St Bedes College - 12/05/2016

Findings

The school’s Catholic special character is highly evident throughout the school. Teachers and students work together to create a learning environment where students get on with their own learning so other students can get on with theirs. Over 90% of students leave with NCEA Level 2 as their minimum qualification. The school’s hostel provides well for over a hundred boarders. The school benefits from strong professional leadership and an experienced board of trustees.

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?

St Bede’s College is a large, Catholic boys' secondary school in Christchurch with a long-standing association with the Society of Mary. This Catholic college wants each boy to live the mantra of a former Marist priest who wanted “to be the best possible version of the person God created me to be”.

The school’s philosophy, vision and core values are clearly evident throughout the school. Religious education is compulsory at all year levels. Students are confirmed as Bedeans in Year 9 with the support of their parents. Students from all year levels take part in a number of other activities where their ‘faith and works’ are evident in action. They achieve NCEA credits in religious education in their senior years.

Students learn and pursue a wide range of sporting and cultural interests in a calm, settled and student-focused learning environment. A very high proportion of students participate in sports.

The school is governed by a board of trustees and a board of proprietors who work together to provide the best for St Bede’s students. Since the earthquakes of 2011, major building projects have been planned and some of this work has been carried out.

The roll has increased at all levels of the school. The school currently has 28 international students and 117 students in the on-site hostel.

Positive responses to the last ERO evaluation include improvements to the ways:

  • trustees and leaders expect deeper analysis of student achievement and progress information
  • leaders provide school-wide professional learning and development (PLD) for teachers in literacy
  • students are provided with careers guidance and support
  • students learn te reo Māori
  • trustees ensure there is a clear alignment from the strategic priorities to other school operations
  • trustees and leaders plan for improved overall student achievement and monitor progress.

2 Learning

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

The school makes effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to students’ progress and achievement.

Over 90% of students leave the school with a Level 2 certificate in NCEA as their minimum qualification. Students achieve Level 3 certificates and UE in greater proportions than in comparable schools nationally. Māori students achieve well in NCEA Level 2, and well above Māori students in comparable schools for Level 3 and UE. Pacific students achieve well in Level 2.

The school is already exceeding the government target to have 85% of students leaving school with a minimum of NCEA Level 2 by 2017.

Students set goals for achievement in NCEA early in the year. Each student considers past achievements, future goals, and plans a ‘target-forward’ approach in discussion with parents and key teachers. Each student then monitors their own progress and each is supported by pastoral staff to maintain appropriate progress. Parents receive weekly updates about student effort and progress. Students requiring special assessment conditions are well supported to be able to show what they know and can do, including for NCEA assessments.

Teachers use learning information to plan what will best meet students’ needs and to know about the impact on valued student outcomes. These practices are more fully developed and effective in some faculties than in others. Leaders are aware of this and are working to ensure best practice becomes highly evident in all faculties.

Leaders expect teachers to use a range of learning information to help students set appropriate goals to take them purposefully beyond school. Leaders responded well to information about students’ literacy levels in 2013 by working with staff to improve the teaching of literacy in all learning areas so that students could perform well in the senior school.

Trustees place a clear priority in their long and short-term planning on lifting achievement in the school and promoting equitable outcomes for all students. The board is strongly focused on supporting students to achieve their goals and ensuring the school provides targeted support for each student’s individual needs.

Next step

A small number of students need to make accelerated progress to be able to achieve appropriate goals and make a successful transition beyond school. Aspects requiring strengthening to bring about changes for those students at risk of not achieving appropriate goals include:

  • improved goal setting with the students and their families so they are more purposefully and effectively involved in learning conversations that lead to success
  • curriculum review and development to provide students with more flexible opportunities to achieve appropriate post-school pathways.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

In response to the 2012 ERO report, the rector appointed a senior leader to guide developments in teaching and learning, including all aspects of the quality of teaching. Leaders and teachers focus on ensuring the conditions for learning are positive.

The ‘Bedean Learning Environment’ requires students to get on with their own learning so other students can get on with theirs. Restorative practices are effectively integrated into this focus in a positive learning culture. Each classroom lesson is to begin with a prayer linking the way each person should contribute to making the learning environment a positive experience for each student.

Improvements have been made to the way transitions into the school are managed for the benefit of students. The school offers a variety of programmes to provide purposeful pathways through and beyond the senior school.

School leaders guide teachers to:

  • balance the drive towards each student’s personal excellence against developing the ‘whole boy’
  • take a well-considered approach to implementing initiatives to improve teaching and learning.

The school’s planned next step to strengthen the curriculum is to blend the more traditional approaches to teaching and learning with the use of appropriate 21st century digital technologies that should strengthen teaching and extend learning. School leaders:

  • have consulted parents, staff and students about this ‘Blended Learning’ approach
  • intend to monitor the implementation stage and evaluate the impact on students.

School leaders expect the leaders of each learning area to work coherently within their faculty to strengthen teaching and bring about improvement for students. Most teachers show a positive commitment to improving their professional practice to contribute to school improvement and help students achieve their goals. Leaders have a strong appraisal system in place to require and support teachers to meet the school’s (and the NZ Education Council’s) high expectations for the quality of teaching.

The next step to improve teaching and learning is to ensure all teachers are committed to shifting their current practice to be part of consistent best practice in this school. Leaders need to ensure that all teachers:

  • understand and agree about the documented expectations for teaching quality
  • are putting the agreed expectations into practice
  • follow useful guidelines for reflecting on and evaluating their teaching
  • are sharing with their classes how teachers have responded to students’ feedback about teaching
  • respond to feedback from colleagues after purposeful observations of teaching or discussions with students
  • can show the extent to which high-quality teaching leads to student improvement.

