Dunstan High School

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Education institution number:
372
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:
608
Telephone:
Address:

Enterprise Street, Alexandra

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School Context

Dunstan High School is a state, co-educational school for students in Years 9 to 13. It is located in Alexandra, Central Otago. The current roll is 566 students, 96 of whom identify as Māori. At the time of the review the school had six international students.

The school’s mission is ‘To support all students to seek their best in all aspects of life’. The school’s vision is ‘For our young people to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners’.

The school’s valued outcomes focus on four inter-related areas called ‘Cornerstones’. The cornerstones are: personal educational excellence, positive community relationships, providing a supportive environment, and providing academic, sporting and cultural opportunities. These four areas also form the basis of the school’s strategic direction.

The school’s guiding principles refer to the desire to learn, work hard and achieve personal best, honesty and respect for all, friendship and generosity towards others, and a sense of pride and belonging to school.

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

  • achievement in all learning areas, in relation to the levels of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)
  • other valued outcomes, including wellbeing and attendance.

Significant features of the school include shared onsite community facilities, an international students’ programme, a hostel, a learning support facility and Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) for students who have high or very high education needs. Since the 2015 ERO review, the school has had a change in principal and significant property development.

The school is part of the Dunstan Kāhui Ako|Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

The school is effective in supporting most of its senior students to achieve equitable outcomes and the school’s valued outcomes. School data shows good rates of attendance and retention for students across all year groups.

School National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data shows that from 2014 to 2018:

  • most students consistently achieve NCEA Level 1 and 2

  • a large majority of students consistently achieved NCEA Level 3

  • a small majority of students consistently achieved university entrance (U.E.)

  • there was disparity at NCEA and UE, sometimes significant, for students who identify as Māori

  • there was disparity at NCEA and UE, sometimes significant, for boys.

For students in Year 9, school data for 2018 shows that:

  • in reading, writing and mathematics, a large majority of students achieved at or above expected curriculum levels

  • there was disparity in reading, writing and mathematics for students who identify as Māori

  • there was disparity in reading and writing for boys.

For students in Year 10 school data for 2018 shows that:

  • in reading, writing and mathematics, fewer than half of students achieved at or above expected curriculum levels

  • there was disparity in literacy and mathematics for students who identify as Māori

  • there was an ongoing disparity in literacy for boys

  • there was disparity in mathematics for girls.

The school’s learning support facility provides appropriate programmes and opportunities to meet the targeted needs of students, some of whom have additional or complex learning needs. These students are well supported to make sound progress against appropriately challenging goals within their individual education plans.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

ERO is unable to make a judgement about rates and sufficiency of progress for students. The school is currently developing systems to track, monitor and report on sufficiency of progress. School data indicates that some targeted students make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

The school provides a positive, caring and supportive learning culture. Strong pastoral systems and processes promote student wellbeing. Student voice is valued and provides important feedback on many aspects of school operation. Positive and respectful relationships amongst students and teachers enhance students’ sense of belonging and readiness to learn.

Students have access to a responsive and broad curriculum. A wide range of co-curricular activities complement the personalised programmes and diverse pathways that are available to students. The school makes good use of local and regional people, places and resources to enrich learning. This work supports an increased appreciation throughout the school of Māori culture. Appropriate systems are in place to provide individual support for students with additional needs.

Reflective and improvement focused leaders promote and model an inclusive school culture and build leadership opportunities for both staff and students. The school consults widely with the community and responds effectively. As a result, school leaders and trustees make well-informed resourcing decisions for whole school improvement.

The school ensures there are sound processes and practices in place to build teacher capability. There is a clear alignment of strategic priorities with professional learning, teacher appraisal, induction and mentoring. Leaders recognise and use teacher strengths and intentionally recruit staff to best meet student and school needs, as well as to build capability. The school is improving the monitoring and analysis of student information to inform teaching and learning.

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

The school should continue to strengthen culturally responsive practice by giving greater prominence to te ao and te reo Māori in day-to-day teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders must take affirmative action in relation to te ao Māori and te reo Māori to ensure that students who identify as Māori can succeed as Māori.

Aspects of internal evaluation need strengthening to be more evaluative and strategic. Teachers need to deepen their inquiry into the effectiveness of strategies and interventions, to lift student achievement. Clearly identifying relevant evaluation indicators, outcomes and the impact on students in reporting, will further assist decision making at all levels of the school. Ongoing development of the analysis and reporting of achievement data against school strategic goals will provide a clearer picture of rates of progress, achievement and how well the school is addressing in school disparity for students.

3 Other Matters

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel accommodates up to 50 students. At the time of this review there were 38 students in residence, representing about 6% of the roll. Most students reside in the hostel from Monday to Friday. A small number, including some international students, reside for the full week.

The hostel is owned by the school. The school attests that all requirements of the Hostel Regulations have been met. ERO’s investigations confirm that there are sound processes to support students’ wellbeing, safety and learning. Under the new management, hostel facilities have been significantly improved. Students spoke positively about the new management, in terms of their care and responsiveness to student suggestions.

