Avondale College

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Education institution number:
78
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
2729
Telephone:
Address:

Victor Street, Avondale, Auckland

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Findings

Avondale College provides a high standard of education. It offers students a broad, well designed curriculum that is responsive to their diverse needs and aspirations. Students achieve well and take pride in their school. High quality self review underpins the board’s strategic decision making and planning.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Avondale College is a very large and culturally diverse secondary school in central Auckland. It caters for students from Years 9 to 13. The college has served its local community for many years and also provides for a large number of students from beyond the Avondale area. It offers dual qualification pathways for senior students. The majority elect to study for the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), with smaller numbers (around 20 percent) opting for the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

During the review of the college in August 2012 ERO affirmed a number of school features, including positive student achievement in NCEA, high success rates in CIE, the broad curriculum offered and the strengthening quality of self-review in school departments. The report also identified a number of areas where school-wide systems and practices could be improved.

Over the past two years the college has worked independently of ERO to address these areas for improvement. During this time there have been changes of personnel on the board and executive leadership team. Both now comprise a mix of longer-serving and newer members.

This 2014 report provides an overview of progress made by the school based on ERO’s visit to verify and evaluate developments in performance.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

Agreed review and development areas for this review focused on:

  • the quality of school leadership and governance
  • the quality of teaching, learning, curriculum pathways and student wellbeing, including success for Māori and other priority learners
  • the quality of self review for sustaining existing good practice and for supporting ongoing school improvement
  • the quality of work done to address compliance actions and recommendations for improving practice in the 2013 ERO report
  • other areas the school has prioritised for development or areas identified by ERO during the review, as relevant.

Progress

School leadership and governance

The quality of school leadership and governance have continued to progress well over the past two years. The principal provides strong and inspirational leadership. The current and former board chairpersons provide sound leadership for the board, and the principal, school trustees and wider executive (senior leadership) team work together closely. They demonstrate a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities. Their leadership practices are guided by well considered strategic thinking and consideration of data.

Executive and board members demonstrate their strong commitment to providing a school culture that promotes student wellbeing, serves priority learners well, and caters for and extends opportunities for all students. This commitment is demonstrated in the work done on school culture and to enrich learning opportunities for students.

Areas for review and development identified in the 2013 ERO report have been well integrated into wider strategic planning and executive action plans. Trustees include relevant review and development priorities in board work plans. These plans show a strengthening of the board’s review and monitoring functions, and good planning for governance and senior leadership professional development.

The pressures of 2012, associated with balancing school operations and simultaneously managing a significant rebuilding programme, are no longer evident. Students enjoy very attractive and high quality learning facilities.

Teaching, learning and curriculum pathways

Student progress and achievement remains a central focus for the school. The school’s executive team has worked well with curriculum directors and heads of department. This work has often included guidance and input from external advisors and specialists. As a result, very good progress has been made in this area.

Responding to the needs of priority learners to increase students’ achievement and future educational and career opportunities has been a strong focus for the school. There is a deliberate, strategic approach to promoting success for Māori students, and for Pacific students. Priority learners with special learning needs are also well catered for. These students benefit from differentiated programmes which are well matched to their needs. This is giving students a sense of enjoyment and achievement.

Teachers’ work on curriculum pathways has resulted in more opportunities for students to pursue academic and vocational goals and aspirations. This has included extending opportunities for highly able students and those with specific talents and interests. The school’s innovation programme offers valuable opportunities for students to gain internationally recognised Information Communications (ICT) certification, while also contributing to their CIE and NCEA studies. In 2015 leaders have planned an initial step towards extending this programme to all Year 9 and 10 students. The programme aims to increase students’ capacity for life-long learning through the emphasis placed on interpersonal and critical thinking skills and working creatively to solve real life challenges.

Leaders place a strong priority on the analysis and use of student achievement information, and on ensuring that this information is well used to inform planning for teaching and learning. Achievement information at senior school levels (Years 11 to 13) is of high quality and shows that student achievement in NCEA and CIE has continued to increase over the past two years. The college’s overall results for NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 compare well with, or exceed local, regional and national averages. Overall student success in University Entrance (UE) continues to trend upwards and exceeds local, regional and national success rates. CIE data continues to show high levels of student success. The college has also celebrated a large number of scholarship successes in a range of subject areas.

NCEA and UE data shows good gains in Māori student achievement since 2011. Overall retention and achievement for Māori students continues to exceed national averages and accelerated achievement is especially evident in the 2012 results. The board and leadership team acknowledge the need to continuing working to further lift Māori success rates, particularly for boys.

