Southland Girls' High School

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Education institution number:
405
School type:
Secondary (Year 7-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Definition:
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:
1053
Telephone:
Address:

328 Tweed Street, Georgetown, Invercargill

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Findings

Southland Girls' High School continues to be a high performing school. Learning information shows that students achieve and progress very well at Southland Girls' High School. Students benefit from a highly responsive and thoughtfully designed curriculum. Teachers and leaders have a relentless focus on all students making sufficient progress in their learning throughout their schooling. Leaders and teachers co-construct effective systems to support the commitment they and the trustees have of all students achieving well.

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

1 Context

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

Southland Girls' High School continues to be a high performing school. It provides a rich, broad and relevant education for girls in Years 7 to 13. Since 2013 the school community has become more diverse. Staffing has remained stable.

The school’s vision, ‘a quality learning community where relationships count, and excellence is expected’, is highly evident throughout school classrooms, practices and discourse. The vision strongly guides the direction and decisions made by school leaders. Trustees, school leaders and teachers have high expectations for, and are committed to, all students achieving well.

Other key features impacting positively on the students’ learning include: 

  • relevant and effective professional learning and development for all teaching staff
  • the development of progressions describing a year's progress at each year level across all curriculum areas
  • the school’s belief that all students can succeed
  • how leaders and teachers are leaders of learning within their school and beyond. 

Since the last ERO review in 2013: 

  • leaders have strengthened the school’s appraisal process
  • the school has responded very well to the next steps for improvement identified by ERO
  • school leaders have supported staff well to make continuous improvements for the benefit of learners.  

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Over the last four years, school reports show: 

  • Māori students, overall, continue to achieve well, and in many cases they achieve as well as or better than their peers in this school
  • achievement across the NCEA Levels I, 2 and 3 continues to trend upwards and is higher than national comparisons
  • the number of NCEA endorsements has continued to increase
  • that high levels of reading achievement in Years 7 and 8 has been maintained with approximately 85% achieving at or above the expected level
  • increases in the proportions of Years 7 and 8 students achieving at or above expected levels in mathematics and writing, with now over three quarters of these students achieving at or exceeding expected levels. 

School information for 2016 and 2017 shows many students have made accelerated progress, particularly in Years 10 and 11.

Areas of Strength

Teachers, leaders and trustees have a relentless focus on improving student outcomes. This is seen through teachers and leaders: 

  • having an in depth knowledge of their learners and their needs
  • purposefully collecting and using meaningful learning information
  • working together to construct personalised interventions to accelerate the progress of learners
  • knowing the impact of programmes and interventions. 

The school uses highly effective assessment and moderation procedures to support the reliability of the teachers’ judgements about students’ achievement. These procedures are being strengthened, especially for Years 9 and 10 to provide more useful information.

Leaders, teachers and trustees maintain a clear school-wide focus on improving student outcomes. Robust and collaborative processes are used to set appropriate targets to improve student achievement levels and develop aspects of relevant teaching and learning areas.

Students strongly demonstrate they have management and ownership of their own learning. This includes students:

  • learning how to articulate what they have learnt and their next learning steps
  • choosing programmes, in consultation with teaching staff, that will challenge them and provide the appropriate level of learning support
  • leading the learning conferences they have with their parents and academic tutor.

The learning conferences make reporting more useful to parents to enable them to have a greater understanding and contribution to their daughter’s learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning.

Areas of Strength

The school’s curriculum is learner-centred, future focused and enables students to be actively engaged in knowing and making decisions about their learning. It is designed to challenge all students, appropriate to their abilities. The school places equal focus on all year levels and learning areas. This helps leaders and teachers take collective responsibility for students’ learning and wellbeing and understand the broad context of student achievement. This is especially so in Years 7 to 10 when developing core skills needed for success.

The concepts of manaakitanga/caring and respectful relationships, whanaungatanga/positive relationships, ako/teaching and learning relationships and mahi tahi/collaborative relationships are integral as to how the school operates. Students demonstrate a sense of belonging in their school.

