmere College places a high value on its family-like culture and on the values and practices that help students to engage and excel. The college takes advantage of its semi-rural location to provide a wide range of opportunities and activities that extend student learning, enjoyment and vocational interests. The school roll reflects the increasing cultural diversity of the community.

An inclusive culture, strong pastoral care and a history of good community relationships contribute to a settled and supportive learning environment for students. Parents, whānau and the Parent Teacher Association provide strong support for the school.

Involvement in a cluster of local schools is helping leaders and teachers to continue to improve programmes and practices in the school in ways that benefit students.

The school has responded very well to the recommendations in the 2011 ERO report. This includes increased support for students not achieving as well as expected and improvements to teaching and learning programmes.

2 Learning

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

Senior leaders and teachers are making increasingly effective use of achievement information to promote student progress, engagement and achievement. This includes the use of achievement data to:

  • place students in programmes that match their learning strengths and needs
  • track student progress over time and adjust programmes where necessary
  • introduce a range of useful initiatives that provide more extensive individual support for students who are making slower progress in their learning
  • report to parents more regularly about the engagement of students in their learning.

The improved use of the student achievement targets in 2013 has contributed to better achievement, particularly for those students in literacy and mathematics focus groups. Improved systems and practices for tracking student progress over time, is helping school leaders to better understand and respond to achievement trends.

Professional development programmes focused on school goals are helping teachers to inquire more deeply into the effectiveness of teaching practices that meet a range of students’ learning needs. Teachers have also developed a variety of practices that are strengthening students’ transitions into the school.

There is a positive trend in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) over time. Information provided by the school regarding NCEA results for 2013 shows very good achievement at Levels 1 and 2 in particular, and for Level 1 literacy and mathematics.

At Years 7 and 8, students achieve best in reading. A range of initiatives has been introduced to strengthen literacy and numeracy skills at these year levels. Achievement information is showing that these initiatives are contributing to increasingly positive outcomes for students.

The shared commitment of the board and staff and positive relationships between teachers and students provide strong support for learning.

Areas for review and development

Senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that further development of ways to raise the quality of NCEA achievement is a useful next step.

Senior leaders are developing effective ways of reporting the learning progress of priority learners to the board. They should continue to ensure that these reports evaluate the impact of intervention programmes based on the progress of students receiving this extra support.

Leaders and teachers should continue to develop the way they use achievement information at Years 9 and 10 so they can report progress to the board in an increasingly effective way.

3 Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning.

Senior leaders and teachers are continuing to extend curriculum choices and vocational pathways that meet students’ individual interests and needs. The senior leaders and teachers focus on ways to ensure a flexible and responsive curriculum and provide a wide range of extracurricular and leadership opportunities for students.

The introduction of the whānau groups that include students from different year levels is helping to build students' sense of belonging and leadership.

Parents are receiving regular progress reports about students’ engagement and motivation. This new system is promoting increased communication with parents.

The curriculum has a strong focus on individual learners. There is a good range of programmes that provide effective pastoral care and support for all students, especially priority learners.

Professional learning programmes and expectations for teachers and department leaders are helping to develop a shared understanding about effective teaching practices.

The school’s new focus and values (Engage, Enable, Extend and RISE) are becoming evident in department planning and in other areas of the school. The school’s leaders and teachers are continuing to update the curriculum to:

  • further integrate this new school vision and values across all learning areas
  • develop a school-wide framework to guide effective learning practices and resources for 21st Century learners.

The board, senior leaders and teachers have high expectations of students’ achievement. The school proudly celebrates students’ achievement and progress, including a range of achievements at local and national levels.

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

An increasing focus on raising cultural awareness and responsiveness is contributing to the good progress the school is making to support students to succeed as Māori. Professional learning in mathematics is helping teachers to raise the achievement for Māori and other students achieving at lower levels in Mathematics.

The board, senior leaders and teachers have close links with representatives from the local marae. These links have enabled them to build strong relationships with whānau and share resources that support Māori students’ success as Māori.

Other school initiatives that are contributing to promoting the success of Māori as Māori are:

  • the establishment of a whānau committee
  • a school-funded te reo Māori teacher that has led to an increasing number of senior students studying te reo Māori
  • the introduction of a performing arts programme providing students with greater opportunities to learn and perform Māori arts
  • a range of opportunities for students’ cultural leadership.
Area for review and development

The school leaders agree they need more detailed planning to inform the future direction and to provide a stronger basis for self review in this area. This should include strengthening the consultation with Māori students and their whānau and the development of documentation about who is responsible, timeframes for implementation and review and reporting requirements.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is in a good place to sustain and improve its performance.

A culture of reflection and improvement is well led by senior leaders. The principal and senior leaders have high expectations for achievement and learning, and value the involvement and contributions of students, staff, parents and whānau. There are collaborative and positive relationships across the school and strong support from and for the community.

School leaders have developed and implemented an effective process of self review. This process shows the development, progress and next steps to improving outcomes for students. Examples of self reviews that are leading to improved outcomes for students include:

  • a good range of effective pastoral care programmes
  • the development of a staff welfare group
  • professional learning groups that are building leadership and supporting teachers to improve practices and programmes.
Areas for review and development

The current board has been in place since the beginning of 2014. Trustees are having board training with an external provider. They bring a good range of experience and expertise to their governance roles. They are currently consulting staff, students, and parents about the future direction of the school. During this process, the board and the senior leaders should continue to review:

  • how well the current leadership structure meets the changing dynamics of the school
  • how well the careers programme, including vocational pathways, is annually reviewed against long-term plans and goals for this area
  • how staff appraisal processes can be strengthened to ensure consistent practices for all staff.

The board needs to ensure that there is an effective process in place to review policies and that findings of self review are well analysed and followed up.

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 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

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

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school has effective systems and practices to support and review the quality of students’ wellbeing and education. Students are actively included and involved in all aspects of the school.

ERO identified, and senior leaders agree, that some aspects of the review process need formalising.

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.

Since the 2011 ERO review, there have been significant changes at board level. This has resulted in disruption to the cycle that ensures an annual appraisal of the principal against the professional standards for principals. The principal was not appraised against the principal’s performance agreement with the board of trustees in 2012 or 2013. At the time of this review, the 2014 the cycle of appraisal was still to be completed.

  • The board must ensure that the appraisal process for the principal is completed each year. [NZ Education Gazette: and relevant employment agreement]

Conclusion

The school has an inclusive culture and positive relationships. There is strong support from the community. Increasingly effective use of achievement information is promoting student progress, engagement and achievement. There is a positive trend in NCEA achievement over time. Curriculum choices and vocational pathways are being extended to meet students’ individual interests and needs. The board is currently consulting staff, students, and parents about the future direction of the school.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

15 October 2014

About the School

Location

Leeston, Canterbury

Ministry of Education profile number

349

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

512

Number of international students

7

Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/ Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

81%

14%

4%

1%

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

15 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

August 2008

September 2004