Epsom Girls Grammar School

Education institution number:
64
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Definition:
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:
2115
Telephone:
Address:

Silver Road, Epsom, Auckland

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Epsom Girls Grammar School - 13/11/2018

School Context

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a large, urban school catering for students from Year 9 to 13. Nine percent of students are Māori and ten percent have Pacific heritage. Over a third of students are Chinese or Asian. The school offers students a broad curriculum, centred on the 21st Century learner. School development is innovative and future focused.

The school’s vision is to develop young women as confident and resilient learners, actively contributing to their communities. The school fosters courage, compassion, curiosity and community. It aims to build students’ agency and critical engagement in learning.

The board’s strategic priorities emphasise:

  • a school culture with positive relationships and high expectations

  • personalising student learning and achievement pathways

  • effective and inclusive teaching practices

  • learning partnerships that support student learning

  • strong community engagement

  • developing sustainable leadership capacity.

The school sets high targets for achievement in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and University Entrance (UE) for all students.

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

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • pathway outcomes and destination data

  • achievement data for Years 9 and 10

  • learners with additional needs

  • progress and achievement in relation to school goals and targets

  • pastoral and wellbeing information for groups of students

  • participation, contribution and engagement information across a number of sporting, arts and cultural areas.

Other valued outcomes include student confidence, leadership, a strong sense of belonging and agency, and service to others and the community. High expectations for student achievement and attainment noted in previous ERO reports continue to be evident.

Since the 2014 ERO review, a new principal and several new senior leaders have been appointed. Most trustees have been newly elected or co-opted to the board. The school is an active member of the Auckland Central Community of Schools (ACCOS).

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 successfully supports its students to achieve equitable outcomes. Students continue to achieve high levels of success in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Most students stay at school until Year 13.

The school’s roll-based data show that most students achieve well in NCEA and UE. Approximately 89 percent of students achieve well in NCEA Level 3. Most students, including Māori and Pacific students, leave school with NCEA Level 2 or above.Rates of merit and excellence endorsements continue to be well above national averages and those of similar type schools.

The school has small percentages of Māori and Pacific students. Māori students achieve very well at NCEA Levels 1 and 2 and there is increasing parity of achievement for Māori at Level 2. Pacific students achieve well, particularly at NCEA Level 2 and there is increasing achievement and parity for Pacific students at all levels. A school priority is continuing to address remaining disparities.

Leaders and teachers use nationally-normed assessment tools to gauge the achievement of students as they enter Years 9 and 10. These students are regularly assessed in their literacy and mathematics achievement. There are effective systems for tracking and monitoring students’ rates of progress. Leaders and teachers use the information gathered to inform planning and teaching strategies.

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

The school has very good systems to identify and support Māori, Pacific and other students whose learning needs acceleration.

Those students benefit from effective strategies that help to improve learning outcomes, such as student leadership initiatives, academic mentoring and tutoring, culturally responsive practices and cultural groups.

Students who require additional support in reading, writing and mathematics participate in targeted, individualised programmes that focus on addressing their particular learning needs. School data show that these students make good progress over time, with some achieving accelerated progress.

Learning support for students with additional needs is well coordinated. There are good processes in place for liaison between classroom teachers, deans and specialist agencies. Learning programmes, including those for English language learning, are tailored to individual students’ requirements. These students achieve very well in their studies for NCEA and participate widely across all aspects of school life.

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?

School conditions that enable learners to achieve equity and excellence include: highly effective leadership and stewardship, a collaborative school culture, meaningful learning partnerships, a responsive curriculum and a shared commitment among staff to enhancing their professional practice.

The board of trustees is strategically focused on promoting equity and excellence. The school’s vision has a focus on improving student outcomes and fostering wellbeing. Trustees are well informed about student achievement and progress, and school priorities. Information is used purposefully to give trustees assurance about the extent to which the school is tracking towards strategic goals and to inform their decision making.

