Auckland Girls' Grammar School - 10/11/2015

Findings

The school’s curriculum continues to promote and support students’ learning. Students benefit from a broad curriculum that supports their holistic development. The school is not well placed to sustain its performance. The school faces significant challenges with relationships between key people in the school. These challenges need urgent attention to avoid impacting negatively on student outcomes.

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?

Auckland Girls’ Grammar is located in the central city and provides education for students in Years 9 to 13. The school has a strong tradition of educating successful young women. The board, staff and community are strongly committed to developing confident young women who can take their place in the world. All want the best for the girls.

The school has a broad definition of success and encourages the girls to achieve to their potential academically, culturally and in a wide range of sporting activities. Students benefit from a broad curriculum that supports their holistic development. They appreciate the way teachers ‘go the extra mile’ to ensure that they achieve and enjoy success.

A high percentage of Māori and Pacific students are enrolled. Many of these students are the third or fourth generation to attend the school. A high proportion of students travel from wider Auckland to attend the school.

In 2014 the board commissioned an external review to look at how well the school was operating. The review identified a number of issues that were having an adverse impact on positive outcomes for students and the school. The board is committed to making improvements. It has used recommendations from the external review to develop a strategic plan to set priorities and focus on the core stewardship role of improving student achievement. The board has consulted with staff, students and the school community and now needs to ensure that the aspirations of these groups are reflected in the planning and outcomes.

It is ERO’s view that that these significant issues relating to stewardship and management are yet to be fully addressed.

2 Learning

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

Senior student achievement information shows that the proportions of students from 2014 achieving certificates in NCEA Levels 1 to 3 were comparable to those of similar schools nationally.

Teachers and leaders are in the early stages of using student achievement information to consistently and effectively adapt teaching practice. The following aspects need further development.

Although teachers are using a range of assessment tools they need to be more consistent and effective in reporting the progress of individuals and cohorts.

Some faculties are beginning to use data about students’ levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy to identify students who need extra support with their learning.

The school is developing the student management system to support teachers in gathering and using student achievement data from all classroom programmes. This is likely to support the teachers in tracking and responding to student needs across subject areas in a more coherent and manageable way.

School achievement targets and planning could better focus on those students (individuals and groups) at risk of not achieving. This focus is likely to ensure that teachers use the strategies that will meet the learning needs of these students and contribute to driving up overall student achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum continues to promote and support students’ learning. The focus on global citizenship has the potential to align the school’s vision and values with those of the New Zealand Curriculum across the school.

The school has responded to students’ aspirations by increasing subject options that are relevant to their academic and career pathways in Years 11 to 13. Students experience a comprehensive careers and guidance programme. The school is in the early stages of reviewing and integrating the junior curriculum to make it more relevant and engaging for students.

Areas for development

There are useful structures in place for making decisions about teaching and learning and to guide curriculum development. These structures could be more effective. For example, most faculties continue to work in isolation. Teachers do not have a shared understanding of the strategic direction of the school in relation to teaching and learning. This is leading to inconsistency in practices for raising student achievement, tracking student progress and managing student behaviour.

Teachers see the value of inquiring into their own practice to improve outcomes for students. As a result, some faculties have made purposeful use of teaching as inquiry to extend teachers’ knowledge and improve their practice. The revised appraisal system has the potential to support teachers to reflect on and further improve their teaching. Many teachers see the importance of the need to develop a school-wide shared understanding about effective teaching based on current best practice. This approach should be coherent, regularly reviewed and lead to deeper reflection by teachers about the impact of their teaching on outcomes for students.

Teachers work hard to support students’ learning and emotional needs. The deans and teachers who spoke to ERO identified that the current pastoral-care and behaviour-management systems need to be consistently implemented if they are to have the desired effect on students’ behaviour, wellbeing and attendance. Senior managers have introduced a range of initiatives to address these issues.

These initiatives need to be regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure that they are having a positive impact on student engagement.

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

The school has developed a range of initiatives to promote and support success as Māori in the school.

