James Hargest College - 11/06/2013

1 Context

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

James Hargest College is a high performing, large coeducational school for students from Years 7 to 13. Students in Years 7 and 8 are taught at a separate, standalone Junior Campus. The philosophy from the board and staff is that this is one school that just happens to be on two sites 1.5 km apart. Teachers from both sites work closely together to ensure that the education students receive is coordinated across Years 7 to 10. The school makes the most of the advantages of the two separate sites. Both campuses are well maintained and very well resourced.

The school is responsible for an offsite Activity Centre and a Teen Parent Unit. These were not visited as part of this review.

Students benefit from the wide range of courses and sporting and cultural opportunities the school offers. There are high expectations that students will be successful at all levels of the school. Students are encouraged to reach merit and excellence levels in assessed class work.

The school’s culture is built around high quality relationships, effective teamwork and welcoming all students. All staff work well together, demonstrating a “can-do” attitude and implementing the school’s vision for excellence. Teachers’ strengths are used for the benefit of each other and for students. Particular care is taken to support and promote the achievement of Māori students. As a result, the achievement of each student is closely monitored and well supported.

The school has comprehensive and effective systems to encourage high quality teaching and to ensure the school operates smoothly. Students ERO spoke to knew about their learning and the ways teachers help them improve.

The board and school leaders work strategically to implement changes in a well-managed way. Their decisions are based on effective self review and a good understanding of what works well in school governance and management. Changes are focused on students, especially around their learning, and implemented in a way that is manageable for teachers.

2 Learning

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

This school uses achievement information very well to make positive changes for students’ learning.

Students, teachers, curriculum and senior leaders, deans, and the board make good use of students’ learning information. Students understand how well they are learning and what they need to do to improve. Years 7 and 8 students help set their goals for learning. Students in Years 9 and 10 are motivated and monitored through the school’s graduation system. Students in Years 11 to 13 monitor their own progress towards NCEA.

School results in external qualifications for students in Years 11 to 13 are very good. Results for Years 7 and 8 students against the National Standards are stronger for reading and mathematics than for writing. As a result teachers are focused on improving students’ writing skills.

Learning information is also very effectively used to:

  • identify students’ learning needs and plan and implement programmes to meet these
  • provide individual learning support and extension for students
  • make clear the groups of students who should be targeted as priority learners
  • celebrate individual student success.

The school has developed robust processes and systems to ensure learning information can be accessed easily by staff for the benefit of students. In this way the learning information is more useful and well used. This can be seen in the use of literacy information for Years 9 and 10 students.

Curriculum and senior leaders closely monitor and analyse student achievement, engagement and participation information to:

  • evaluate the success of programmes
  • plan programmes for subsequent years
  • identify what has worked, what has not, and trends and patterns over time.

The information also guides the development of future school-wide goals and target setting. Leaders rigorously analyse student achievement information in relation to the board’s targets and strategic plan. These outcomes are evaluated and used for future planning.

A wide variety of learning information for Māori students is well analysed and documented to support the school’s promotion of Māori student success.

Student learning information is also well used as part of the teacher development and accountability processes.

Parents are well informed about the progress of their children.

Areas for review and development

The school has identified, and ERO agrees, that better use could be made of learning information to show progress over time, particularly for students in Years 7 to 10. This could include identifying general trends and patterns and tracking students learning over time.

The school’s charter targets for raising student achievement are stated in broad terms. A greater emphasis on identifying the students most at risk of not reaching these targets should help identify exactly how these students can most effectively be assisted. This should also help teachers focus on how the overall charter targets can be met.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Teachers have high expectations for learning and encourage students to take their share of responsibility for achieving well. There is a high level of student participation and engagement in the many opportunities they have to succeed in academic, cultural and sporting activities. Students with special abilities or those needing extra support to succeed are effectively provided with focused, individualised programmes.

The curriculum is well designed to cater for students’ interests, needs and abilities. Students at the Junior Campus are grouped appropriately to ensure the learning is at the best level of challenge for them. Literacy skills are used as a tool to enable students to work successfully in all learning areas. This places literacy learning in authentic contexts and teaches students to transfer their reading and writing skills across subjects. Teachers in both campuses communicate well to ensure that they know what students have covered and what they are expected to have achieved. They aim to have a consistent approach and seamless progression as students graduate through the year levels.

