Mt Albert Grammar School

We maintain a regular review programme to evaluate and report on the education and care of young people in schools.

We are in the process of shifting from event-based external reviews to supporting each school in a process of continuous improvement.

There may be delays between reviews for some schools and kura due to Covid-19 and while we transition to our new way of reviewing.

Read more about our new processes and why we changed the way we review schools and kura.

Find out which schools have upcoming reviews.

Education institution number:
69
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:
3049
Telephone:
Address:

36 Alberton Ave, Mount Albert, Auckland

View on map

School Context

Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) is a large, co-educational school catering for students from Year 9 to Year 13. It is situated in the suburb of Mt Albert, Auckland city. Founded in 1922, the school values its traditional heritage while offering a breadth of 21st century educational opportunities.

The school states that its overarching vision for the future is to provide an aspirational, resilient learning community that affirms personal excellence. This is supported through the legacy items of the four school pillars and the ‘MAGS Way’. These values continue to acknowledge the aims of excellence, honesty, respect for oneself, others and the environment, and recognise the value of educational opportunity.

Since the 2013 ERO review, a new headmaster has been appointed together with several new senior team leaders. A number of new trustees have been elected or co-opted to the board.

Te Puna o Wairaka, a vertical whānau group, has continued to support the cultural identity of Māori learners and school tikanga. The recently constituted Runanga, a group of community members, whānau, students and staff, is developing new strategies for a Māori Education plan.

The school campus features many specialist learning opportunities and facilities. Programmes such as the Academic Institute and Sports Academies offer students choices for different academic pathways. The ASB Bank MAGS farm provides a substantial number of students with authentic learning to study agribusiness, agricultural and horticultural science.

The school roll is growing rapidly towards 3000 students, presenting an ongoing property challenge for the board of trustees who wish to continue providing high quality facilities. School House, the boarding hostel for boys, caters for approximately 100 boarders. One hundred and eighty international students attend the school.

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
  • pathways outcomes for senior students
  • achievement data for Year 9 and 10
  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets
  • pastoral and wellbeing information about student groups and cohorts
  • participation, contribution and engagement information across a number of sporting, arts and cultural areas
  • outcomes relating to identity, culture and language
  • retention, stand down, suspension and attendance information.

The school is a proactive member of the Mt Albert Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL). This kāhui ako is currently led by an Associate Principal from Mt Albert Grammar School.

The high expectations for student achievement and attainment noted in previous ERO reports continue to be evident.

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 is highly effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students. It has the capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners and is successfully addressing parity issues for some groups of students.

Scholarship success places Mt Albert Grammar School consistently in the top seven schools in the country. One student gained a scholarship in Te Reo Rangatira, one of only eight students in New Zealand achieving this award in this subject. Increasing numbers of excellence and merit endorsements for NCEA reflect achievement above national percentages and this success is celebrated by the school through Lion Awards. Achievement across the three levels of NCEA is well above the national average and above percentages for similar schools.

School achievement information for NCEA Level 1 and 2 shows highly equitable levels of success. Almost all Māori and Pacific learners are included in approximately 90% of students who are leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above.

Some ethnic and gender disparities are evident in NCEA Level 3 and in University Entrance data. These outcomes are affected to some extent by senior students’ pathways decisions. School leaders are implementing systems that are now trialled and proven to attain greater parity for all Year 13 students.

For Year 9 and 10 students, leaders and teachers use nationally normed assessment tools to gather achievement information as students enter Year 9 and exit at Year 10. This comparative data shows that after two years most junior students reach the curriculum levels required to access NCEA Level 1 and succeed.

Other valued outcomes for students are the development of resilience and a strong sense of self belief through the pursuit of personal excellence. Students are learning how to be reflective and self-directing and to feel optimistic about their future. The school has a developing culture where young people celebrate all kinds of diversity. 

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

The school responds very effectively to Māori, Pacific students and other young people whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

Year 9 achievement information indicates that a substantial group of Māori and Pacific students enters the school below expected curriculum levels in literacy. By the end of Year 10, this information shows that accelerated learning in literacy has occurred for most of these students. Almost all of these learners who have accelerated over a two-year period go on to achieve senior qualifications. There is evidence to show that this improvement trend for junior students has been maintained over time.

Māori and Pacific students at NCEA Level 1 and 2 have made accelerated shifts in their achievement over the last three years. Ninety-one percent of Māori students and 85% of Pacific students gained NCEA Level 2 in 2017. The Māori cohort outperformed other cohorts in the school. At NCEA Level 3 there are some disparities for Māori and Pacific learners.

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 leadership and stewardship, teacher capability and the improvement-focused learning culture are highly effective school conditions that enable students’ achievement of equity and excellence.

Leaders deliberately promote equity and excellence through personalised approaches to learning. The opportunity for individualised programmes is a key driver in the school’s new strategic plan. Leaders at all levels of the school are successfully promoting a collaborative and reflective teaching culture that encourages and supports students to achieve their personal best.  

