Auckland Girls' Grammar School

Education institution number:
53
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
1046
Telephone:
Address:

Howe Street, Newton, Auckland

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Auckland Girls' Grammar School - 05/07/2018

Findings

Relationships at all levels of the school are being strengthened, resulting in a more positive professional culture. The momentum for change is clearly focused on achieving equity and excellence for all learners. ERO concludes that leadership and governance capability has developed sufficiently to be confident that school leaders can self-manage ongoing internal evaluation and school improvement.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

ERO expressed major concerns about the performance of Auckland Girls’ Grammar School in its 2015 report. In 2016, the Ministry of Education (MoE) appointed a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) with wide responsibilities across areas of governance and management. The board of trustees (BOT) had received an independent report in 2014 that also identified serious risks to school operations. The board has sought advice over this time from the New Zealand Trustees Association (NZSTA), about improving school performance.

Since 2016, Auckland Girls' Grammar School has been involved in a 1 to 2 Year ERO review process. ERO has made subsequent visits to the school, talking with school leaders and trustees, and evaluating the school’s progress, and outcomes for learners. ERO has also considered reports from the MoE in relation to the LSM intervention. The BOT in conjunction with the LSM appointed an experienced new school principal in late 2016. The work of the BOT, the LSM and the new principal since that time has prompted school-wide reviews, targeting improved academic and engagement outcomes for students.

Progress has also been made in building a more trusting and learner-focused relationship between trustees and school leaders. The BOT receives information that is increasingly aligned to the school’s strategic directions and annual goals. The recently appointed BOT chairperson is committed to continued board training and has established regular meetings with the principal. Foremost for the BOT are decisions about the future direction for Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi, the school’s Māori whānau unit.

Evidence of improved student achievement in 2017 supports the deliberate focus on targeted and personalised learner support. ERO concludes that leadership and governance capability has grown sufficiently since 2015, to be confident that school leaders can sustain improvements in school performance and continue to strengthen internal evaluation.

Auckland Girls' Grammar School will return to ERO’s regular cycle of three years reviews from the date of this confirmed report.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO reported in 2015 that the school was not well placed to sustain its performance, and faced significant challenges with relationships between key personnel. Priorities for review and development were identified, that were clearly and purposefully outlined in the LSM’s plan of action.

In addition to its concerns about relationships, ERO identified the need for school and BOT leaders to focus on:

  • planning strategic goals and targets for school improvement
  • clarifying roles and expectations of teachers, and school leaders
  • improving the analysis and reporting of student achievement information
  • building capability to evaluate initiatives in teaching and learning
  • improving outcomes for students, particularly Māori students, school-wide.
Progress

The appointment of the LSM in early 2016 was a catalyst for prioritising and planning school improvement. Trustees initially worked to increase their awareness of governance and stewardship. They used the manual of procedures and a work plan to guide their governance responsibilities. The BOT has sought advice from educational agencies, and more recently commissioned an independent report on the future direction of Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi.

Trustees are becoming more mindful of their responsibilities. They are more confident about meeting procedures and the use of their policy framework. Trustees are developing capability for working together and for understanding their role in supporting the school’s new principal. They value the well analysed information school leaders provide that enable evidenced-informed decision making to improve outcomes for students. The relationship between the board and principal has been further enhanced with the recent election of a new Board chairperson.

The new principal initiated a series of well-considered internal reviews in 2017. The appointment of a new deputy principal and restructuring of the senior leadership team have also contributed to improved ways of working and school-wide communication. Roles for deans, heads of faculty and tutor teachers were redefined in relation to prioritising students’ learning needs. Support for targeted learners was personalised and monitored at an individual level.

The school also introduced a new student management system in 2017 to provide better access to achievement data for all teachers. The use of analysed achievement trends and patterns is becoming a powerful tool in understanding how to respond effectively to the learning needs of students individually. Teachers’ classroom practice and priorities for teacher development are now better informed by the use of evidence-based outcomes and analysis.

