Rangiora High School - 29/07/2016

Findings

Rangiora High School is moving forward positively. The school’s diverse curriculum generally provides good learning opportunities for students within and beyond the school. The House system and pastoral care are strengths. Student achievement trends over recent years show some fluctuations, with improvement being most evident at NCEA Level 2. There have been a number of areas of progress since the 2012 ERO review. These include recent redevelopment of the school's Charter and a range of communication and consultation strategies.

ERO is not able to make a judgement about the sustainability of governance until an elected board is in place.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Context

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

Rangiora High School is a large, semi-rural secondary school in North Canterbury that provides education for students from a wide geographical area.

A major building development within the school, currently underway, will provide many new, flexible learning environments. Some of the older buildings and classrooms are due for demolition in 2017.

Since the Canterbury earthquakes, there have been considerable building developments in and around the Rangiora township. This has contributed to the school roll remaining generally stable over recent years.

In February 2015, the Minister of Education dissolved the board of trustees and a commissioner was appointed to fulfil the governance role for the school. An acting principal has been in place since June 2015.

An external education consultant was appointed by the commissioner to provide extra support for the school during a time of major change. His key focus has been on the extensive redevelopment of the school’s charter.

Since the 2012 ERO review, some significant changes in staffing have occurred. Some staff turnover has involved changes in positions of responsibility.

During this time, a number of students and teams have continued to achieve highly in sporting and cultural events at local, regional and national levels.

The school is an active member of the Rangiora Community of Learning, a group of 17 schools that are collaboratively focused on raising achievement and improving outcomes for all learners.

The strengths in pastoral care identified in the 2012 ERO report have been maintained and further developed. The school has made good progress addressing some of the priorities for improvement in that report. This includes the increased tracking of learning progress, extended use of assessment tools in Years 9 and 10 and building more culturally responsive teaching practices. Other areas for improvement, especially internal evaluation, are yet to be effectively addressed.

2 Learning

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

The school is making progress in the way achievement information is used to make positive changes to learners’ progress and achievement. Senior student engagement has become a major school-wide focus for improvement.

National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) information shows that:

  • the school is on track for achieving the national target of 85% by the end of 2017
  • there has been a decrease in the percentage of students gaining Level 3
  • boys’ achievement overall, particularly that of Māori boys, remains lower than girls across NCEA levels
  • the percentage of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements is lower than national comparisons
  • in 2015, eight students gained scholarships.

Senior student engagement and retention remain a significant concern. More comprehensive analysis of achievement data by the education consultant has increased awareness about the need to more effectively meet the needs of students in Years 12 and 13. This is helping to ensure that there is a greater sense of urgency about addressing and promoting student engagement and retention.

Where the school has identified and specifically supported students at risk of not achieving in NCEA, positive outcomes for almost all of those students have been achieved. Initiatives and strategies contributing to this success should be extended.

Leaders and teachers have increased the range of assessment tools used in Years 9 and 10. Student progress, achievement and reporting is now being assessed against curriculum levels in English and Mathematics. Individual student and class progress is being tracked across a wide range of learning areas.

In 2016, parents are receiving more frequent and regular information about their child’s engagement and timely information about assessment in a variety of forms.

Areas for review and development

Senior leaders have established, and ERO agrees, that the school must keep a sustained focus on:

  • effectively addressing and improving student retention, engagement and achievement
  • improving the quality of NCEA qualifications by increasing the number of endorsements across learning areas
  • improving the achievement, engagement and retention of Māori students from Year 11 to Year 13.

In addition, Year 11 students who are at risk of leaving without an NCEA qualification should be prioritised and responded to much earlier in the year.

Achievement data analysis in Years 9 and 10 should be used to identify and report:

  • the rates of progress students are making within and across the junior year levels
  • the students who most need to have their learning accelerated
  • how well Year 10 students are prepared for success in their NCEA Level 1 programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

This school’s curriculum is increasingly promoting and supporting student learning. It provides a diverse range of learning opportunities and experiences within and beyond the school. However the range of programmes and choices for senior students whose learning is at risk must be broadened and improved.

Senior students achieve qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework across a wide range of areas. They have access to:

  • shared community facilities to support and extend their learning
  • a range of learning and training opportunities as part of their school programme
  • extension opportunities with some local tertiary providers
  • careers advice and support for programme and course planning.

The school’s current building developments are providing a useful opportunity to review curriculum provisions for students. Teachers have been trialling some new teaching and learning approaches. A range of professional learning opportunities and support has been provided. Senior leaders should continue to seek ways of being assured that this major curriculum development meets the needs of all students.

The school’s House system remains a significant strength of the school. It is well led, promotes a positive school culture and makes an important contribution to a sense of belonging and enjoyment for students. Recent improvements to the way the House system operates include strengthening the links between pastoral and academic aspects of students’ learning and wellbeing.

Pastoral care systems are very well developed and led. Students and staff clearly recognise that pastoral care is a major school strength.

