Epsom Girls Grammar School - 27/06/2014

Findings

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a highly performing school. High levels of student achievement are being sustained. Leadership opportunities contribute to students’ overall confidence, progress and personal wellbeing. Effective leadership and teaching are key factors in the school’s continued success. Responsive, evidence-based self review is integral to the ongoing and sustained school development.

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?

Epsom Girls Grammar School in Epsom Auckland is a large secondary school for girls. The school is preparing to celebrate its centenary in 2017. The school has a proud tradition and celebrates the success of past students, many of whom are influential leaders.

ERO’s 2009 review identified the provision of high quality education supported by effective teaching and learning, distributed leadership, good governance and informed decision making. School leaders have sustained these positive features and continued to seek ongoing improvement.

The student-centred culture and responsive and relevant curriculum benefit learners. Well analysed achievement information is used to set targets and priorities, review the effectiveness of learning programmes and maintain very high levels of student achievement.

High quality professional leadership supports the learning environment for staff and students. Digital learning opportunities throughout the school contribute to well managed teaching and learning practices.

School improvement is aligned with the board’s strategic vision and values, systematic processes of reflection and self review, and a culture of knowing each learner individually.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is very well used. School trustees set high expectations of achievement and success for all students. Directors and head teachers of the learning areas collate and evaluate achievement information at each year level. The principal and assessment leaders provide a detailed analysis for the board which informs annual goal and target setting.

Students achieve highly in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA). They achieve well above national averages at Levels 1, 2 and 3, and above similar types of schools. Māori and Pacific student achievement levels compare well with all others. Endorsed NCEA is the goal achieved by many senior students. School leavers' attainment exceeds the Government’s 2017 NCEA Level 2 target.

Students make very good progress through Years 9 and 10. Progress information is used to identify groups of priority learners including gifted and talented students, Māori and Pacific learners, and students with learning support needs. A recently introduced student management system enables tutors, deans and classroom teachers to access achievement information that supports students’ individual learning progress and goals.

The school has an inclusive culture and well managed learning support systems. Student learning needs are identified prior to enrolment and systematically monitored. Teachers make use of progress and achievement information to evaluate the effectiveness of different teaching approaches. The work of learning support staff has been reviewed to better meet the needs of students within classroom programmes.

Teachers’ professional learning groups focus on improving outcomes for students. The school’s performance management systems include reflection and inquiry practices using student achievement information. Expectations for high quality achievement are balanced by opportunities to participate in and contribute to a wide range of student-led activities.

Student feedback and participation is used to evaluate outcomes for different groups of students. The student-led Pacifica group is particularly well organised and advocates for increased awareness around the goals of the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) Pacific Education Plan (PEP). The group actively engages parents in supporting Pacifica student culture and identity.

Senior leaders are implementing and evaluating recent changes in the assessment and reporting systems. The new procedures are designed to encourage greater parent engagement in supporting student learning progress. As part of this review, school leaders could increase collaboration with contributing schools to strengthen the learning transitions between Year 8 and Year 9.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides a highly effective and responsive curriculum. The curriculum is well considered and designed to support academic, sporting, arts and cultural, enterprise and language learning. The curriculum continues to evolve and develop in response to student interests and aspirations. In recent years teachers have designed NCEA courses to allow greater curriculum choice and flexibility.

Underpinning the curriculum is a strong emphasis on leadership. Students lead in the four key areas of sport, culture, learning and community, including student orientation, cultural celebrations, mediation services, competitions, clubs, events and productions. Leadership opportunities throughout the school contribute to students’ overall sense of wellbeing, achievement and engagement.

The curriculum challenges students to consider relevant social and global issues. School values relating to biculturalism, sustainable futures and lifelong learning align closely to the goals ofThe New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The skills and competencies in NZC are embedded in teaching and learning approaches that encourage critical thinking and conceptual understanding.

Career services have a high profile in the curriculum. The services are focused on assisting students to find learning pathways that support their aspirations and transition to further education. Pastoral care services are also well positioned to support students in their learning. The well networked student support services foster students’ independent and self management skills. Teachers’ expertise in digital learning has grown significantly. Widely used e-learning strategies are supporting more personalised curriculum approaches.