Provision for international students

Dunstan High 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. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school has sound processes for reviewing its compliance against the code. The new director for International Students (IS), is providing useful reports to trustees about IS provision.

At the time of this review, there were six international students enrolled. Students spoke positively about their experience at the school. They felt well supported pastorally and academically. IS staff ensured that new students felt welcome, included and were given helpful orientation into the school and into the local community.

4 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 Children’s Act 2014.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Dunstan High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • an environment that values students’ perspectives and supports their participation in learning
  • a responsive and localised curriculum that recognises student’s needs and interests
  • strategic leadership that is consultative and improvement focused.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to focus on developing culturally responsive practices that include an increased understanding of te ao Māori and te reo Māori
  • Māori succeeding as Māori
  • strengthening knowledge and capability in internal evaluation to more clearly identify the impact of actions on valued student outcomes, for identified groups of students.

Dr Lesley Patterson
Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini
Southern Region
31 July 2019

About the school

Location

Alexandra

Ministry of Education profile number

372

School type

Secondary

School roll

566

Gender composition

Boys 296, Girls 270

Ethnic composition

Māori 96

NZ European/ Pākehā 445

Other ethnicities 25

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

31 July 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review July 2015

Education Review May 2012

Findings

Students at Dunstan High School are well provided for. They enjoy many opportunities to participate in school activities and the local environment, academic and vocational courses. The school’s current focus is to raise student achievement. There are effective systems of pastoral care and strengthening systems for academic monitoring. Recent school developments in ICT have improved parents’ access to their children’s learning information.

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?

Dunstan High School in Alexandra is the only secondary school in this area of Central Otago. The school’s hostel accommodates up to 48 students for five-day or full-week boarding options. Students and the school are an integral part of the local community. The school’s whare, gymnasium and classrooms are shared with the community. The school and community work closely to support students’ learning.

The school’s vision is to provide learning experiences that suit each student. Its four cornerstone beliefs support students to become well-rounded citizens. Teachers know students and their families well. Students show a strong sense of belonging to their school, fostered through the house and tutor-group structure. A recent programme to encourage positive behaviour has contributed to a settled and supportive school culture that promotes and supports student engagement.

Students ERO spoke with were very positive about:

  • their relationships with their teachers
  • the way in which older students interact with and support younger students (tuakana-teina)
  • the many cultural, sporting, service and academic opportunities they have
  • teachers’ responsiveness to their learning needs
  • the many leadership opportunities they have and enjoy.

School staffing is stable with staff working well together to support students’ learning. The board resources extra staffing and this helps to make class sizes smaller in Years 9 and 10. The staff work with outside agencies for the benefit of students. There has been significant development in the use of ICT, including improved sharing of information and resources about students’ achievement and learning. There is an ongoing programme of building redevelopment to support modern learning.

Since the last ERO review in 2012, the board, leaders and teachers are making better use of self-review findings.

2 Learning

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

The school is using individual student achievement information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. There is a strong focus on raising engagement in learning and achievement for individual students.

Senior student achievement information shows:

  • students’ achievement overall in NCEA Levels 1 to 3 is increasing
  • the majority of school leavers attain NCEA Level 2
  • senior students’ literacy achievement in all levels of NCEA has increased in the last four years
  • Māori students’ achievement in NCEA is improving
  • the proportion of students gaining merit endorsements has increased for NCEA Levels 1 to 3.

The school has identified that it wants to increase the number of students gaining excellence endorsements.

Students feel well supported with their learning. They appreciate the range of strategies teachers use to help them.

There are improved systems for identifying and supporting students who are at risk of poor educational outcomes. Information about students’ learning needs is shared effectively between staff who need to know this.

Teachers are using student achievement information well to plan and deliver programmes for students. Individual student achievement information is increasingly collated and shared between teachers and departments through student profiles.

Senior leaders, teachers, parents and students are well informed about student engagement and achievement through a fortnightly reporting system. This is contributing to strengthening learning relationships with parents. This system is a focus for learning conversations between teachers and students. It is timely for the school to review how well this system is supporting senior students.

Areas for review and development

School leaders need to carry out deeper analysis and interpretation of student achievement and progress information for all year levels, particularly Years 9 and 10 students. This information should be reported to the board and used to inform self review and planning for professional learning.

The school’s student achievement targets should focus more on accelerating the progress of groups of students who have low achievement. Targets need to align with a plan that clearly shows what will be done to lift students’ achievement.

Leaders should ensure there is ongoing monitoring and reporting of progress towards meeting charter targets from departments and deans to senior leaders and the board.

3 Curriculum

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

Students benefit from a broad and rich curriculum. The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning and responds to their immediate and future needs.

Teachers go out of their way to accommodate students’ subject preferences. The courses students select and the ensuing timetable are constructed to best meet their needs and interests. Curriculum leaders are working to ensure effective alignment of programmes between the junior and senior school.

