Otago Girls' High School

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Education institution number:
378
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
768
Telephone:
Address:

41 Tennyson Street, Dunedin

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1. Context

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

Otago Girls’ High School provides high quality education for students from Years 9 to 13. As the oldest secondary girls’ school in New Zealand its buildings, displays and other connections to the past are clearly evident and part of students’ learning programmes.

Students learn in a very positive, settled and supportive school culture which promotes their engagement and achievement. In 2014 the school gained a New Zealand Foundation for Character Education Award. Teachers and leaders work well together, sharing ideas and teaching practice. They communicate well with each other and the students, using ICT effectively in the process. Some senior classes and activities are shared with Otago Boys’ High School.

The school is extending its connections beyond the school to better support its students. It has formed a wide range of community partnerships to help enhance students’ learning. Partnerships with parents/whānau have been strengthened. Students have increased opportunities for service and other experiences of interest beyond the school. Key examples include the:

  • recent introduction of student learning conferences with parents and teacher mentors
  • increased focus on global connections through the wide range of languages taught, trips, exchanges, teacher scholarships and a global-learning programme for students
  • establishment and use of an alumni association.

Students ERO spoke with were very positive about:

  • the changes they perceive in their school culture
  • the way their teachers care about them as individuals and their learning
  • how their learning and wellbeing are valued.

Since the last ERO review in March 2011 a new principal has been appointed. There are more Pacific students enrolled. An enrolment scheme continues to be in place. A school-wide programme to promote and celebrate positive learning, behaviour and engagement is well embedded. Pastoral and support systems for students have been restructured to better meet their needs.

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 very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Senior student achievement information shows that:

  • achievement across NCEA is increasing and is higher than comparative schools nationally
  • there is an increase in the proportion of students participating in NCEA
  • the proportion of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 is consistently greater than 90%
  • achievement in literacy and numeracy at all levels of NCEA is consistently high
  • the proportion of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements has increased over time for most levels of NCEA
  • the retention of students to 17 years of age is very high.

The school’s Year 9 and 10 student achievement information shows:

  • most students make good progress in literacy and numeracy
  • most students are achieving at levels likely to prepare them for successful completion of Year 11 NCEA Level 1
  • significant gains in student achievement overall between Years 9 and 11.

Students feel well supported by teachers with their learning. Senior students are well aware of their progress towards NCEA. Students know what they need to do to improve their levels of achievement. They receive high quality next learning steps from their teachers.

Teachers are improving assessment opportunities for students to better meet students’ needs. They use student achievement information to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching. They closely monitor and support students’ progress over time.

Learning area leaders use student achievement information well to evaluate programmes and practices within their departments.

Senior leaders effectively use student learning information to evaluate how well programmes and initiatives are supporting students to learn and achieve. They have made substantial changes to class organisation and timetables to improve outcomes for students.

Trustees receive comprehensive information about student achievement across the school and are increasingly using this to help inform their decision making.

Next step

Senior leaders and trustees should review some student achievement targets to ensure a more specific focus is placed on students receiving additional support to progress their learning.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning. It provides rich and extensive learning opportunities for all students. Students are highly involved in academic, sporting and cultural activities. Teachers encourage and support students to take responsibility for their learning. Students have many opportunities for leadership. This helps ensure they are actively involved in and contributing to the school curriculum.

Key features of the curriculum include:

  • effective teaching, modelling and celebration of the school values of respect, positivity and integrity across all areas of the school
  • a wide range of learning experiences that reflect students’ interests and needs
  • a focus on offering students opportunities to develop global-citizenship competencies.

Students in need of additional help with their learning are effectively supported through targeted programmes and individuals attention. Support and resourcing for these learners has been strengthened.

Teachers provide students with multiple and varied opportunities to learn. They respond to student feedback and achievement information by adapting course content, assessment activities and their teaching practices.

School leaders have clear expectations for curriculum review, development and delivery. They are working with teachers to encourage robust evidence-based analysis of student outcomes. They create flexible and supportive conditions which allow for curriculum innovation.

Next step

The school is in the early stages of using the Vocational Pathways framework with students and teachers. ERO and the school agree that the next step is to:

  • investigate how well the current curriculum for senior students is preparing them to access pathways to future learning and work.
How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori and Pacific, as Pacific?

Māori students make up 11% of the school roll and Pacific students 6%. They achieve well in NCEA. Almost all students stay at school until they are 17 years of age. More students are choosing to learn te reo Māori and join the kapahaka group.

