Villa Maria College - 26/06/2009

Community Page

Villa Maria College is an integrated school for girls in Years 7 to 13. It is situated in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch. At the time of this review in Term 2, 2009, it had a roll of nearly 800 students, including 70 Māori students and 34 international students. The special character reflects Catholic values, and the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy religious order, which founded the school in 1918. The board has also established strong relationships with Ngāi Tahu through its kaumātua and a trustee with links to the runaka.

The culture of the school fosters high achievement in a supportive, caring environment. The mission statement states that students are empowered to determine their potential, live Gospel values, confidently embrace life-long learning, and as Mercy women be inspired to make a difference. These aspirations are evident in the school. Senior students told ERO that important values for them were respecting themselves and others, and being concerned about issues of social justice.

Students achieve well academically. Results for students in Years 11 to 13 have improved steadily in the last three years. The students have higher rates of success in achieving National Certificates in Education Achievement (NCEA) than girls in similar schools. Māori students generally achieve as well as their peers and the school's information shows that they make good progress as they move through the school. The number of Pacific students is too low to make statistical comparisons reliable but the progress of each student is monitored closely. The board has set a challenging target for senior students to achieve more scholarship awards and more certificates with excellence endorsements. The senior leadership team monitors the progress of students as they move through the school. This information indicates that the school is making a difference for students. Students in most year groups report high levels of satisfaction with the school.

The quality of teaching is generally good with some high quality practice observed. The teachers have been working together on ways to engage the students more in their learning, and to help them to become more independent and self-managing. Some teachers are more advanced than others in achieving this aim. Not all teachers are using information about students' progress, and feedback from students, to evaluate and improve the quality of teaching and learning they provide.

The pastoral care of students is a strength of the school. The teachers know the students and support them well, both in class and around the school. The people, systems and management of this area are very effective in continuing to improve students' wellbeing. The school takes all reasonable steps to ensure that students are emotionally and physically safe.

Some aspects of curriculum management need further improvement. Variation exists in the way faculties are reviewing and reporting on their performance. Some programmes in the school have not been fully evaluated, for example, the school's provision for gifted and talented students and for international students. Better links could be made between goal-setting at board level and at senior and middle management. The appraisal process is not always effective in supporting teachers' professional development. The senior leaders agree that they need to communicate their expectations more clearly to staff in some aspects of curriculum development and review, especially as they prepare to implement the revised New Zealand Curriculum.

The board governs effectively. Strategic and annual planning provides clear direction for ongoing schooling improvement. The board is an experienced group representing parents and the proprietor, and reflecting different groups in the school community, including Māori and Pacific students, past pupils of the college and the Mercy heritage. The board receives useful reports about the progress and achievement of groups of students that it uses to make decisions about resources and programmes.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can govern the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

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

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Isabell Sinclair Irwin
Area Manager

for Chief Review Officer

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVIEWS

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve educational achievement in schools; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on student achievement and build on each school's self review.

Review Focus

ERO's framework for reviewing and reporting is based on three review strands.

  • School Specific Priorities - the quality of education and the impact of school policies and practices on student achievement.
  • Areas of National Interest - information about how Government policies are working in schools.
  • Compliance with Legal Requirements - assurance that this school has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a school is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this school.

1. About the School

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

326

School type

Integrated secondary (Year 7-15)

Teaching staff:

Roll generated entitlement

Other

Number of teachers

 

50.10

1.8

60

School roll

759

Number of international students

34

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Päkehä 77%; Mäori 9%; Pacific 2%; Asian 3%; Other ethnic groups 9%

Review team on site

April/May 2009

Date of this report

26 June 2009

Previous ERO reports

Education Review August 2005

Education Review June 2002

Effectiveness Review February 1997

Assurance Audit November 1994

Review Report October 1991

*Decile 1 schools draw their students from areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage, Decile 10 from areas of least socio-economic disadvantage.

2. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Villa Maria College is an integrated school for girls in Years 7 to 13. It is situated in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch. At the time of this review in Term 2, 2009, it had a roll of nearly 800 students, including 70 Mäori students and 34 international students. The special character reflects Catholic values, and the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy religious order, which founded the school in 1918. The board has also established strong relationships with Ngāi Tahu through its kaumätua and a trustee with links to the runaka.