Curriculum leaders could further explore ways to achieve the school’s goals to engage students as active and independent learners. In Year 9 and 10, teachers could make more explicit use of curriculum related exemplars to assist students recognise their progress and next learning steps.

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

The school’s emphasis on educational success for Māori is well aligned with the MoE Māori education strategy Ka Hikitia. The student-led Kotahitanga group are effectively supporting Māori students to achieve success as Māori.

Māori students are proud to identify, and be identified, as Māori. Many have active leadership roles in the school and achieve very well in academic, cultural and sporting endeavours. Māori student retention levels are high and their continued success in tertiary education attests to their sense of self worth.

Māori language, culture and identity are promoted in consultation with iwi Māori, through respect for tikanga Māori, the inclusion of bicultural learning contexts and teaching of te reo Māori at all levels. Trustees could, through further consultation, strengthen statements in the school charter about the school’s context and history in relation to biculturalism and tangata whenua.

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. Considerable consultation has assisted trustees to review the school’s long term direction. The revised school goals retain a clear focus on equitable outcomes for students, and are now more strategic, providing a framework for reporting and self review.

There is clear alignment of goals and targets across all levels of school management. Senior leaders have school-wide responsibilities and support the work of the very capable leaders, who manage the curriculum and support services areas. The senior leadership team operates strategically providing cohesion and consistency across the school.

The principal is a respected leader who enables change to occur in a collaborative and transformative manner. Self review and reflection are encouraged, and greater emphasis is placed on whole-school development and the sharing of expertise. Additional time has been provided to allow professional learning groups discuss effective teacher practice. As a result, teacher capability and leadership skills have continued to strengthen.

Trustees bring a diverse range of skills to school governance. They contribute extensively to school operations, particularly in complex finance, property and resources decision making. Long term priorities for developing an effective digital learning environment have been successful and are now benefitting students and staff.

Trustees receive well analysed information that supports and informs their self review. Trustees could adopt a more strategic reporting model in place of the board’s longstanding subcommittee system and could make better use of the National Administration Guidelines as a framework for the board’s policy structure and review system.

Provision for international students

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (The Code) established under the section 238F of the Education Act 1989.

At the time of the review there were 110 long stay and 11 short stay international students. The board’s policy encourages a diverse range of international students, including some from Europe, Asia and South America. The school is now considering accepting students from Austria.

The school responds well to the interests and needs of international students. Pastoral care services for international students are well integrated with English language teaching programmes. International students are well supported to improve their English language skills. They make good progress and achieve well in other curriculum areas.

The international student department is well staffed. The department includes an experienced director, a school dean, accommodation coordinator and administrator and a newly appointed assistant administrator. The director reports monthly to the board and meets regularly with the principal.

International students are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities and involve themselves in the wider life of the school.

The board 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.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Epsom House provides boarding facilities for students attending the school and has been a long tradition. It is one of very few hostels for girls at secondary schools in the Auckland area.

The school hostel is operated by a sub-committee that reports to the board of trustees. The sub-committee appointed a new hostel director at the beginning of 2014 with the expectation that improvements in hostel operations would result.

ERO identified hostel matters relating to staff relationships and student wellbeing that have been shared with the board of trustees and school managers. The principal responded immediately to these issues, conducting student surveys and interviews and presenting an action plan to the board based on the students’ feedback.

ERO is confident that the board will act responsibly to resolve these matters and ensure that student management practices align with the school’s good expectations for student wellbeing.

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

Epsom Girls Grammar School is a highly performing school. High levels of student achievement are being sustained. Leadership opportunities contribute to students’ overall confidence, progress and personal wellbeing. Effective leadership and teaching are key factors in the school’s continued success. Responsive, evidence-based self review is integral to the ongoing and sustained school development.

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

Dale Bailey National Manager Review Services Northern Region

27 June 2014

School Statistics

Location

Epsom

Ministry of Education profile number

64

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

2082

Number of international students

112

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European /Pākehā

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

other Pacific

Chinese

Indian

Korean

United Kingdom

European

other Asian

other

47%

6%

3%

2%

1%

14%

5%

5%

4%

4%

4%

5%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

27 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2009

February 2006

June 2002