The school’s aim for students to be honest and respectful, do their personal best, show friendship and to be involved is evident in the way students behave. Students value the many sports, cultural and service-learning experiences they have beyond the classroom. Their teachers place a strong focus on using the local environment and resources to make learning relevant, interesting and fun.

Senior students appreciate the variety of programmes for outdoor pursuits, vocational learning and learning about high performance. These are supported by a variety of pathways for learning, such as through the local trades academy, e-learning technologies, correspondence school programmes and Gateway courses. Learning support programmes for students with high needs are well developed.

Some departments have an ongoing focus to improve students’ literacy beyond English classes. This has involved strategies to improve students’ literacy skills across learning areas. This initiative is increasing teachers’ collaboration and their confidence in supporting students’ literacy in their subject area.

Students are provided with effective opportunity to learn through:

  • a settled learning environment
  • learning that is provided at the right level of challenge for them
  • a supportive and inclusive learning community.

Area for review and development

Senior leaders and department leaders need to improve the way strategies for achieving the school targets for improving student achievement are identified, implemented, evaluated and reported.

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

The board, leaders, teachers and whānau have developed a shared understanding of Māori success at this school. Students ERO spoke with felt well supported by their teachers and their peers.

The school has maintained close links with its Māori community. This helps inform school development and the identification of plans and initiatives to raise Māori achievement. Recently the level of retention, engagement and achievement of Māori students has increased.

The school is seeking a more consistent inclusion of bicultural practice in classroom learning and in the daily life of the school. The te reo and tikanga Māori programme has been recently reviewed to help strengthen student involvement in this learning area.

School leaders acknowledge that they need to review the way they monitor and evaluate the school’s plan for Māori success.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has sustained and improved its performance.

The school’s charter, with strategic and annual plans, supports school improvement. These plans have identified four key strategic priorities. The priorities link well to the school’s ‘cornerstones of success’. They are evident in departmental goals and flow into classroom programmes.

The school has a culture of ongoing improvement. New programmes and initiatives are well aligned to school priorities and values. These developments provide rich opportunities for staff to follow an area of special interest and/or strength. The literacy projects undertaken over the last four years have been managed carefully to ensure an effective pace of change and that staff gain the necessary knowledge and skills.

School reviews are thorough and make recommendations for improvement. Leaders use a range of practices to gather useful information, including the gathering of student perceptions. Specific projects have been reviewed, for example the school-wide behaviour initiative and literacy developments. Useful next steps are identified from reviews to continue the developments.

Senior students take a significant role in promoting school programmes, priorities and initiatives. At the time of the review they were running a series of captivating assembly segments to help all students develop sound study skills and attitudes.

Areas for review and development

The senior leadership team should provide the board with interim progress reports that describe and evaluate progress towards meeting the school’s annual targets and strategic goals.

The senior leadership team gathers useful information from the teaching staff, including their views about timetabling and teaching preferences. ERO recommends that the board surveys all employees anonymously to determine how well it is meeting its 'good employer' obligations.

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 seven international students attending the school. They receive a high standard of pastoral care. Student surveys show a high level of satisfaction with the quality of students’ home-stay care. Students spoken with appreciated the many opportunities provided for them to integrate with their school peers.

The learning and achievement of international students is closely monitored. The fortnightly reporting of each student’s engagement and achievement is accessible by parents and students.

The school leaders agree that next steps are to ensure:

  • the review of international students’ learning programmes includes students’ views about their learning

  • reports to the board also include information about the achievement and quality of programmes for international students.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel currently accommodates 45 students, 8% of the school roll. It is owned by Dunstan High School Board of Trustees.

The board continues to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe environment that supports students’ welfare and learning. Learning is actively promoted within the hostel through strong links with the school’s teaching staff. Several of the hostel supervisors are also teachers. The hostel manager works closely with parents to support student learning and welfare in the most appropriate way.

Some key positive features impacting on hostel students include:

  • the effective use students make of the wide range of what this school and community offer, in particular the sporting facilities
  • the physical environment providing students with plenty of privacy and suitable spaces for dining, study and recreation
  • the hostel manager establishing effective administration systems
  • increasing use of ICT to streamline operations and improve links with parents
  • hostel management being well supported by a separate board committee.

Hostel students ERO spoke with were very positive about the value of being in the hostel in terms of supporting their education.

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.

During the course of the review the school identified that a significant number of staff police vets were not up to date. They were all reapplied for at this time.

Conclusion

Students at Dunstan High School are well provided for. They enjoy many opportunities to participate in school activities and the local environment, academic and vocational courses. The school’s current focus is to raise student achievement. There are effective systems of pastoral care and strengthening systems for academic monitoring. Recent school developments in ICT have improved parents’ access to their children’s learning information.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

8 July 2015

About the School

Location

Alexandra

Ministry of Education profile number

372

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

539

Number of international students

7

Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 85%

Māori 11%

Pacific 1%

Asian 3%

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

8 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2012

Education Review May 2009

Education Review November 2005