Papakura Activity Centre - 22/12/2017

Background

Introduction

Papakura Activity Centre is one of 14 Activity Centres in New Zealand that cater for secondary school students (Years 9 to 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, 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 to successfully transition back into the enrolling school or move on to further education or employment.

Papakura High School is the managing school for this activity centre. The school's board of trustees holds governance responsibility for the Activity Centre and is responsible for providing 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 of Papakura Activity Centre in 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

Papakura Activity Centre opened in the mid-1990s and caters for up to 20 students for a period of 10 weeks. Most are Year 9 and 10 students, and at times the centre accepts students from Year 11. The centre operates from a purpose built facility in the Papakura township, and mainly caters for students from 5 secondary schools in the Counties Manukau and Franklin areas.

Currently, there are an approximately equal number of boys and girls enrolled from six different secondary schools. Most students are Māori, with a small number of Pākehā and Pacific students.

The director has led the activity centre for many years. She has strong ties to the local area and community. She is supported by another experienced teacher and three other part-time teaching staff.

Papakura High School continues to be the managing school for the activity centre. Since the 2013 ERO report, the principal and board chair are new to their roles. A longer-serving deputy principal maintains connections with the activity centre.

The 2013 ERO report identified many areas of good practice including very good quality teaching and learning practices, and strong relationships between staff and students. These good practices have been maintained and further improved.

Findings

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

The activity centre achieves positive outcomes for students.

Leaders make it clear that their overarching expectation is for students to return to their enrolling schools after 10 weeks in the activity centre. Most students return to their own schools. Where this is not possible, students are enrolled in other local schools, or attend other alternative education provision.

The activity centre promotes students’ social and emotional competence. There is strong recognition that this wellbeing outcome is a necessary precursor for learning. Most students attend regularly. Some students travel a significant distance to attend the centre. Students develop other key skills and values during their time at the activity centre. These include:

  • learning how to collaborate effectively with staff and their peers
  • discussing issues and ideas in a group
  • engaging positively with members of the public.

Students also learn about the value of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga, and consciously practise being kind, caring and considerate to themselves and others.

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

The director provides highly effective and active professional and pedagogical leadership for staff and students. The managing school board of trustees and the management committee provide sound governance.

The director ensures that staff have a clear vision for students to be successful and contributing citizens. She maintains strong connections with the enrolling schools, and makes clear the expectations for the support required for students while at the centre. Some enrolling schools have staff visit their students every week while they are at the activity centre. This is a good practice that supports students to remain connected to their enrolling school and helps their transition back.

The director appreciates the support provided by the managing school for staff and students at the activity centre. This support includes regular contact with the school’s senior leader and board chair, both of whom are on the management committee. The management committee, includes delegates from other enrolling schools. It meets regularly to support centre staff and to evaluate the impact of programmes for students.

Currently, there are no signed agreements between the managing school and Ministry of Education, or between the managing school and enrolling schools. The ongoing sustainability of the activity centre is dependent upon there being formalised agreements and strategic planning.

The board of trustees and centre director agree with ERO that key next steps for the activity centre include:

  • establishing meaningful, formal agreements with the Ministry of Education and enrolling schools to promote the ongoing sustainability of the service
  • developing future focused strategic planning that ensures ongoing improvements for the activity centre
  • accessing relevant, professional learning for leaders and teachers that aligns to teachers’ individual appraisals and to the vision of the activity centre.

How effective are the selection and transition processes?

The selection and transition processes are very effective.

Selection of students into the centre is a collaborative process between the relevant staff of the enrolling school and activity centre working in consultation with families. Students and whānau are warmly welcomed into the centre in ways that are culturally appropriate.

Students are very well supported to understand expectations and centre routines, and to be part of activities. Expectations include students speaking and acting respectfully towards each other and adults, in the centre and in the community.

Nurses from the managing school regularly visit the centre. They welcome and assess the health needs of all new students. This very good practice ensures students receive the support they need to enhance their wellbeing.

