Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Middle School - 24/06/2015

Findings

Students at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate continue to progress and achieve. Increasing numbers of Middle School students are achieving well in National Standards. However, concerns continue about the quality of governance and leadership to sustain and extend good practices and meet the vision for a collegiate-wide curriculum.

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?

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara, South Auckland is structured as three schools; each with its own principal and staff. All three schools are located on the same site and are governed by one board of trustees. The vision for the collegiate was to promote seamless learning opportunities for students from preschool to tertiary, and to provide an educational pathway for students from Years 1 to 15. There is an early childhood centre on the collegiate grounds and a play group operates from a space in the junior school in order to support the transition into school. The collegiate continues to have a strong connection with Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), providing a pathway for senior students into further study.

The students are predominately from Pacific nations, particularly Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands. Twenty-one percent of students in the Middle School are Māori.

A number of long-serving staff at the collegiate know many local families well. These connections between teachers and families help provide students with a strong sense of belonging to the collegiate. Parents are supportive of school events that celebrate their children’s learning and culture. Many staff throughout the collegiate reflect the cultural backgrounds of students and are able to communicate with families in their home languages.

ERO’s 2012 report followed a long period of difficulty at the collegiate. It noted progress in a number of areas of the schools, especially in the quality of teaching and learning. A new board of trustees had been established with the commissioner’s support. The report also identified ongoing concerns with the governance model, and recommended that the three principals work collaboratively to develop collegiate-wide approaches. It further identified that the board and principals needed to establish a collegiate-wide approach to raising the profile of Māori and to strengthening Māori language, culture and identity.

Since ERO’s 2012 report, staff have worked to promote consistent expectations for behaviour across the collegiate, including the introduction of PB4L, a national programme for improving consistency of behaviour management in line with existing school values. In 2014 a new deputy principal was appointed to the Middle School. The collegiate environment continues to be attractive and well maintained.

However, this 2015 ERO report also identifies that while some progress has been made to address previous recommendations, further targeted support for the governance and leadership of the collegiate is necessary.

2. Learning

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

Achievement information in the Middle School is used very well to promote students’ learning.

Particular success in accelerating students’ progress in reading, writing and mathematics is evident, with more than half of all students in Years 7 and 8 now achieving at or above the National Standards. Data also show that Pacific students achieve better than Pacific students in the local area and nationally in writing. Māori students achieve as well as others in mathematics and reading. School leaders acknowledge that a next step is to improve Māori student achievement in writing.

Parents receive increasingly good information about how well their children are progressing and achieving. The board receives regular updates from the principal about the school’s progress towards the achievement of student learning targets. Students are increasingly confident in talking about their learning and their next steps.

Leaders and teachers in the Middle School have a good understanding of teaching as inquiry principles and practices. They are consistently evaluating and modifying their own practice based on achievement information and student needs.

Key next steps

ERO recommends that the three principals work together to improve the way assessment is managed across the collegiate. The growing use of E-asTTle as an assessment tool in all three schools should help to build shared understanding of student achievement.

School leaders should also continue to analyse data separately for the various Pacific groups in the collegiate. This approach would increase the school’s capacity to identify any group specific trends, design appropriate teaching and learning interventions, and to make decisions on appropriate resourcing for these interventions.

3. Curriculum

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

The Middle School’s curriculum is promoting and supporting student learning very well. Teachers in the Middle School design learning programmes that encourage students to think critically, to debate, to discuss and share their ideas and opinions. They motivate students to be leaders of their own learning.

Teachers base classroom programmes appropriately on reading, writing and mathematics learning. School leaders employ tutors to ensure that other areas of the curriculum such as science, technology and the arts are well covered and delivered in ways that interest and inspire students.

Most teachers in the Middle School are skilled practitioners. They respond positively to professional learning opportunities and consistently reflect on and seek to improve their practice. They actively seek ways to make learning more relevant and interesting for students, and to base learning on students’ own experiences, interests and cultural backgrounds. Teachers appropriately ensure that Māori concepts and language are part of their curriculum design.

The Middle School value system promotes consistently high expectations for adults and students. Students experience mutually respectful relationships with staff and each other. Student successes are celebrated regularly, and students ably fulfil the many leadership roles available to them.

Students with special educational needs and those needing a learning boost are well supported. Capable teacher aides work with teachers to provide in-class and withdrawal support for individuals and small groups of students. Good programmes are also available for students who are learning English as a second or additional language.

Parents of students in the Middle School can opt for their children to join a class that supports learning through the use of Samoan language, culture and identity. This builds on provision in the junior school, where parents can choose that their children receive Te Reo Maōri in an enrichment approach or that they receive bilingual education in Samoan. Students in the Senior School have opportunities to learn te reo Māori and Cook Island Māori, Tongan and Samoan, and can undertake courses leading to Level 3 NCEA qualifications in these subjects.

A significant feature of all three schools in the collegiate is the culture of care that leaders and staff have for children and their families. Staff ensure that students’ basic needs are met so that they can focus on learning each day. Staff also liaise well with external agencies and groups to help ensure students and families receive appropriate care and support. All three schools have systems in place that aim to create a positive and secure school environment for students that promotes wellbeing.