The school has strengthened its focus on raising individual achievement, celebrating success and retaining students to senior school levels. This is evident in the range of engagement and achievement initiatives for Māori and Pacific students. These include:

  • increasing opportunities for Māori and Pacific students to learn and share their language, culture and identity
  • successfully working with other schools, groups and experts
  • seeking and acting on ideas and opinions from Māori and Pacific students and their whānau/aiga
  • creating more opportunities for Māori and Pacific students to support and mentor their peers
  • ensuring te reo Māori classes are made available for students in Years 9-13
  • enabling more opportunities for students to gain NCEA credits for participation in kapahaka.

School leaders could:

  • extend how student survey information is used to inform planning and decision making for Māori and Pacific students
  • formalise overall planning to better show, review and report what the school is doing to best meet the needs of Māori and Pacific students.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The charter, including the strategic plan supports school improvement.

Senior leaders effectively use internal evaluation to support school operations and student outcomes. They have a clearly defined process for this. Appropriate forums are provided for teachers and students to comment on how they are finding aspects of the school. Teachers are supported and expected to inquire into aspects of their teaching practice.

The principal and other senior leaders:

  • very effectively manage change, evaluation and innovation, and are mindful of student and staff wellbeing
  • make changes that are thoroughly researched and prepare and support staff to effectively implement them
  • promote and participate in professional learning
  • work well together as a team and support other leaders and teachers to make changes for the benefit of students.

The principal effectively leads and models a culture of inquiry. She uses close scrutiny to inform change. She is actively leading a global focus for students.

The board is representative, responsive and committed. Trustees are in the process of rationalising their procedures to support their policies.

Next steps

Trustees could strengthen their ability and confidence to inquire deeply into the information they are presented with. They should also consider how to best make all governance documents more easily available for all trustees.

The board and senior leaders agree that more formal monitoring and reporting against the school’s strategic goals and annual targets would be useful.

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 41 international students attending the school, including one exchange student.

International students’ wellbeing and learning needs are closely monitored and supported by experienced staff. The staff communicates very effectively about students’ ongoing needs and progress. The integration of international students within the school is promoted.

A next step is to reinstate reporting to the board on learning and wellbeing outcomes for international students.

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

Otago Girls’ High School provides very well for its students. There are high levels of student involvement in sports, cultural events, trips, camps and exchanges. Students achieve very well in academic and other pursuits. A positive, inclusive atmosphere pervades the school with everyone working together to best support the students. The school is very effectively led and managed.

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

Chris Rowe
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

About the School

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

378

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

817

Number of international students

41

Gender composition

Female:                100%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Asian
Other
Pacific

67%
11%
   8%
   8%
   6%

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

29 October 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

March 2011
September 2007
August 2004

 

Community Page

7 March 2011

To the Parents and Community of Otago Girls' High School

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Otago Girls' High School.

Otago Girls’ High School continues to provide high quality education for girls in Years 9 to 13. It upholds its proud history of being the oldest girls’ school in New Zealand. There are high expectations for achievement, behaviour and participation in school activities for all students.

ERO observed caring and respectful relationships between different groups within the school community. Peer support provided by Year 13 students helps Year 9 students settle into school life. At each year level students can choose from a range of leadership opportunities.

At the time of the review, the school roll was 827. Ten percent of the students identify as Māori, an increase from 2007. Their presence and culture are valued within the school. Students from different ethnic groups are valued and effectively included.

A strong partnership between parents and school is encouraged through consultation and reporting. Students’ opinions are valued and they participate in decision making through the School Council and the Board of Trustees.

Over the last two years, senior leaders and teachers have designed a curriculum that is responsive to the interests and abilities of the students. It is well founded on the values and principles of the national curriculum. A major thrust of the school curriculum is to encourage students to participate in the many academic, sporting and cultural activities offered at the school. School information shows high levels of participation. The school continues to embed the curriculum into practice.

Students benefit from good to high quality teaching, where the focus is on achievement. Teachers, deans and leaders use achievement information effectively to identify learning strengths and learning needs, and to support students in their course choices. Class lessons are structured with an emphasis on developing students’ skills for immediate and long-term learning.

Student achievement is high. In National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), students’ overall results for many years compare very favourably with, or exceed, similar schools. Māori and international student achievement is also high. Achievement in sport, cultural activities and individual pursuits of any kind is promoted and celebrated. The school sets challenging targets to raise achievement levels, especially in Years 11 to 13.

Notable strengths of the school are the breadth and depth of professional leadership, governance, strategic planning and self-review practices. New developments and changes are managed well. A key to this good management is the meaningful use of a range of data collected on almost all aspects of the school’s operation. The subsequent analysis provides sound evidence for decision making and identifying areas for development.

