Okaihau College

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Findings

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Okaihau College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

1 Background and Context

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

Okaihau College provides education for Years 7 to 13 students. Over 65 percent of students are Māori and mainly whakapapa to te iwi o Ngapuhi. Other students are predominantly NZ European/Pākehā.

The school’s whakatauki is ‘Ka whiwhia ia tamaiti te taumata. Ka whakanuia e ia whānau. Ka whakahatia ia hapori’ (Every child succeeds. Every whānau celebrates. Every community strengthens).

Since November 2017, ERO has been doing a longitudinal external evaluation of Okaihau College. ERO worked with the school providing evaluation support and ongoing monitoring for school improvement.  

The ongoing evaluation has included meetings with the board of trustees, Ministry of Education (MoE), the new principal appointed in 2018, the senior leadership team, staff, students and members of the community. ERO provided the board with progress reports following visits in June 2018 and June 2019.

Okaihau College is a part of the Te Arahura Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The priorities for this review were based on the areas for improvement noted in ERO’s 2017 report. These priorities were to:

  • improve Māori student achievement (success) overall and address in-school disparity between the achievement of Māori and other students
  • build connections and consultation with whānau/families and the community to build confidence that the school is supporting ‘every child to achieve success’
  • use robust evaluation to analyse, gauge, and report progress toward school goals, particularly those to do with improving outcomes for Māori learners.

School leaders and teachers developed action plans to address the three priorities. Regular reports on progress were provided to the board of trustees. Teachers are committed to professional learning, and structural and leadership change to promote improvement in the three priorities.

Progress
Māori Success

Structural and leadership change has benefitted the cultural responsiveness of staff for students. The appointment of the Head of Learning Area Māori as one of two additional leaders to the senior leadership team in 2020, has provided an influential and appreciative Māori lens in senior leaders’ key decision making. These additional senior leaders have supportive and strategic roles that allow for a greater focus on Māori success. 

Te Ao Māori is beginning to be an everyday and celebrated part of school practices. Schoolwide, students are involved in tikanga Māori, particularly karakia, kapa haka and waiata. Students have tuakana/teina teaching and learning opportunities that promote their confidence and sense of responsibility. These opportunities are enhancing their mana.

Teachers have engaged in professional learning related to Te Ao Maori. They are beginning to use research-based practices to reflect on their teaching and to the extent to which they promote greater student parity in achievement.

The school’s wharenui, Whakarongorua, is being used more frequently by whānau, teachers and the school community. Hui, focused on strategies to support students’ wellbeing and contribute to improved learning outcomes, have been held regularly.

Māori student achievement and success remains a key priority for school leaders and trustees. The 2019 National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) achievement information indicate that most students are achieving Level 2, however overall achievement results continue to be low.

NCEA and junior achievement data show there is more work needed for Māori students to attain excellence and equity. Leaders and teachers should also continue to improve the engagement of Māori students in their learning.

Connections with whanau and community

Learning partnerships with whānau have been established through hui with parents and whānau about their aspirations for their tamariki. The school has improved communication with whānau using digital platforms and regular consultative hui.

Teachers are continuing to build their connections with whānau and the community. Teachers and students are involved in community events. The community support the wellbeing of students by providing whānau breakfasts and lunches. Whānau appreciate the school’s promotion of learning and community engagement through kapa haka, sport and the hunting and fishing club.

Evaluation to determine and report progress

Achievement information is analysed by senior leaders to identify areas of success and concern. Literacy and numeracy reports are presented to the board annually. There is further ongoing work needed to do with collating, analysing and reporting junior achievement data.

Teachers have clarified the learning outcomes they want to achieve with students. This clarity will help to promote students’ ownership of their learning and provide a basis for clearly reporting to parents about students’ progress and achievement.

Teachers are beginning to develop a shared understanding of effective teaching practices. The professional learning programmes ‘Whakatipu te Kakano’ and ‘Mauri Ora’ are helping them to implement strategies to engage students in their learning. Teachers are developing ways to share and embed effective practices.

Senior leaders evaluate professional learning for teachers. This helps them identify next steps to continue building effective teaching. Senior curriculum leaders have strengthened their evaluative reporting. This means decisions about teaching are better informed to improve students learning outcomes.

Senior leaders have developed strategic planning for improving curriculum, student wellbeing, teaching and learning and community partnerships. The Head of Learning Area Māori reports on Māori success and school initiatives to promote students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes.

School leaders should continue developing the evaluation and reporting of student progress and achievement to the board. Lifting overall achievement and increasing achievement in NCEA and University Entrance will help provide more students with greater options in career pathways.

Key next steps

The board, senior leaders and teachers need to continue to:

  • ensure effective teaching and learning strategies are consistently applied to improve students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes
  • develop a responsive curriculum that builds on the interests, capabilities and experiences of students
  • develop and promote a learning-focused school culture particularly through Years 7 to 10 of the school.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Progress has been made in all three of the priority areas for improvement. Strategic appointments and ongoing evaluation are helping to promote positive changes in the school with a focus on improving learning and wellbeing for all students.