Leaders should ensure that staff who are leading, mentoring and evaluating teacher performance benefit from professional learning and development for these roles.

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

Developments since the beginning of 2015 have significantly improved the ways the school promotes success for and as Māori.

Seventy five students at St Bede’s College identify as Māori. Māori students achieve well and exceed national expectations at all levels of NCEA and the achievement levels of Māori students in similar schools. Retention of Māori students until Year 13 is high.

Māori students are well supported to engage and achieve in their learning. Their progress in learning is closely monitored by tutor teachers and school leaders. Students who need extra help are identified and well supported. Teachers are developing a relationship with the local marae to increase their familiarity with te reo and tikanga Māori in order to contribute to further success for Māori students.

The school appointed a new teacher of te reo Māori in 2014. Her involvement, supported by the senior leadership team, has strengthened the position of Māori language, culture and identity in the school. The number of students choosing to study te reo Māori has increased significantly. The teacher makes deliberate links from the concepts of manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and tuakana-teina to the school’s special Catholic character.

Students who spoke to ERO said they valued the increased opportunities to experience and demonstrate their language, culture and identity in the school. They appreciate the contact the teacher of Māori has with their families. A recently established whānau group indicates strong interest from parents in contributing to the further development of things Māori in the school to support student progress and achievement.

The next step for the school is to develop a plan, in consultation with the Māori community, which shows how the views and aspirations of Māori will be integrated into the school’s future direction and how this plan will be implemented.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to continue to sustain what is going well and to improve its performance where needed.

The board of trustees and the board of proprietors work together to ensure the special Catholic character of the school is:

  • well integrated through the life of the school
  • drives long-term planning
  • responds to what parents choose for their sons.

Parents are strong supporters of the learning programmes and the wide range of school activities. Some parents and grandparents volunteer to help with students’ learning during the school day.

Staff and students benefit from strong leadership by the rector and senior leadership team. Senior leaders communicate effectively about what is important and are well thought of by the staff. Senior leaders effectively support and develop teachers within the staff to lead in areas of their expertise or interest.

The board chair and rector have a good working relationship focused on expecting ongoing improvements in student achievement as the outcome of high-quality professional leadership.

Since the 2012 ERO report, trustees, leaders and teachers have strengthened the ways they use learning and wellbeing information to know what has been working and what needs to be improved. Trustees receive plenty of information from heads of faculties and other middle leaders about what is being provided for students and how well students are achieving. Parts of these reports clearly show the impact of teachers’ efforts on student outcomes. The board makes well-considered decisions to allocate resources for improvements that benefit students.

The next steps for the board to continue to strengthen the role of trustees and to know high-quality stewardship practices can be sustained in the future are to:

  • clarify and document the evaluative expectations for reports, the questions to be used in discussion, and the records of the outcomes of these evaluative discussions
  • clarify and document the roles, responsibilities, systems and procedures for key aspects the board needs assurance about, including for all aspects of personnel management
  • receive regular reports to assure trustees that these systems and procedures are being followed
  • ensure the school’s schedule for policy review is followed and that each policy is reviewed against external requirements and internal practice.

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. Twenty eight international students were enrolled at the time of this ERO review. The school has attested that it complies with the Code.

Managers have developed comprehensive policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed to be able to show that the school meets the requirements of the Code.

Regular reports to the board keep trustees well informed about the procedures and practices that are likely to enhance students’ wellbeing, support their learning, and further their academic progress.

Students told ERO that they value their teachers and the useful orientation the school organises for them when they arrive. The Director of International Students provides appropriate career guidance and support to further assist students’ transition beyond school.

Learning support is well coordinated, with students’ needs identified and appropriate help provided. Some students are receiving additional ESOL support to further enhance their learning and integration into life within and beyond the school.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school boarding house accommodates 117 students. Its capacity has just been increased to over 140, as a result of a recent upgrade. The boarding house is owned by the St Bede’s College Board of Proprietors. The hostel owners have attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

The hostel has recently been refurbished, partly in response to the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. Parents and boarders were surveyed about how this work should be done and efforts are being made to create a more home-like atmosphere.

There is a very welcoming and friendly environment in the boarding house. Families have the choice of either five-day or fulltime boarding. Staff are experienced in meeting the needs of a diverse range of boys, including international students from other cultures. A number of staff families, including those of the rector and director of boarding, live on-site near the hostel, adding to the family-like atmosphere.

Students’ pastoral needs are well met. Key staff assist with students’ welfare and learning, including on-site support staff, a nurse, and a doctor who makes regular visits. Year 9 boarders are inducted into boarding school life through the Mentor/Big Brother programme. This helps them get to know other boarders and hostel routines. Boarders are well supported by clear guidelines and expectations for appropriate behaviour.

Boarders are encouraged to keep in touch regularly with their families at home. Parents of students living in the hostel are kept well informed by staff of school events and their son’s welfare and progress. Parents responded well to a recent survey and the results have been acted upon in a timely manner.

Boarders’ sporting and recreational interests are well supported. Planned weekend activities provide the boys with a variety of experiences.

An independent review of the hostel provided a practical summary of recommendations which have been placed into a useful plan that proprietors are actively working on.

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

The school’s Catholic special character is highly evident throughout the school. Teachers and students work together to create a learning environment where students get on with their own learning so other students can get on with theirs. Over 90% of students leave with NCEA Level 2 as their minimum qualification. The school’s hostel provides well for over a hundred boarders. The school benefits from strong professional leadership and an experienced board of trustees.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

12 May 2016

About the School

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

315

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

814

Number of international students

28

Gender composition

100% Male

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

European

Pacific

Other

75%

9%

8%

4%

3%

1%

Special Features

Hostel on site

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

12 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2012

March 2009

November 2005