Taranaki Activity Centre - 01/11/2017

Background

Introduction

Centre is one of 14 Activity Centres in New Zealand that cater for secondary school students (Years 9 to13) who are at risk of disengaging from mainstream schooling and at risk of low educational, social and vocational outcomes.Taranaki Activity

Activity Centres provide a specialised learning programme which will lead to increased attendance, engagement and achievement at school, social outcomes and successful transition rates. Registered teachers support students to increase their achievement and engagement in education guided by an Individual Learning Programme (ILP) which is responsive to the needs of each student.The ILP details the student’s learning goals and is developed in partnership with the student, teacher, parents/whānau and enrolling school.

A key component of the programme for activity centre students is to successfully transition back into the enrolling school or move on to further education or employment.

Spotswood College is the managing school for this activity centre. The school Board of Trustees holds governance responsibility for the Activity Centre and is responsible for providing high quality educational service in a physically and emotionally safe learning environment.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of in relation to the terms of reference developed with the Ministry of Education. The terms of reference are:Taranaki Activity Centre

  • management and governance practices including planning, internal evaluation and professional capacity building

  • the use of information to plan and implement individual programmes for, and with, students, and to monitor their progress

  • support for students to achieve improved social and educational outcomes

  • educational and social outcomes for students, including the extent to which students’ learning has been accelerated

  • students’ experience of interagency support for them and their families

  • transitions in and out of the Activity Centre.

The key evaluative question is:

How effective is this Activity Centre at achieving positive outcomes for students?

Context

The Taranaki Activity Centre provides a programme of learning for students in north Taranaki at risk of disengaging from mainstream secondary school education. Six of the eight schools involved in the cluster have enrolled students in the centre since 2016. Principals recognise the activity centre as being an integral part of responding to the diverse needs of all students.

The managing school, Spotswood College, has delegated responsibilities to a management committee. It includes some principals and a guidance counsellor from the enrolling schools, and the Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) cluster manager. A director manages the centre’s day-to-day activities, including the selection of students, and reports regularly to the management committee. The management committee structure enhances links between the enrolling schools, the centre and further community supports for students.

The managing school has had a long involvement with the activity centre. The director and teacher are well established in their roles and have developed knowledge of networks likely to be supportive of positive outcomes for students. There are close links with the alternative education centre, also managed by Spotswood College.

The activity centre has a positive reporting history with ERO.

Findings

How effective is the Activity Centre at achieving positive outcomes for students?

The activity centre effectively achieves positive outcomes for students. Two-thirds of students in 2016 and 2017 have returned to school. Some have moved to alternative education. Most students make significant progress while at the centre in their level of attendance, literacy and mathematics. Improvement in social and behavioural indicators suggest greater likelihood of future engagement in learning.

The welcoming and purposeful environment is focused on improving student wellbeing and learning that will contribute to a return to school. Positive student feedback, collected by the centre, refers to changes in attitude, behaviour and achievement that they have been supported to make while attending the activity centre.

Short and long term individual goals for engagement and learning are set and regularly revisited. A structured, consistently implemented behaviour management approach includes clear rewards and consequences and is well supported by students. There is a strong focus on assisting students to take greater responsibility for their own progress. Most students respond positively to the opportunities provided.

What is the quality of governance and leadership of the Activity Centre?

The management committee has a key role in the governance and strategic decisions linked to the activity centre. They meet termly and report to all enrolling schools. Regular reporting via the principal supports the managing board to have genuine oversight.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the managing school and each enrolling school clearly states the obligations of all stakeholders. The expectation that the enrolling school will maintain an active role in supporting students while they are at the activity centre is clearly stated. A collective responsibility for students is evident.

Annual targets, aligned to the strategic priorities, are set for the centre. These are suitably focused on improving learning, achievement and supporting students to return to school. Evidence-based evaluation of these targets is needed to assist continuing improvement.

Detailed reporting by the director on student enrolments, the curriculum and outcomes achieved includes commentary on patterns and trends over time. The management committee and managing board are well informed by reporting to make knowledgeable decisions.

The activity centre director is well supported by the managing school principal. Very effective leadership is provided by these people. The director, teacher and other staff work collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes for students.

Some of the activity centre procedures that support health and safety do not adequately meet current Ministry of Education (MoE) guidelines. The managing school and director need to review centre policies and procedures to ensure they appropriately support student emotional and physical safety.

How effective are the selection and transition processes?

Transitions are well managed and enable students to settle quickly in the activity centre and to their learning.

A well-documented referral process involves all stakeholders and makes clear their respective roles and responsibilities. It includes the active involvement of caregivers as part of transition. Schools provide a range of useful learning and pastoral information. There is a clear understanding of why students are in the activity centre.

