Fraser High School - 12/12/2014

Findings

Students at Fraser High School learn and achieve within a positive school culture in which teachers actively respond to their interests and strengths. They are able to access wide ranging curriculum opportunities and pursue meaningful learning pathways. School leaders and trustees are resolutely focused on school improvement and development.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Fraser High School is a large, co-educational secondary school in Hamilton catering for students in Years 9 to 13. The roll of 1463 students includes 36% who identify as Māori and 8% who are of Pacific descent.

This ERO report evaluates the school’s response and progress made in relation to areas for review and development identified in the July 2013 ERO report. These involve aspects of governance, teaching and learning, and student achievement.

Since the previous ERO report in July 2013, school leadership has remained the same. A new board of trustees was elected in May 2013 and a new chairperson appointed. School leaders have worked hard and effectively to embed and extend the school-wide Positive Behaviour for Learning initiative, LEAD, to guide improvements in behaviour and learning. A sustained and strategic approach to raising Māori student achievement is having positive results.

Teacher professional development has focused on strengthening literacy and numeracy across the curriculum and responding to the strengths and interests of students. Closer relationships have been established with parents/whānau and the wider community. There are now more rigorous systems for tracking and monitoring student progress and achievement, and developing meaningful learning pathways.

The principal continues to provide a clear strategic vision for school improvement focused on positive educational outcomes for students. Trustees are capable and supportive and are determined to raise student achievement and success. Students learn in a supportive school culture in which they have a wide range of opportunities to succeed. 

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The previous ERO report recommended that:

  • the board of trustees restore full membership of the board, review board operations, undertake board training, develop a governance manual, and continue evidence-based self review of progress against the school’s strategic and annual goals
  • school leaders focus on improving educational outcomes for students, including tracking and monitoring of individuals and groups of students, and developing purposeful learning pathways that lead to successful achievement
  • effective literacy and numeracy strategies be embedded across all subject areas
  • teachers foster greater student ownership of, and responsibility for, their learning
  • school leaders share and promote the existing examples of high-quality practice evident in many areas of the school.

Progress

Governance

The May 2013 board elections resulted in the establishment of a full board and the appointment of a new chairperson. Trustees now contribute a range of skills and expertise to the work of the board. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and Māori perspectives are well represented.

The board is supporting the work of the principal and receives regular reports on student achievement, programmes and initiatives, and school operations. Property improvements include a new technology block, refurbished classrooms, and upgrades to the school environment. The school’s finances and assets are being well managed and monitored by a board finance sub-committee.

Stand down and suspension procedures are being appropriately managed and there has been a significant reduction in numbers recorded in 2013 and 2014.

At the time of this ERO review, the present chairperson resigned and a new chairperson was elected. New members had been co-opted and the board is now ensuring that there is good succession planning, and thorough processes for the induction of new members.

Leadership

The principal, senior leaders and middle managers are providing the school with a strong sense of direction, clear goals for improvement, and ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of students and their families. Wide consultation within the school community has resulted in a draft strategic plan which now needs to be completed and ratified by the board. Communication and relationships are transparent, and there has been strategic appointment of key personnel.

The senior leadership team is effectively leading an inclusive approach to learning and teaching across the school. There is deliberate development of leadership among middle managers through targeted professional development. This has strengthened the good quality leadership of curriculum, programmes and initiatives. Leaders of literacy and numeracy have been fully established in 2014. School leaders are using evidence-based self review to inform their decision making, and are effectively managing change and improvement. The use of data, and responsiveness to the needs of students and their parents/whānau, are contributing to improvements in student engagement and achievement.

The work done in strengthening relationships with contributing schools, transition-to-school processes including interviewing students, and the tracking and monitoring of student progress, is improving the perception of the school in the community and enhancing outcomes for students.

Teaching and Learning

The positive behaviour for learning initiative (LEAD) continues to provide the mechanism and framework for school-wide culture change and improvement. Through an unrelenting focus on learning and achievement, the principal and staff have made good progress in shifting the school culture from one focused on behaviour to one that values and celebrates learning. Data from increased tracking and monitoring shows that staff are making a positive difference to student behaviour and achievement.

The LEAD initiative is also providing common values and understandings across all areas of the school. Regular reporting to parents using the LEAD dimensions (Learn with purpose, Engage with pride, Act with respect, and Dare to succeed) is proving to be an effective way to monitor students’ behaviour and readiness to learn. Respectful relationships among staff and students now underpin teaching and learning.

Other successful curriculum initiatives include:

  • the review of curriculum design and organisation in Years 9 and 10 aimed at increasing the focus on numeracy, literacy, science and technology
  • tracking and monitoring of priority learners at all levels of the school and a responsive approach to addressing the needs of students who require extra assistance
  • an increased range of strategies to strengthen the deliberate teaching and assessment of literacy and numeracy skills
  • initiatives such as hui whakawera (Māori community consultation) and Hei Taniwha (Māori succeeding as Māori), Ki Te Whai Ao, Māori boys mentoring (2014), and Māori student leadership
  • career and learning pathways implementation plans
  • the music and arts projects.

In classrooms, students are settled, co-operative and on task. Positive behaviour management strategies are resulting in students being friendly, outgoing and confident. ERO observed effective teaching strategies that included:

  • using students’ prior knowledge and the sharing of the purpose of learning with students
  • acknowledging students’ language, culture and identity
  • cooperative and self-directed learning
  • effective questioning techniques, and revisiting and recapping on learning
  • good use of ‘hands on’ learning activities including information and communication technologies (ICT).

Teachers are now engaged in ongoing personalised professional learning and development in response to their appraisal goals. They need to continue to share good practices and make better use of their classroom learning environments to enhance improved learning outcomes for students.

The school is beginning to make progress in relation to the Ministry of Education goal of 85% of school leavers achieving Level 2 in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), and is setting targets to achieve this goal. School leaders are able to show, using nationally standardised assessments, that the progress made by students in Years 9 and 10 in English and mathematics is improving. Achievement in literacy and numeracy has increased and there has been an improvement in students gaining Level 1 NCEA, including for Māori students. Leaders are also able to show improved attendance rates, and reduced numbers of stand downs and suspensions.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The board, school leaders and ERO agree that key priorities for future review and development are for:

  • the board to review and update school policies and procedures, access further board training, and take greater ownership of the strategic planning process
  • school leaders to develop an approach that raises achievement and outcomes for Pacific students
  • teachers to continue to promote and embed effective teaching strategies to further raise student achievement in literacy, and in particular, raise achievement in numeracy across the school.

While the culture for learning has improved school-wide, there is now a need to focus on further developing the ‘learning to learn’ principle of The New Zealand Curriculum (TNZC). Further raising student achievement continues to be the central focus for all in the school community.

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

Students at Fraser High School learn and achieve within a positive school culture in which teachers actively respond to their interests and strengths. They are able to access wide ranging curriculum opportunities and pursue meaningful learning pathways. School leaders and trustees are resolutely focused on school improvement and development.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years. 

Dale Bailey
National Manager Review Services
Northern Region

12 December 2014

About the School 

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

135

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1463

Gender composition

Boys 54%
Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Māori
Pacific
Asian
Indian
Other European
Other

43%
36%
  8%
  5%
  3%
  3%
  2%

Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

12 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Supplementary Review
Supplementary Review
Education Review

July 2013
July 2011
August 2010