Vanguard Military School New School Assurance Review

Introduction

Vanguard-Military-School-New-School-Assurance-Report.pdf

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

New School Assurance Reviews are generally undertaken within the first year of the school’s opening.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of Vanguard Military School. 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 sponsor.

Context

Vanguard Military School is one of the first five Partnership Schools Kura Hourua (PSKH) in New Zealand. These schools are a new type of school that are designed to bring together the education, business and community sectors to provide new opportunities for students to achieve educational success.

The most significant difference between partnership schools and existing schools (both state and private) is that they are given increased flexibility to make decisions about how they operate and use funding to deliver specific targets. Each school is bound by its Partnership Contract with the Crown to deliver defined outcomes, particularly in regard to student achievement and engagement in learning. Quarterly reporting protocols are in place between the sponsor and the Ministry of Education. The performance of the school is also monitored by the PSKH Authorisation Board.

Background

Vanguard Military School opened with 104 Year 11 and 12 students in February, 2014. Courses at Year 13 will be offered from 2015.The school’s mission is to support students to become productive citizens of New Zealand and to gain academic qualifications that open pathways after school.

The school is based on a military model. Students are challenged to be responsible for themselves and for others, and to develop self discipline and self management. Leaders and teachers know that this type of schooling will not appeal to all learners. They focus on meeting the needs of a particular group of students, many of whom have previously been disengaged from learning or hard to motivate. Military drills and attitudes are integral to the approach to learning.

The curriculum includes academic, vocational and military courses, including NCEA Levels 1 and 2. Some Level 3 qualifications are available in 2014. NCEA Level 3 will be offered as a full course in 2015.

The school operates out of refurbished industrial premises in Albany. These leased premises include a large gym that provides space for military drills, compulsory physical fitness and sport. The school is managed by the chief executive (also known as the sponsor). He works closely with the principal who is the educational leader. An advisory board supports governance and management.

Of the 11 teaching staff, 8 are registered teachers. The 3 non-registered teaching staff have been appointed for their specific experience and expertise in engineering, defence force studies and physical training. At least 80% of the school curriculum is taught by registered teachers.

Findings

Vanguard Military School has made a very good start to its operation. A significant proportion of students have not experienced success in their previous schools. At this school they are responding positively to adults’ high expectations. Students wear their uniform with pride, and respect the school ethos of teamwork and military precision.

Each student belongs to one of 8 sections, led by a staff member as section leader who has primary responsibility for the wellbeing of the group. Systems for managing learning and behaviour are implemented effectively. Students speak of their sense of belonging and personal achievement. They have good access to a trained counsellor and external support networks. School leaders monitor student wellbeing and achievement carefully.

Students’ commitment to the school is evident in their high attendance rates. Their attendance data exceed that of national student attendance averages and is also 11 percent higher than the contractual target. The majority of students travel long distances to get to the school. Only 26 percent of students live in the local area.

The school operates the required open enrolment policy while targeting priority learners, and has significant numbers of Māori and Pacific learners. School leaders should review data to determine how many students would now fit the new low socioeconomic criteria. While the school does not have any students who would meet the special needs definition, 13 percent of students have severe learning difficulties or are well below achievement expectations for their age group.

The school curriculum and teaching and learning practices clearly reflect the sponsor’s vision and philosophy. They are well aligned with the values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. English, mathematics and physical education are compulsory at Years 11 and 12. The recruit development course is also compulsory. It is designed to build students’ life skills and students are taught financial literacy and prepared for future employment. Optional subjects include te reo Māori, biology, engineering, and defence force studies, all designed to provide pathways into careers or tertiary study.

School leaders and teachers are determined that students will gain relevant NCEA qualifications to enable entry into suitable careers or future study. Careers guidance helps students to make choices about their futures. Leaders have begun to develop records of students’ destinations and employment to help the school evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum.

Of the 104 students enrolled at the beginning of the year, four students have moved on to full time work after completing NCEA qualifications, including two who have joined the New Zealand Defence Force. A further four have gone on to other educational studies.

Three students left the school as a result of disciplinary processes early in the year. School leaders are reviewing information for prospective students and their families so that it is very clear to all parties what constitutes acceptable behaviour and promotes a safe environment for all learners. Good use is made of restorative practices and contact with families when students are at risk.

Programmes give priority to building sound foundations in literacy and numeracy. Teaching staff have developed internal, school-based assessment tools to identify students’ ability in those areas upon entry to the school. The school could consider gathering additional baseline data through standardised assessment tools.

Learners are generally progressing well. Their progress and achievement are very closely monitored and data enable teachers to develop and adapt individual learning plans for students. Students requiring additional support are quickly identified.

The school is well on track to meet targets for student achievement. By the end of 2014, 81 percent of students are to have gained NCEA Level 1, and 67 percent will gain Level 2. Early indications are that many students have already gained sufficient credits to meet NCEA Levels 1 or 2 requirements. At Year 11, 67 percent of the students have met NCEA Level 1 requirements, and 44 percent of Year 12 students have already achieved Level 2. These percentages continue to rise as students are successful in NCEA internal assessments. Careful systems are in place to ensure that internal assessment results for NCEA are valid and reliable. Students’ achievement in external NCEA assessments will be included in their results for 2014.

Good systems and practices are in place to include parents in students’ learning. Reports to parents about student achievement are clear and concise, and illustrate students’ progress towards, and achievement in, NCEA. A recent parent satisfaction survey showed their positive response to the school’s support for students’ progress and success.

Systematic self review is built across all school operations. Well considered documents guide the school’s ongoing development. Some initial policies and procedures will be reviewed as the school grows, and so that they remain current with changes in legislation.

Good progress has been made in the development of performance appraisal systems to provide accountability, guide teacher development and enable teachers to maintain their registration. Current work with staff to clarify the Registered Teacher Criteria will be a useful step in continuing to build a shared understanding of effective teaching and learning in the school.

School leaders are well aware of the high level of interest that there is in this school. They are keen to share information about the school with the public.

Sponsor assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the sponsor and principal of the school completed the ERO Sponsor 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

Vanguard Military School has made a very good start to delivering its sponsor’s vision of providing academic qualifications in a military style school. Students’ positive response is reflected in worthwhile personal and academic achievements.

ERO is likely to carry out the first full review of the school within 12 months as part of the regular review cycle for new schools.

Dale BaileyNational Manager Review ServicesNorthern Region

School Statistics

Location

Albany, Auckland

 

Ministry of Education profile number

694

 

School type

Partnership School/Kura Hourua

 

School roll

93

 

Gender composition

Boys 

Girls

68

25

Ethnic composition

Māori NZ

European/Pākehā

Pacific

South East Asian

Other

37

37

12

2

5

Review team on site

August 2014

 

Date of this report

13 October 2014