Takapuna Grammar School - 25/05/2017

Findings

Students at Takapuna Grammar School are highly engaged in learning and value the rich opportunities they have to develop personally and academically. School leaders and teachers work in partnership with students to think, inquire and learn. NCEA, Scholarship and IB qualifications in the school continue to reflect students' very high levels of success. The school has a strong commitment to student wellbeing for learning, supported by specialists and peer support systems.     

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

Takapuna Grammar School is a large co-educational secondary school catering for students from Years 9 to 13. It is located on Auckland's North Shore, servicing the peninsula communities of Takapuna and Devonport. The diverse student roll is predominantly Pākehā, with Māori as a significant group of seven percent.

The school aspires to offering young people inclusive and equitable educational opportunities. Students are challenged to discover and develop their own personalised learning that will lead to the choice of a successful tertiary education or employment pathway. The school fosters a culture of high expectations for academic achievement balanced with a caring focus on student wellbeing. The vision statement affirms students as being inherently capable of achieving personal excellence.

Since the 2011 ERO evaluation there has been a change of principal and a new senior leadership team has formed. The current principal has the confidence of the wider school community to lead the Devonport Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL). This CoL includes one secondary, one intermediate and five contributing primary schools.

The board of trustees has sustained good governance practice, including frequent consultation with parents and whānau. Strategic and annual planning is informed by purposeful evaluation that seeks out multiple points of view from teachers, students, parents, whānau and the community.

Trustees are representative of the diverse school community. They bring considerable expertise to their stewardship roles. Their skills are particularly useful at present for the school’s building project, which will provide innovative new learning environments, strengthen the older buildings and recreate the main entrance to the school.

A dual qualification pathway has been implemented in the school since the previous ERO review. This offers students a choice of the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and the International Baccalaureate (IB). A number of responsive teaching and learning initiatives to keep pace with best professional practice, have further up-skilled the teaching staff. Initiatives include a focus on biculturalism, whānau learning relationships, digital technology to enhance learning and the fostering of student voice and agency within the school’s organisation and curriculum design.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO and this review finds that professional capacity and improvements to school systems and operations have continued to develop positively.

2 Learning

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

The school makes highly effective use of student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The leaders of each learning area together with their teachers, modify programmes and teaching approaches to tailor learning for different student groups and individuals.

School achievement information shows that most students are highly successful in NCEA and the IB qualifications. In 2015/2016 the pass rates at Level 1 and 2 NCEA showed parity for Māori and Pacific learners. There is a current school-wide leadership inquiry to evaluate and strengthen parity for Māori students at Level 3 NCEA and for University Entrance. The school is already exceeding the 2017 government targets of 85 percent of students achieving NCEA Level 2 or above when they leave school. In 2016, NCEA Scholarship candidates achieved the school’s second highest total of successful passes. A strategic goal for the next phase of school development, is to continue to sustain the school's high percentage of quality pass rates.

Teachers work intensively with older students in Years 11, 12, and 13 to support pathways success. They do this by effectively tracking, monitoring and supporting each student’s progress towards achievement. Whānau or form class teachers act as the ‘significant’ adult carrying the learning profile of each student through a four to five year learning journey. Pathways planning is a significant part of the school’s systems. Each student benefits from personal counselling for subject choices, career selections and university preferences. Careers and Gateway staff contribute to individualised learning pathways. The school’s self review indicates that personalising learning is increasingly effective in promoting achievement. It has been particularly effective for students who have different and specific learning needs and who need continuing support through targeted action.

Achievement information is used very well to help engage Year 9 and 10 students. They are tracked and monitored from baseline data collected on entry. This gives teachers the opportunity to get to know learners well as they begin their pathway through the junior school. Student progress is monitored using information about students, about their literacy, numeracy and reasoning knowledge and skills, and movement through curriculum levels.

Students and teaching staff benefit from learning relationships that are respectful and reciprocal. Students at all levels of the school demonstrate a strong work ethic and a high level of cognitive engagement with learning. The cohesion and responsiveness of student support services, further reflects the commitment of the board, leadership team and teachers to ensuring all students are successful, engaged learners.

School leaders, trustees and ERO agree that a key step for the school is to define and embed acceleration pedagogy for priority learners. This should help to ensure that all students are progressing towards achievement within an expected time frame. 

3 Curriculum

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

Takapuna Grammar School’s curriculum is aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and promotes and supports student learning very effectively. The school's vision, mission and values inform and influence the eight learning areas. Developing students' key competencies for lifelong learning are prioritised alongside qualifications success. Learning associated with social competencies, social ethics and integrity is evident within curriculum delivery.

The curriculum is designed to be inclusive and culturally responsive. It also challenges students to develop and grow academically and personally. Bicultural content in learning programmes is significantly evident. This has been a main area of development since the 2011 ERO review. There is a focus on manaakitanga throughout the school. This is foundational to the way that pastoral care is effectively carried through the whānau classes. The focus on wellbeing for learning is a marked strength of the school.

The school’s learning culture is highly focused and purposeful. Teachers have benefitted from training in areas such as formative learning practice, growth mind set and developing learners’ dispositions. Teachers provide a variety of approaches so that students have small group and individual learning opportunities. Learners who require special and different programmes are catered for in a flexible, responsive way and enjoy mainstream learning opportunities where they are useful and relevant. Student peer supporters are involved in these inclusive processes to support learning.