Future Action

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

Review Coverage

This report provides an evaluation of how effectively the school’s curriculum promotes student learning - engagement, progress and achievement. ERO’s evaluation takes account of the school’s previous reporting history and is based on:

  • what is known about student achievement information, including the achievement of Māori and Pacific students;
  • decisions made to improve student achievement using assessment and selfreview information; and
  • teaching strategies and programmes implemented to give effect to the school’s curriculum.

ERO also gathers information during the review to contribute to its national reports. The national reports are published on ERO’s website.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, www.ero.govt.nz.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

General Information about Reviews

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve educational achievement in schools; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the government.

Reviews are intended to focus on student achievement and build on each school’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting integrates the following:

  • school curriculum;
  • national evaluation topics –contribute to the development of education policies and their effective implementation; and
  • the Board Assurance Statement, including student and staff health and safety.

ERO’s review is responsive to the school’s context. When ERO reviews a school, it takes into account the characteristics of the community from which it draws its students, its aspirations for its young people, and other relevant local factors.

ERO also builds on the school’s own self-review information. ERO is interested in how a school monitors the progress of its students and aspects of school life and culture, and how it uses this information to improve student learning.

This helps ERO to answer the major evaluation question for reviews:

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

Areas for Development and Review

ERO reports include areas for development and review to support ongoing improvement by identifying priorities. Often the school will have identified these matters through its own self review and already plans further development in those areas.

Disclaimer

Individual ERO school and early childhood services reports are public information and may be copied or sent electronically.  However, the Education Review Office can guarantee only the authenticity of original documents which have been obtained in hard copy directly from either the local ERO office or ERO Corporate Office in Wellington.  Please consult your telephone book, or see the ERO web page, http://www.ero.govt.nz, for ERO office addresses.

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Confirmed Education Review Report:Otago Girls' High School

This report has been prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

Otago Girls’ High School continues to provide high quality education for girls in Years 9 to 13. It upholds its proud history of being the oldest girls’ school in New Zealand. There are high expectations for achievement, behaviour and participation in school activities for all students.

ERO observed caring and respectful relationships between different groups within the school community. Peer support provided by Year 13 students helps Year 9 students settle into school life. At each year level students can choose from a range of leadership opportunities.

At the time of the review, the school roll was 827. Ten percent of the students identify as Māori, an increase from 2007. Their presence and culture are valued within the school. Students from different ethnic groups are valued and effectively included.

A strong partnership between parents and school is encouraged through consultation and reporting. Students’ opinions are valued and they participate in decision making through the School Council and the Board of Trustees.

Over the last two years, senior leaders and teachers have designed a curriculum that is responsive to the interests and abilities of the students. It is well founded on the values and principles of the national curriculum. A major thrust of the school curriculum is to encourage students to participate in the many academic, sporting and cultural activities offered at the school. School information shows high levels of participation. The school continues to embed the curriculum into practice.

Students benefit from good to high quality teaching, where the focus is on achievement. Teachers, deans and leaders use achievement information effectively to identify learning strengths and learning needs, and to support students in their course choices. Class lessons are structured with an emphasis on developing students’ skills for immediate and long-term learning.

Student achievement is high. In National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), students’ overall results for many years compare very favourably with, or exceed, similar schools. Māori and international student achievement is also high. Achievement in sport, cultural activities and individual pursuits of any kind is promoted and celebrated. The school sets challenging targets to raise achievement levels, especially in Years 11 to 13.

Notable strengths of the school are the breadth and depth of professional leadership, governance, strategic planning and self-review practices. New developments and changes are managed well. A key to this good management is the meaningful use of a range of data collected on almost all aspects of the school’s operation. The subsequent analysis provides sound evidence for decision making and identifying areas for development.

Future Action

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

2. Otago Girls' High School’s Curriculum

How effectively does the curriculum of Otago Girls' High School promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

School context and self review

The school’s vision is that students value and respect themselves, others and the global community, and that they are passionate about learning and pursuing excellence. The school is committed to providing the highest quality education for all girls in a safe, caring and inclusive environment.

Otago Girls’ High School has a strong reporting history with ERO, especially in the area of self review. Self review supports the focus on ongoing improvement. The two major teacher professional development projects for 2010 are in literacy and e-learning.

Areas of strength

Student achievement. Students continue to achieve at high levels academically and in a wide range of sporting and cultural endeavours. Student achievement in external qualifications is consistently high in relation to similar schools. The school is able to show good rates of progress for students as they move from Year 9 to Year 11. The strategic goal to improve retention and achievement for Māori students is being well realised. The school values the high levels of student participation in sport, culture and clubs and sees this as contributing to the strength of student engagement in classrooms. High expectations across the school are contributing to strong student achievement in terms of a well-rounded education.

