London House Learning Centre - 13/09/2017

Background

Introduction

London House Learning Centre is oneof 14 Activity Centres in New Zealand that cater for secondary school students (Years 9-13) who are at risk of disengaging from mainstream schooling and at risk of low educational, social and vocational outcomes.

Activity Centres provide a specialised learning programme which will lead to increased attendance, engagement and achievement at school, improved social outcomes and successful transition rates.Registered teachers support students to increase their achievement and engagement in education guided by an Individual Learning Programme (ILP) which is responsive to the needs of each student.The ILP details the student’s learning goals and is developed in partnership with the student, teacher, parents/whānau and enrolling school.

A key component of the programme for Activity Centre students is for them to successfully transition back into the enrolling school or move on to further education or employment.

Bayfield High School is the managing school for this Activity Centre. Its board of trustees holds governance responsibility for the centre and is responsible for providing a high quality educational service in a physically and emotionally safe learning environment.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance ofLondon House Learning Centrein relation to the terms of reference developed with the Ministry of Education. The terms of reference are:

  • management and governance practices including planning, internal evaluation and professional capacity building

  • the use of information to plan and implement individual programmes for, and with students, and to monitor their progress

  • support for students to achieve improved social and educational outcomes

  • educational and social outcomes for students, including the extent to which students’ learning has been accelerated

  • students’ experience of interagency support for them and their families

  • transitions in and out of the Activity Centre.

The key evaluative question is:

How effective is this Activity Centre at achieving positive outcomes for students?

Context

This centre is an integrated part of the support network provided through the Dunedin Secondary Schools Partnerships (DSSP). The DSSP manager co-ordinates partnership programmes, of which London House Learning Centre (LHLC) is one. He is largely responsible for school and agency liaison. Nine of the partnership schools use the centre to help students re-engage in education.

The board of the managing school, Bayfield High School, has delegated responsibilities for the centre to its principal and the DSSP manager. An Activity Centre director leads the curriculum and manages the day-to-day work of the centre.

The centre has a strong focus on, and commitment to, students spending as short a time as possible at LHLC and actively supporting them to successfully return to school. Programmes involve small numbers of students at any one time.

LHLC offers two programmes that run concurrently. There is a short-term, one-week programme that provides early intervention for students at risk of being stood down from school. The other programme runs for six weeks and caters for students whose behaviour is of continuing concern. All students on this programme have already taken part in the short-term programme. Up to 80 students are involved in the centre’s programmes in any one year.

The managing school, DSSP manager, director and teachers have had a long-term association with the centre. This has helped provide continuity in policy, programmes and practices.

The centre’s last ERO review in February 2013, affirmed a range of governance, management, teaching and transition practices along with the centre’s curriculum. Increasing numbers of students were being successfully reintegrated back to school and improving their behaviour and aspects of their academic learning. Recommendations at this time included improving strategic planning and self review. Overall, areas of strength have been maintained and some improvements have been made to planning and evaluation.

Findings

How effective is the Activity Centre at achieving positive outcomes for students?

The centre achieves good success in supporting students to successfully return to their schools and maintain their ongoing involvement in education. In 2016 all students involved in centre programmes transitioned back to school. Student progress was greatest in relation to improved behaviour. Subsequent tracking of these students over a six-to-eighteen month period shows that, for those that remained in the district, over 90% were in some form of education. Most were still at school while others were involved in Alternative Education Programmes.

Outcomes for Māori students were generally similar to, and in some instances higher than, their peers.

What is the quality of governance and leadership of the Activity Centre?

Overall, good quality governance and leadership practices are evident at the centre. The board actively supports the work of the centre. Along with the other schools in the DSSP, it makes sure that the centre is well staffed so that students benefit from intensive one-to-one support.

The managing school’s principal is professionally engaged with the manager and the director. Collectively they have high expectations for student learning and work well collaboratively to make sure there are systems and practices that support the smooth running of the centre for students. Communication with schools and services foster a strong sense of partnership and ensure students remain at the centre of decision making.