The culture of the school fosters high achievement in a supportive, caring environment. The mission statement states that students are empowered to determine their potential, live Gospel values, confidently embrace life-long learning, and as Mercy women be inspired to make a difference. These aspirations are evident in the school. Senior students told ERO that important values for them were respecting themselves and others, and being concerned about issues of social justice.

Students achieve well academically. Results for students in Years 11 to 13 have improved steadily in the last three years. The students have higher rates of success in achieving National Certificates in Education Achievement (NCEA) than girls in similar schools. Mäori students generally achieve as well as their peers and the school’s information shows that they make good progress as they move through the school. The number of Pacific students is too low to make statistical comparisons reliable but the progress of each student is monitored closely. The board has set a challenging target for senior students to achieve more scholarship awards and more certificates with excellence endorsements. The senior leadership team monitors the progress of students as they move through the school. This information indicates that the school is making a difference for students. Students in most year groups report high levels of satisfaction with the school.

The quality of teaching is generally good with some high quality practice observed. The teachers have been working together on ways to engage the students more in their learning, and to help them to become more independent and self-managing. Some teachers are more advanced than others in achieving this aim. Not all teachers are using information about students’ progress, and feedback from students, to evaluate and improve the quality of teaching and learning they provide.

The pastoral care of students is a strength of the school. The teachers know the students and support them well, both in class and around the school. The people, systems and management of this area are very effective in continuing to improve students’ wellbeing. The school takes all reasonable steps to ensure that students are emotionally and physically safe.

Some aspects of curriculum management need further improvement. Variation exists in the way faculties are reviewing and reporting on their performance. Some programmes in the school have not been fully evaluated, for example, the school’s provision for gifted and talented students and for international students. Better links could be made between goal-setting at board level and at senior and middle management. The appraisal process is not always effective in supporting teachers’ professional development. The senior leaders agree that they need to communicate their expectations more clearly to staff in some aspects of curriculum development and review, especially as they prepare to implement the revised New Zealand Curriculum.

The board governs effectively. Strategic and annual planning provides clear direction for ongoing schooling improvement. The board is an experienced group representing parents and the proprietor, and reflecting different groups in the school community, including Mäori and Pacific students, past pupils of the college and the Mercy heritage. The board receives useful reports about the progress and achievement of groups of students that it uses to make decisions about resources and programmes.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can govern the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

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

3. The Focus of the Review

Student Achievement Overall

ERO’s education reviews focus on student achievement. What follows is a statement about what the school knows about student achievement overall.

Students at Villa Maria College achieve better in NCEA in Years 11 to 13 than students in other high-decile girls’ schools nationally. Between 2006 and 2008, students’ results in achieving certificates have been steadily increasing. In 2008, 94% of Year 11 students attained Level 1, 93% of Year 12 students attained Level 2 and 85% of Year 13 students attained Level 3 certificates. The college has set specific targets for increasing the numbers of excellence endorsements and scholarships. While the rates of both excellence and merit endorsements have improved, they are still below similar schools, particularly at Levels 2 and 3. Four girls gained scholarships in 2008, with one of those girls gaining scholarships in three subjects. The board and staff continue to encourage success at all levels, including the challenging target that 10% of Year 13 students will gain a scholarship by 2010.

In 2007, all school leavers had some formal qualifications. The percentage of students who have left with no formal qualifications has been very low for the past five years. Of the 2008 school leavers, 62% went on to university study and 14% to other tertiary providers. The remaining school leavers are in full time work or overseas during 2009.

A senior manager prepares a comprehensive report on academic achievement for the board annually. This report uses a wide range of information about students’ progress and achievement, and attitudes to learning. The information includes the performance of groups of students, such as Mäori and Pacific students, and some information about the progress of students in Years 7 to 10, particularly in English and mathematics.

Student achievement information is also analysed by an external evaluation centre to evaluate the value added by the college from Year 9 to 13. The evidence shows that the school is raising the achievement of the students as they move through the college. The board’s planning and reporting process is well targeted to lift achievement further and provides trustees with assurance that students are making good progress while they are at the college.