The deliberate development of leadership contributes to an increasingly student-centered curriculum. Relational trust at all levels of the school community and a receptiveness to change and improvement support this development. Evidence based decision making guides changes to school structures and processes, and supports well-aligned, coherent practices across the school.

A broad view of student success and wellbeing is at the heart of the school’s curriculum. The school’s responsive curriculum enables students’ individual strengths and talents to flourish, and helps them to excel in a range of learning areas. Collaborative learning is promoted through problem solving and critical thinking opportunities in real-life contexts.

The school’s inclusive learning culture supports all students to participate confidently in a wide variety of learning experiences. A holistic, wrap-around approach to pastoral care successfully supports student wellbeing and achievement. Effective coordination between pastoral and curriculum leaders and teachers, parents and outside agencies contributes significantly to this positive feature of the school.

The principal and teachers actively foster learning-focused partnerships with parents and prioritise close relationships with families. Support for tuakana/teina relationships among students helps to enhance their learning and wellbeing. Well-planned, multi-layered learning support approaches enable students to access personalised and flexible learning opportunities and pathways.

Māori students benefit from the deliberate focus on, and commitment to developing bicultural practices at all levels of the school. Trustees and staff are committed to providing opportunities for Māori learners to succeed as Māori, and for all students to learn about the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

A professional learning environment promotes and supports effective teaching practices. It includes flexibility and openness to new learning and blended e-learning approaches. Teachers’ participation in professional learning groups contributes to enhanced practices through collaborative action and research. Teachers and leaders have a positive influence in the local and wider education community, including the ACCOS Kāhui Ako.

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

Senior leaders have identified that a next step is to continue embedding strategies that support accelerated and meaningful learning in the current climate of change in secondary school education.

The school should continue to build its longitudinal understanding of achievement and progress for individuals and groups of students. This information could include year-level cohorts, Māori and Pacific students, Year 9 and 10 students who require learning support, and students with additional learning needs.

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 students in the school hostel

The school hostel, Epsom House, is owned and operated by Epsom Girls Grammar School. It accommodates 125 students.

ERO’s findings confirm that:

  • the assistant principal with hostel responsibility, the school counsellor, the hostel board sub-committee and experienced hostel staff regularly review and improve the hostel’s systems and operations
  • hostel management is efficient and effective in providing a supportive living and learning environment for students attending the school
  • the culture and climate of the hostel and relationships between hostel staff, parents and boarders reflect the school’s positive values.

Students who spoke with ERO during the review talked about the high quality of pastoral care, the choices available and responsibilities expected of them, and the long-term friendships that they make. Younger students appreciated the support of their older peers.

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 139 international students attending the school. Robust monitoring systems and internal evaluation processes ensure that the school continues to meet its obligations under the Code.

International students are provided with high quality support for their education and wellbeing from an experienced team of staff within the school’s international student department. Learning programmes, including those for English language learning, are tailored to their individual needs. International students achieve very well in their studies for NCEA and participate widely across all aspects of school life.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a student centred curriculum that personalises learning

  • the strategic focus on building professional capability and capacity that promotes innovation across the curriculum to address disparity

  • comprehensive internal evaluation that promotes ongoing improvement in outcomes for all students

  • an inclusive, collaborative culture that values students’ wellbeing and agency.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to promote effective acceleration approaches that support all learners to be successful

  • continuing to respond to emerging shifts and trends in 21st Century secondary education.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

13 November 2018

About the school

Location

Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

64

School type

Secondary School

School roll

2225

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Chinese
Indian
Samoan
South East Asian
other Asian
other Pacific
other ethnic groups

9%
35%
20%
7%
4%
4%
9%
6%
6%

Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

13 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2014
May 2009
February 2006

Epsom Girls Grammar School - 27/06/2014

Findings

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a highly performing school. High levels of student achievement are being sustained. Leadership opportunities contribute to students’ overall confidence, progress and personal wellbeing. Effective leadership and teaching are key factors in the school’s continued success. Responsive, evidence-based self review is integral to the ongoing and sustained school development.

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?