Parents and whānau positively view the school as an important educational institution for young women, in particular, Māori women. They are the second largest group of students attending the school and make up 24% of the roll. Many of these students travel significant distances to the school.

The students told ERO the most important features of the school are:

  • the positive way the school celebrates and promotes diversity
  • the promotion of learning initiatives for Māori students that encourage a sense of belonging and self belief to achieve
  • the broad range of opportunities to participate in cultural and tikanga Māori events
  • across-school activities that encourage greater student collaboration and collegiality.

The most significant presence at the school is Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi (Kahurangi group). The purpose of Kahurangi is to provide support for Māori students to grow in confidence as Māori and achieve academically.

The recent development of a Faculty Mātauranga Māori has broadened the influence of Māori to include all aspects of curriculum, protocols and all Māori students at the school. This development should support the school in achieving the next steps to improve positive outcomes for Māori students, including:

  • senior leaders identifying ways to ensure that all Māori students benefit from the cultural and educational support that students in Kahurangi receive
  • working with teachers to look at more relevant ways to include Māori contexts in curriculum areas
  • a commitment from all staff and the board to value and include aspects of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

The school promotes success for its Pacific students. At the time of the review 600 students, 43% of the roll, identified as Pacific.

The cultural heritage of Pacific students is valued and celebrated. Students told ERO that the most significant features of the school are:

  • the valuing of diversity and the focus on knowing them as individuals
  • the range of opportunities they have to perform in cultural events that lead to increased confidence and engagement in learning
  • the focused and ongoing pastoral and academic support they receive
  • the increased integration of cultural perspectives into programmes.

The Pacific Achievement Coordinator uses a range of strategies to promote positive, consultative relationships with the Pacific communities. The coordinator and the Pacific staff also provide valuable links into the school’s Pacific communities to help promote effective communication between home and school.

The school’s Pacific Education Plan provides sound direction for lifting the achievement and engagement of Pacific students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance for the following reasons.

Areas for development

A lack of coherent systems for school operations continues to inhibit the school’s progress. The professional relationships between the board, senior management team and teachers have become dysfunctional. This has contributed to a climate of mistrust and perceptions of an unsafe working environment for a significant proportion of staff.

The board needs to urgently survey the staff and students in relation to their wellbeing and safety.

Trustees have a strong commitment to the school’s ongoing success as a provider of education for the young women of Auckland. The board and senior managers urgently need to establish the workable and professional relationships required to ensure a continued focus on positive outcomes for students.

Senior managers are committed to the ethos of the school. They now need to fulfil their roles as professional leaders. They need to clearly communicate the strategic direction of the school with teachers so that they have clarity about where the school is heading and what is expected of them in their professional roles.

The board should ensure that there is a shared understanding and process in place to guide evaluation for continuous improvement. This should ensure that the board receives:

  • evaluative reports linked to the strategic and annual goals
  • effectiveness reports about initiatives to support student achievement
  • high-quality reporting of student achievement.

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 29 international students attending the school.

The school values the diverse needs of each student. Students benefit from very effective pastoral care. They enjoy the many opportunities to be involved and integrated into the life of the school. Students receive some very good targeted English language support.

Reports to trustees about provision for international students focus on how well the wellbeing of these students is supported, how well they are integrated into the school and community, and how well they are progressing in their learning.

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 Secretary for Education considers external intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the expected improvements as noted in this report
  • the New Zealand School Trustees' Association supports the board with further training in its stewardship role.

Conclusion

The school’s curriculum continues to promote and support students’ learning. Students benefit from a broad curriculum that supports their holistic development. The school is not well placed to sustain its performance. The school faces significant challenges with relationships between key people in the school. These challenges need urgent attention to avoid impacting negatively on student outcomes.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

10 November 2015

About the School

Location

Newton, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

53

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1343

Number of international students

29

Gender composition

Girls: 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

Other Pacific

Pākehā

Asian

Indian

Others

24%

19%

14%

10%

9%

7%

6%

11%

Special Features

Whānau Unit (Ngā Tumanako O Kahurangi)

Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

10 November 2015

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

October 2012

August 2009

November 2006