The college’s success in sport and music has been particularly notable. There are very high levels of participation in extra and co-curricular activities, including community service.

School Specific Priorities

Before the review, the board of Villa Maria College was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the school to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the board of trustees. This discussion focused on existing information held by the school (including student achievement and self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to the achievement of the students atVilla Maria College.

ERO and the board have agreed on the following focus areas for the review:

  • the quality of learning and teaching.

In addition, ERO decided to evaluate:

planning, reviewing and improving college performance.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

Learning and Teaching

Background

Villa Maria College is in the fourth year of a schooling improvement project involving all staff. The focus has been on improving students’ engagement in learning and lifting student achievement results. Teachers have been using professional learning groups where teachers from different curriculum areas work together on a range of strategies to improve learning for students. This professional development also has a focus on preparation for implementing the revised New Zealand Curriculum in 2010.

ERO observed a sample of classes across all learning areas in Years 7 to 13 to evaluate the impact of teachers’ professional development on the quality of teaching and students’ engagement in learning.

Areas of good performance

  • High expectations for students. Students benefit from high expectations set by the board, principal and teachers. The college openly acknowledges the importance of student success and endeavour. Senior students receive badges to acknowledge high achievement in NZQA qualifications at a special assembly at the start of the year. The end of year prize giving rewards overall excellence using criteria that all can aspire to. Specific expectations must be met before Year 13 students can graduate. Students told ERO that teachers have high expectations of them and support and challenge them to achieve and perform to their potential.
  • Culture of learning. Students are purposefully engaged in their learning in most classrooms. ERO observed most students focused and involved in meaningful tasks for sustained periods of time. Teachers focus on learning rather than behaviour. They quickly follow up on attendance concerns. A school policy on minimising interruptions makes sure classes are settled and students are there to learn.
  • Knowing the students. Teachers have good quality information that keeps them well informed about their students. Information is from national assessment tools, subject tests and student surveys. Students are surveyed in each class on the completion of a topic or course. School-wide surveys on attitudes to learning and other aspects of school life are also completed. Many teachers compile a class profile that identifies the needs and abilities of the students in each of their classes. Teachers have the information that allows them to plan programmes that will meet the learning needs of their students.
  • Support for individual students. An effective learning support network helps students with special health or learning needs. Needs are identified and targeted programmes put in place. Students are generally supported in the classroom and involved in learning with their peers. At times, individual programmes are provided, including some use of The Correspondence School. The careers advisor gives comprehensive guidance to all students on courses and individual career pathways. Effective systems make sure all students receive advice that meets their needs, interests and abilities.
  • Teaching practices. Regular whole-staff professional development encourages teachers to use an increasing range of teaching practices based on the latest research. ERO observed well-structured lessons with good pace and variety. These lessons included practical, active and relevant learning opportunities. Other effective teaching methods observed in some classrooms during the review involved teachers:
    • sharing the purpose of learning with students and what they had to do to achieve success;
    • making links to prior learning;
    • asking questions that challenge students’ thinking; and
    • allowing students to lead the learning and work cooperatively.

As a result, these students were more actively engaged in their learning and had a better understanding of how well they were achieving.

  • Authentic integrated learning experiences. Students have experienced some good quality learning that integrates a range of subject areas in a meaningful way. The Year 9 integrated week has been trialled for two years. This year, the units will be further developed based on feedback from students and staff. Some of the Year 9 modules have a cross-curricular focus, for example, financial literacy, te Ao Māori and sexuality. Students in the Year 12 sustainability course have successfully completed community projects that have challenged them in a variety of subject areas.
  • School culture. Senior leaders and teachers promote a culture of care and support for students. This culture is central to the school’s special character. Students benefit from effective pastoral care systems. They are involved in activities that support the wellbeing of others both inside and out of the school community. The vertical form system with the new structure of house leaders gives them opportunities to establish positive relationships with their peers, and to support younger students. Teachers and students show respect for other ethnic groups. ERO observed friendly and caring relationships throughout the school community.
  • Home/school partnership. The board, senior leadership team and teachers put an emphasis on communicating with the parents and whänau to foster the partnership between home and school. Parents have a variety of opportunities to talk with teachers. Interim reports keep parents and students informed about a student’s effort and attitude to work twice a term. Comprehensive school and student specific information in the student’s planner book is shared amongst the student, teacher and parent. End of unit reports, that all parents are expected to sign, include assessment comments by students and the teacher. Teachers share with parents the achievement information, gathered from national assessment tools, that includes what the student has learnt and their next learning steps.

