Rutherford College

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Findings

Leaders, teachers and trustees are committed to providing students with personalised learning programmes and an environment that is conducive to learning. Students are proud of their school and enjoy diverse curriculum and leadership opportunities. They benefit from consistent values, high expectations for success, and support to navigate meaningful learning qualifications and pathways.

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?

Rutherford College is a well-established Years 9 to 13 school serving families from the
Te Atatu Peninsula and surrounding districts. The college has historically had close connections with nearby primary and intermediate schools. In 2015, the college and nine local schools joined to form the Te Atatu Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

Relationships with Māori whānau are positive. Kāumatua and whānau speak highly of the recent efforts of school leaders to consult and respond to their aspirations relating to tikānga and te reo Māori. There are increased opportunities for Māori students to succeed as Māori.

Students are proud of their school. They seek opportunities for leadership, enjoy positive and supportive relationships with teachers, and benefit from the inclusive, and culturally responsive relational educational practices. Eighty percent of students leave school with the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) at Level 2.

The college has a strong commitment to equity and inclusion. The school-based Turangawaewae unit enables a group of students with very high learning needs to participate in mainstream programmes and experience success. Programmes for students with moderate learning needs and special abilities are also well coordinated and resourced.

College leaders have taken a constructive and purposeful role in promoting community engagement. There is clear alignment with management goals and targets and the school’s strategic vision and direction. Effective leadership of the college and of the board of trustees has enabled the school to make ongoing progress and improve outcomes for learners.

2 Learning

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

College leaders use student achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Well-analysed achievement data for Years 9 and 10 and Level 1 to 3 NCEA are reported to the board. Trends over time, and comparisons with local and national achievement inform school goals and targets, management decisions and long-term planning.

Students are achieving well overall, including those with high learning needs. The percentage of school leavers attaining Level 2 NCEA has been around 80% in recent years. While this percentage is below the Government target of 85%, many more students, including Māori students, are achieving NCEA endorsed qualifications at Level 2.

Despite these positive trends, Level 1 NCEA, and the achievement of Pacific learners, are challenges recognised by school leaders. Targets for priority learners are incorporated in annual planning and in the school’s Māori and Pacific Achievement Plans. New initiatives, including the recent appointment of a Pacific Development Officer aim to strengthen community engagement. These plans could be further progressed with a more clearly identified senior leadership role for Pacific students and their families.

The school has a strong commitment to all students reaching their potential. ATOM: “achieving to our maximum” is the combined focus of tutor teachers, support staff, deans and careers services across each year level. The strategies, well known to students, involve personalised goal setting and mentoring. Teachers know the range of abilities in their classrooms and identify priority learners, those most at risk of not achieving.

School leaders anticipate that long-term involvement through the CoL offers possibilities for a deeper focus on supporting individual learners, particularly priority learners. The possibilities for sharing data, trusting teacher judgements, and developing a common language of learning across Years 8 to 10, will benefit learners, and ensure a more seamless transition.

The college has expectations for learning that include academic, sporting, cultural and social outcomes. These valued outcomes, together with the competencies and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC), could be explored more fully in constructing a Rutherford learner profile. School leaders agree that such a profile could become part of the school’s vision for excellence.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is increasingly responsive to parent and student aspirations. Traditional academic programmes are complemented by a wider range of curriculum pathways, including performing arts, carpentry, electronics, and hospitality that are taught to a high standard. The school endeavours to ensure that every student attains meaningful qualifications and has a pathway to further education, training or employment.

The restructure of Year 9 and 10 classes has been pivotal to shifting the delivery of the curriculum towards more differentiated, student-centred teaching approach. Curriculum levels inform department planning, assessment and reporting practices. Teachers know their learners well, and with the introduction of a new student management system in 2017, are now better able to track their progress and achievement.

The curriculum provides a wide variety of leadership opportunities that are eagerly sought by students. They contribute in areas of sports, health and wellbeing, peer support, and community engagement. The student council, student trustee, and the well-managed International Student programme are valued for their contribution to the curriculum. Senior students are role models for junior students and actively promote the school’s vision and values of diversity and respect.

Students participate in rich co-curricular programmes that include cultural performance, competitive sport and outdoor education. They are capable learners and Review Officers spoke with many who expressed pride in the school. School leaders plan to carry out a school-wide student survey in 2017. They see the value in seeking a broad range of student opinion to inform school development and ongoing internal evaluation.