Key next steps

ERO recommends that the three principals continue to work together to develop a Year 1 to 15 curriculum that better supports and enriches students’ learning as they move up through the collegiate and transition into the community. The curriculum pathway should enable all teachers to:

  • affirm New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and be responsive to students’ various cultures, languages and backgrounds
  • promote high levels of interest and challenge, and encourage critical thinking and problem solving,
  • support students to make decisions about what and how they learn, and make seamless transitions between schools and into the world of work and further learning.

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

The Collegiate endeavours to promote educational success for Māori as Māori. Staff have been engaged in a number of significant initiatives to enable them to promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. Tikanga Māori is integral to school-wide events and Māori students have access to a variety of ways of building their language, culture and identity.

The Middle School promotes educational success for Māori as Māori effectively. School leaders and teachers ensure that Māori concepts and te reo Māori are integrated into all learning programmes for students in Years 7 and 8. A key member of staff liaises regularly with Māori parents, further supporting Māori student wellbeing. These positive actions help Māori students to see themselves as a valued and important part of the school.

A new head of department for Māori in the Senior School brings renewed vitality and enthusiasm to promoting te reo me ngā tikanga Māori across the Collegiate. She provides professional support for the Māori enrichment class teacher in the Junior School, and leads kapa haka for students in the Senior and Middle Schools. Participation in kapa haka provides students with a strong sense of whanaungatanga, and fosters pride in their Māori language, culture and identity.

Key next steps

The board and Collegiate principals acknowledge the need to work together, and in partnership with Māori staff and whānau, to:

  • prioritise actions identified in the Collegiate’s Māori development plan, regularly discuss progress towards meeting these actions, and strategically resource them where required
  • maintain ongoing consultation with whānau Māori to ascertain their aspirations, desires and needs for their tamariki.

A next step for the Collegiate trustees and staff is to revisit te Tiriti o Waitangi to renew their shared understanding of it and the place of Māori as tangata whenua.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The Collegiate is not yet well placed to sustain and improve its performance at this time.

Despite considerable support from the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand School Trustees Association over a long period of time, ERO is not assured of the board’s capacity to meet its responsibilities or obligations.

The board of trustees is representative of various Pacific cultures in the school, and includes members from the Samoan, Tongan and Cook Island Māori communities. Many are long-serving board members and have been involved with the governance of the Collegiate since its inception in 2001. The constitution of the board also allows for representation from MIT and the MoE. It would be useful to consider how these roles could be used more effectively to support governance. At the time of the review there was no representation from either of these organisations.

The three principals are committed to promoting ongoing improvements for students in their own schools. They believe that success for one school is success for all.

The Middle School principal provides effective curriculum leadership. Ongoing monitoring of student achievement data and the use of the data to inform teaching and learning provides a sound platform for self review.

Current work on implementing PB4L is helping school leaders to coordinate school-wide pastoral care systems. This work could also include approaches for utilising learning support staff and for managing systems such as those relating to student attendance and truancy. It would also be timely to consider the development of portfolios for human resource systems across the three schools, including police vetting, teacher registration and appraisal of support staff.

Key next steps

While some improvements in the performance of the Collegiate are evident, similar issues and concerns have continued to be apparent over many years. Key next steps for improving governance and leadership should prioritise work to further promote professional collaboration between the three principals, and between the board and school principals, in order to promote effective and sustainable governance.

The three principals agree that externally facilitated support has been beneficial in progressing sensitive and complex issues. ERO also notes that, while the board works well with close support and guidance, trustees continue to demonstrate a limited understanding of their governance role and responsibilities, including their role in managing and supporting the performance of the three principals.

Trustees acknowledge that they would benefit from ongoing support to understand their governance role and to improve their relationship with the principal group.

Self review is generally not well understood or used as a tool for improvement by the board. There is little evidence of strategic thinking or review by the board to ensure that their vision of learning pathways throughout the Collegiate is being realised. Records of board meetings and decision making make it difficult for these documents to be used as a self-review tool. It is unclear how well the board monitors that its accountabilities have been met.

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.

To improve current practice the board should ensure that teaching and learning practices prioritise success for Māori students as Māori.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education review the model of leadership and governance for Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about the required improvements to leadership and governance.

Conclusion

Students at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate continue to progress and achieve. Increasing numbers of Middle School students are achieving well in National Standards. However, concerns continue about the quality of governance and leadership to sustain and extend good practices and meet the vision for a collegiate-wide curriculum.

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

Dale Bailey Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

24 June 2015

About the School

Location

Otara, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1217

School type

Intermediate (Years 7 to 8)

School roll

228

Gender composition

Girls 53%

Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Cook Island Māori

Niue

Samoan

Tongan

other Pacific

21%

12%

1%

43%

22%

1%

Special Features

Hosts satellite classes for Mount Richmond School

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

24 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2012

May 2010

November 2008