Pacific Advance Senior School - 08/04/2016

1 Introduction

A New School Assurance Review is a review of particular areas of school performance and is undertaken to specific terms of reference.

New School Assurance Reviews are generally undertaken within the first year of the school’s opening.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of Pacific Advance Senior School. The terms of reference for the review are to provide assurance to the community:

  • that the school is well placed to provide for students
  • that the school is operating in accordance with the vision articulated by the sponsor.

2 Context

Pacific Advance Senior School is a Partnership School Kura Hourua(PSKH). Partnership Schools Kura Hourua are bound by a Partnership Contract with the Crown to deliver defined outcomes, particularly in regard to student achievement and engagement in learning. Sponsors report quarterly to the Ministry of Education. The performance of the school is also monitored by the PSKH Authorisation Board.

3 Background

Pacific Advance Senior School is an initiative of the Pacific People Advancement Trust (PPAT). The sponsors are committed to providing new learning opportunities for students in Years 11 to 13 who are at high risk of poor educational and life outcomes. 

The sponsor has done a very good job of turning an old industrial building into an inviting educational environment. Facilities include rooms for group work, formal instruction, practical science, and social activity, in addition to gymnasium equipment. As part of the school emphasis on student wellbeing, nutritious food is provided every day. 

Two experienced teachers have been appointed as co-principals and take responsibility for different aspects of school performance. The sponsor funds teaching positions in addition to the contract provision to meet the special character of the school by providing high levels of mentoring and personal support for the students. Teachers hold appropriate registration, and police vetting is in place for all other adults working with the young people.  

The roll at the start of 2016 is 105 students in Years 11 and 12. The school did not meet its maximum roll in 2015. 

4 Findings

The sponsors’ vision of providing a fresh start for young people who are disengaged from school is increasingly well implemented. School principals have built a culture that includes the young people developing appropriate life skills and there is good access to equipment to facilitate this.

Students spoke very confidently about their improved attitudes to school, their pride in their achievement and their personal and spiritual growth. The inclusive culture of the school, the notion that no-one is left behind, has been very important in helping students improve their engagement in learning and take responsibility for themselves. As a result student attendance rates are high. Most students average more than 90% attendance.

Many students start at the school well below achievement expectations for their age level. Working to get students confident and able to complete Level 1 NCEA qualification has been a significant success for the school. Thirty-six students were awarded Level 1 NCEA, 57 percent of the students. Many of the other students also made a good start on gathering credits as a platform for this year’s study. Most of these students had been out of school for at least half a year prior to coming here. The ongoing challenge for staff is to accelerate formal student achievement.

The positive response from students and their families reflects the significant work done in the formation of the school to include student voice and to reflect the aspirations of the community.  Good use has been made of professional networks to support the development of the school and school leaders continue to draw on appropriate advice.

The sponsors have employed a governance advisor to support the effective operation of the school as it grows in size and complexity. Good systems are in place to report against objectives that reflect the performance standards of the sponsors’ contract.

The Christian culture of the school permeates all activities. While there is no specific religious instruction, students and staff work together in a context of prayer and shared belief. They meet each morning for an extended period of time in which students benefit from focused attention on their personal development. The challenge remains balancing the time available so that there is sufficient class time for increasingly complex senior subjects while recognising the fundamental importance of the culture of the school.

Teachers are deeply committed to supporting students to achieve. They are steadily developing curriculum documentation and resources to guide programmes. There is an appropriate emphasis on building students’ literacy and numeracy skills as the foundation for further study. The small size of the school can make it difficult for staff to provide the diversity of programmes that students would like. The challenge of the second year of operation is to find ways of working effectively with other providers to broaden the curriculum.

The sponsor funds additional staffing in recognition of the high needs of the students. Coaches also make an important contribution to the provision of pastoral care that is a key element in the culture of the school. Recruiting appropriate staff is an ongoing challenge.

Other challenges include the significant impact of transience on the school roll, and catering for students who have not been well engaged in previous schooling. The co-principals share a deep commitment to the sponsor’s vision of turning students’ lives around and providing new pathways to successful outcomes. They have made a good start. 

Sponsor assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the sponsor and school leaders completed the ERO Sponsor 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:

  • governance and school management
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students' 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

ERO is likely to carry out the first full review of the school after 12 months as part of the regular review cycle for new schools. 

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

8 April 2016 

School Statistics

Location

Otahuhu, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

714

School type

Partnership School Kura Hourua

School roll

105

Gender composition

Boys

Girls

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pacific

19%

81%

Review team on site

February 2015

Date of this report

8 April 2016