Students benefit strongly from personalised learning pathways. They design their pathways in collaboration with their parents, year-level coordinators and academic tutors. Teaching staff use a range of learning information effectively to support students to make appropriate choices.

The school uses rigorous systems to ensure students make sufficient progress over each school year in all classes. Key features of these systems are leaders and teachers: 

  • assessing the amount of progress each student has made each term
  • tailoring interventions that target underachieving students to ensure effective pastoral, careers and curricula responses are in place to support each student to reach her potential
  • discussing with students the strong link between learning habits and rates of progress
  • frequently interviewing students to discuss their progress and any barriers to their success. 

Students benefit from high-quality teaching practices. The development and ongoing improvement of these practices is well supported by the school leadership. School leaders are successfully developing culturally responsive learning environments across the school. An effective appraisal process encourages reflection, recognises the existing good practices and provides ideas for improvement. Teachers work collaboratively and take a collective responsibility for the learning of all students at the school.

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

Leaders and teachers continue to build on the learnings from its involvement in the He Kākano and Kia Eke Panuku projects. This is enabling them to effectively promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. Leaders and teachers are being effectively supported to provide a culturally caring and responsive curriculum.

Areas of Strength

The school continues to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with local iwi and students’ whānau.

Leaders and teachers carefully plan responses to and support for Māori students whose learning requires additional support.

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. This judgement is based on the following areas of strength.

Areas of strength

There is highly effective leadership at multiple levels of the school. Senior leaders actively encourage and support leadership development. Leaders’ positive influence is seen through: 

  • the development of effective and culturally responsive teaching practices
  • the development of explicitly targeted interventions
  • their modelling of high-quality teaching strategies and inquiry
  • the appropriate adjustments to curriculum design as required
  • the careful change-management practices used to ensure conditions are well established to ensure success. 

There is successful collaboration between relevant groups to: 

  • determine highly relevant annual goals and direction
  • develop sustainable school systems and processes
  • build the capability of teachers and collective capacity of the staff. 

This co-construction gives cohesion to the school’s strategic planning, initiatives and programmes for better implementation and sustainability.

The board is well informed about student achievement and progress. Trustees scrutinise the learning information when setting achievement targets. Their discussions and decisions are focused on planning and appropriate resourcing to ensure all students make sufficient progress.

The school’s culture of ongoing improvement for better outcomes for learners is driven by a robust inquiry process. School-wide, departmental, group and individual inquiries are: 

  • strongly underpinned by learning data
  • based on a wide range of research findings
  • determining the success of planned interventions to accelerate progress
  • identifying appropriate and necessary next steps. 

The school has identified the need to:

  • continue to develop and embed its systems for ensuring all students make a year’s worth of progress
  • develop its practices at key transition points, in particular Year 8 to Year 9, to ensure students’ sense of belonging.

School leaders and trustees have begun to positively address the workload of staff.

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 23 international students attending the school.

The international students are engaged in a high-quality programme that is personalised to meet their learning goals. Individual progress and achievement for each student is carefully monitored and reported on. Students receive effective support for learning English, with teachers providing a variety of programmes that are focussed on meeting their future needs. NCEA results for international students are of a very high standard. Students are well integrated into the school community and participate in a wide range of activities beyond the classroom.

International students’ pastoral support and accommodation arrangements are closely monitored by a caring and effective team of well-qualified staff. Students have a choice of either homestay accommodation or living at Enwood House.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Enwood House, the school’s boarding house, accommodates 97 students who make up 9% of the school roll. It is owned by the Southland Girls’ High School board of trustees. The hostel owner has attested that all requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

Boarders experience positive relationships with each other and with Enwood House management and staff. Staff place a particular focus on supporting boarders so that their opinions and ideas are responded to and their needs well considered. The director of boarding has effective systems for monitoring and responding to the safety and wellbeing needs of boarders. These include clear and well-understood guidelines for staff and boarders, and regular communication with parents and caregivers.

The director of boarding communicates and works constructively with school leaders and staff to support boarders’ learning and participation in all aspects of school life. Boarders benefit from well-established homework routines.