Pacific students are also experiencing increasing levels of success in NCEA and UE qualifications. A steadily reducing gap between whole-school data and Pacific student data is evident. The progress of Pacific students continues to be closely monitored and, as for Māori, good academic counselling and support provisions are available.

The use of student achievement information by teachers to guide programme planning is becoming well established across the school. Classrooms are settled, productive work environments. Effective teaching practices for the school have been identified. Expectations for high quality teaching are well documented.

Teaching programmes are student focused and increasingly responsive to student learning needs. Relationships between teachers and students and among students are positive and affirming. Teachers provide senior students with regular information about their progress towards achieving external qualifications. They also give students guidance on how to further improve their learning. Monitoring the achievement of students in Years 9 and 10 has continued to develop. Departments now report in standardised ways to students and parents, providing them with a clearer indication of student progress and achievement across the curriculum.

An emphasis on school culture and student wellbeing has been key part of work to further improve student outcomes. This has complemented developments in teaching and learning. School values have been revised, are well known by students, and encourage honesty, endeavour, atawhai (kindness), respect and tenacity.

A wide range of internal and external support services are available for students. Leaders and teachers place a strong focus on connecting with families, particularly to support students who are at risk of not achieving. Surveys are used well to gather information about student satisfaction across many aspects of their schooling, including engagement in learning, wellbeing and teaching and curriculum dimensions. Data from the surveys indicate a generally good level of student affirmation for the college and provide good direction for future improvements.

Key next steps

The school has identified several areas where further improvements are planned. These areas relate to:

  • promoting positive student behaviours to support student learning
  • extending teachers’ use of student voice in teaching and learning programmes
  • increasing Māori student progress and achievement through participation in the Ministry of Education’s Building on Success initiative
  • strengthening homeroom teachers’ role in academic counselling
  • plans for increasing the use of ICT as a learning tool in Years 9 and 10
  • providing senior students with on-line access to their own progress and achievement information.

ERO agrees that planned developments listed above should be beneficial to students. It also recommends work to strengthen teacher knowledge of Ministry of Education resources such as Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, to further promote success for Māori students as Māori.

The executive team could also consider whether sufficient emphasis is being placed on student feedback to teachers as part of school strategies for promoting ongoing improvements to teaching practice.

The use of teacher surveys may also provide an additional source of information about how the executive team and board could further support teacher wellbeing and workload management.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. The board and executive team have made very good progress with all the review and development areas identified by ERO’s 2013 review.

Strategic planning is well developed. It is improvement focused and put into practice through clearly documented board work plans and executive action plans. There is clear delegation of responsibilities and reporting expectations within the executive team and at departmental levels. The distribution of workload supports sustainable leadership practices. Changes in board leadership and membership have been accompanied by useful induction and professional development programmes. This is promoting sustainable and effective school governance.

Self review practices at board and executive levels have been considerably strengthened. Purposeful, systematic, and evidence-based self review is now embedded at all levels of the school. The board reports that more specific reviews and better evaluation of review findings now underpin the school’s ongoing programme of review. Reports to the board from school leaders enable trustees to make well informed decisions about school performance and future priorities.

The board and school leaders have fully addressed the compliance actions in ERO’s 2013 report relating to the review of provision for international students and the appraisal of the executive team. In addition, the wider review of the performance management system has resulted in a more streamlined and cohesive approach being introduced for the 2014 school year.

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

Avondale College provides a high standard of education. It offers students a broad, well designed curriculum that is responsive to their diverse needs and aspirations. Students achieve well and take pride in their school. High quality self review underpins the board’s strategic decision making and planning.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern Northern Region

21 January 2015

School Statistics

Location

Avondale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

78

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

2484

Number of international students

140

Gender composition

Boys 52% Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Samoan

Indian

Chinese

South East Asian

African

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

Niue

Fijian

Middle Eastern other

Asian

other

21%

12%

15%

11%

7%

5%

4%

4%

3%

3%

2%

2%

6%

5%

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

21 January 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2013

June 2009

June 2006

Findings

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?

Avondale College is one of the largest Year 9 to 15 schools in New Zealand. The school roll is culturally diverse, including 12% Māori and 30% Pacific students. Almost half of the students attending come from outside the school’s enrolment zone. The school also has a significant number of international students. Students choose to attend the school for the wide range of educational, social, recreational, cultural and sporting opportunities that the college continues to provide.

A major area of development over the past three years has been the multi-million dollar rebuild of school premises. Modern learning environments support teaching and learning and complement the school’s well resourced learning areas. Information and communication technology infrastructure has been enhanced to facilitate digital learning opportunities for staff and students.