The work of the senior leadership team has been refocused around outcomes for learners and increased accountability. A revised philosophy for learning that supports the school’s vision of “learners equipped for the world” has been developed in consultation with teachers. Faculty leaders report meaningful information that relates to school goals and targets. The professional learning and development groups enable teachers to participate in relevant inquiry.

The school demonstrated improved student achievement in the 2017 National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). There was substantial improvement in Levels 1, 2 and 3, reversing a decline in NCEA results over recent years. There is clear evidence that the focus on priority learners, the deliberate use of achievement data, and the reorientation of roles and resources focused on lifting student achievement, have been critical steps in improving outcomes for learners.

Confidence in the principal’s targeted approaches is growing. The majority of teachers and faculty leaders are lifting their expectations for student achievement in line with the school’s revised goals and targets. They are sharing progress and achievement information with students and encouraging better levels of engagement, attendance and participation. Māori student achievement across the school, and within Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi, is individually monitored and shared with whānau.

Key next steps

School leaders agree that the next major challenge in improving outcomes for all learners is undertaking a planned and comprehensive review of the school’s curriculum. The process should focus on building student agency for learning through increased:

  • student ownership of learning opportunities
  • use of assessment information at Years 9 and 10
  • student-led approaches to teaching and learning across the school
  • emphasis on the school’s bicultural, and culturally responsive, curriculum.

ERO also recommends that school leaders place greater value on student voice through the use of student wellbeing surveys, extending opportunities for student leadership, and continuing to broaden curriculum pathways options.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is now well placed to sustain its performance, and to continue improving outcomes for all students. Targets for continued improvement in NCEA, increased levels of credit endorsement, work completion and attendance are well on track for 2018.

Students continue to be proud of their school. They particularly enjoy the cultural diversity the school celebrates, and value the additional efforts teachers make to support their achievement and learning success. The school and board are both benefiting from more effective leadership. Relevant information about the school’s progress in relation to key goals and targets is improving relationships between the school and board.

The senior leadership team understands that they too have a critical role in communicating the school’s direction to parents, whānau, staff and students. Systems and procedures are being reviewed and appropriately updated. However, the rationale for change must continue to be promoted so that all stakeholders can contribute to the school’s direction for continued success.

Trustees are more confident of the school’s leadership. They appreciate the focused attention on priority learners and the improved academic achievement of learners overall. Continued scrutiny and data analysis will assist board and school leaders to identify areas of success and greatest need. The continued use of evidence for inquiry, in classroom, school management and leadership practice, will further develop internal evaluation capacity and sustainability.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

It is timely for the MoE to review the role of the Limited Statutory Manager. Ongoing support for the board could now be more appropriately focused on the alignment of strategic planning and curriculum development.

Conclusion

Relationships at all levels of the school are being strengthened, resulting in a more positive professional culture. The momentum for change is clearly focused on achieving equity and excellence for all learners. ERO concludes that leadership and governance capability has developed sufficiently to be confident that school leaders can self-manage ongoing internal evaluation and school improvement.

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

5 July 2018

About the School

Location

Newton, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

53

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1030

Number of international students

22

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Samoan
Tongan
Niuean
Indian
Cook Islands Māori
Southeast Asian
Fijian
Middle Eastern
African
other Pacific
other Asian
other

23%
3%
23%
16%
6%
6%
5%
5%
2%
2%
1%
5%
2%
1%

Special Features

Whānau Unit - Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi

Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

5 July 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Longitudinal Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2015
October 2012
August 2009

Auckland Girls' Grammar School - 10/11/2015

Findings

The school’s curriculum continues to promote and support students’ learning. Students benefit from a broad curriculum that supports their holistic development. The school is not well placed to sustain its performance. The school faces significant challenges with relationships between key people in the school. These challenges need urgent attention to avoid impacting negatively on student outcomes.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

1 Context

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

Auckland Girls’ Grammar is located in the central city and provides education for students in Years 9 to 13. The school has a strong tradition of educating successful young women. The board, staff and community are strongly committed to developing confident young women who can take their place in the world. All want the best for the girls.

