Middle School West Auckland

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1 Introduction

A New School Assurance Review is a review of particular areas of school performance and is undertaken to specific terms of reference.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of Middle School West Auckland. The terms of reference for the review are to provide assurance to the community:

  • that the school is well placed to provide for students
  • that the school is operating in accordance with the vision articulated by the board of trustees.

2 Context

Middle School West Auckland opened in Term 1, 2019 as a designated character school (DCS). Prior to this, since 2015, the school had operated as a partnership school | kura hourua. The school is one of three schools affiliated to the Villa Education Trust (VET). Mt Hobson Middle School is a private school and South Auckland Middle School is another designated character school.

3 Background

Middle School West Auckland provides education for students in Years 7 to 10. Its mission is to support young people to develop and learn, to give them a base for excellence in all spheres of life through effective teaching, quality facilities, an optimal day structure and an integrated curriculum.

The board of trustees was established in October 2020. It includes three proprietor representatives, an elected parent trustee and an elected staff trustee. The board is considering co-opting two more members to extend parent/whānau representation.

4 Findings

Preparatory work by the establishment board (EBOT) and the principal, guided by the governance facilitator, ensured the timely and efficient transition to a DCS. The EBOT continues to provide good governance and management, and the school is well placed to support students’ learning and wellbeing. The school’s vision, values and principles are evident in governance, leadership and teaching practice. Students and their families/whānau benefit from the school’s inclusive and supportive environment.

Students learn in one of the four villa groups for the four years at the school, and they build a whānau relationship with students and key staff in their villa. The villa structure allows for a maximum of 15 students per year group, with the capacity for 60 students from Years 7 to 10 in each villa. Each villa has classrooms and independent learning spaces for students, where they have daily access to computer technologies.

Three villas are on one site, the Jack Ralston Centre, and the fourth, Pohutukawa, is at a nearby location and has a dedicated kaupapa Māori approach to teaching and learning. Te ao Māori is strongly reflected in Pohutukawa villa’s curriculum, environment, practices and culture. The board has a vision for all villas to be located on one site.

Curriculum documentation is well-established from the partnership school and is underpinned by Christian values. The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) is implemented through project-based learning and class teaching programmes. Subject teachers integrate each project’s concept or theme in class programmes to support students in their independent learning. This approach offers students learning within connected and meaningful contexts. There is a clear emphasis on student ownership of managing their tasks and the progress of their projects.

Systems and expectations for assessing and reporting student achievement continue to be based around the project learning, an assessment tool for reading and mathematics, and the Ministry of Education’s learning progressions framework for writing achievement. Teachers and managers provide regular opportunities for parents to discuss their children’s learning outcomes. After a delay due to COVID-19, staff are now accessing professional learning to accelerate students’ progress in reading.

Managers and the board are further developing their evaluation and reporting of achievement information. This evaluation should include more explicit interpretation of assessment data, identifying strategies to improve overall school achievement.

The school is staffed appropriately, and most teachers have practising teacher status. Staff appraisal is developing in line with the Teaching Council guidelines. The villa approach to teaching and learning encourages a collaborative and open staff culture. Senior leaders identify professional development needs and use internal expertise, as well as sourcing external advice and facilitators to enhance outcomes for students.

Consultation with parents is mainly on an individual basis focused on their child’s attendance, engagement and achievement. A community liaison manager provides a further valuable
home-school link. Whānau hui are regularly held for Pohutukawa villa whānau, and similar hui have been introduced at the other site. The school continues to provide students with free uniforms, stationery and lunches to minimise barriers to students attending the school. The board is aware of the requirement to consult with the school’s community about the school’s health curriculum every two years.

To compensate for the school’s restrictive outdoor space, teachers use off-site parks and sports facilities to support students’ physical activity in the afternoon programme. There are also opportunities for students to experience education outside of the classroom in relation to their project studies.

The board actively seeks advice from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) when needed. Trustees are following a review cycle of the school’s policy framework that is based on the model promoted by the NZSTA. Policies have been reviewed and modified relevantly for the school’s context. The board has been working with the Ministry of Education and the Auditor General regarding an aspect of the school’s financial management. The board has not yet received the auditor’s annual report for the 2019 financial year.

5 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:

  • school management and reporting
  • 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 students' 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

Preparatory work by the establishment board and the principal, guided by the governance facilitator, ensured the timely and efficient transition to a DCS. This good management continues, and the school is well placed to support students’ learning and wellbeing. The school’s vision, values and principles are evident in governance, leadership and teaching practice.

The school will transition into ERO’s Schools: Evaluation for Improvement process in due course.

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

23 June 2021

About the School                                                          

Location

Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

877

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 10)

School roll

184

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Tuvaluan

Samoan

Cook Island Māori

other Pacific

other ethnic groups

49%

15%

10%

  9%

  5%

  5%

  7%

Review team on site

May 2021

Date of this report

23 June 2021