Teachers offer students a high degree of positive feedback and praise. Students’ successes are regularly celebrated and rewarded. Students say this approach is an effective motivator for them to do their best.

Teachers and leaders reflect on and review the effectiveness of their teaching and together consider ways of continuing to improve. The sample of classes ERO observed confirmed the views of the school leaders that there is high quality teaching across the school, particularly at the Junior Campus.

Senior students appreciate how their teachers will “go the extra mile” to support them to succeed. There is wide flexibility in where and how they learn. Students have great flexibility enabling them to study subjects that are of interest to them or that they need for further learning within and beyond the school or in their future careers.

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

The school effectively promotes educational success for Māori.

The board has set specific targets for several years to reduce the disparity between the results of Māori students compared to the whole-school group. These targets include NCEA pass rates, literacy and numeracy at Year 11, and Years 7-8 National Standards results. Specific plans to improve the achievement and attendance of Māori students have also been developed.

The disparity percentage over three years is generally reducing. For 2012, the pass rate for Māori students in NCEA Level 1 was better than that for the whole school. The disparity in merit and excellence results has also significantly reduced over the last three years. In National Standards results for reading and writing, Māori students performed slightly better than their non-Māori peers. There is little difference in the school-wide absenteeism and truancy rates. Data about school leavers shows that Māori students are leaving with improved qualifications, especially when compared with national statistics. The school is able to show that it is making a significant difference for its Māori students.

School leaders have benefitted from their involvement in a nationwide initiative, He Kākāno. It is enabling leaders and teachers to better support Māori students to lift their achievement levels, and to increase retention levels of students through to Year 13.

The school notes the differences between Māori and non-Māori student responses in its surveys. A major focus group and survey was undertaken in September 2012. The outcomes are part of current developments. Regular whānau hui are held where parents’ views are gathered in regard to how the school could better support their children. These are valued and acted on.

Māori students ERO met were positive about their learning and the initiatives that the school provides to better support them and their learning. Many spoke with pride about what the school had done for them personally.

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.

There is a culture of high expectations for students and staff. School systems to ensure that students receive a high quality education are very well established, including teacher performance management.

The curriculum is well designed and coordinated across both campuses. Senior students benefit from the wide range of pathways they have to be successful within the school and the care taken in their transition to employment or further education after leaving this school.

Students are actively engaged in their learning and are progressing and achieving well. The achievement of Māori students and students who need extra assistance is very well supported.

Leadership is a strength at all levels of the school, including trustees, the principal, senior managers and teachers with specialised knowledge/interests. Change is managed carefully.

There are very clear links between the board’s charter goals, school and department plans, teachers’ appraisal and focus areas for self review. Self review is comprehensive and includes appropriate student, parent and teacher input. The board has a clear, longer-term strategic focus for the future. Their decisions are well informed, many by detailed reports or self review.

Practices to promote a safe and inclusive culture for students and adults working at the school are robust. Guidance and support networks are extensive. The successful implementation of the He Kākāno programme contributes to this area.

The school is effective in engaging with parents in relation to students’ learning. Parents have access to significant amounts of information online. The school’s drive for improvement begins with the board. For example the board’s goals for greater success for Māori students are reflected in many school documents, evident in practice and most importantly are bringing about significantly improved outcomes for Māori 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. At the time of this review there were 29 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 very thorough.

The school provides high quality programmes for international students. The Director of International Students implements very effective processes to monitor and manage all aspects of the international students’ programme. Students enjoy considerable success in their learning programmes. They are well supported in their English language learning and other academic studies. Students’ pastoral care and accommodation needs are closely monitored and responded to. Many international students are actively involved 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.

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

11 June 2013

About the School

Location

Invercargill

Ministry of Education profile number

552

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

1901

Number of international students

29

Gender composition

Male: 52% Female: 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

Other

79%

14%

5%

1%

1%

Special Features

Invercargill Activity Centre Invercargill Teen Parent Unit

Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

11 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

October 2009

June 2006

November 2001