Taita College - 11/09/2014

Findings

How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

A schoolwide focus on inquiry and self review promotes innovation and ongoing school improvement. School leadership, initiatives and community partnership over the past three years have successfully raised levels of student engagement and achievement. Continued attention to culturally responsive support structures, teaching programmes and learning pathways should continue to increase opportunities for students to succeed.

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?

Taita College is a co-educational secondary school in the Hutt Valley. It caters for over 470 students from Years 9 to 14, including over 45% who identify as Māori and nearly one third who are of Pacific ethnicities.

Since the July 2011 ERO report, trustees and leaders have developed a community-specific model for school improvement. This well-considered framework has given direction to strategic intentions, charter plans and classroom priorities. It is used well by leaders and trustees, to guide and monitor schoolwide improvements in outcomes for students.

A teacher and curriculum development project (IMAJN) began with Year 9 classes in 2014. This project focuses on strategies to increase student engagement and raise achievement.

School charter values of kotahitanga, maanakitanga, whanaungatanga and pumanawatanga are actively promoted as expectations across the school. The college mission statement includes titiro whakarunga ki ngā puke atua’ - ‘my eyes lift to the hills’, and provides an aspirational motto for all learners to be their best.

An inclusive school culture upholds and celebrates respect, diversity, community involvement and student participation. Student wellbeing and success in learning, leadership, sporting and cultural activities are promoted.

2. Learning

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

The school has a continued focus on successfully using student engagement and achievement information at all levels to improve the quality of teaching and learning and progress of all learners.

Charter goals and targets appropriately reflect priorities identified from well-analysed data. School development plans and actions support these priorities. Trustees are well informed through regular reporting of relevant information by the principal and curriculum leaders.

School leaders make good use of a wide range of data. They collect information from contributing schools, students, parents and whānau to support decisions about class placement of students and design of programmes to suit their needs. Literacy leaders and teachers use an increasing range of assessment tools to better monitor and accelerate progress, especially for students in Years 9 and 10. A focus on developing leadership and assessment is building the capacity of staff to be more responsive to learners' needs.

Since the previous 2011 ERO review, there have been significant improvements in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results, particularly at Levels 1 and 2. Increasing percentages of students leave school with qualifications at NCEA Level 2 or above. Achievement rates for Māori learners have steadily improved to be above rates of Māori in similar schools. Percentages and numbers of Pacific leavers with Level 2 have risen significantly to be near national rates in 2013. More students are staying at school for longer, supporting their engagement and success.

Improvement in student engagement and achievement is aided by:

  • increasing communications and sharing of achievement information with parents, to strengthen learning partnerships
  • tutors assisting students to set goals and implement learning plans and strategies to be successful learners
  • in-depth analysis and use of trends and patterns in students’ progress and engagement, to target students achieving below expectations
  • regular communication and in-depth conversations between leaders and those with curriculum and pastoral care functions that focus on student wellbeing and learning.

These systems and processes continue to be developed and refined.

The school plans to enhance curriculum leaders' and teachers’ use of assessment information. ERO affirms this as a step that is likely to: increase responsiveness to individual learner’s needs; extend learning partnerships with students; and assist departments to better evaluate the effectiveness of strategies to bring about positive changes for learners.

3. Curriculum

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

A wide range of meaningful pathways and responsive programmes provide for students’ diverse needs, further education or career aspirations. Students value the opportunities to access multi-level programmes, customised learning pathways and externally-provided courses and workplace experiences.

Senior leaders promote and participate in responsive and innovative curriculum development. The school vision for students to be ‘self-regulated, motivated and connected learners’ is encouraged.

A group of teachers in the IMAJN project are actively involved in data collection, reflection and inquiry into strategies and practices for increasing engagement and achievement at Year 9. They recognise the need to further develop challenging and culturally responsive learning opportunities, with closer links to students’ prior learning and knowledge. Continuing work with this project should assist ongoing improvement in teaching programmes and achievement for students.

Special needs students are well catered for. Support is highly focused on inclusion and developing meaningful learning programmes and experiences. Well-considered adaptations of curriculum are responsive to learning needs.

There is clear recognition of the importance of positive, respectful relationships in promoting learning and engagement. Mutual respect is widely evident and affirmed in weekly awards and interactions. Purposeful involvement in learning is further enhanced where learning is closely connected to students’ cultural backgrounds and perspectives.