Sharing daily meals provides good opportunities for students to learn relevant social skills and to have more informal conversations with each other and staff. Staff monitor how students and families/caregivers are experiencing their transition into the centre. The centre director meets with each student more formally as often as necessary during the school week.

Many students successfully transition back to their secondary schools. Some enrolling schools have staff who are dedicated to supporting students’ return. In these situations, the opportunities for individual success are greater.

The director and teachers maintain an interest in students’ lives and successes beyond their 10 week placement in the activity centre. Some ex-students keep in touch with centre staff directly or through whānau and community connections. These ongoing connections highlight the commitment that staff have to the young people in their community, and help promote opportunities for these young people to be successful.

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

Staff identify and have a deep understanding of students’ various social, emotional and learning needs. They have the skills and dispositions necessary to engage well with young people.

Utilising a kaupapa Māori approach, staff ensure that students quickly settle and become secure in the activity centre environment. This culturally responsive framework appropriately supports students’ wellbeing and mana, and encourages them to be sociable and respectful with staff and their peers.

Leaders and teachers access relevant specialist health services for students, including nursing staff from Papakura High School. There are weekly visits with a local medical doctor. Students also have access to counselling that caters for their individual and whānau needs.

High staff ratios provide students with individualised care and attention. Staff set clear boundaries and establish routines for all students to create a settled and productive environment.

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

Specialised learning programmes meet the needs of each student very well.

Staff are successful in supporting young people to be more reliable and to manage themselves and their time. Most students improve their attendance patterns while at the activity centre.

Staff have high expectations for students to listen to and be tolerant of others' views. They promote group learning tasks, including challenging games, where students are encouraged to share their ideas and opinions. As a result, students develop confidence speaking in a group and the skills of critical thinking and problem solving.

Students are very settled, and actively participate in their learning. Teachers promote students’ literacy and numeracy skills in ways that are meaningful and interesting for these young people. These relevant and engaging learning programmes also support students to connect positively with their local community. As a result, students are building their sense of empathy and manaakitanga.

Health education programmes appropriately support students’ individual and collective wellbeing needs. Some of these programmes are run by outside agencies. Physical education programmes comprise team sports and other activities, such as waka ama, high ropes courses and other outdoor educational experiences. These experiences enhance students’ social skills and team spirit and promote their engagement, confidence and mindfulness.

Teachers are skilful practitioners. They expertly adapt programmes and approaches to meet the needs of their students. Staff use correspondence programmes offered by Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) when appropriate for individual students. In most cases teachers plan and deliver their own effective learning programmes based on their in-depth understanding of students’ needs, strengths and interests.

Teachers have a very good understanding of internal evaluation as a tool for improvement. They regularly evaluate their practice and other centre operations, identifying strengths and future directions. This good practice ensures that improvements continue to be made to the centre, for students, whānau and staff.

How effectively are students prepared for their future pathways?

Students are prepared for their future pathways very well.

Staff design individual learning programmes (ILPs) with a strong focus on student wellbeing and key competencies from the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). This deliberate focus supports students to be positive citizens now and in the future. Students work with their teachers to set broad learning goals around numeracy, literacy and social interaction. The ILPs are regularly evaluated with students.

Recommendations

ERO recommends and the board of trustees and centre director agree that they work towards establishing meaningful, formal agreements with the Ministry of Education and enrolling schools to promote the ongoing sustainability of the service.

Furthermore that they work to develop future focused strategic planning to ensure ongoing improvements for the activity centre and ensure there is access to relevant, professional learning for leaders and teachers that aligns to teachers’ appraisals and to the vision of the activity centre.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

22 December 2017

About the Activity Centre

Location

Papakura, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

6113

School type

Activity Centre

School roll

20

Gender composition

Boys 11, Girls 9

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Samoan
Tongan

16
2
1
1

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

22 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Special Review
Special Review
Special Review

January 2013
June 2009
May 2005