The rebuilding project has been managed by the board of trustees and the principal. This placed considerable strain on other aspects of school performance that are now priorities for the board to address. The school has a unique and challenging context, with at least two further years of rebuilding to plan, manage and complete.

School leaders have used ERO’s 2009 review to develop and implement a self-review strategy. The approach is directed specifically at department level, with expectations to improve student achievement overall. School leaders have spent considerable time implementing self review at that level of the school.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

School leaders have high expectations for students to be engaged in positive learning experiences. Classrooms are generally settled and focused. Students know the school expectations and most benefit where there are effective learning programmes and teachers who support their learning well.

The school offers dual qualification pathway for students in the senior school. In the past three years, the school has offered the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) as well as the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA). Students selecting the CIE pathway are generally achieving well, and almost all also achieve University Entrance. Some students in both pathways achieve well in New Zealand Scholarship examinations and are well supported by their teachers.

The achievement of students in the NCEA pathway, including the majority of Maori and Pacific learners, has varied considerably in the past three years. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has supported the school to diversify school assessment practices. Recent achievement trends are positive, most notably at NCEA Level 1 and 2. School data for literacy and numeracy at NCEA Level 1 show that overall student achievement is above the average for similar schools.

The school is continuing to find ways to strengthen Maōri and Pacific student achievement. Māori students as a group significantly improved their achievement in NCEA Levels 1and 2 in 2011. This strong upward trend continued in 2012. Their overall achievement was above national averages for Māori students. Recent school initiatives for mentoring Level 1 and 2 students are being implemented more widely to support all Māori and Pacific students to improve outcomes.

Ongoing work to strengthen partnerships between the home and school are beginning to benefit Pacific students. They are now achieving results that are better than national averages for Pacific students. School leaders are aware of the need to continue this positive trend and to support Pacific students to achieve highly. Some Pacific students have achieved very highly.

The school has some useful assessment tools that could be used to measure progress and achievement in Years 9 and 10 school wide. Work to align curriculum levels with meaningful assessment in order to better evaluate student progress and achievement is worthwhile. School leaders should also focus on setting specific and measurable achievement targets for students in Year 9 and 10.

Teachers, as part of their ongoing self review and inquiry into the impact of their teaching strategies, should consider documentingthe impact of their teaching practices and interventions that support students to make accelerated progress. This would assist senior leaders in the school-wide review of good teaching practices and identifying effective teaching practice across the school.

Further evaluating the progress of groups of students in Years 9 and 10 over time and reporting regularly to the board of trustees on school-wide achievement against the curriculum levels will help inform board strategic planning and enhance self review.

The school’s recently compiled data on student attendance and discipline indicate some groups of students are not well engaged in learning. ERO also notes that student management approaches and pastoral care systems are not well aligned with the vision and values in the school’s charter. An increased focus on using positive behaviour management approaches will promote student engagement in learning. Maintaining positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students and greater use of restorative practices would better align with recent teacher professional development about effective teaching and learning.

The board is committed to improving engagement in learning and achievement for all students, especially Māori and Pacific learners. ERO agrees with school leaders that they should continue to sustain recent improvement in teaching and learning and to strengthen data analysis and teaching as inquiry. External support is available to embed effective self review.

ERO recommends that school leaders review the school system for grouping students for learning. Where students are likely to be at risk of leaving school without qualifications at Level 2 NCEA, they should review how well current strategies engage these students in learning and serve to accelerate their progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The large student roll allows the school to staff a broad curriculum and co-curricular programme for the school’s diverse learners. The high student retention level through Years 11 to 13 provides evidence that the curriculum supports many students to succeed and be well prepared for future education. It is important, however, that school leaders continue to review curriculum pathways and qualifications to ensure that the curriculum responds to the needs of all groups of students.

Valuable academy-based programmes support students who have talent in sport and in the performing arts. Students in Years 9 and 10 have access to a broad, open curriculum. Those in Years 11 to 13, who meet the pre-requisites, have a wide range of curriculum choices. School leaders should continue to focus on building school-wide strategies that enable all learners to succeed at higher levels of the curriculum.

Career planning is available and supports Year 13 students well. Access to career guidance for students in other year levels will be expanded as the school reviews their services. The career benchmarks indicators could be a useful resource to extend this review. Better connecting pastoral care and career planning services could also be useful for supporting students in their selection of subjects and learning pathways. Work-based programmes, such as Gateway, are currently available as an extra subject for 42 learners.