The school has a broad definition of success and encourages the girls to achieve to their potential academically, culturally and in a wide range of sporting activities. Students benefit from a broad curriculum that supports their holistic development. They appreciate the way teachers ‘go the extra mile’ to ensure that they achieve and enjoy success.

A high percentage of Māori and Pacific students are enrolled. Many of these students are the third or fourth generation to attend the school. A high proportion of students travel from wider Auckland to attend the school.

In 2014 the board commissioned an external review to look at how well the school was operating. The review identified a number of issues that were having an adverse impact on positive outcomes for students and the school. The board is committed to making improvements. It has used recommendations from the external review to develop a strategic plan to set priorities and focus on the core stewardship role of improving student achievement. The board has consulted with staff, students and the school community and now needs to ensure that the aspirations of these groups are reflected in the planning and outcomes.

It is ERO’s view that that these significant issues relating to stewardship and management are yet to be fully addressed.

2 Learning

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

Senior student achievement information shows that the proportions of students from 2014 achieving certificates in NCEA Levels 1 to 3 were comparable to those of similar schools nationally.

Teachers and leaders are in the early stages of using student achievement information to consistently and effectively adapt teaching practice. The following aspects need further development.

Although teachers are using a range of assessment tools they need to be more consistent and effective in reporting the progress of individuals and cohorts.

Some faculties are beginning to use data about students’ levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy to identify students who need extra support with their learning.

The school is developing the student management system to support teachers in gathering and using student achievement data from all classroom programmes. This is likely to support the teachers in tracking and responding to student needs across subject areas in a more coherent and manageable way.

School achievement targets and planning could better focus on those students (individuals and groups) at risk of not achieving. This focus is likely to ensure that teachers use the strategies that will meet the learning needs of these students and contribute to driving up overall student achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum continues to promote and support students’ learning. The focus on global citizenship has the potential to align the school’s vision and values with those of the New Zealand Curriculum across the school.

The school has responded to students’ aspirations by increasing subject options that are relevant to their academic and career pathways in Years 11 to 13. Students experience a comprehensive careers and guidance programme. The school is in the early stages of reviewing and integrating the junior curriculum to make it more relevant and engaging for students.

Areas for development

There are useful structures in place for making decisions about teaching and learning and to guide curriculum development. These structures could be more effective. For example, most faculties continue to work in isolation. Teachers do not have a shared understanding of the strategic direction of the school in relation to teaching and learning. This is leading to inconsistency in practices for raising student achievement, tracking student progress and managing student behaviour.

Teachers see the value of inquiring into their own practice to improve outcomes for students. As a result, some faculties have made purposeful use of teaching as inquiry to extend teachers’ knowledge and improve their practice. The revised appraisal system has the potential to support teachers to reflect on and further improve their teaching. Many teachers see the importance of the need to develop a school-wide shared understanding about effective teaching based on current best practice. This approach should be coherent, regularly reviewed and lead to deeper reflection by teachers about the impact of their teaching on outcomes for students.

Teachers work hard to support students’ learning and emotional needs. The deans and teachers who spoke to ERO identified that the current pastoral-care and behaviour-management systems need to be consistently implemented if they are to have the desired effect on students’ behaviour, wellbeing and attendance. Senior managers have introduced a range of initiatives to address these issues.

These initiatives need to be regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure that they are having a positive impact on student engagement.

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

The school has developed a range of initiatives to promote and support success as Māori in the school.

Parents and whānau positively view the school as an important educational institution for young women, in particular, Māori women. They are the second largest group of students attending the school and make up 24% of the roll. Many of these students travel significant distances to the school.