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

Southland Girls' High School continues to be a high performing school. Learning information shows that students achieve and progress very well at Southland Girls' High School. Students benefit from a highly responsive and thoughtfully designed curriculum. Teachers and leaders have a relentless focus on all students making sufficient progress in their learning throughout their schooling. Leaders and teachers co-construct effective systems to support the commitment they and the trustees have of all students achieving well.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

8 September 2017

About the School 

Location

Invercargill

Ministry of Education profile number

405

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

1044

Number of international students

23

Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific
Asian
Other

19%
69%
5%
4%
3%

Special Features

School boarding house

Review team on site

July 2017

Date of this report

8 September 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

August 2013
October 2009
August 2006

1 Context

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

Southland Girls’ High School is a well-established Year 7 to 13 school. Approximately 9% of the students board. Since the 2009 ERO review there have been significant and positive developments in school culture. This has created a school-wide approach of increasing attention to, and support for, the achievement of individual students.

The school’s vision of ‘a quality learning community where relationships count, and excellence is expected’, is highly evident throughout the school. The board, senior leaders and teachers have high expectations for the achievement of all students. Students are actively encouraged and supported to aspire to and achieve their own level of personal excellence.

There is a strong focus on developing effective relationships with and between staff and students. Staff are collegial and work together for the benefit of all students. Teachers are purposefully involved in the plans and targets for school-wide improvement. Students’ ideas and opinions are making an increasingly important contribution to decisions about their learning.

There are effective school-wide systems to promote and strengthen teaching and guide school operations.

2 Learning

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

The school makes comprehensive use of student achievement information to keep an ongoing focus on improvement and accountability. The school has very good systems and expectations for gathering and using learning information at school-wide, departmental and classroom levels. There are strong and sustainable systems for managing national assessments in Years 11 to 13.

Achievement information shows that National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) pass rates are above national comparisons for similar schools. In Years 9 and 10, school achievement information for 2012 shows that most students are achieving at or above curriculum expectations for reading and writing. In Years 7 and 8, most students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics.

Students use achievement information to set learning goals, reflect on how well they have achieved them and identify their next learning steps.

Teachers use achievement information to:

  • set specific learning goals with students and parents
  • inform their practice and adapt their teaching strategies
  • focus on priority learners
  • monitor their own progress towards meeting the school’s achievement targets.

Senior leaders use a wide range of learning information to inquire regularly into how effectively plans and initiatives support the school to improve. They track the progress of students to ensure that value is being added to their learning. Senior leaders also regularly monitor progress towards meeting achievement targets.

The school has high-quality systems for supporting students who are at risk of not achieving in literacy, numeracy or other aspects of the curriculum. The ‘priority learners committee’ regularly discusses information about the engagement, progress and achievement of individual students and targeted groups. Teachers are regularly updated about students’ specific needs. They are expected to adapt strategies and provide support for these students within their learning programmes. Pastoral care systems are strongly linked to the school-wide processes to ensure that the focus for students remains on their engagement and learning. The board allocates significant levels of resourcing for priority learners. It receives regular reports about how effectively these resources are being used.

The board receives very good quality learning information about all year levels. Trustees use this information to:

  • identify the school’s future priorities and goals
  • monitor how well the goals are being achieved within each department
  • monitor the progress and achievement of those students at risk of not achieving
  • allocate resourcing where it will have the most significant impact on student achievement and progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports students’ learning. The curriculum effectively reflects the school’s strategic aim to be learner focused and relevant to the students.

A strong focus is placed on providing individual learning pathways for students to meet their level of challenge, need and interests. This is supported by flexible timetabling and multi-level teaching. Students’ learning benefits from curriculum breadth, a wide range of opportunities in and beyond the school, and cooperation between departments.

The school has effective processes for ongoing curriculum review and development. Developments are based on best-evidence research, and shared at teacher meetings to ensure they are understood and maintained by teachers. The school leaders and teachers are currently undertaking a process to map key understandings for learning across subjects and to direct future developments.

Teachers continually seek ways to involve students in their learning. They use students’ views to help improve their teaching. School leaders have a very good understanding of the quality of teaching across the school.