Supporting individual needs and wellbeing is an increasing focus, including:

  • learning times with tutors at the beginning of each day to promote student engagement and pastoral care
  • after school mentoring programmes and homework groups that are valued by students to improve their motivation and participation
  • teachers promoting the skills and knowledge needed for students to develop social awareness, relationship skills, self management, self-confidence and responsible decision making within some programmes and pastoral care times
  • health programme leaders using surveys and student feedback effectively to design courses and programmes that respond to students’ needs.
  • local community agencies complementing school pastoral care through the provision of health and social services on site.

A next step for leaders is to ensure the school’s priorities, expectations and strategies for responding to students’ wellbeing for success are shared and incorporated within the review and development of the junior school curriculum.

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

The charter and strategic priorities clearly promote Māori success. Trustees acknowledge the unique position of Māori within the community and the importance of Māori values, customs and contexts in school practices and programmes. These are woven appropriately into school culture, curriculum and assessment practices. Te reo Māori is promoted through increased opportunities for multiple curriculum pathways, including access to NCEA qualifications from Year 9 onwards.

Student involvement in Māori taonga tākaro activities such as the college mural project, performing arts events, hangi and other cultural contexts for learning, supports success. Māori focused careers and sports events enable students to have their culture, aspirations and achievements affirmed and valued.

The school has a strong focus on building productive relationships with students and their whānau to further improve student engagement and learning outcomes. The school marae, Te Whakaruruhau, embodies local history and cultural perspectives and provides a point of connection for students and their whānau. Active involvement of whānau in Roopu Awhina hui and Marae Komiti supports and informs school initiatives.

School leaders identify that there has been significant progress in rates of engagement, achievement and retention. However, ongoing improvement in programmes and strategies to promote wellbeing and success of this group is a priority.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific learners?

Students’ Pacific cultures and identities are actively fostered throughout the college. Practices and programmes help them to engage confidently, feel valued, respected and to be successful learners and leaders. Learning partnerships with families have been strengthened through the Polyclub, homework club, mentoring and the role of the on-site community liaison officer. Students demonstrate pride and a sense of belonging.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school culture, strongly supported by sound senior leadership, promotes review and inquiry and drives school wide improvement. Self-review processes are well understood and effectively used by the principal and promoted across the school. The well-researched and communicated school improvement model informs strategic planning and decision-making school wide.

Evaluation is better used to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching programmes. Ongoing data-gathering, feedback and reflection on practice increasingly inform school plans. Well-considered alignment between national priorities and school targets assists with monitoring and evaluating school effectiveness.

Ongoing improvement is supported by:

  • a framework for departmental planning, goal setting and evaluation to develop responsive and relevant teaching programmes
  • a flexible appraisal process which supports teachers to inquire into their practice that, in some cases, directly contributes to improvement in student outcomes
  • responsive and flexible professional learning and development closely aligned to school priorities
  • innovation and leadership opportunities amongst staff
  • a continual focus on restorative practices and attention to student wellbeing.

Key next steps are:

  • appraisal goal setting for leaders and teachers that includes goals explicitly aligned with school targets and priorities
  • continued development of planned, evidence-based evaluation practices to know the impact of strategies on student outcomes.

Provision for international students

Taita College 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. Fifteen students from Brazil attended the school for the latter half of 2013. At the time of this review, preparations were being made to host a further 20 short stay students in Terms 3 and 4, 2014.

The college has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. Self review of provision has taken place in 2014.

Evidence in documentation and interviews shows appropriate systems for provision and monitoring of accommodation, pastoral care, English language learning and educational experiences. Student surveys and reports show that recent programmes and experiences are valued by international students attending the college.

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.

During the review, two areas of non-compliance were identified.

The board must, through the principal and staff, ensure that:

  • at least once every two years and after consultation with the school community, a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum is adopted [s60B Education Act 1989]
  • procedures for maintaining up-to-date police vetting of non-registered staff are coordinated and reviewed regularly so that all existing staff are vetted at least every three years. [Education Act 1989 sections 78c to 78cd]

Conclusion

A schoolwide focus on inquiry and self review promotes innovation and ongoing school improvement. School leadership, initiatives and community partnership over the past three years have successfully raised levels of student engagement and achievement. Continued attention to culturally responsive support structures, teaching programmes and learning pathways should continue to increase opportunities for students to succeed.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

11 September 2014

About the School

Location

Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number

258

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 14)

School roll

477

Gender composition

Female 52%

Male 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

45%

22%

31%

2%

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

11 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

July 2011

August 2009

June 2008