Students quickly engage in the welcoming environment. Maintaining active involvement of caregivers is a continuing challenge for staff. Teachers effectively respond to the regularly changing group of students they work with.

The director has responsibility for enrolment on behalf of the management committee. Ensuring enrolment takes place early enough to benefit eventual outcomes for students is the subject of ongoing consideration within the management committee and the director.

Eventually returning to school is a focus as students enrol in the activity centre. Students usually attend for approximately ten weeks. Some students at significant risk of disengagement from schooling are referred for a shorter period as part of moving from one school to another. Staff and enrolling schools vary the length of enrolment to ensure responsiveness to individual students and increase the likelihood of a successful transition back to school.

How well does the Activity Centre identify the social, emotional and academic needs of each student?

The activity centre receives a range of information about each student’s social, emotional and academic needs that enables timely and meaningful responses to wellbeing and learning needs.

Students’ health and wellbeing is effectively supported through well-established relationships with onsite health professionals, guidance counsellors, social workers and school pastoral staff. Referrals are made to external agencies if needed.

The activity centre maintains strong links to staff of enrolling schools as part of supporting students to want to engage with the school again. Some students continue to be involved in cultural and sporting activities at their enrolling school.

How well do the specialised learning programmes meet the needs of each student?

The curriculum successfully engages students in learning and promotes progress and achievement. It makes connections to learners’ lives, prior understandings and real world contexts, including within the local environment. The learning environment is managed in ways that support participation and students taking responsibility for their own learning.

Individual learning plans are developed for all students in the first four weeks of their attendance. The plans outline academic and social skills that will be a focus. The format continues to be developed to ensure it suitably reflects and responds to the individual situations of students. Parents are usually actively involved in the preparation of these plans. Progress is regularly considered and shared with caregivers and schools. Regular sharing of progress enables some caregivers to become more involved in their children’s learning.

Relationships in the centre are characterised by respect and cooperation. Maintaining positive relationships with adults and other students is an important development area for most students and a priority within the curriculum. Consistent and respectful behaviour management strategies have been established. Staff model respectful relationships. ERO observed an inclusive and calm learning environment.

Learning across a range of curriculum areas is effectively promoted. Building literacy and numeracy skills and knowledge is prioritised. Life skills and social development are a focus of many activities. Group sessions facilitated by teachers and visiting tutors focus on common areas of learning that need emphasis, development of social competencies and aspects affecting wellbeing. Students’ oral language development is well supported through these experiences.

Building students’ self-management capabilities is prioritised. Teachers effectively support students to learn independently, often in self-selected tasks. They regularly conference with students to reinforce understanding, and develop new knowledge. A range of assessment practices allows progress and next steps in learning to be considered by teachers.

Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – The Correspondence School (Te Kura) courses are effectively used to provide access to programmes suited to individual students’ level of learning. Students are closely monitored to ensure completion of work to a good standard.

Learning experiences are enriched through visits by specialist tutors and regular activities offsite. Physical activities are often a part of this. Teachers value te ao Māori, and it is an integral part of centre practices and part of learning contexts. Extending knowledge of future pathways, through career education and guidance programmes, as an integral part of the curriculum would further support students to be better prepared for their return to school.

The building of teacher capability is supported through being part of professional learning alongside staff of the managing school. The appraisal process aligns with this school also. It includes collecting evidence linked to the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) and feedback that reflects each teacher’s role within the activity centre. A more detailed annual appraisal summary report would enable areas of strength and areas for development to be identified, that link to further improving student outcomes.

How effectively are students prepared for their future pathways?

Students are well supported to move back to a school environment. The pathway from the activity centre is expected to be a return to school and this is a focus from the day students begin. There are high expectations that students return to school better equipped for success.

The activity centre and the enrolling school are flexible to the situation of individual students, as they are re-introduced to school. The transition plan sometimes includes a partial return to provide additional support. Identification of a key person in the school for each transitioning student has been identified as assisting successful reintroduction. Schools are increasingly aware of the need to ensure appropriate support is in place for students, to enable a successful transition back to school.

Maintaining the engagement and learning progress made in the activity centre is a focus of the reintroduction. Learning data, social and behavioural commentary are shared. Schools are encouraged to share this information with all teachers to be involved with the student. This enables the progress made in the centre to be built upon at school.

The director is beginning to track students beyond their time in the centre, using indicators about behaviour, attendance and academic progress. This information will assist the centre, enrolling and managing schools to strengthen their internal evaluation of how effectively future pathways for students are supported.

Patricia Davey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

1 November 2017

About the Activity Centre

Location

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

6126

Activity Centre roll

11

Gender composition

Male 6, Female 5

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā

8
3

Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

01 November 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Special Review
Special Review
Special Review

January 2013
October 2009
June 2006