Alfriston College

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School Context

Alfriston College is a co-educational school catering for students from Years 9 to 13. Thirty-eight percent of learners are Māori and twenty-five percent have Pacific heritages.

The school’s mission statement is to provide differentiated and personalised learning programmes to ensure all students have good opportunities to pursue their talents and interests and reach their potential. Key values the school encourages are whakapapa (connection), aahuatanga (character), tuu maaia (confidence) and maatau (competence). These values form the cornerstones of the Alfriston College tikanga and the basis for student wellbeing.

The board’s strategic goals are to:

  • provide students with learning opportunities that are connected, authentic and relevant to improve engagement and achievement

  • develop personalised learning pathway plans that ensure each student has a sense of belonging and learns and succeeds.

Leaders and teachers report to the board school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Authority framework

  • progress and achievement in literacy and mathematics in Years 9 and 10

  • student engagement and wellbeing for success.

Since the 2015 ERO report the school has introduced several significant initiatives to increase student progress and achievement. There has been continuity in school leadership and governance.

The College is part of the Alfriston Community of Learning |Kāhui Ako (CoL), comprising eight schools. The overall goal of the CoL is to have 85 percent of school leavers achieving a National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 or higher qualification that will support them in their preferred pathway.

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 working well towards achieving equitable outcomes and raising achievement levels for all students.

Data over the last three years show an increase in achievement levels for students in NCEA across Levels 1, 2, and 3. Overall, achievement levels are now comparable to other schools of a similar type. The number of merit and excellence endorsements has continued to rise.

Data show significant improvements for boys across the three levels of NCEA, for Māori learners at Level 2 and Pacific learners at Level 3. These positive shifts contribute to increased parity for the different groups of students.

Achievement levels at University Entrance remain relatively static. However, the last two years show an increase in the number of students accessing and achieving success in alternative pathways at Years 12 and 13.

Year 9 and 10 students have their literacy and mathematical knowledge and skills tested on entry. Recent school data show the mathematics achievement of Year 10 students as a group, especially Māori and Pacific students, has significantly improved.

School information shows noteworthy improvements in student engagement over the last three years. Attendance levels are high, retention levels are increasing, and data show low rates of stand-downs and suspensions.

Students have a strong sense of belonging and connectedness to the school. They are respectful and build good learning relationships with each other and their teachers. A holistic approach to their wellbeing sits at the heart of the school’s curriculum. This sets positive conditions for learning and achievement.

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

The school is becoming increasingly effective at responding to those students whose learning needs acceleration.

The school attributes the recent positive shifts in achievement levels for Māori, Pasifika and boys to the introduction in 2017 of whānau advisory and amokura mentoring approaches. Strong features of these initiatives are close tracking and monitoring of students at the individual level, alongside regular academic counselling and awhi.

Personalising learning and the use of ‘assessment packages’ at NCEA level is likely to help students to achieve relevant course qualifications. This, together with the growing flexibility to deliver trimester and semester as well as full year courses to students, means the school can be more responsive, especially to those students at risk of not achieving.

Leaders and teachers are proactive in accessing pathway courses for senior students through external providers. A science programme sponsored by the District Health Board provides opportunities for Māori students to experience success in many of the science subjects. The school works with other external providers to design relevant programmes for students. School information shows that students are staying longer at school and higher numbers of them are moving to successful career training and meaningful employment.

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?

The school has a compelling vision that challenges students to be active participants in and contributors to, the learning process. The vision positions everyone as both a leader and a learner able to have influence in the school and in the wider community. There is collective ownership of the vision and for this reason it is well embedded as a way of being for everyone in the school.

Leadership in the school is strong and effective in strengthening conditions for equity and excellence. Recent changes to the leadership structure have enabled the school to become more responsive to students’ needs and to build academic rigour. The new leadership structure places greater value and responsibility on the contribution of middle leaders. Middle leaders include Whānau Leaders, New Zealand Curriculum Leaders and Year 9 and 10 Team Leaders. All have clear roles to play and are supported by senior leaders to work towards achieving the best outcomes for all. Broadening leadership opportunities for students is helping to nurture a spirit of leadership throughout the school.

