Mission Heights Junior College - 30/10/2013

1 Context

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

Mission Heights Junior College, located within a newly developing suburb in East Auckland, provides education for students from Years 7 to 10. The school opened in February 2009, and is adjacent to the Mission Heights Primary School which shares some facilities. New housing continues to be developed within the school’s catchment area and the school roll is yet to meet its maximum capacity of 1100 students. The school serves a multicultural community. Many students are bilingual or speak more than one language other than English.

There is a deeply held, shared vision for the school. The vision of “growing greatness” through innovative, constantly evolving, personalised learning is clearly upheld by the leadership team. It is also well understood and supported by parents, teachers and students. The board and senior leaders have stated their commitment to providing a learning culture that truly reflects the school’s vision. The school provides an environment where all students are able to find a place for themselves. A holistic approach is fostered to support students to be successful learners. As a result, students are confident in their individual identity, feel able to take risks in their learning, and display a strong sense of belonging.

The learning environment operates around the concept of four whānau. These mixed-aged whānau groups of Years 7 to 10 students operate as distinct entities to deliver the school's vision for learning. The whānau groups are central to the teaching, learning and pastoral care of students. An accelerate class is offered at Years 9 and 10 for students who would benefit from extension. A well developed digital learning system (Mission Heights Online) supports the teaching and learning for all students and is available to students and families.

The 2010 ERO report recommended a review of school policies and consideration of how the principles of Ka Hikitia, the Ministry of Education strategy for Māori education, and the Ministry’s Pacifika Education Plan, could be included in policy and strategic planning. Good progress is being made in these areas.

2 Learning

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

Students enjoy and are highly engaged in their learning. They demonstrate high levels of self management and clearly see themselves as capable learners. They talk about their learning with confidence. Teachers and students share achievement information in ways that help students to set and manage their own learning goals and construct learning pathways. Students are taught strategies that support them to be independent learners and critical thinkers. Students support the learning of their peers.

The school has inclusive and responsive practices and systems to support students with special learning needs. A shared commitment and responsibility for student progress from teachers and learning assistants ensures these students participate fully in appropriate learning programmes.

Achievement information gathered by the school shows approximately three quarters of the students in Years 7 and 8 achieve at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In Years 9 and 10 students achieve favourably in relation to national norms. Māori students and Pacific students are represented across all achievement bands in the school, and are achieving above national norms for these groups. However, as groups of students, they are not yet achieving at the levels of the school community as a whole.

Student achievement information is used well at class and whānau levels to support students’ progress and achievement. A wide range of information about student learning across the curriculum is considered when making judgements about student achievement. A useful next step would be to identify trends and patterns for year levels and to measure student progress over time at school. Trustees could make greater use of achievement information to develop more measurable and improvement focused achievement targets for specific groups of students.

Parents and students are well informed about student progress and achievement. They can access online reports, which are continually updated. Twice a year students lead conferences where they present evidence of their learning and achievement in relation to National Standards and curriculum levels with teachers and parents.

The concept of achievement across the “Four Cornerstones” of academic, sporting, cultural and leadership through service is strongly promoted and highly valued by students. Student success in “the cornerstones” is recognised at assemblies and in the school’s annual honours awards. Students enjoy significant success at local, regional, national and international level.

3 Curriculum

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

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

The curriculum is responsive to the different cultures of the students and caters well for individuals and diverse groups. The curriculum builds on students’ interests and strengths and fosters innovation and risk taking in the learning process. Teachers use an integrated approach to delivering The New Zealand Curriculum. Contexts for learning are selected with students. As a result, learning activities and content are cross curricula, relevant, authentic and interesting for students.

The curriculum successfully supports a personalised learning programme for students through the “DEEP” programme. With support from their learning advisor, students are given freedom to make their own learning decisions that support learning through “Discovery, Enrichment, Essential literacy and mathematics, and Passions”. Parents have access to the programme information online and feel included in the decision making process.

Teachers facilitate high quality teaching programmes that are underpinned by respectful learning relationships. Teachers are well planned and skilfully scaffold learning. Students are empowered to lead and problem solve in their learning. Teachers should continue to focus on the explicit teacher strategies that unpack language for students who are speakers of other languages.

School systems support teachers to be reflective. Teachers share professional practice within whānau and across the school. They are supported by an effective professional learning and development programme. Senior leaders should review appraisal processes to include the use of teachers’ registration criteria when attesting teachers for renewal of their practicing certificates.

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

Good progress is being made to promote educational success for Māori as Māori.

The school has 37 students who identify as Māori. Senior leaders and teachers have high expectations for these students and are proactive in developing reciprocal relationships with whānau. The aspirations of whānau Māori are valued and shared with teachers. Māori students have positive attitudes to school and learning. They are well represented in leadership roles within the school.

Teachers integrate a Māori perspective into classroom programme planning. The school maintains te reo Māori programmes through to Year 10 for students who wish to continue this learning. A newly formed kapa haka group, supported by parents, is a source of pride for the school. Māori student learning is supported by the school whānau organisation which promotes tuakana-teina relationships and holistic approaches to raising student achievement.

Māori student achievement is gathered separately and reported to the board. To support the school’s focus on raising achievement for Māori students, it would be worthwhile for senior leaders to identify specific improvement focused achievement targets in the annual charter. Trustees could then monitor progress against these targets and report the results to the Māori community.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to improve its performance.

The board provides effective governance. Elected trustees are successfully building on the work done by the establishment board. The board and management of the school have a unity of purpose and good working relationships. The elected board continues to engage the school’s growing community.

The school is well managed by a team of strong professional leaders. The principal and senior leaders have a clear plan for implementing the school’s teaching and learning model. This shared vision is well embedded in practice. Senior leaders focus on growing leadership within the staff and recognising people’s capabilities to complement and enhance school developments. Students are provided with a variety of meaningful leadership opportunities. Students are well aware and responsive to, the high expectations and levels of trust that staff have in them as learners. School leaders have established an effective learning community.

Self review is used well. Ongoing critical reflection and the outcomes of self review provide clear rationales for improvements in curriculum design and teaching practice, and in the school’s future direction. Students, staff and the school community are consulted as part of the review process. Trustees and senior leaders now need to consider how to record the outcomes of self review to ensure this information is easily accessible to support strategic reviews in the future. Clearly documented outcomes will support sustainability and ongoing innovative practice.

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 three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

30 October 2013

About the School

Location

Flat Bush, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

553

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 10)

School roll

675

Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Indian

Chinese

South East Asian

Pacific

Other

5%

12%

32%

15%

10%

8%

18%

Special Features

Satellite Class of Kelston Deaf Education Centre

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

30 October 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

October 2010