Student leadership and service to the community are promoted through a range of school opportunities and activities. Students are keen to see an increased focus on building the leadership skills of students in Years 9 and 10.

Areas for review and development

Leaders should evaluate, and effectively respond to, how well the school’s current curriculum design promotes equity and excellence for all students, especially those at risk of lower levels of retention, engagement and achievement.

External expertise has been used for a robust review of the Mainstream Support Unit (MSU). A clear framework has been developed for addressing the review recommendations and expectations. ERO supports the priorities and goals identified for improvement. ERO also recommends that:

  • regular parent feedback should contribute to the ongoing evaluation and reporting of progress towards improvement goals
  • the rates of learning progress of students in the MSU should be regularly reported to parents and senior leaders.

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

The school’s involvement in a national programme to build culturally competent practices is showing early evidence of a positive impact in some classrooms. This should be sustained and further extended across the school.

Gradual improvements are evident in the achievement of Māori students at NCEA Levels 1 and 2. A range of opportunities are provided for involvement in cultural activities. Whānau have ongoing opportunities to meet with leaders to contribute their ideas and suggestions.

Areas for review and development

ERO supports the current school-wide focus on improving the engagement, retention and learning progress of Māori students. This development should continue with greater urgency in ways that meet their specific interests, needs and aspirations of Māori students.

In consultation with Māori students and their whānau, senior leaders should collaboratively identify further plans, priorities and goals for promoting success for Māori students, as Māori. Progress against these goals should be evaluated and reported.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is moving forward positively. Newly-developed, strongly-aligned strategic priorities and goals place the needs of students at the centre of planning and decision making for school improvement.

The school faces a number of significant challenges and issues that are yet to be resolved.

The commissioner is guiding the school well through a period of uncertainty and change. This includes:

  • a strong and sustained focus on promoting the best outcomes for students
  • prompt responses to a range of needs including support for staff and students, and relationship building
  • communicating and consulting widely with parents, senior leaders and staff to keep them included, informed and updated about school developments.

The use of external expertise such as the education consultant is contributing strongly to:

  • promoting a shared understanding and active ownership of the 2016 school charter, especially in regard to student engagement
  • a comprehensive analysis of school data to identify and respond to priorities for improvements to students’ learning, progress and achievement
  • a significant increase in coherence between school goals and systems, processes and programmes.

The establishment of a community reference group comprised of parents, students, whānau, community and the senior leadership team is providing the commissioner with wider perspectives and is an ongoing forum for consultation and some review.

Strong connections and partnerships are evident in the way school and pastoral leaders engage with a wide range of community agencies. Relationships with these agencies considerably strengthen support for the wellbeing needs of students and their families.

Senior leadership roles and responsibilities are now directly aligned to the charter’s seven strategic priorities that promote equity and excellence for all students. Regular reporting to the commissioner is against these priorities.

While a range of internal evaluations have occurred since the 2012 ERO review, an effective process with clear outcomes and next steps that focus on students has not been in place. The development of a robust process and schedule of internal evaluation is central to the school's ongoing improvement.

The acting principal and senior leaders have provided consistent leadership during a time of change. This has been positively recognised by many staff. They ensure an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to positive outcomes for students' wellbeing and learning. Senior leaders make sure that school systems are in place that promote and support good practice in the management of a very large school.

While ERO observed a number of teacher appraisals of good quality, further progress needs to be made in this area to improve consistency.

Areas for review and development

The commissioner and senior leaders should:

  • significantly improve and strengthen internal evaluation in the school so that all students benefit
  • continue to regularly monitor and respond to the wellbeing needs of all staff and students to ensure that changes and challenges are being managed effectively
  • ensure that capacity building across the school is appropriately prioritised and resourced
  • make sure that all staff appraisals are completed and consistently meet identified expectations and requirements.

Provision for international students

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. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review, there were 55 international students attending the school.

Students have good opportunities to improve their English language skills, pursue learning interests and gain qualifications. Programme leaders and teachers encourage students to be fully involved in all aspects of school life and events in the wider community. Effective systems are in place to promote and monitor students’ wellbeing and progress at school.

Senior leaders have identified that a next step is for teachers to support international students to set and actively monitor their individual learning goals. Progress against these goals should be regularly reported.

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.

Conclusion

Rangiora High School is moving forward positively. The school’s diverse curriculum generally provides good learning opportunities for students within and beyond the school. The House system and pastoral care are strengths. Student achievement trends over recent years show some fluctuations, with improvement being most evident at NCEA Level 2. There have been a number of areas of progress since the 2012 ERO review. These include recent redevelopment of the school's Charter and a range of communication and consultation strategies.

ERO is not able to make a judgement about the sustainability of governance until an elected board is in place.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

29 July 2016

About the School

Location

Rangiora

Ministry of Education profile number

312

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1792

Number of international students

55

Gender composition

Girls 51%; Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Other ethnicities

85%

10%

1%

4%

Review team on site

June 2016

Date of this report

29 July 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

May 2012

June 2009

December 2005