South Otago High School

Education institution number:
393
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
462
Telephone:
Address:

Frances Street, Rosebank, Balclutha

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South Otago High School - 19/07/2018

School Context

South Otago High School is a Years 9 -13 state co-educational secondary school in Balclutha, with a roll of 481 students.

There have been changes to the board and senior leadership since the last ERO review in 2015. Changes include the appointment of a new principal.

The school is part of a Ministry of Education initiative to improve student engagement.

The school’s mission statement is that with the support of the community it will provide students with a broad range of educational opportunities that challenge and enable them to achieve to the best of their ability. The school’s valued outcomes are for students to be prepared for life, socially and academically, and be effective members of society. At the time of this review, the school’s strategic priority was to continue to raise the engagement of all students.

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

  • progress and achievement in each curriculum area for students in Years 9 and 10

  • senior student achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • achievement in relation to school targets for literacy, and NCEA and Vocational Pathway endorsements.

South Otago High School is a member of the Big River Community of Learning/Kāhui Ako.

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’s progress and achievement information generally shows most students achieve and progress well. Over the past three years:

  • most Years 9 and 10 students have achieved at or above the school’s expectations

  • two thirds to three quarters of junior students made sufficient progress against their individual progress targets

  • usually 90% or more students gained NCEA Level 2

  • most students achieved NCEA Level 3 qualification

  • increased numbers of students are gaining Vocational Pathway endorsements

  • the achievement of literacy and numeracy at NCEA levels has remained high

  • overall achievement and progress for Māori learners in NCEA Levels 2 and 3 are very good.

There was a dip in NCEA achievement levels in 2017. Adjustments have been made to the senior school curriculum to ensure this is not repeated in 2018.

Senior students are well supported to remain at school and engage in meaningful pathways to achieve appropriate leavers' qualifications.

Significant improvements in school attendance and retention at school were reported for 2017.

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

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

The school can show good levels of accelerated progress at all year levels. However, it is not yet reportingclearly to the board on the extent to which students are making accelerated progress.

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 design of the school’s curriculum is future-focused and enabling students to succeed at and beyond school. The board has set a priority on improving engagement and achievement, and promoting student wellbeing. The school’s curriculum is suitably based on the New Zealand Curriculum, providing a variety of opportunities for students to develop attitudes and competencies to be life-long learners. School leaders have successfully integrated the New Zealand qualifications framework to enable students to learn meaningfully within an academic and/or vocational base. Strong partnerships with the community are in place to enhance students’ learning opportunities, achievement and wellbeing.

School systems show a well-placed and equal emphasis on student engagement, wellbeing, progress and achievement. The board has in place a long-term strategic priority to build teaching practices across the school to better respond to the diverse range of learners. School leaders have developed a structured and collaborative approach to know learners, identify those at risk and establish strategies to support them. Appropriate organisational changes have been made to better support the design of the curriculum.

The curriculum in action is highly responsive to ensure every student is learning and making sufficient progress to achieve their personalised achievement and progress goals. Leaders and teachers know the learners well. Parents and teachers are working increasingly together with students. This collaboration assists teachers to identify students’ strengths, interests and needs, set goals, and plan responsive learning support and learning programmes. Students with additional needs are well supported and having greater inclusion in mainstream learning. School leaders make well-considered adjustments to curriculum programmes to respond to identified needs of groups of and individual students.

The school has a strong culture of reflection that leads to modifications to better realise the school priority of increased student engagement. This ongoing improvement focus is well supported by:

  • the relational trust between teachers and with leaders to support collaboration and openness to change

  • teachers taking leadership roles in areas of interest and/or strength to work with others to build the collective capacity within the school.

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

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that it needs to embed recent school developments. This consolidation needs to include:

  • putting clear indicators of effective practice in place to support consistent and high-quality implementation and teaching practice

  • knowing how well curriculum programmes are meeting the needs of different cohorts of students from multiple sources of information, including students’ ideas and views.

Trustees, leaders and teachers need to plan more deliberately to achieve equitable outcomes for all. This should include setting clear achievement targets based on close scrutiny of data, and improvement plans that:

  • show the intended actions of groups of teachers and leaders

  • identify individual teacher’s professional development objectives

  • outline class teachers’ programme adaptations

  • tailor interventions to accelerate progress of students at risk of underachieving

  • regularly report progress and achievement to the board.

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 theEducation (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 ten international students attending the school, and no exchange students.

International students’ learning needs are carefully monitored and where necessary extra support is provided. They consistently achieve well. International students are well integrated into the school culture and community and take advantage of the range of opportunities offered.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a highly responsive curriculum which focuses on a holistic education for each individual student, with flexible and adaptive opportunities to learn

  • a school-wide focus on equity and excellence

  • reflective processes to inform decision making and necessary changes.

