Cashmere High School - 22/11/2013

1. Context

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

Cashmere High School, a large state co-educational secondary school, offers a wide range of academic, cultural and sporting options. They provide students with opportunities to follow their interests and enjoy and extend their learning at and beyond the school. The school has an enrolment zone with a large waiting list for enrolment.

Students value the positive and productive relationships they have with teachers and the extra support they provide. There is an active focus on providing a safe and inclusive learning environment for students and staff.

As a result of the Canterbury earthquakes, the school hosted another local secondary school on its site for six months. Despite the impact from the earthquakes, the school has retained a significant number of international students. The cultural diversity these students bring to the school population is valued.

The school has very well-developed programmes for supporting and extending student learning across ability levels. Improved attendance and retention contribute to increased levels of achievement. The conductive education unit at the school provides valuable specialist support for students with very high special needs.

Successful performance in a wide range of local and national arts, music and sporting events contributes to a positive school culture that encourages and celebrates student achievement.

Good progress has been made by the school in addressing the recommendations of the 2010 ERO review.

2. Learning

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

Overall, the school makes very good use of student achievement information. School trustees, leaders and teachers are making increasingly good use of information to better inform decision making, setting of priorities and learning programmes across the school.

Areas of strength

School leaders collate and analyse student information well. In discussion with teachers, they make good use of it to:

  • review effectiveness of programmes and courses
  • design learning pathways and classroom programmes for individual and groups of students
  • track progress and achievement of all students at all levels during the year
  • make decisions on interventions, additional support and extension programmes to cater for diverse needs of identified groups of students
  • motivate and engage students to have good attitudes to learning and work habits.

Parents receive detailed reports and communications about their children’s progress and achievement.

Leaders and specialist teachers use student information very well to identify, support and monitor learners at risk of underachievement and those who have individual education plans. They use a range of effective strategies to raise levels of engagement, progress and the rates of achievement of these learners, especially those working towards Level 1 and 2 at NCEA.

Since the 2010 ERO report, achievement trends for NCEA have continued to improve. Percentages of leavers with Level 2 NCEA and those that gain endorsements at all levels are well above national averages and those of similar schools.

The small group of Pacific students’ rates of achievement and retention are improving. Personalised pastoral care and academic support is contributing to these outcomes. Increased recognition of these students’ cultures, languages and identity across the school are next step to further promote ongoing success and rates of achievement.

Areas for review and development

Annual school-wide achievement targets could be further developed to better reflect what the school knows about trends and patterns of different groups of learners. Being more specific about the number of students that are being targeted, and showing how the school plans to accelerate their learning outcomes, should provide a good model to all areas of the school.

Since the 2010 ERO report, the school has added a national assessment tool for literacy and numeracy to assist improving achievement in the junior school. School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that there is a need to further develop teachers' understanding and use of achievement data. Further analysis should enable teachers and leaders to better evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and additional resources used to raise achievement, especially for priority learners in Years 9 to 11.

3. Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is highly effective in promoting engagement and supporting positive learning outcomes for students. New programmes in a variety of subjects continue to be added to the curriculum in order to broaden opportunities and learning pathways for students.

Areas of strength

School leaders provide good quality professional development that is forward-thinking, comprehensive and focuses on high expectations for teaching and learning. The movement towards linking strategic targets, teacher appraisal, professional development and classroom practice is creating a more cohesive and useful approach to improving the quality of teaching.

Curriculum leaders use well-developed systems to promote school goals, values and expectations in classroom programmes and practices. In many faculties, ongoing review and evaluation enables curriculum leaders to be well informed and responsive to students’ needs.

Highly effective academic guidance and pastoral care systems combine to provide important support for student wellbeing, subject choices and career planning. Students recognise and appreciate the strong support they receive from teachers in helping them to learn and achieve.

The school has made steady progress with the development of information and communication technologies since the 2010 ERO review. An e-learning strategic plan highlights the school’s priorities to progress developments in this area.

A strategic plan is in place to support and promote learning for Pacific students. Information from the community shows they value the school’s partnership with them and the support given to Pacific students.

Area for review and development

The introduction of class specific planning is encouraging teachers to identify and cater for class and individual learning needs in their planning. This useful tool could be used more consistently to monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of teaching strategies that improve student learning outcomes and inform leaders where professional development could be targeted.

School leaders should continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum at Years 9 and 10 in developing students’ capabilities and competencies as independent and self-managing learners.

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

The school is making good progress in promoting educational success for Māori as Māori, who make up 9% of the school roll.

Areas of strength

Māori student achievement at senior levels has improved over the last three years. In 2012, 81% of school leavers who identify as Māori gained Level 2 NCEA or better.

Measures to improve Māori success as Māori are evident in the school strategic priorities, annual targets and in the school environment. Significant deliberate initiatives include staff professional development, effective role modelling and community consultation and partnerships.

Māori students benefit from experienced leadership and support. Mentoring programmes are in place to support academic achievement and develop leadership for senior students. There is very good commitment from staff to improve their Māori language skills with nearly a third of teachers involved in working towards gaining their national certificate in Māori.

Area for review and development

Hui with staff, students and whānau have identified areas where programmes and practice could be further strengthened. Developing an action plan to address these and sharing this with the Māori community would be a useful next step.

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.

Areas of strength

Trustees have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. They receive comprehensive information from the principal and other school leaders about key aspects of student programmes, progress and achievement. These reports keep them well informed about progress towards the school’s strategic goals.

The principal, well supported by the senior leadership team, provides very effective professional leadership. This collective approach is contributing to a culture of high expectations for continuous improvement amongst students and staff. This is evident in the way they, and other school leaders, effectively:

  • foster shared understandings of the school’s vision and strategic direction
  • use self review to raise student learning outcomes and increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning
  • place emphasis on the use of student achievement information to assist with self review and teacher reflection.

Staff members recognise and appreciate the role of the principal, supported by senior leaders, in contributing towards the school’s positive culture of continuous improvement.

Systems and processes to support school operations and decision making are robust and transparent. They effectively address the diverse needs of students within a large secondary school environment.

The principal, senior and middle leadership teams have a shared sense of purpose with a strong focus on student wellbeing and achievement. Information is shared effectively. Collaboration between senior leadership teams and teachers to provide targeted support for students is a strength of the school.

Teachers are given good opportunities to take on leadership roles. Useful strategies and resourcing are in place to develop and promote leadership potential amongst staff.

The views and opinions of parents, students and staff are sought and used to make positive changes within the school. Partnerships are strengthened through effective two-way communication. The school has developed effective links with local schools, sharing resources and expertise. This contributes to smooth transitions for students entering the school.

Area for review and development

A useful framework with expectations for staff appraisal and attestation is in place. While there are some highly effective examples used, practice is not consistent across the school. Some appraisals lack evidence to show that teachers receive useful feedback on their performance. Further levels of accountability need to be introduced to ensure the process is robust and intended outcomes are realised. School leaders identify the need to further develop teachers' inquiring into their practice so that it is more directly linked to raising student achievement in the classroom.

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. There are 46 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell National Manager Review Services Southern Region

22 November 2013

About the School

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

340

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1666

Number of international students

46

Gender composition

Boys 50%; Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākeha

Māori

Asian

Pacifica

Otherethnicities

75%

9%

3%

3%

10%

Special Features

Conductive Education Unit

Review team on site

October 2013

Date of this report

22 November 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review Education Review Supplementary Review

August 2010 May 2007 June 2004