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

Māori students overall achieve well compared to Māori students nationally. The board and senior leaders are making comprehensive school-wide changes to help ensure that Māori students achieve at least as well as their peers in this school.

The school’s academic and pastoral systems are based on principles of He Kakano, a Ministry of Education initiative aimed at raising levels of Māori student engagement and achievement. As a result, a strong emphasis on positive, proactive relationships between students and staff is increasingly becoming the key approach for working with Māori students, and for teaching and learning across the school.

There are strong links between the school’s long-term goals and its operations. The school’s long-term plans and goals for Māori education set a clear direction for ongoing improvement.

Many teachers are making innovative changes to their practice and sharing these with each other.

The school and ERO agree that the next steps for the school are to continue to:

  • include culturally responsive teaching practices in school-wide expectations
  • develop meaningful and sustainable ways that tuakana-teina relationships can be developed amongst Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Areas of strength

There is clear alignment between the strategic and annual planning, curriculum plans and expectations, and professional learning and development. The school’s priorities, developments, and achievement targets are developed with the board, senior leaders and teachers to make sure that all understand their roles and responsibilities in contributing to the success of these.

The board is governing the school very well. Trustees are focused on improvement and place a strong emphasis on ensuring positive outcomes occur for all students. They are well supported by guidelines for governance. The financial position of the school is managed and appears to be sustainable.

The senior leaders are effectively leading and managing the school. They actively model the school’s expectation for inquiring into their own practice. The principal is proactive in using the strengths and abilities of the senior leadership team. This is resulting in shared leadership for curriculum development and pastoral care.

There are effective systems in place for improving teaching. Evidence of this includes:

  • the ‘Effective Teacher Profile’ that provides clarity around high expectations for teaching
  • professional learning groups that are highly effective in supporting and improving teaching and learning
  • a collegial approach to improving teaching practices that occurs through coaching and mentoring
  • teacher appraisal that is linked to school strategic goals, departmental goals and each teacher’s individual goals.

The school has a strong culture of self review. There are comprehensive processes for undertaking review. For example, the school-wide template for review and evaluation is used at all levels. This supports the board and senior leaders in making informed decisions about future directions for the school.

Area for review and development

To ensure consistency in how well the school-wide expectations for teaching are being followed, senior leaders should improve processes for supporting how:

  • teachers monitor student learning goals with students and ensure that all students know their next learning steps
  • the opinions of students across the school are regularly sought to help identify how well the school’s initiatives are supporting sustainable ongoing improvements to learning and teaching, and success for Māori as Māori
  • teachers use achievement information as part of their inquiry into their teaching and learning.

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 20 international students attending the school.

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 very thorough.

International students’ pastoral support, accommodation requirements and learning needs are overseen by a very experienced team of well-qualified staff.

Students’ learning needs are identified in detail. Programmes are designed for each student and learning support is put in place to meet all language and learning needs.

International students participate in a range of school activities beyond the classroom. They are integrated into the wider life of the school.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, Enwood House, accommodates 105 students, 9% of the school roll. It is owned by the Southland Girls’ High School Board of Trustees.

Students told ERO that they feel safe and valued. They appreciate the care they receive and enjoy the many opportunities to participate in a wide of range of activities. They spoke very highly of the help and support they receive from the hostel staff and other boarders.

The hostel manager has reviewed and improved management practices. She works with hostel staff to ensure that boarders benefit from their time in the hostel. There are strong links between the school and the hostel to support the boarders’ wellbeing and learning.

The school’s vision for the girls to become independent is highly evident in the hostel. Boarders are well supported in taking increasing responsibility for managing themselves, particularly in Year 13 where the girls live independently in the two houses on the hostel grounds. Year 13 students told ERO they welcome the manager’s level of trust and feel they are well supported for life after school.

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 four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

12 August 2013

About the School

Location

Invercargill, Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

405

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

1146

Number of international students

24

Gender composition

Girls: 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Other

76%

15%

4%

5%

Special Features

School hostel

Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

12 August 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

October 2009

August 2006

March 2000