Carmel College - 15/06/2015

Findings

Carmel College continues to be very high performing. The strongly evident Mercy values promote a holistic approach to learning for life. A well established culture of high expectations results in successful academic outcomes for learners. Rigorous self review supports thoughtful, future-focused learning opportunities for students.

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

1. Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Carmel College opened in 1957. It is a medium-sized state-integrated Catholic school for girls from Year 7 to 15. The school draws students from the North Shore, Kaipara and Rodney districts. Half of the students come from culturally diverse backgrounds, with six percent identifying as Māori, and six percent as Pacific.

The college is committed to educating and empowering young women to strive for excellence. Core Mercy values, and traditions of respect and service, continue to be central to the girls’ education. Academic education is complemented by cultural and sporting opportunities. A culture of high expectations continues to permeate all school practices.

The school is becoming more responsive to New Zealand’s bicultural heritage, particularly since 2014. Atawhai groups (vertical form classes) have recently been introduced to consolidate a sense of whānau across the school. The school charter demonstrates the school’s commitment to “Me pehea te kaupapa mahi tahi, noho tahi”(“How are we to be together?”) as the foundation principle to school decision making.

The board appointed a new principal in 2014. The principal is working collaboratively with the board of trustees, proprietors’ board and a redefined senior leadership team to further promote school improvement and positive outcomes for students. The school continues to be well supported by parents and the community.

Ongoing school development is aimed at achieving high standards in all aspects of school operations. The newly opened Harkins building provides a library, theatre, music, social sciences and ICT spaces, as well as an atrium. The positive response to ERO’s 2011 report includes an improved focus on the analysis and use of student achievement data.

2. Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very effectively to promote student learning. A strong focus on evidence-driven practice is having a positive impact on the school’s ability to analyse and use student achievement data effectively to inform teaching and learning.

Students are highly engaged in their learning. Teachers and students have high expectations, and students work hard to deliver on these. There has been a gradual introduction of a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy. All students from Year 7 to 11 now have access to a wide variety of learning resources and to teacher support for their work in the classroom and beyond. This helps to promote a culture of active engagement in learning.

Almost all students achieve at or above National Standards in Years 7 and 8, and above national averages in the National Certificates of Achievement (NCEA). Rates of achievement compare favourably with girls' achievement in similar schools. For several years, the achievement of Māori and Pacific students has been higher than those at similar schools. For the past three years all Māori and Pacific students who entered NCEA Levels 1 and 2 achieved the qualification. More than a third of students achieve excellence endorsements in NCEA at Levels 1 and 2, and a quarter at Level 3.

Well analysed departmental reports to the board on student achievement provide trustees with useful information to inform their decision making. These reports are well aligned with school goals and targets. Classroom teachers are increasingly using individual student achievement information to inform their teaching practice. In many classrooms, teachers are helping students develop their skills and awareness of themselves as capable and self-managing learners.

The school maintains and closely monitors initiatives for students who need extra challenge or support. Teachers are provided with, and share, strategies and resources to help meet the needs of these students within the classroom. Other assistance such as special programmes, homework clubs and tutorials are also used, where appropriate.

Senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that more work needs to be done to ensure the validity of teachers' assessments in Years 7 to 10. These assessments could include learning areas other than English and mathematics to give students and their parents a sound understanding of student achievement levels and key competencies in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum.

The new student management system will help teachers to more effectively track the progress of students throughout the year and over their time at the school. This tracking will enable teachers and the board to be better assured that each student is meeting her own and her parents' aspirations.

3. Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is well aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum and is strongly influenced by the school’s special character and its commitment to service to others.

Students benefit from, and respond well to, the school’s focus on high expectations of and for learning. One of the school’s strategic goals is to engage all learners in quality learning and teaching programmes to achieve personal excellence and be learners for life. Good work is being done to personalise learning so that students are actively involved in decisions about their learning, building greater student ownership and responsibility for their own success.

Key features of the school’s curriculum include:

  • ongoing review and consultation to guide future-focused approaches and modern learning practices
  • strong commitment to e-learning and effective teaching practices to engage students in learning
  • relevant education outside the classroom that broadens students’ experiences and helps build leadership and resilience
  • deliberate creation of leadership roles for students at different year levels
  • strong pastoral systems that support all students to build life skills and key competencies
  • ongoing conversations with parents, families and whānau about their children’s learning.

As the school continues to enhance its curriculum, school leaders intend to further:

  • build teacher knowledge, appreciation and capacity in te ao Māori, as well as ensuring that bicultural considerations are threaded through the curriculum
  • encourage students’ ownership of the direction, content, process, and assessment of learning
  • capitalise on students’ experiences, culture and knowledge of their learning when they transition into the school
  • deepen Years 7 to 11 students’ understanding of careers options.

Senior leaders have also expressed their interest in conducting student and staff surveys to provide the board with further assurance of wellbeing at school.

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

Educational success for Māori, as Māori, is promoted well by the school’s strategic focus and commitment to building meaningful partnerships with Māori and integrating bicultural perspectives into the school.

Achievement levels for Māori students are similar to the levels of achievement for the whole school. 2014 NCEA results indicate that merit and excellence endorsements for Māori students were slightly above those for other students at Levels 1 and 3.

Initiatives and developments include:

  • strategic appointments for staffing pastoral support, the provision of te reo Māori in Years 7 to 13, and leadership in developing bicultural partnerships
  • school operations and environmental changes that show an appreciation and demonstration of tikanga Māori
  • increasing teacher knowledge and understanding about marae protocols, and the key concepts of biculturalism, equity and equality.

Next steps to build on this significant work could include continuing to work with the kaitakawaenga and te reo Māori teacher to develop a strategic plan for Māori student success that informs school direction and resourcing decisions.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Responsive and strategic self review at governance and leadership levels helps sustain a cycle of continuous development. The wellbeing of all students, especially Māori and Pacific students, is at the heart of decision making in the school.

The Core Mercy Values form a sound foundation for a shared and understood approach to teaching and learning. School systems, documentation and practices are coherent and well aligned with strategic and annual planning. Students are confident and take pride in their school. They are involved in service to the community and take advantage of the numerous events and activities to help them make decisions about their futures.

The new principal demonstrates a measured, strategic approach to leadership and change management. She is well supported by the other senior leaders. This cohesive team shows a sincere commitment to positive student outcomes.

The school is building teacher capacity by offering opportunities for short-term project leadership to staff. The recently refined appraisal system focuses well on developing professional teaching approaches to promote modern learning practices designed to improve learning outcomes for all students.

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 47 international students attending the school, mainly from Asian countries such as Korea, China, Japan and Thailand.

International students receive very good learning opportunities and enjoy participation in all school activities and events. They are well supported by the school’s high quality pastoral care systems. Their English language acquisition is developed through a systematic and scaffolded programme and their classroom programmes. International students have leadership roles in the school.

To support more comprehensive self review of provision for international students, reports to the board should include students’ progress in academic and English language programmes, as well as their sporting and cultural involvement and successes.

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

Carmel College continues to be very high performing. The strongly evident Mercy values promote a holistic approach to learning for life. A well established culture of high expectations results in successful academic outcomes for learners. Rigorous self review supports thoughtful, future-focused learning opportunities for students.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

15 June 2015

About the School

Location

Milford, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

35

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

1027

Number of international students

47

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

South East Asian

African

Chinese

Indian

Middle Eastern

Samoan

Tongan

Latin American

other European

other Asian

other Pacific

other

6%

54%

8%

3%

3%

3%

3%

2%

2%

1%

8%

4%

2%

1%

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

15 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

April 2011

December 2007

August 2004