The school’s curriculum is increasingly engaging, raising achievement, and improving outcomes for students. The tikanga of ako is embedded as the foundation of the school’s curriculum. “Getting to know the learner” and “getting the learner to know themselves”, are key drivers in several school curriculum initiatives. A range of recent innovative curriculum approaches and practices to improve outcomes for students include:

  • a Year 9 and 10 whānau-based, authentic curriculum

  • Year 9 to 13 Personalised Learning Pathway Plans (PLPP)

  • Year 11 and 12 ‘Project Lines, and Passion courses’

  • a Year 12 and 13 independent learning centre.

The school has very good systems to develop teachers’ professional capability and collective capacity for delivering the curriculum. Teachers are well supported in a professional climate where senior leaders have increased the momentum for change to lift student achievement. Staff are engaged explicitly in the school’s ‘Learning as a Challenge model’ through performance management systems and individualised professional learning and development opportunities. This is helping to increase their capability to be agile leaders of learning and to respond well to students’ diverse requirements.

Internal evaluation is used very well for knowledge building, improvement and innovation. The outcomes of reviews provide clear rationales for improvement in curriculum design and teaching practice. This is helping to shape the school’s future direction. The board and senior leaders also seek and use current research and thinking to work towards what is best for individual learners.

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

Senior leaders are refining the school’s quality assurance systems and processes to support greater consistency in curriculum implementation. The newly developed sets of agreed expectations will help strengthen the rigour and regularity of monitoring and reporting. This will help ensure expectations are being met.

In order to raise achievement levels, school leaders have introduced more meaningful and useful ways to analyse and report progress and achievement information in the senior school. Deepening the analysis of Year 9 and 10 achievement data is likely to provide teachers with better information for decisions about learning pathways for all students, especially for those whose progress needs to be accelerated.

Ensuring every students, through their PLPP, is challenged, has access to, and progresses and achieves at the appropriate level of the New Zealand Curriculum is an ongoing priority for the school. New Zealand Curriculum Level 6 and 7 learning outcomes should be prioritised across the three disciplines in the senior project lines. Strengthening differentiated teaching approaches in Year 9 and 10 could support this development.

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 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 12 international students attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s internal evaluation process for international students is thorough. International students benefit from the positive and inclusive relationships strongly evident throughout the school. Their learning and socialisation needs are well considered and they make good progress overall, particularly in NCEA. International students participate in a broad curriculum and have the opportunity to join in all school activities.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • its vision for learning that supports students to direct their own learning

  • effective leadership at different levels of the school that is responsive, and actively supports equity and excellence

  • systems and strategies that develop confident professional teachers in a collaborative learning community

  • internal evaluation practices that support improvement and innovation.

Next steps

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

  • refine quality assurance systems to support greater consistency of high quality practices

  • expand the use of achievement information in ways that better inform decisions about students’ learning pathways

  • continue to develop learning pathways that ensure cognitive challenge and deep learning for students from Years 9 to 13.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

22 August 2018

About the school

Location

Manurewa, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

6929

School type

Secondary (Years 9 – 15)

School roll

1170

Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 38%
Pākehā 10%
Samoan 13%
Indian 10%
Tongan 5%
other Asian 12%
other Pacific 7%
other 5%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

22 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2015
Education Review July 2012
Education Review May 2009

Findings

Alfriston College provides students with very good opportunities to belong, learn and succeed. It values New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and celebrates the richness of students’ cultural diversity. Students have positive relationships with their teachers and each other. They receive innovative and interesting learning programmes and are well supported to make good progress and achieve.