Epsom Girls Grammar School in Epsom Auckland is a large secondary school for girls. The school is preparing to celebrate its centenary in 2017. The school has a proud tradition and celebrates the success of past students, many of whom are influential leaders.

ERO’s 2009 review identified the provision of high quality education supported by effective teaching and learning, distributed leadership, good governance and informed decision making. School leaders have sustained these positive features and continued to seek ongoing improvement.

The student-centred culture and responsive and relevant curriculum benefit learners. Well analysed achievement information is used to set targets and priorities, review the effectiveness of learning programmes and maintain very high levels of student achievement.

High quality professional leadership supports the learning environment for staff and students. Digital learning opportunities throughout the school contribute to well managed teaching and learning practices.

School improvement is aligned with the board’s strategic vision and values, systematic processes of reflection and self review, and a culture of knowing each learner individually.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is very well used. School trustees set high expectations of achievement and success for all students. Directors and head teachers of the learning areas collate and evaluate achievement information at each year level. The principal and assessment leaders provide a detailed analysis for the board which informs annual goal and target setting.

Students achieve highly in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA). They achieve well above national averages at Levels 1, 2 and 3, and above similar types of schools. Māori and Pacific student achievement levels compare well with all others. Endorsed NCEA is the goal achieved by many senior students. School leavers' attainment exceeds the Government’s 2017 NCEA Level 2 target.

Students make very good progress through Years 9 and 10. Progress information is used to identify groups of priority learners including gifted and talented students, Māori and Pacific learners, and students with learning support needs. A recently introduced student management system enables tutors, deans and classroom teachers to access achievement information that supports students’ individual learning progress and goals.

The school has an inclusive culture and well managed learning support systems. Student learning needs are identified prior to enrolment and systematically monitored. Teachers make use of progress and achievement information to evaluate the effectiveness of different teaching approaches. The work of learning support staff has been reviewed to better meet the needs of students within classroom programmes.

Teachers’ professional learning groups focus on improving outcomes for students. The school’s performance management systems include reflection and inquiry practices using student achievement information. Expectations for high quality achievement are balanced by opportunities to participate in and contribute to a wide range of student-led activities.

Student feedback and participation is used to evaluate outcomes for different groups of students. The student-led Pacifica group is particularly well organised and advocates for increased awareness around the goals of the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) Pacific Education Plan (PEP). The group actively engages parents in supporting Pacifica student culture and identity.

Senior leaders are implementing and evaluating recent changes in the assessment and reporting systems. The new procedures are designed to encourage greater parent engagement in supporting student learning progress. As part of this review, school leaders could increase collaboration with contributing schools to strengthen the learning transitions between Year 8 and Year 9.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides a highly effective and responsive curriculum. The curriculum is well considered and designed to support academic, sporting, arts and cultural, enterprise and language learning. The curriculum continues to evolve and develop in response to student interests and aspirations. In recent years teachers have designed NCEA courses to allow greater curriculum choice and flexibility.

Underpinning the curriculum is a strong emphasis on leadership. Students lead in the four key areas of sport, culture, learning and community, including student orientation, cultural celebrations, mediation services, competitions, clubs, events and productions. Leadership opportunities throughout the school contribute to students’ overall sense of wellbeing, achievement and engagement.

The curriculum challenges students to consider relevant social and global issues. School values relating to biculturalism, sustainable futures and lifelong learning align closely to the goals ofThe New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The skills and competencies in NZC are embedded in teaching and learning approaches that encourage critical thinking and conceptual understanding.

Career services have a high profile in the curriculum. The services are focused on assisting students to find learning pathways that support their aspirations and transition to further education. Pastoral care services are also well positioned to support students in their learning. The well networked student support services foster students’ independent and self management skills. Teachers’ expertise in digital learning has grown significantly. Widely used e-learning strategies are supporting more personalised curriculum approaches.

Curriculum leaders could further explore ways to achieve the school’s goals to engage students as active and independent learners. In Year 9 and 10, teachers could make more explicit use of curriculum related exemplars to assist students recognise their progress and next learning steps.