Key next steps

School leaders should continue evaluating the college’s curriculum design and the effectiveness of teaching strategies. This will help to guide ongoing planning and development to improve students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes.

4 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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

At the time of the review ERO identified areas of non-compliance related to personnel and health and safety. The board must ensure that:

  • persons without a practising certificate are not permanently appointed to a teaching position
    [Section 92(2) Education and Training Act 2020]

  • it complies with the Ministry of Education guidelines with respect to students’ use of firearms on and off the school premises.
    Health & Safety at Work Act 2015.

Conclusion

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Okaihau College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to build capacity and evaluate progress.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

Steve Tanner
Director Review and Improvement Services (Northern)
Northern Region - Te Tai Raki

23 December 2020

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Findings

Okaihau College provides a friendly and welcoming environment for students. Students have positive relationships with teachers and each other, and classrooms are settled learning spaces. At this time, the school requires external support to improve Māori students’ achievement and to promote Māori students’ success, as Māori.

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?

Okaihau College in Northland provides education for students from Years 7 to 13. Over 70 percent of students are Māori and of Ngāpuhi ancestry. Most other students are Pākehā. Many students travel to the school by bus from outer Northland areas. The school’s location along with Whakarongorua the local maunga and the school’s marae, positions the school, students and their whānau in Ngāpuhitanga. It is a place that provides opportunity for students to stand tall in Māori language, culture and identity.

Okaihau College has a vision to be a school in which Ka whiwhi ia tamaiti te taumata, Ka whakanuia e ia whanau, Ka whakakahatia ia hapori – Every child succeeds, Every whanau celebrates, Every community strengthens. Since the 2013 ERO review, the school has increased the use of digital devices to aid student learning and continues to provide professional learning for teachers to enhance the use of digital technologies.

Most learning environments have been refurbished or remodelled and the physical environment is attractive and well maintained. These provide comfortable learning and working spaces for students and teachers. The school is in its first year of a Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme, and is piloting an Assessment for Learning contract with a small group of teachers at Year 8.

Rangimārie, the school’s facility for students with special education needs, has been purposefully designed. It caters for students until they are 21 years of age, and staff support them to learn within the facility and in other learning areas. Rangimārie students are very well known and are embraced by staff and students throughout the school.

Many staff including senior leaders have worked at the school for many years, and a number of trustees are ex-students of the college, and/or whakapapa to the Okaihau area. These strong intergenerational and family connections provide a sense of belonging and security for students. In addition, the school has a number of newer teachers and support staff including a Social Worker in Schools (SWiS).

The school’s 2013 ERO report highlighted a strength in the positive relationships between students, staff and each other, and commended the school for sustaining its Te Kotahitanga approaches. It recommended that the school further promote bicultural perspectives throughout the curriculum, strengthen the quality of self-review and improve the school’s performance management system.

2 Learning

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

The school is beginning to use its achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school tests students on arrival in Year 7 to ascertain their levels in reading, writing and mathematics. School leaders use this information to place students into mixed ability classes and to identify students who require further learning support. School test results show that the majority of students are below the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics when they enter the school and that most are above the National Standards by the end of Year 8.

School leaders and teachers analyse students’ results in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Information is used to make changes to the design of courses and to support students during the year who might struggle to achieve key requirements.

The school’s NCEA information shows a general upward trend in all three NCEA levels and in the number of merit and excellence endorsements received. Although Māori students are amongst the highest achievers in the school, there is significant disparity between the achievement of Māori students overall, and all other students. This disparity is evident at all levels from Year 7 to Year 13.

The school is in the very early stages of supporting teachers in using achievement information to inquire into their practice. Starting in 2016, a small group of Year 8 teachers is working with an external facilitator to learn how to discuss and moderate achievement data, and use varied sources of information to make overall teacher judgements.

Key next steps

ERO recommends that the board access external support to assist leaders and teachers to deliver improved achievement outcomes for all Māori students. External support has the potential to help the board to sharpen its strategic achievement targets and connect these to teachers’ practice. It should also work to strengthen and deepen evidence-based evaluation and inquiry at all levels of the school so that robust information can be reported regularly to the board on progress made over time.

In addition, school leaders require support to:

  • use the achievement information generated from contributing primary schools for the Year 7 intake
  • develop a consistent and school-wide assessment approach for students in Years 9 and 10 that builds on from the National Standards framework and curriculum levels
  • increase the pace of professional learning for teachers with expectations for them all to meaningfully discuss and use achievement information.

These improvements would support teachers in planning and reviewing learning programmes, and support the board to be responsive in its strategic planning and resourcing function.

3 Curriculum

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

The school's curriculum promotes and supports most students' learning effectively.