The students told ERO the most important features of the school are:

  • the positive way the school celebrates and promotes diversity
  • the promotion of learning initiatives for Māori students that encourage a sense of belonging and self belief to achieve
  • the broad range of opportunities to participate in cultural and tikanga Māori events
  • across-school activities that encourage greater student collaboration and collegiality.

The most significant presence at the school is Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi (Kahurangi group). The purpose of Kahurangi is to provide support for Māori students to grow in confidence as Māori and achieve academically.

The recent development of a Faculty Mātauranga Māori has broadened the influence of Māori to include all aspects of curriculum, protocols and all Māori students at the school. This development should support the school in achieving the next steps to improve positive outcomes for Māori students, including:

  • senior leaders identifying ways to ensure that all Māori students benefit from the cultural and educational support that students in Kahurangi receive
  • working with teachers to look at more relevant ways to include Māori contexts in curriculum areas
  • a commitment from all staff and the board to value and include aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

The school promotes success for its Pacific students. At the time of the review 600 students, 43% of the roll, identified as Pacific.

The cultural heritage of Pacific students is valued and celebrated. Students told ERO that the most significant features of the school are:

  • the valuing of diversity and the focus on knowing them as individuals
  • the range of opportunities they have to perform in cultural events that lead to increased confidence and engagement in learning
  • the focused and ongoing pastoral and academic support they receive
  • the increased integration of cultural perspectives into programmes.

The Pacific Achievement Coordinator uses a range of strategies to promote positive, consultative relationships with the Pacific communities. The coordinator and the Pacific staff also provide valuable links into the school’s Pacific communities to help promote effective communication between home and school.

The school’s Pacific Education Plan provides sound direction for lifting the achievement and engagement of Pacific students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance for the following reasons.

Areas for development

A lack of coherent systems for school operations continues to inhibit the school’s progress. The professional relationships between the board, senior management team and teachers have become dysfunctional. This has contributed to a climate of mistrust and perceptions of an unsafe working environment for a significant proportion of staff.

The board needs to urgently survey the staff and students in relation to their wellbeing and safety.

Trustees have a strong commitment to the school’s ongoing success as a provider of education for the young women of Auckland. The board and senior managers urgently need to establish the workable and professional relationships required to ensure a continued focus on positive outcomes for students.

Senior managers are committed to the ethos of the school. They now need to fulfil their roles as professional leaders. They need to clearly communicate the strategic direction of the school with teachers so that they have clarity about where the school is heading and what is expected of them in their professional roles.

The board should ensure that there is a shared understanding and process in place to guide evaluation for continuous improvement. This should ensure that the board receives:

  • evaluative reports linked to the strategic and annual goals
  • effectiveness reports about initiatives to support student achievement
  • high-quality reporting of student achievement.

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 29 international students attending the school.

The school values the diverse needs of each student. Students benefit from very effective pastoral care. They enjoy the many opportunities to be involved and integrated into the life of the school. Students receive some very good targeted English language support.

Reports to trustees about provision for international students focus on how well the wellbeing of these students is supported, how well they are integrated into the school and community, and how well they are 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.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that:

  • the Secretary for Education considers external intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the expected improvements as noted in this report
  • the New Zealand School Trustees' Association supports the board with further training in its stewardship role.

Conclusion

The school’s curriculum continues to promote and support students’ learning. Students benefit from a broad curriculum that supports their holistic development. The school is not well placed to sustain its performance. The school faces significant challenges with relationships between key people in the school. These challenges need urgent attention to avoid impacting negatively on student outcomes.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

10 November 2015

About the School

Location

Newton, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

53

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1343

Number of international students

29

Gender composition

Girls: 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

Other Pacific

Pākehā

Asian

Indian

Others

24%

19%

14%

10%

9%

7%

6%

11%

Special Features

Whānau Unit (Ngā Tumanako O Kahurangi)

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

10 November 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

October 2012

August 2009

November 2006