Clearly stated expectations, shared by students and teachers, contribute to the settled and purposeful learning environment. There are high levels of classroom engagement and a wide range of pastoral care systems. The well-embedded Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme underpins this positive climate for learning. Student management approaches are becoming more restorative, with a declining need for disciplinary interventions.

Teachers share learning expectations with students, assisting them to develop strategies for managing their learning. They provide regular feedback to students about their progress and success. There is potential through the Devices for Learning Plan (D4L) to further increase learner engagement through the increased use of digital learning strategies.

There is also potential through the CoL, for the development of cross-school approaches to learning. This coordinated initiative will contribute to students having greater agency and ownership of their learning.

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

Te Kōtuku whare and roopu are well established in the college and are becoming more integral components of the school culture. Kaumatua and kuia are respected leaders who provide advice to guide appropriate whole-school kawa and tikanga. Kapa haka performances and the Year 12 and 13 Mahi a Toi Academy provide opportunities for Māori students to achieve success as Māori.

The college is taking a planned approach to strengthening outcomes for Māori as Māori, including recent consultation through whānau hui about aspirations, targets and goal setting. The resurgence of the school haka and the introduction of tikanga in the Year 9 curriculum provides opportunities for all students to learn about and contribute to the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The board and principal are leading these strategic developments with support from key members of staff and the leadership team. Māori students involved in recent whole-school developments have responded positively. School leaders have recognised the needs of the many Māori students who are not actively involved in marae-based programmes, to experience tikanga Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain positive changes and continue to improve its performance. The energised school leadership team works collaboratively with clearly delegated school-wide roles and responsibilities. School developments are strategically aligned, well managed and regularly reported through the principal to the board.

Internal evaluation has been strengthened in recent years. New initiatives are implemented thoughtfully and systematically evaluated. Senior and middle school leaders use evidence to support their analysis and self-review processes, with well-documented department reports identifying successes and challenges.

The focus of internal evaluation is increasingly concerned with improving equitable outcomes. One particular example is the restructuring of Year 9 and 10 programmes from streamed classes to mixed ability bands, while another relates to the refocusing of support for students with special needs and those with special abilities. These examples of school-wide change are thoughtfully researched.

Performance management is becoming another area of strength. Teachers are inquiring into the effectiveness of their practice using student achievement as the focus of their inquiry. Teacher appraisal is more evidence based and connected to professional learning. Teachers support the direction of the school and engage constructively in school improvement.

The board of trustees has also evaluated its role in supporting the school. Trustees represent their diverse community effectively. Capable leadership of the board enables trustees to work efficiently, prioritising meeting time for in-depth discussion of progress relating to strategic goals and targets.

Trustees seek assurance, based on a documented annual work-plan, of how the school vision is enacted. They are very supportive of community engagement initiatives and the school’s role in developing the CoL. The board has contributed to resolving long-standing property matters, and has supported the principal through leadership and staffing changes.

The board has recently revised its policy framework. Its broad overarching policies now require senior leaders to keep school procedures updated and ensure these are well communicated. It is important that school procedures reflect current regulations, particularly where legislation has changed such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and 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 58 international students attending the school, including two exchange students.

International students are very well cared for and experience high quality programmes that are suited to their learning and wellbeing. They are well integrated into the school community and participate in school cultural and sporting activities. The school provides opportunities for international students to take on leadership roles. 

The school’s monitoring system for international students is effectively administered and ensures that they receive high quality pastoral support. The board receives regular reports about the quality of education provided for international students, their care and how well they are progressing and achieving.

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

Leaders, teachers and trustees are committed to providing students with personalised learning programmes and an environment that is conducive to learning. Students are proud of their school and enjoy diverse curriculum and leadership opportunities. They benefit from consistent values, high expectations for success, and support to navigate meaningful learning qualifications and pathways.

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

Steffan Brough
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

15 May 2017

About the School 

Location

Te Atatu, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

40

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1303

Number of international students

58

Gender composition

Boys      50%
Girls       50%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Chinese
Samoan
Indian
Fijian
Tongan
other Pacific
other

21%
42%
  8%
  7%
  7%
  3%
  2%
  2%
  3%
  5%

Special Features

Turangawaewae-Special Learning Needs Unit
Adult and Community Education Programme

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

15 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

March 2014
October 2010
September 2007

1 Context

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

Rutherford College provides coeducational secondary education to an increasingly multicultural school population in the Te Atatu Peninsula, West Auckland. Just over 20% of students identify as Māori and 11% as Pacific. Asian student numbers continue to grow.