School leaders use staff strengths to promote a curriculum that is increasingly responsive to students’ needs and interests, and to their vocational pathways in the senior part of the school. Learning programmes provide meaningful connections to local contexts and to material that is relevant to these students living in and around Okaihau and in other parts of Northland. Students requiring further learning support have access to literacy and numeracy extension classes that aim to boost their progress and achievement.

Some NCEA courses have been redesigned and are more relevant to students’ learning. Other learning programmes such as the trades academies, technology courses and guidance and careers programmes connect students to tertiary providers, business and industry, and to the world of work. Some academic courses in Years 12 and 13 have very small class sizes, giving teachers the opportunity to individualise students’ learning programmes.

Students have access to varied co-curricular pursuits such as sports, music, drama and kapa haka. These areas provide students with significant opportunities to excel and to demonstrate leadership. Senior students ably fulfil their leadership roles and responsibilities and act as positive role models for other students in the school. The school provides various opportunities for parents and whānau to be involved in school events and in supporting decisions about their children’s learning pathways.

The school has a strong pastoral care system and well connected guidance team. They promote approaches that cater very well for students’ holistic needs and provide integrated careers and health programmes to students from Years 7 to 13. The school is proud of its high rate of attendance, especially for its Māori students.

In classrooms, students are settled and focused on their learning. They have positive relationships with their teachers and each other. Teachers provide students with good opportunities to learn collaboratively with each other, and use digital devices. They use learning approaches with senior students especially that promote independence and self-management.

Key next steps

The school’s curriculum leaders’ committee provides a vehicle to change and improve the way the school’s curriculum is designed and delivered. ERO suggests that this group lead the development of a school curriculum document that identifies and clarifies expectations for teaching and learning throughout the school. This curriculum development would ideally align bicultural and culturally responsive principles, philosophies and approaches to the school’s vision.

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

The school continues to need to build on and promote educational success for Māori, as Māori, more effectively.

Many staff continue to uphold the principles and practices that are essential to Te Kotahitanga, the professional learning initiative that aims to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori and raise Māori student achievement. Students and whānau are proud of their Ngāpuhi heritage. They appreciate the support provided by significant teachers who value Māori language, culture and identity and promote students’ learning and achievement and look after their wellbeing.

Māori students are among the highest achievers in the school and NCEA data are showing some positive, upward trends. However, there is significant disparity between the achievement of Māori students overall, and all other students.

ERO and the board of trustees agree that there continue to be challenges for school leaders and teachers in improving educational achievement for Māori learners. Identified challenges include:

  • improving the lower rates of Māori student achievement in National Standards and NCEA qualifications
  • continuing efforts to decrease the high stand down and suspension statistics for Māori students, especially Māori boys
  • progressing the place of te reo Māori as an academic subject in the school
  • finding sustainable ways to continue to use effective practices learned in programmes such as Te Kotahitanga, and to progress Kia Eke Panuku, as part of teachers' professional learning.

ERO and school leaders agree that a useful next step is to use student voice, alongside other data and information to evaluate the effectiveness of Te Kotahitanga. This evaluation would allow senior leaders and the board to identify the extent to which this professional learning has been embedded in teachers’ practice and is promoting positive outcomes for Māori and all other learners. This information could be then used to inform the school’s strategic direction.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is in a position to sustain and improve its performance in many areas. Improving Māori student achievement remains a challenge for the school.

ERO recommends that trustees seeks external support to:

  • promote their role in developing and reviewing the board’s charter and strategic plan, and setting and monitoring achievement targets
  • fund the school strategically in order to sustain and improve school-wide initiatives
  • ensure that information they receive from school leaders is sufficient, and regular enough to evaluate the progress made towards meeting strategic goals and achievement targets.

Improvements in these areas would strengthen the board’s accountability function and especially support school leaders to accelerate Māori students’ progress, and their overall success as Māori achieving educational success, as Māori.

The senior leadership team is long serving, has a very good knowledge of the school's context, and appropriately manages school operations. Trustees bring a variety of useful experience and skill to the governance role. Since the 2013 ERO report the board has revised the policy framework. More recently in 2016 senior leaders have revised the school’s performance management system and aligned teachers’ appraisals to the Education Council requirements. This appraisal approach promotes greater expectations for teachers to reflect on their practice against the Practising Teacher Criteria.

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 Ministry of Education supports the board of trustees and school leaders in promoting strategic and sustainable practices that aim to accelerate Māori student progress and Māori student success, as Māori.

Conclusion

Okaihau College provides a friendly and welcoming environment for students. Students have positive relationships with teachers and each other, and classrooms are settled learning spaces. At this time, the school requires external support to improve Māori students’ achievement and to promote Māori students’ success, as Māori.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

23 November 2016

About the School

Location

Okaihau

Ministry of Education profile number

7

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

449

Gender composition

Girls 53%, Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Asian

70%

27%

2%

1%

Special Features

Social Worker in Schools (SWiS) Rangimārie – facility for students with special educational needs

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

23 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

August 2013

June 2010

May 2008