Consistent teaching approaches and highly effective learning strategies developed by staff are enabling authentic, relevant and innovative learning. Students are encouraged to explore through inquiry and investigation across the eight learning areas of NZC. Various courses, experiences and projects allow students to deepen their learning and to develop key skills such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking. The akonga principle where both adults and young people learn together is evident in classrooms, particularly in relation to digital learning. Student voice is used well to engage and connect learners to their chosen interests and pathways. Parents are actively encouraged to contribute to planning their children's pathways and selecting courses.

Digital technologies support and enhance student learning and are currently a key element in teachers’ professional development. The board and school leaders plan initiatives and opportunities for effective teacher professional learning. The expertise of teachers within the school is used well to promote different teaching approaches. Leadership is frequently grown and distributed from within the school.

Students reported to ERO that they value the opportunities they have in curriculum programmes to make meaningful choices about their learning and to understand themselves as learners. Rich tasks, linked to authentic learning, are being further extended for Year 9 and 10 students to engage in deeper learning.

The college offers an enriching range of co-curricular activities. There are many opportunities for students to experience success and build leadership capability and social competencies. A variety of cultural, academic and sporting events celebrate student achievement. 

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

The school is becoming increasingly effective in promoting successful educational outcomes for Māori students as Māori. Māori student achievement in NCEA Level 1 and 2 has improved steadily. Māori students' high pass rates are now comparable with the rest of the school cohort.

The school is working effectively to affirm te reo me ōna tikanga Māori. The charter vision for the Tu Tangata programme is “to aspire to excellence”. This highly effective programme is focused on supporting learners to achieve positive levels of success as Māori within a whānau-centred environment. It aims to use Māori values to nurture students and to affirm Māori identity, language and culture. Since the 2011 ERO evaluation, the Tu Tangata programme has expanded. An in-depth review was undertaken of Tu Tangata to set further expectations at high levels for Māori student engagement and achievement. Māori learners value the leadership roles associated with this key initiative. They demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility and care for other students, especially juniors.

Effective leadership from key Māori staff is enhancing the school’s cultural responsiveness. Professional learning and development for teachers on bicultural practices over several years has effectively supported the integration of biculturalism into other curriculum areas. Staff are showing considerable openness and receptiveness to personalised professional development that is building their bicultural capability.

The school has iwi partners who are present for significant events in the school calendar. There is a school kaumātua who advises and guides school tikanga. The naval marae, Te Taua o te Moana, has a very important relationship with the school. This influence is becoming increasingly significant as the CoL establishes. Whānau are meeting for regular hui and discussing aspirations for their young people.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The board clearly has an ongoing commitment to education that promotes excellence and equity. There is an ethos in the school of collective responsibility for the achievement of all.

The school vision, mission and values are shared, understood and supported by the school community. Parents, whānau, the business community and local stakeholders give considerable time and expertise to the school. This results in some outstanding specialist learning that is richly beneficial for young people.

The importance of leadership and knowledge-building for local, national and global citizenship is reflected in the mission statement. This dimension of the School Charter was recently refreshed through community consultation.

Senior and middle leaders in the school are focusing effectively on capacity and capability building. Their planning is underpinned by leadership inquiry and informed by ongoing research into best practice.

Teachers’ success in effectively engaging learners is supported through high quality performance management. This includes the well integrated use of 'teaching as inquiry', robust appraisal processes and tailored, strategic, professional development programmes.

School leaders, trustees and ERO have identified some useful considerations for the next phase of school development including:

  • using the opportunities afforded through the Devonport Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako to further accelerate the progress of all Year 9 and 10 students in writing and mathematics
  • continuing to strategically build Māori language, culture and identity with direction and leadership from iwi, hapū and whānau
  • continuing to develop definition and clarity in valued student outcomes that express the depth of the NZC already evident in the school’s curriculum
  • increasing authentic contexts for students to engage in, experience and build their possible future pathways.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016. (the Code) established under 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 221 international students attending the school, including exchange students.

International students at Takapuna Grammar School are provided with high levels of pastoral care. They are effectively supported to achieve educational success and to integrate into the school community. Students are very involved in a range of student led initiatives and leadership roles, and participate in the wider life of the school.

Very effective systems are in place to monitor compliance with the Code, and to review the quality of pastoral care and educational achievement. Establishing a system for regular reporting to the board of trustees should strengthen internal evaluation of the school’s provision for international students. This would ensure systems and approaches continue to develop according to best practice.

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

Students at Takapuna Grammar School are highly engaged in learning and value the rich opportunities they have to develop personally and academically. School leaders and teachers work in partnership with students to think, inquire and learn. NCEA, Scholarship and IB qualifications in the school continue to reflect students' very high levels of success. The school has a strong commitment to student wellbeing for learning, supported by specialists and peer support systems.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Steffan Brough

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

25 May 2017

About the School 

Location

Takapuna, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

36

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1500

Number of international students

221

Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Chinese

Pacific

Indian

other European

other Asian

other

6%

53%

6%

3%

2%

10%

4%

16%

Special Features

Special Education Unit

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

25 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

September 2011

September 2008