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

1 Context

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

Alfriston College opened in 2004. It was purposefully designed as a modern learning environment to promote an innovative and inclusive curriculum for students from Years 9 to 13. A significant feature of the school is the well established whānau approach that promotes student wellbeing, belonging and leadership. School wide whānau approaches also encourage student and staff pride in the school, in each other, and in bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The school’s wharenui, Te Pai o Takānini, sits at the centre of the grounds. It signifies clearly the place of Māori as tangata whenua and represents the school’s strong commitment to its local Takānini and Manurewa areas.

Thirty five per cent of students in the school are Māori. The culturally diverse student group also includes more than 20 other ethnicities, including 20 percent from various Pacific heritages and a growing Indian population. The school values New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and celebrates the richness that its cultural diversity brings.

The school’s vision of students, staff and community belonging, learning and succeeding is reflected in many ways throughout the school. School values are aligned clearly to the curriculum design for Years 9 and 10 and within whānau time for all students. The five whānau groups of students from Years 9 to 13 provide opportunities for tuakana-teina relationships to support student learning and wellbeing.

The 2012 ERO report identified many positive features that were promoting student learning. These features continue to be evident. A new principal joined the school in mid 2014. With two long serving deputy principals, he has restructured the leadership team to promote leadership expertise and strengths. The restructure has refocused the junior curriculum, starting in 2015 with Year 9 students.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is used increasingly well by school leaders and teachers to develop a curriculum that engages students in their learning, provides authentic learning experiences and supports their success.

Many students enter the school in Year 9 with achievement levels lower than national expectations in reading and maths. School data shows that these students make good progress over time.

The board and leaders use analysed data for different groups of students to set strategic goals and achievement targets. Teachers and leaders have an improved picture of junior student progress and are more responsive to students’ learning needs. This improvement results from their use of better assessment tools, and strengthened data analysis. Teachers have also recently introduced innovative teaching and learning programmes for Year 9 students.

Students in the senior school are skilled in tracking their own progress and understanding their own next steps for learning. This individualised approach to using achievement information has been strengthened through the school’s home-school partnership initiative where all students set and evaluate their learning goals. The school’s next step is to continue to support students to have greater ownership of their own learning.

The school’s achievement trends and patterns in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) shows that over time the number of students gaining qualifications at Levels 1, 2 and 3 remains constant, or improves slightly. The gap between the NCEA achievement of Māori and Pacific learners and other students is continuing to close. However school leaders are aware of the need to continue increasing achievement levels overall and especially for Māori students.

Senior leaders are also keen to explore new ways of working with the parents/whānau of students at risk of not achieving, to accelerate their learning. Setting specific achievement targets and more focused reporting processes may help to support the progress of these students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning very effectively. It is broad based and very well designed to meet students’ interests, backgrounds, strengths and needs. It supports students’ engagement and success, and connects well to their future pathways and to the community. The curriculum ensures that student successes are recognised and celebrated in many ways.

Significant features of the school’s curriculum include its focus on Māori concepts, and on key learning skills, especially self management and independence. Students in Year 9 experience a revised and innovative curriculum approach that features team teaching and collaboration. This new approach provides students with very good levels of challenge, and improved opportunities for choice about what and how they learn.

Teachers are responsive to students’ learning needs and provide them with additional support where needed. The school’s vision is for this successful, student-centred approach to curriculum design and delivery to be in place for all students from Years 9 to 13 by 2019.

Teachers are hard working and skilled practitioners. They are open to the changes required to enact future-focused curriculum expectations. Capable school leaders guide and support teachers well, and provide appropriate conditions for them to be innovative.

Students from Years 10 to 13 also experience very good learning programmes. They are highly engaged in learning and appreciate the positive relationships they have with their teachers and each other. The school’s well-considered independent learning centre supports all senior students to manage their own learning. This well-staffed centre shows value and respect for students’ time and wellbeing.

The school’s inclusive ethos promotes tolerance and appreciation of difference. This ethos is underpinned by a very good whānau structure that supports student learning, belonging and wellbeing. Vertically grouped classes offer students significant opportunities for leadership and for developing tuakana-teina relationships. In addition the school has very good systems for ensuring students receive culturally appropriate support for learning and pastoral care. The board’s specific resourcing of youth workers based at the school exemplifies the importance the school places on student welfare.