Teachers continue to grow their capability and trial ways to support students who need to make accelerated shifts in their learning. The recently introduced teacher appraisal process is high quality, reflects the new Education Council standards, and aligns with school priorities and professional learning initiatives.

At Year 11, 12 and 13, staff focus on the tracking and monitoring of NCEA performance through a ‘numbers, names and needs’ approach. Additionally, a mentoring system has been introduced. Students have a significant mentor teacher to work with in a personalised learning relationship over their time at school. Subject teachers plan different actions when additional learning strategies are needed to ensure successful outcomes. Learner support systems work effectively for students who have different or special needs.

The school has a learning culture that promotes and fosters student wellbeing for learning. A wrap-around approach to pastoral care and the use of restorative practices support student management.

There is a school-wide curriculum focus on building student-directed learning behaviour. Digital platforms extend time for students, groups of students and teachers to have more personalised learning contact. This helps to extend the scope of self-managed learning.

Stewardship of the school is sound. The board has made strategic appointments to senior leadership to guide the school’s development in offering students 21st century educational opportunities. Trustees value the school’s ethnic diversity, and the broadening of pathway choices for students.

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

Developments that could be considered for further improvement include:

  • A review of Year 9 and 10 systems and processes for assessment and the use of achievement data, including transition information. This could offer further opportunity for leaders and teachers to create a meaningful learning profile for junior students. It could also assist teachers to inquire into acceleration strategies that may be effective for junior students across other learning areas in the curriculum, as well as the current literacy focus.  
  • Leadership inquiry into how the school’s systems can strengthen parity for Māori and Pacific students at NCEA Level 3. This would ensure the acceleration gains made at NCEA Level 1 to Level 2 are maintained to advantage.

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, School House, accommodates 101 students (four percent of school roll). The hostel is owned and operated by Mt Albert Grammar School. 

ERO’s findings confirm that:

  • the hostel director 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 boys attending the school
  • the culture and climate of the hostel reflects the school’s positive values. 

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there were 180 international students attending the school.

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

ERO’s evaluation process confirms that the school’s internal evaluation processes are of high quality.

Mount Albert Grammar provides international students with pastoral care processes of a high standard. The school provides good quality English language support for its international students. They integrate well into the school’s educational programmes and are immersed in all aspects of school and community life.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership and stewardship capability to embed the school’s new strategic direction
  • teachers with the professional capability to provide personalised student learning 
  • students gaining self-belief and confidence through the school’s positive learning culture.

Next steps

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

  • systems review at junior level, to gather meaningful achievement information in each learning area, in order to accelerate learning for those who need it
  • leadership inquiry into NCEA Level 3 achievement for Māori and Pacific students. 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Julie Foley
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

18 April 2018

About the school

Location

Mt Albert, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

69

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

2991

Gender composition

Boys      57% 
Girls       43%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Pasifika
MELAA
other

 13%
 40%
 23%
 19%
   3%
   2%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

18 April 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review  
Education Review  Education Review 

  November 2013
  November 2007
  December 2010

1 Context

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

Mt Albert Grammar School is a large, co-educational secondary school catering for students from Year 9 to Year 13. It is situated in the inner western suburb of Mt Albert, Auckland city. Founded in 1922, the school has a traditional academic and sporting legacy that is still evident in the school’s curriculum.

The school roll continues to grow and this is a current challenge for the board of trustees which has a well developed property plan. The school community is diverse. Eighteen percent of the school’s roll is Pacific students and 14 percent are Māori. Ninety-five international students currently attend the school.

The well resourced school environment offers students positive learning opportunities. The most recent building additions to the school campus are an extensively refurbished Arts facility and a second gymnasium.

School House, the boarding hostel for boys, is on the school grounds and caters for approximately 100 boarders. Adjacent to the school is the ASB School Farm providing authentic learning experiences for agricultural and horticultural science.

The support of community, business and alumni partnerships with the school continues to benefit school development.

The continuity of the board of trustees, principal, senior leadership team and staff maintains the school’s commitment to self review and improvement.

The high expectations for student achievement and for high quality educational opportunities noted in previous ERO reports continue to be evident.

2 Learning

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

Mt Albert Grammar School makes very good use of achievement information to make positive changes to students’ engagement in learning, progress and achievement. Student learning competencies, as well as achievement, are continually being improved through robust self review. Reliable data is analysed, evaluated and used by senior leaders, faculty heads and class teachers. This is resulting in deliberate changes to course structures and programme planning, and is promoting flexible assessment opportunities for students. The board sets effective and detailed charter targets that prioritise students who are under-achieving.

Student achievement in the National Certificates of Education (NCEA) is higher than national averages and is considerably higher than the averages for other similar schools. Students also achieve well above national levels for NCEA merit and excellence endorsements. Scholarship results in 2012 were outstanding. Students gained 92 scholarships across a range of subjects, placing the school fifth in New Zealand for scholarship success.