The director, with the support of the managing school’s principal, provides supportive and increasingly improvement-focused curriculum leadership. They have clear expectations for student behaviour and use an appropriate range of strategies to support students to meet these expectations.

The centre’s strategic plan provides some direction for ongoing improvement. However, its usefulness is limited by not having clear annual plans to support its implementation.

Internal evaluation, including reflective practices, has led to some well-considered adaptations to centre programmes. Some evaluations are more robust than others. The formal gathering of student opinion about their time at the centre is limited. Increasing the scope and quality of reviews would increase their usefulness in promoting improvements to learning opportunities for students.

How effective are the selection and transition processes?

The centre has effective selection and transition processes in place. Selection processes ensure students within the partnership schools have fair and equitable access to the centre. Those who might most benefit from attendance have the opportunity to do so. Students’ transitions into the centre are well managed. Enrolling schools and centre staff make sure students receive maximum assistance during this process. The good support students receive from teachers enable most to settle quickly into the centre programme and routines.

How well does the Activity Centre identify the social, emotional and academic needs of each student?

Centre staff identify the social, emotional and academic needs of each student well. They make sure that enrolling schools provide the information they need to help establish students’ social and emotional needs. Information gathering and initial assessments of students is most extensive for those students enrolled in the longer course. Information about these students’ social and emotional needs is used well to develop detailed individual learning plans (ILPs) in these areas. This information is also effectively used to either maintain or access further support from external agencies for students.

Teachers make less use of academic achievement information to set specific objectives for students. This limits the usefulness of ILPs for promoting students’ literacy and numeracy skills.

How well do the specialised learning programmes meet the needs of each student?

Overall, specialist learning programmes meet the priority needs of each student well, but aspects of the longer programme require further development.

Teachers provide students with a positive learning environment that is fostered by supportive relationships between them and their students and by the clear expectations for acceptable behaviour. Staff demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting students’ social development and providing good levels of pastoral care. This results in students re-engaging in learning and completing significantly more work than they usually did at their schools.

Programmes, and associated centre-developed teaching modules, appropriately focus on supporting students to improve their behaviour. Students’ programmes are well linked to the social and emotional goals in students’ ILPs. Teachers use a suitable variety of teaching practices to support students’ learning. They place appropriate responsibility on students to manage and reflect on their behaviour and learning.

The centre has identified, and ERO agrees, that aspects of the students’ long-term programme, curriculum and associated guidelines, need extending. Currently students are not provided sufficient opportunities to build on their interests and strengths, or to apply what they are learning through their study modules in a wider range of meaningful contexts.

Centre programmes make limited explicit provision for promoting and affirming cultural identity and incorporating te ao Māori. This limits the opportunities Māori students have to experience success, as Māori.

How effectively are students prepared for their future pathways?

Overall, students are very well prepared for their transition back to school. Critical to this, is the active ongoing involvement of enrolling schools throughout students’ stay at the centre and the high level of shared responsibility for the students that exists between the centre and their schools. Regular information sharing through useful discussions and reporting, and ongoing liaison between key adults involved with the students, promotes successful transitions. Centre staff often maintain contact with students and their schools following their transition in ways that support both students and school staff.

Recommendations

To build on the current success of the centre, Bayfield High School Board of Trustees, through the work of the centre director, leader and staff, should make sure that:

  • the range of learning opportunities for students on the long-term programme is successfully expanded

  • further consideration is given to how to better affirm students’ cultural identity and include more aspects of te ao Māori in programmes

  • aspects of centre planning, performance management and internal evaluation are extended to increase their usefulness in improving learning opportunities for students.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

13 October 2017

About the Activity Centre

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

6116

Activity Centre roll

5

Gender composition

Boys: 4 Girls: 1

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā

1
4

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

13 October 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Activity Centre Review

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

Feb 2013

July 2007

July 2006