Next steps

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

  • embedding recent developments to achieve consistent and high-quality implementation

  • strengthening planning to support students at risk of not achieving.

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

19 July 2018

About the school

Location

Balclutha

Ministry of Education profile number

393

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

481

Gender composition

Boys: 52% Girls: 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 18%
Pākehā 69%
Pacific 2%
Other ethnicities 11%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

19 July 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: February 2015
Education Review: October 2011
Education Review: September 2009

South Otago High School - 02/02/2015

Findings

An increasing number of students are achieving well in NCEA at Levels 1 and 2. The principal and senior leadership team lead a strong focus to further improve student engagement and achievement. Students appreciate the positive changes to student behaviour and the environment. Teachers adapt programmes to meet students’ needs.

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?

The school has responded well to the 2011 ERO report. The board has a strong focus on promoting better outcomes for student engagement and achievement. A new principal and senior leadership team have been appointed to lead this change. They have made a number of improvements to the school culture and to teaching and learning.

Students appreciate the visibility and accessibility of the new principal and the positive changes to student behaviour and the school environment. Their opinions are valued and well used to make decisions about future development and for improving teaching practice.

An ongoing challenge for school leaders and teaching staff is the high staff turnover. Many young teachers move on after a few years to the next steps in their careers. This is a feature that continues to be carefully managed for students and staff.

The school has well-developed links with the local community. These support the school’s focus on improving students’ achievement.

2 Learning

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

This school is using student achievement information increasingly well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Overall, a greater proportion of students are gaining National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at Levels 1 and 2 than in comparable schools nationally. Most Year 11 students are achieving the literacy and numeracy requirements at Level 1 for NCEA. Merit and Excellence endorsements in NCEA are lower than in comparable schools. School leaders made this a specific area of focus, with a dedicated Merit and Excellence programme, begun in 2014.

The school is making good progress towards meeting the government’s target of 85% of school leavers attaining NCEA Level 2, with 80% of South Otago High School’s leavers achieving this in 2013. There are high levels of student retention to age 17.

Students use achievement information well with teachers to:

  • help set their own goals for improvement
  • have specific discussions about how well they are progressing towards their learning goals
  • engage in fortnightly checks where teachers report on each student’s attitude and work completion
  • know the target scores they are aiming to achieve in either NCEA, the Year 9 and 10 curriculum, or the South Otago Academic Programme (‘SOAP’).

Teachers use student achievement information well to:

  • identify those students at risk of not achieving
  • support the school’s system of fortnightly checks so that students have improved opportunities for success
  • follow an inquiry process that identifies and targets students to lift their engagement and achievement
  • celebrate students’ achievement of their goals in a range of ways.

The principal and other leaders:

  • set targets and goals to raise the achievement and engagement of groups of students including specific targets for Māori students
  • identify students at risk of not achieving, the possible reasons, and put in place appropriate support to achieve the school's annual targets
  • implement systems to support teachers to make better use of student achievement information
  • report to trustees about the overall picture of achievement.

Trustees are regularly informed about overall student attendance and achievement, and where improvements need to be made.

Areas for review and development

Teachers should more consistently help students know more about what they need to do next to achieve their goals.

Teachers and leaders should make better use of student achievement information to:

  • analyse what the information is showing
  • identify the gaps in students’ learning
  • plan what teachers will do differently to raise achievement.

Senior leaders should extend school-wide collation and analysis of student progress and achievement information. This will help ensure data is converted into useful learning information that can be used to evaluate the impact of programmes and what more needs to be done.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes student learning.

The school’s curriculum is increasingly responsive to the students’ learning needs and abilities, and their future career aspirations. Some learning programmes are successfully adapted to support students with diverse needs. Departments are providing an increasingly wide range of course opportunities in the senior school. These courses provide a greater vocational relevance to senior students. The school has particular strategies to support students not making sufficient progress. These strategies include teacher aides supporting students in class, specialist teachers working with groups of students and students completing catch-up work in a week of their holidays.

A priority for trustees and senior leaders is to continue to support students to aim for excellence in their level of engagement and achievement in their learning. Initiatives and systems are being embedded to improve the overall quality of teaching practice across the school. Teachers are supported by their peers and senior leaders to make improvements.

The principal and senior leaders are leading a focus on investigating how there can be an appropriate balance between academic, cultural and sporting achievement to best prepare students for success beyond school.

The school is exploring more effective ways to have collaborative two-way relationships with the parents of priority learners. Parents spoken with by ERO appreciate the positive differences to their children’s achievement levels and self-confidence made while in classes with programmes targeted to meet their learning needs.