Since the October 2010 ERO report, a number of key staff changes occurred. This includes two new senior leadership team members and changes in curriculum heads and teaching staff. A new deputy principal started at the beginning of 2013. An acting principal was in place in Term 2, 2013 while the principal was on sabbatical. The board and principal make ongoing property and resourcing decisions that improve the quality of the physical learning environment for students.

The college continues to focus on providing a broad-based curriculum that encourages more students to take part in sports and cultural activities. Positive relationships between students and staff provide a foundation for learning. Students have a variety of opportunities to take on leadership roles.

The school continues to work towards improving the quality of education for all students including Māori, Pacific and learners requiring extra support to achieve well. Developing sustainable and strategic community engagement with whānau of Māori learners and Pacific families is a key priority.

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 improving their use of achievement information to support student progress in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs). The formal introduction of the ‘ATOM’ (Achieving To Our Maximum) goal setting process by tutor teachers with students and their parents has increased the focus on learning outcomes. More active monitoring of student achievement by senior leaders and staff helped most students to achieve numeracy and literacy requirements for NCEA Level 1 in 2012.

Historically, the college’s NCEA results have been below national comparisons and for similar coeducational schools. Overall data shows the gap is closing and more students are leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2. NCEA results between 2010 and 2012 continue to show variable trends and patterns. Some positive gains were evident in the 2012 NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 results. Merit and excellence endorsements levels have also improved.

There is some notable progress for Māori and Pacific students’ results. However, these results continue to be below their peers at the college, particularly in endorsements. NCEA Level 3 and University Entry are below expected levels for all students, including Māori and Pacific, in relation to national comparisons and for similar schools. Indications are that results for Māori and Pacific students in 2013 are improving.

Students with high educational needs are well monitored and encouraged to reach personal goals. The college has a well functioning special needs unit that provides personalised learning opportunities for 28 ORS funded students.

Preliminary Term 3 2013 NCEA school monitoring shows more students are on track to obtain NCEA qualifications. Senior retention of Māori and Pacific learners has noticeably improved over time. The school continues to consider strategies for raising the achievement of students who leave school without a minimum qualification of NCEA Level 2.

Students with high educational needs are well-monitored through individual learning goals in their individual education plans. They are encouraged to achieve these goals and regularly participate in activities in the wider community.

Year 9 entry achievement information is used by senior leaders and the dean to place students in tutor classes. A 2010 school review of streaming resulted in broader and more flexible ability groupings. Some teachers are increasing their use of assessment information to better meet students’ needs and interests. The school has identified that teachers should further develop Year 9 and 10 assessment practices by improving their use of assessment data in literacy, mathematics and in relation to curriculum area levels.

Collated and reported standardised assessment information provides an unclear picture about Year 9 and 10 students' progress and achievement as a group. While, for example, Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (asTTle) data in reading indicates significant numbers of students did not make the expected progress over 2012, other school assessment information indicates a more positive picture.

ERO supports the school's current plans to strengthen and improve:

  • school expectations for the progress and achievement of Years 9 and 10 students using more robust analysis and monitoring of progress, particularly for Māori, Pacific and students requiring extra support
  • the monitoring of senior students’ progress, achievement and retention in programmes leading to NCEA Level 2 or its equivalent in order to increase students’ success, including for Māori and Pacific students, in NCEA Levels 1 to 3 and University Entrance
  • the collation and reporting of senior students’ destination data for further school and curriculum area strategic review.

These steps should continue to improve the effectiveness of the school's strategic plan in generating positive improved student outcomes.

3 Curriculum

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

A broad-based curriculum with a focus on academic, sporting and cultural activities continues to be a feature of the school. The school runs an extension programme for Year 9 and 10 students. New senior courses, including health and sports science, contribute to increased educational pathways. The Gateway programme enables 50 students from Year 12 onwards to be involved in workplace based learning. A 2010 school review led to changes in the school day and curriculum area time allocations. The impact of these changes on learning is to be evaluated in 2014.

Teachers focus on improving their understanding and use of goal setting with tutor groups. Parents are involved in developing goals at initial parent-teacher conferences. The school reports that ATOM contributes to more awareness of the importance of monitoring progress towards goals.

Heads of Faculty produce annual reports that are now more closely linked to the school’s strategic goals. The senior leaders are aware they need to further improve evaluation practices and leadership of effective curriculum delivery.

Positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students underpin learning. Students are well-behaved and on task. In some Year 9 and 10 classrooms, ERO observed effective teaching practices. These include high expectations for learning with a variety of well-paced activities. Students make choices about their learning and teachers know learners well. Further work is needed to ensure all students are actively engaged in their learning.

Senior leaders and the board identify and ERO agrees that it is now timely to review the effectiveness of the school’s curriculum. This will focus on:

  • provision for students in Years 9 and 10 and priority learners in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum principles, values and key competencies
  • establishing consistently high expectations for high quality teaching and learning in all curriculum areas
  • continuing to develop a culturally responsive curriculum, particularly for Māori and Pacific learners
  • teachers formally inquiring into the effectiveness of their practice through the use of reflection, assessment information and research.

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

The school continues to provide te reo Māori and supports a well established kapa haka group which has its own strong whānau support group. Other opportunities for promoting success, such as through waka ama, information sharing and mentoring from outside agencies and tertiary providers, are available.

A deputy principal has been working to consolidate and enhance the progress achieved in building sustainable relationships with the wider whānau through an expanded Māori Parent Group to further develop support for all whānau with children at the college. Recently the board has co-opted two Māori representatives who have longstanding connections with the school's Māori community. This should contribute to a stronger strategic voice in board decision making.

The school continues to develop and use strategies to support success for Māori learners, as Māori. The school plans to:

  • engage and consult with the parents and whānau of Māori learners to determine strategies that support increased educational success
  • develop a response to Ministry of Education strategies such as Ka Hikitia –Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017and Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learnersand strategies to support whānau engagement in their learners’ education.

How effectively does the school support success for Pacific, as Pacific?

The school provides opportunities for students to participate in cultural activities and to perform in competitions. These performances contribute towards NCEA qualifications. Staff who identify as Pacific, and senior managers provide support for Pacific learners. Students highly value information sharing and mentoring opportunities provided by external organisations and tertiary education providers.

The Pacific Parent Group has been in operation for three years. This provides a place for parents to find out more about qualifications and career pathways. A deputy principal provides support to the group. The board, senior leaders and teachers will continue to strengthen engagement and consultation with the families of Pacific learners. This should lead to improving opportunities provided to achieve educational success that values Pacific language, culture and identity.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is developing its capacity to sustain and improve its performance. The senior leadership team increased from four members to five in 2013. Team members are developing shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities as school leaders. The senior leadership team has identified clear priorities focused on student-centred learning. Some curriculum leaders are new to their roles and require support to ensure students receive responsive, high quality 21st Century learning opportunities including alignment with the pastoral and guidance network.

Senior leaders recognise that a new approach is needed to improve the impact of schoolwide professional learning and development for teachers. The appraisal process requires further work to increase its rigour and the clarity of steps necessary to improve teaching and professional practices. The board and senior leaders are aware that these two key areas are priorities for 2014.

Schoolwide understandings about the role and purpose of self review require further development. Regular monitoring is supporting recent improvement in NCEA results and progress in relation to ‘ATOM’ goal setting.

The board provides stable governance with the majority of members being experienced trustees. Processes for policy review require further development to ensure they are kept up to date.

Trustees seek to increase community consultation and involvement. The development of the 2013 to 2015 strategic plan included some parent survey input. Attendance was higher at a recent parent-teacher consultation evening. The Māori and Pacific parent groups seek to build learning partnerships and to inform strategic decision making.

The following areas require strengthening:

  • understanding and use of self review and evaluation to by trustees, teachers, curriculum leaders and senior leaders to improve student progress and achievement
  • appraisal, and professional learning and development, to ensure it is consistent, robust and responsive to the needs of students, individual teachers and leaders.

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. At the time of this review there were 37 international students attending the school from a wide range of countries, including Japan, China, Korea and Germany.

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

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review processes for international students meet requirements. There are clear expectations for the induction of students onto the international programme and the monitoring of their wellbeing and learning. Processes for verifying home stay police vetting have been recently revised.

It is timely to review the international programme to ensure that it meets its intended outcomes.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Image removed.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

14 March 2014

About the School

Location

Te Atatu

Ministry of Education profile number

40

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1373

Number of international students

37

Gender composition

Male 52%

Female 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

Chinese

Asian

Indian

Other ethnic groups

20%

43%

11%

6%

6%

5%

9%

Special Features

Special Education Unit for ORS funded students

Adult and Community Education provider

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

14 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2010

September 2007

August 2004