Maōri students are progressing and achieving well. Ministry of Education data shows accelerating progress for these students, particularly at NCEA Level 2. While the achievement of Pacific students is below that of other students in the school at NCEA Level 1 and Level 3, results are still above the national averages for this student group. School leaders have identified and implemented strategies to reduce these gaps in Pacific achievement, and accelerated progress is evident. Two strategic appointments have been made to position Pacific teachers in mentoring and academic coaching roles to sustain these increased levels of success.

Achievement information for Year 9 and 10 students indicates that students continue to make good progress in literacy and numeracy. Literacy has been a long-term priority in school planning. A credit-based Junior Diploma has been introduced to give junior programmes more purpose and increase motivation levels for Year 9 and 10 students.

ERO and school leaders agree that the school should continue to:

  • develop more consistent school-wide expectations for teaching practices that increase student capability to self manage their own learning progress
  • develop teachers’ cultural competencies to help promote Māori and Pacific learning success in mainstream classes, using Tātaiako, the Ministry of Education resource.

3 Curriculum

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

Mt Albert Grammar School’s curriculum supports and enables students to learn effectively. It is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) in its aims, vision and values. Senior leaders and faculty heads are strategically driving the development of the school’s curriculum. Students are responding positively to a greater emphasis being placed on including their voice in learning and curriculum delivery.

Curriculum planning and self review within faculties and departments is effective and thorough. Teachers in many teaching areas use a variety of teaching approaches and strategies to engage students in learning. The school curriculum is relevant and authentic, in keeping with NZC principles. A well researched e-learning vision and plan is currently being implemented.

Good provision is made to resource and support learners with special educational needs. This includes the provision of effective programmes for ESOL students to study the English language.

The school has a well managed professional learning programme. Teachers are encouraged to be reflective and search out best evidence to improve their practice.

Pastoral care systems are of high quality and deans are regarded as significant adults for students in terms of both personal and academic support. The form teacher role is expanding in order to track and monitor student progress throughout the year. A restorative ethos is becoming more evident in the management of student concerns and behaviours.

An extensive range of extra-curricular opportunities and activities is offered to students. These include high performance sport and a strong focus on visual and performing arts.

In ERO’s discussions with school leaders, areas for future curriculum development were considered. These included:

  • broadening the range of curriculum pathways to cater for different learner outcomes, interests, strengths and abilities
  • reviewing the Mt Albert Grammar graduate student profile to enable a broader curriculum vision.

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

Mt Albert Grammar School demonstrates educational success for Māori through Te Puna O Wairaka, a whānau-based group of approximately 60 students, who stand confidently in their language, culture and identity. This group’s success has developed markedly since ERO’s 2010 review and greater parent and teacher involvement in the whānau is evident. Mentors for Māori students in Years 11 and 12 assist students in their pathway choices.

A deputy principal has responsibility to lead strategic thinking around success for Māori. The school has commissioned an external review to investigate the needs of Māori students who are in mainstream classes.

Māori students benefit from the opportunity to study te reo Māori from Years 9 to Year 13, and recently Te Rangatira Māori has been introduced into the school curriculum. Māori students from Year 9 onwards can begin NCEA qualifications in te reo.

Many Māori students are engaged in the wide sporting and cultural opportunities offered by the school.

The school has identified that positive strategies in the Te Puna o Wairaka model could be similarly used for other Māori students throughout the school.

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.

The school management’s self review processes are robust and well embedded at all levels. This is bringing positive change to the school’s performance. Evaluative reporting considers the effectiveness and quality of school self review as well as recommendations for improvement.

The board is well informed by the principal about progress made in relation to charter goals. The board is working well with its community. Māori and Pacific trustees have key roles in strategic thinking to influence improved outcomes for targeted groups of learners.

The teacher appraisal system is sound and linked to expectations around best practice. New and beginning teachers are encouraged to share their expertise and energy.

The capability of the board to make ongoing improvements for good student outcomes could now be enhanced through:

  • involving the school’s community in the design of the school’s curriculum, particularly in relation to the focus on future learning pathways
  • aligning policy review with curriculum development
  • continuing to develop restorative process at all levels of student pastoral and behaviour management systems.

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 95 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 processes for international students are thorough.

Mt Albert Grammar School provides international students with high quality pastoral care. They integrate well into the school’s education programme and are involved in all aspects of school life. The school provides good quality English language support for its international students.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, School House, accommodates 101 students (4% of school roll). The hostel is owned and operated by Mt Albert Grammar School.

ERO’s findings confirm that:

  • the hostel director and 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 boys attending the school
  • the culture and climate of the hostel reflects the school’s positive values.

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.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

14 November 2013

About the School

Location

Mt Albert, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

69

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

2625

Number of international students

95

Gender composition

Boys 59%

Girls 41%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Samoan

Tongan

Cook Islands Māori

Niue

other European

others

46%

14%

14%

8%

5%

3%

2%

3%

5%

Special Features

Te Puna o Wairaka

ASB school farm

school hostel

Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

14 November 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2010

June 2007

September 2003