The school’s curriculum continues to develop and benefits from opportunities provided for teachers to work collaboratively on improving teaching and learning. They should now evaluate how well programmes enable priority learners, particularly Māori and Pacific students and students with specific learning needs, to make accelerated progress. Key strategies for curriculum development should include:

  • extending teachers’ use of student achievement information to cater for individual and group learning needs within classroom programmes
  • sharing achievement information with students to help them develop purposeful goals and strategies for achieving success
  • developing systems for documenting and sharing effective teacher practice, at both a school-wide and department level.

Strategic planning for the long term development of e-learning is underway. The school has very good infrastructure in place to support e-learning and e-access. Some teachers are trialling new ways of delivering the curriculum that could provide useful information for further curriculum development. School leaders are working towards using digital feedback strategies from students to inform school review. Ongoing review of the alignment of the school’s curriculum programmes with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) would also be useful. The principles, values and key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum could prove useful tools for guiding this review.

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

A number of useful initiatives to support Māori student success have been recently introduced. School leaders have also re-established consultation with whānau. The overall impact of these developments has yet to be evaluated. School leaders have usedthe Ministry of Education’s Ka Hikitia framework to inform school initiatives to promote educational success for Māori.

Māori students enjoy supportive relationships with many teachers and benefit from improved opportunities to be together. Ongoing work to promote school kawa and tikanga could further strengthen Māori students’ identity and sense of inclusion in the college.

The school is justifiably proud of recent overall improvements in academic success for Maori students. School leaders have identified the need to develop a plan to sustain and ensure the continued success of recent developments. Planning should focus on promoting success for Māori as Māori and lifting overall levels of Māori educational achievement. It would be useful for trustees and school leaders to develop even closer links with the community at governance level. External support to help school leaders and trustees would also be useful.

Ministry of Education resources such as Tātaiako may be helpful for teachers to evaluate their level of cultural responsiveness and for monitoring school plans and goals to improve Māori success.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The principal and senior leadership team have been under significant pressure balancing school operations and educational leadership while managing the school’s large scale school rebuilding programme. ERO recommends that senior leaders and trustees access targeted support in order to improve and sustain school performance.

Self-review systems are being established at the level of department planning and evaluation. To improve school performance, self review and evaluation is being extended to senior leadership and governance levels. ERO also recommends that school leadership delegations be reviewed to provide more support for the principal. Senior leaders should be annually appraised in order to develop their leadership capabilities.

Trustees have made appropriate and well considered decisions regarding property development. Careful resourcing decisions are ensuring the financial stability of the school. Trustees should now focus on improving board operations and implementing their new work plan. Other priorities for the board include:

  • setting more specific and measurable targets focused on the achievement of priority learners
  • keeping policies aligned with legislative requirements, ministry and good practice guidelines
  • ensuring it receives documented evaluative reports on school operations, including health and safety, pastoral care and student progress and achievement
  • ensuring strategic planning goals are regularly evaluated and reported to promote the school’s ongoing success.

The school tone remains positive for many students who are proud of their school. Promoting high quality education and outcomes for all students remains the key goal of the school.

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 165 international students attending the school.

International students feature among some of the school’s highest academic achievers, including those who attain New Zealand scholarships. They have access to a variety of courses and benefit from the wider learning opportunities that the college provides. They receive good language support.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. However, ERO’s investigations found that the school does not yet fully comply with the Code.

To comply with the Code, the school should complete a thorough self-review process for international students. Recent changes to the international department personnel and operations provide a timely opportunity for an external review to develop more robust processes. The board should also receive more detailed and frequent reports on how well international students progress and achieve.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

During the course of the review ERO identified three areas of non-compliance. In order to address these, the board of trustees must:

  • maintain an on-going programme of self-review
    [NAG 2(b)]
  • comply with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students
    [Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students 28.3, s238F Education Act 1989]
  • ensure senior managers are appraised annually
    [s 77C State Sector Act 1988; NZ Gazette and relevant Collective Employment Agreement].

In order to improve practice the board should:

  • review the patterns and trends apparent in student discipline numbers. Trustees and senior staff should evaluate whether school resources could be used more effectively to reduce the relatively high number of students who are suspended and excluded from the school
  • receive documented reports that provide assurance that teacher registration and police vetting requirements are implemented, and that health and safety requirements are met.
Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing targeted support to the school in order to continue to improve outcomes for students by strengthening school governance and management.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

27 February 2013

About the School

Location

Avondale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

78

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

2499

Number of international students

165

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Samoan

Indian

Chinese

African

Niue

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

South East Asian

Fijian

Middle Eastern

other Asian

other European

other Pacific

other

22%

12%

16%

11%

8%

4%

4%

4%

3%

3%

2%

2%

5%

2%

1%

1%

Review team on site

August 2012

Date of this report

27 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Discretionary Review

June 2009

June 2006

February 2002