The board and senior leaders agree that some of the school’s curriculum initiatives could now be more formally evaluated for their impact on student engagement and wellbeing. They are also interested in engaging an external consultant to support the school in evaluating more recent curriculum design and initiatives.

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

The school is a leader in how effectively it promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori. Māori cultural practices provide the foundation for the school’s welcoming, whānau-focused and inclusive school climate. Tikanga Māori is embraced by staff, students and parents. It is an integral and unifying part of school life and students’ learning experiences. Kapa haka is a strength of the school and Māori students ably fulfil the many opportunities available for leadership.

Experienced and committed staff continue to promote positive outcomes for Māori students. Their strategic approaches include sustaining the practices and principles of Te Kotahitanga initiative, and providing mentoring programmes for Māori students. A long-serving mana whenua trustee continues to provide the board with advice and guidance from a Māori perspective.

The school’s kaumatua now has a paid position and office space at the school, showing the value that the school places on promoting Māori success. As a result of very good school practices Māori students’ language, culture and identity are validated. Students are proud and confident in themselves as learners and leaders.

The school’s next steps in this area include further strengthening partnerships with whānau, and providing professional learning that continues to develop teachers’ understanding and use of culturally responsive practices.

How effectively does the school promote Pacific success?

The school promotes Pacific success effectively. Twenty-two percent of students have Pacific Island heritage. Most are Samoan, with smaller numbers of Tongan, Cook Island, Fijian, Tokelauan and Niue students. Many staff, including the principal, are from these Pacific groups. This feature, alongside the very good communication between school and home, provides Pacific students and their families with a strong connection to the school. Celebrations of Pacific student success during the year are capably led by the school’s Pacific team in partnership with students and parents.

The board, principal and Pacific staff and parents recognise the importance of having a Pacific cultural perspective at the governance level of the school. This matter could be addressed as the school reviews its Pacific success strategy and aligns it more clearly to the board’s strategic goals and targets.

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 is well led by the principal and senior leadership team. The deputy principals and senior team are dedicated to promoting positive outcomes for students. Senior leaders are reflective and are responsive to teacher needs. The principal has approached his new role thoughtfully and aligned his vision to that of the school. Trustees, parents, staff and students appreciate the active role that the principal has in the school and community. They value his calm and capable leadership style.

The principal and senior leaders have increasing expectations for more rigorous self review at all levels of the school. They recognise the need to align curriculum review and reporting to the school’s strategic plan, especially at Years 9 and 10. They are also interested in evaluating how well the senior leadership team is leading change throughout the school.

Trustees bring a variety of governance experiences to their board roles and have good understanding of their governance responsibilities. They are committed to the school and to promoting the school’s vision of supporting students to belong, learn and succeed.

A key next step for the board and senior leadership team is to develop greater alignment between the board’s strategic goals and targets, its reporting mechanisms and decision making practices. This development would enable trustees and senior leaders to maintain a more critical lens on student progress and achievement during the year.

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 eight international students attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. The school places a strong focus on providing high-quality pastoral care and many opportunities for integration into the life of the school. International students requiring assistance in learning the English language receive appropriate levels of targeted support.

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

Alfriston College provides students with very good opportunities to belong, learn and succeed. It values New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and celebrates the richness of students’ cultural diversity. Students have positive relationships with their teachers and each other. They receive innovative and interesting learning programmes and are well supported to make good progress and achieve.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

26 June 2015

About the School

Location

Manurewa, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

6929

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1361

Number of international students

8

Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

European

Indian

Samoan

South East Asian

Cook Island

Tongan

Chinese

Niue

Fijian

Middle Eastern

other European

other

36%

15%

14%

12%

5%

4%

3%

2%

2%

1%

1%

2%

3%

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

26 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2012

May 2009

March 2006