Self-managing learners. Students benefit from the school-wide and structured emphasis on developing their skills for immediate and long-term learning. There is a well-developed programme to build students’ learning skills. This is evident in classroom units of work, the interactions between teachers and students, and the expectation that learning skills will support students’ approaches to learning. All students have dedicated teaching time to introduce and revisit learning techniques. This emphasis on learning to learn links directly to the school’s vision for passionate learners pursuing excellence.

Learning environment. Students’ learning is enhanced by the high quality learning environment. The contributing factors to this environment include:

  • affirmative and supportive relationships where individuals really matter;
  • an inclusive culture where diversity is celebrated and a genuine commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi is shown; and
  • strong collegial staff relationships.

Curriculum design. The recently redesigned curriculum is a key component of the learning environment. It has been revised to effectively promote student success and best meet students’ needs and interests. It is defined in wide terms and appropriately incorporates all that affects students while they are at school. The initial review process identified what was worth retaining. The principles of the New Zealand Curriculum are evident in the design and ongoing curriculum decisions. The curriculum is challenging and responds to different learning levels and needs through programmes such as learning support, Gateway and the careful use of teacher aides. The design promotes student engagement and achievement, and includes multiple opportunities for students to develop their leadership abilities.

Quality of teaching. Overall students benefit from good to high quality teaching. Teachers demonstrated pedagogical knowledge, effective classroom management and a focus on learning. They benefit from a coordinated approach to their professional development and appraisal, where they are encouraged to reflect on their practice and develop their skills. Classroom-learning activities are varied, including cooperative and differentiated tasks, and problem solving. Teachers use effective questioning and give students meaningful feedback that checks and extends their understanding.

Leadership. Professional leadership is strong at all levels of the school. The principal models effective leadership and is central to promoting and maintaining the school culture. Senior leaders, heads of department and staff with specific responsibilities work well together to implement the academic and cocurricular activities for students. Goals and expectations to move the school forward are very clear and allow all staff to make use of their leadership skills. Leaders manage change effectively. Strong school-wide leadership is building the pedagogical and cultural conditions needed for successful learning and teaching. Students demonstrate their leaderships skills where appropriate.

Strategic planning. Trustees, senior leaders and staff work strategically to bring about the achievement of school goals and to run the school effectively. Trustees and leaders are constantly looking for improvement. There is appropriate alignment between the strategic plan, the annual plan and what happens in classrooms for students. The board’s strategic goals support the vision of school. Trustees are well informed about school achievements through reports from heads of departments and committees. In turn, the board reports to the community on how well the strategic goals have been achieved.

Self review. School leaders continue to develop and make good use of robust self-review processes. Self-review processes are well integrated into school management and operations. They link to the school’s strategic direction and are usually focused on student achievement. Where appropriate, student and parent perspectives are included. The self-review approach of focusing on “data causing concern” is a useful approach that ensures that reviews lead to positive actions. Self review is used for setting targets for improvement and to raise student achievement. Self review generates valid information which is used to provide evidence for change at department, school or board level.

Area for development

During the course of the review, the school leaders, trustees and ERO discussed priorities for ongoing development.

Embedding curriculum developments. ERO and the school agree that continuing with developments in curriculum delivery is desirable. Teachers have been engaged in ongoing professional development to improve the quality of teaching and levels of student engagement since before the 2007 ERO review. ERO observed multiple examples of good quality teaching during the review but also observed aspects of teaching that could be improved. Many teachers have identified specific areas of their teaching they would like to improve. The school has effective systems in place to monitor and develop the performance of all teachers. Senior leaders know where further improvement is needed to benefit student engagement and learning.

3. Provision for International Students

Otago Girls' High School is providing its international students with high quality education and pastoral care. Monitoring systems are effective. For example, great care is taken to ensure that students are well prepared for their next educational destination after this school. International students are valued by, and are well integrated, into the wider school community.

Compliance with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students and the Provision of English Language Support

Otago Girls' High 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.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

4. Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of Otago Girls' High School completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

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

During the review, ERO looked at the school’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records. ERO sampled recent use of procedures and ERO also checked elements of the following five areas that have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

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

During the course of the review ERO identified no areas of non-complaince.

5. Future Action

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

7 March 2011

About The School

School type

Secondary (Year 9 – 13)

Decile1

9

School roll

827

Number of international students

25

Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 73%

Māori 10%

Asian 6%

Pacific 2%

Others 9%

Review team on site

November 2010

Date of this report

7 March 2011

Previous three ERO reports

Education Reviews September 2007

August 2004

Accountability Review October 2001

1 School deciles range from one to ten. Decile one schools  draw their students from low socioeconomic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.