Rodney College - 16/06/2016

Findings

Rodney College promotes student learning well. The curriculum responds well to student strengths and interests, with a greater focus on activating ‘the academic learner’ at an earlier stage. Highly effective school leadership is enabling increased momentum for change to meet the diverse needs of the modern learner.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Context

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

Rodney College, in Wellsford, caters for students from Years 9 to 15. Students have strong links to the town and surrounding rural areas. Nearly 34 percent of students are Māori. Two percent have Pacific heritage.

Since the 2013 ERO report, the board has successfully managed the school through a period of leadership change. A new principal was appointed in 2014. The board and school leaders have focused on retaining the school’s strengths and considering what the school can do further to raise student achievement. This focus has resulted in changes in curriculum management, allowing individual teacher strengths to be used to target school improvement.

The board and senior leaders have consulted with many stake holders as part of reviewing the school’s mission statement, vision and values. This consultation has resulted in the new mission statement: educating learners today for a better tomorrow, and a clearly stated vision of the Rodney College student learner that sums up the school’s commitment to creating confident, connected 21st century learners.

2 Learning

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

Improved use of student achievement information by the board, senior leaders and teachers is supporting a sharper focus on raising students’ academic performance.

Achievement information is used to set school priorities and appropriate achievement targets, and to design curriculum programmes. Data is used for early identification of students at risk of not achieving. Changes to school systems and structures to support closer monitoring of student data by academic counsellors, year level deans and classroom teachers are placing greater responsibility on staff to improve student achievement and provide a stronger support network for students. Staff receive ongoing professional development in the use of assessment tools giving greater rigour to the school’s achievement data.

School information shows that achievement in literacy and numeracy is increasing across all year levels. The challenge for the school is to increase levels of student success in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at Levels 1 and 2. School data show an upward trend in students receiving Level 3 qualifications and an increase in the number of endorsements at Levels 1 and 2. Course changes, rationalising credits available, and the introduction of an external component in NCEA in all curriculum areas, are positive initiatives to enable students to access tertiary studies.

There are good levels of student engagement in learning across the school. Classrooms are settled places for learning. Students are resourceful, and increasingly self-managing their learning pathways. The school has an appropriate focus on helping students set higher academic expectations for their own achievement. Rodney College is a caring and respectful learning community. The school has an holistic, strengths-based approach to student wellbeing and is proactive in supporting students to be successful learners. The college’s increasingly inclusive and responsive practices support students with special learning needs well. Teachers and learning assistants share a commitment to and responsibility for these students’ progress. This shared approach helps to ensure students with special learning needs participate fully in appropriate learning programmes and the wider school curriculum.

3 Curriculum

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

Rodney College curriculum is becoming increasingly effective in engaging and promoting successful outcomes for all students.

The curriculum responds to student strengths and interests, providing them with meaningful contexts for learning and assessment. Students have relevant choices and pathways that support successful transition through school and on to further education, training and employment. School leaders continue to introduce new courses in response to changing employment and tertiary study requirements. Strong community involvement supports curriculum opportunities and vocational pathways for students. A current strategic focus for the school is to explore better ways to use digital technologies to enhance learning for students.

The school’s Gateway programme is a strength of the curriculum that empowers students to seek qualifications and employment opportunities. The curriculum has good coherence and connectedness between Gateway, careers and vocational pathways. Teachers are beginning to plan learning opportunities to engage students from the Gateway programme in other subject areas, to support the schools increased academic focus.

In Years 9 and 10 a Junior Certificate of Educational Achievement (JCEA) has been introduced to engage ‘the academic learner’ early in their college life. This certificate has a well-considered framework that:

  • identifies the skills and behaviours necessary to be a successful learner
  • provides progressive sequential pathways for learning and assessment
  • supports student ownership and teacher clarity of expectations at each level.

The certificate is in the early stages of implementation, and staff are undertaking professional development to support teachers to recognise student progress towards relevant curriculum levels, and explore ways to achieve common understandings about the kind and quality of work needed for success in JCEA.

The school is strengthening the way staff have conversations with parents about their child’s learning. ERO recommends senior leaders continue to investigate strategies to engage parents more effectively in learning partnerships.

Learning experiences that reflect the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand have a place in some curriculum areas, the environment and daily life of the school. Te reo Māori is offered in Years 9 and 10 as six-month student option choices. ERO recommends senior leaders review how effective this structure supports students who want to follow a successful NCEA te reo Māori pathway.

Teachers enact the curriculum well. Teaching approaches and ideas are shared among staff in a professional culture of collaboration. The school has good systems and useful professional learning and development programmes to help teachers develop effective practices to meet the diverse needs of students. The teacher performance management system introduced in 2014 supports good professional practice and growth. High levels of relational trust between students and teachers are underpinned by strong, positive connections and relationships.

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

The school is effective in promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori, in many ways. School data show an increase in Māori students’ Level 1 and 2 NCEA achievement levels and attendance. The data also show there is an increasing trend of Māori students remaining at school to Year 13.

Māori students are well supported in their learning. Teachers know them well and have high expectations for them as learners. Ongoing professional learning and development that focuses on cultural competences for teachers of Māori learners reflects the school’s expectations.

The school’s strong kapa haka group is a source of pride for students, the school and its community. It provides good opportunities for Māori student leadership, and promotes discipline, team work, the arts and a deeper understanding of tikanga Māori.

Māori students are over represented in school stand-down data, suggesting school leaders need to more deeply investigate the impact of school initiatives for Māori and further explore with whānau their aspirations for Māori student wellbeing.

There is Māori representation on the board and the school seeks guidance from local kaumātua to ensure tikanga Māori is respected and maintained.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Rodney College is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Leadership in the school is highly effective. The principal is instrumental in building leadership capability and influence across the school. This high quality school leadership is enabling increased momentum for change to meet the diverse needs of students. All layers of school leadership, including student leadership, contribute at the strategic decision-making level, and there is shared ownership of outcomes to support the school’s overall improvement focus.

Trustees are well informed about curriculum developments and student achievement. Board decision making is strategic and has a focus on improving outcomes for all students. Very good working relationships help the work of the board. School management is well coordinated through the school’s strategic and operational planning. There is a systematic and collaborative approach to establishing coherent and sustainable practices.

Internal evaluation is used well. Ongoing critical reflection and the outcomes of school-wide internal evaluation provide clear rationale for positive change. Students, staff and the school community are consulted as part of review processes.

The school has identified appropriate future priorities to continue raising student achievement. These include:

  • investigating further ways to engage the community in partnerships to support student learning
  • continuing to develop JCEA and build shared understandings of curriculum and assessments for Years 9 to 15.
  • more deeply scrutinize longitudinal student achievement information for cohorts, groups and individuals to evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives and inform teaching and learning.

Provision for 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. At the time of this review there were eight international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s internal review process for international students is very thorough. The school has coherent and sustainable systems in place to support good provision and care for international students.

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.

The board of trustees must ensure that non-teaching and unregistered employees are police vetted every three years.Education Act 1989, s78.

Conclusion

Rodney College promotes student learning well. The curriculum responds well to student strengths and interests, with a greater focus on activating ‘the academic learner’ at an earlier stage. Highly effective school leadership is enabling increased momentum for change to meet the diverse needs of the modern learner.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

16 June 2016

About the School

Location

Wellsford, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

23

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

370

Number of international students

8

Gender composition

Girls 53% Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific Nations

other

34%

57%

2%

7%

Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

16 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

May 2013

September 2010

September 2009