Area for review and development

Departmental management documents provide useful information on the topics and courses to be taught at the different year levels. Senior leaders, curriculum leaders and teachers need to develop and document shared understandings of how the school values and New Zealand Curriculum principles are to be reflected throughout the school.

The principal and other curriculum leaders need to document clear expectations for what high-quality teaching practices should look like. These indicators could then be used to monitor, support and evaluate teaching in terms of the impact on students’ learning.

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

The school has developed useful systems to improve the achievement of Māori students and ensure Māori language, culture and identity is a part of school life and learning.

The overall level of achievement by Māori students in NCEA is similar to that of their non-Māori peers at the school, and in some cases better than for Māori students nationally. The percentage of Māori students staying on into senior classes is better than the national picture.

Māori students generally feel positive about their school and the focus for supporting them as individuals. They appreciate the many opportunities the school provides to help them experience success. They share good relationships with many of their teachers. Students who are at risk of not achieving as well as they could are quickly identified and provided with individual support and/or tailored programmes to help them achieve.

All students have opportunities to learn te reo Māori and to develop a strong understanding and appreciation for te ao Māori. The school kapa haka group provides them with broad and rich opportunities for learning deeper aspects of Māori language and culture and increased opportunities for gaining credits in NCEA.

The new principal shows a strong understanding of, and a value for, the cultures of Māori students and their families. She is approachable and accessible to students. Her senior leadership team works collaboratively with teachers and is committed to achieving better outcomes for Māori students. This includes placing a stronger responsibility on effective and culturally-inclusive teaching practices. The school's appraisal process supports teachers to value the ways cultural competencies engage Māori students effectively. These values are increasingly evident in the life of the school and many school activities.

The board has clear expectations for improving outcomes for Māori students. These include goals and targets for Māori engagement and achievement. The board’s next steps are to:

  • ensure each strategic goal is regularly reviewed and progress is reported
  • explore ways to better engage Māori parents and whānau.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has put systems in place to be in a better position to sustain and improve its position.

The annual and strategic plans provide useful guidance to improve outcomes for students. There are clear links from the strategic plan to professional development plans and the appraisal system to help bring about the planned improvements. The principal is working with trustees to determine the frequency of reports to the board that will show ongoing progress towards meeting the annual targets for improvement.

Trustees are well informed about the two main goals in this year’s annual plan, one to improve attendance/engagement and the second to lift achievement.

The principal and other school leaders are leading the changes that were identified by the board in consultation with the community. They are focusing on rapid improvement throughout the school. The principal needs to ensure that communications and responses to parents help to resolve issues effectively.

The principal:

  • made changes quickly, aligning resources required with the priorities set
  • used her knowledge of the learners and learning information to set appropriate goals
  • is promoting a collaborative learning culture for continuous staff improvement
  • invests in the development of middle managers
  • consults regularly and purposefully about the pace and manner of change.

The principal and senior leaders are strengthening their processes to increase staff knowledge and capacity to be professionally able to respond to students’ needs. They are leading, modelling, and supporting teachers’ professional development. A strengthened appraisal process is in place to support ongoing improvement.

The process for reviewing the curriculum has been refined to identify strengths within each department and the areas needing development. Once this process is well established, senior leaders and heads of department will be in a better position to use curriculum review to inform school-wide improvement.

Area for review and development

Trustees need to increase their capacity and awareness of their governance role. This should include better use of student achievement and engagement information to:

  • inform strategic decision making
  • support their role in strategic planning, monitoring and reviewing of their current priorities.

Trustees should expect that the reports they receive include analysis showing what difference is being made towards meeting the annual goals.

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. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school has an appropriate self-review process for international students. The outcomes of the process to review against the Code, along with the evidence to support each conclusion, should be reported annually to the board.

At the time of this review there were nine international students attending the school. From time to time the school hosts small groups of short-stay students. International students benefit from high quality pastoral care. Their education, involvement and integration into the school and its community are closely monitored and supported. Reports to trustees about provision for international students should have a clear focus on how well these students are supported, integrated and progressing in their learning.

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

An increasing number of students are achieving well in NCEA at Levels 1 and 2. The principal and senior leadership team lead a strong focus to further improve student engagement and achievement. Students appreciate the positive changes to student behaviour and the environment. Teachers adapt programmes to meet students’ needs.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

2 February 2015

About the School

Location

Balclutha

Ministry of Education profile number

393

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

492

Gender composition

Female: 51% Male: 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

Other

77%

14%

6%

1%

2%

Special features

Host provider for local primary schools' technology curriculum

Review team on site

September 2014

Date of this report

2 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

September 2009

August 2006