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

The school’s emphasis on educational success for Māori is well aligned with the MoE Māori education strategy Ka Hikitia. The student-led Kotahitanga group are effectively supporting Māori students to achieve success as Māori.

Māori students are proud to identify, and be identified, as Māori. Many have active leadership roles in the school and achieve very well in academic, cultural and sporting endeavours. Māori student retention levels are high and their continued success in tertiary education attests to their sense of self worth.

Māori language, culture and identity are promoted in consultation with iwi Māori, through respect for tikanga Māori, the inclusion of bicultural learning contexts and teaching of te reo Māori at all levels. Trustees could, through further consultation, strengthen statements in the school charter about the school’s context and history in relation to biculturalism and tangata whenua.

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. Considerable consultation has assisted trustees to review the school’s long term direction. The revised school goals retain a clear focus on equitable outcomes for students, and are now more strategic, providing a framework for reporting and self review.

There is clear alignment of goals and targets across all levels of school management. Senior leaders have school-wide responsibilities and support the work of the very capable leaders, who manage the curriculum and support services areas. The senior leadership team operates strategically providing cohesion and consistency across the school.

The principal is a respected leader who enables change to occur in a collaborative and transformative manner. Self review and reflection are encouraged, and greater emphasis is placed on whole-school development and the sharing of expertise. Additional time has been provided to allow professional learning groups discuss effective teacher practice. As a result, teacher capability and leadership skills have continued to strengthen.

Trustees bring a diverse range of skills to school governance. They contribute extensively to school operations, particularly in complex finance, property and resources decision making. Long term priorities for developing an effective digital learning environment have been successful and are now benefitting students and staff.

Trustees receive well analysed information that supports and informs their self review. Trustees could adopt a more strategic reporting model in place of the board’s longstanding subcommittee system and could make better use of the National Administration Guidelines as a framework for the board’s policy structure and review system.

Provision for international students

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (The Code) established under the section 238F of the Education Act 1989.

At the time of the review there were 110 long stay and 11 short stay international students. The board’s policy encourages a diverse range of international students, including some from Europe, Asia and South America. The school is now considering accepting students from Austria.

The school responds well to the interests and needs of international students. Pastoral care services for international students are well integrated with English language teaching programmes. International students are well supported to improve their English language skills. They make good progress and achieve well in other curriculum areas.

The international student department is well staffed. The department includes an experienced director, a school dean, accommodation coordinator and administrator and a newly appointed assistant administrator. The director reports monthly to the board and meets regularly with the principal.

International students are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities and involve themselves in the wider life of the school.

The board has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Epsom House provides boarding facilities for students attending the school and has been a long tradition. It is one of very few hostels for girls at secondary schools in the Auckland area.

The school hostel is operated by a sub-committee that reports to the board of trustees. The sub-committee appointed a new hostel director at the beginning of 2014 with the expectation that improvements in hostel operations would result.

ERO identified hostel matters relating to staff relationships and student wellbeing that have been shared with the board of trustees and school managers. The principal responded immediately to these issues, conducting student surveys and interviews and presenting an action plan to the board based on the students’ feedback.

ERO is confident that the board will act responsibly to resolve these matters and ensure that student management practices align with the school’s good expectations for student wellbeing.

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

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a highly performing school. High levels of student achievement are being sustained. Leadership opportunities contribute to students’ overall confidence, progress and personal wellbeing. Effective leadership and teaching are key factors in the school’s continued success. Responsive, evidence-based self review is integral to the ongoing and sustained school development.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

27 June 2014

School Statistics

Location

Epsom

Ministry of Education profile number

64

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

2082

Number of international students

112

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European /Pākehā

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

other Pacific

Chinese

Indian

Korean

United Kingdom

European

other Asian

other

47%

6%

3%

2%

1%

14%

5%

5%

4%

4%

4%

5%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

27 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2009

February 2006

June 2002