Areas for improvement

  • Extending high quality teaching practices. Some teachers now need to develop a greater range of teaching strategies that cater for a range of abilities and allow students to be more actively involved in their learning. In some classes observed by ERO, students did not always have opportunities to be responsible for their own learning. In some cases, teachers needed to make the learning more explicit for students. Students should know what they are doing well and what their next learning steps are. [Recommendation 6.1]
  • Missed opportunities for extending learning. Teachers do not always use the information they receive about students, or from students on their learning, in the most effective way. Many teachers use interesting strategies to determine immediate understanding, but some do not respond to the teaching moment to support, challenge or extend students’ thinking. ERO observed good use of information and communications technologies (ICT) being integrated into students’ learning, particularly in social sciences, health and technology. However, some teachers are not taking up the opportunities to use the available technologies to the best advantage. [Recommendation 6.1]
  • Meeting the learning needs. While teachers have access to good quality achievement information, some teachers do not use the information well to plan and evaluate teaching programmes that target the needs and abilities of students in their classes. Class programmes are not always adapted according to student achievement information gathered during a topic. Teachers gather valuable information in the class surveys but only some teachers analyse this data and use it to determine next steps for students. Teachers’ evaluations of their programmes need to focus more on how well the teaching supported students’ learning. [Recommendation 6.1]
  • Classroom learning environments. Many of the classrooms do not support student learning fully. Many whiteboards had little or no information about the learning that was expected to occur, or prompts that might support that learning. Student work that is displayed could be used to support students’ learning more. For example, exemplars of work could be annotated to indicate what the learning was about, how well the work reached expectations and what needed to be improved. Wall displays could include literacy strategies, guides for inquiry or research processes and criteria for assessment.

Planning, Reviewing and Improving College Performance

Background

ERO and the board of trustees agreed during the 2005 ERO review that the board would further develop how it planned, implemented and reviewed schooling improvements. At that time, the board had little information about the progress and achievement of students in Year 7 to 10 on which to base its decision making. Some reporting to the board lacked a clear focus on outcomes for students. ERO proposed, and the board agreed, that a focus on strategic planning and self review at governance and management levels would provide it with useful information about the progress the school had made since the 2005 ERO review.

Areas of good performance

  • School planning. The board and senior leaders have established useful strategic goals for setting school direction. These goals are broad in scope and incorporate national requirements with the values of the college’s special character. Annual planning is comprehensive and aligned to strategic goals. Annual achievement targets are specific and cover a range of foci. Good quality action plans support the steps that need to be taken for improvement. This process allows for clear and useful analysis of results.
  • Reporting to the board. The board is kept well informed to guide decisions about strategic planning and resourcing. The assistant principal provides a comprehensive academic achievement summary annually. A faculty reports to the board at each meeting about its curriculum area. The reporting cycle includes comprehensive reporting on the school’s special character and religious education programmes. The analysis of variance against student achievement targets is detailed and robust. This process promotes ongoing improvement through the use of challenging targets.
  • Improvements in targeted areas. Senior leaders are able to demonstrate success with programmes put in place to improve performance in certain areas of concern. Examples have included attendance and student achievement in NCEA. Specific groups have been targeted and valid evidence gathered and evaluated. This assures the board and teachers that progress has been made, and resources have been allocated appropriately.
  • Management of pastoral care. Students benefit from a pastoral care structure that supports their wellbeing. Effective leadership in this area has successfully managed change. The pastoral team monitors all areas of student wellbeing effectively and responds quickly to any concerns. The pastoral manager evaluates processes and incidents using well analysed evidence. Action plans support further improvements. Trustees receive comprehensive reports that provide assurance on all aspects of student welfare.

Areas for improvement

  • Cohesion across school. The board sets the strategic direction of the school well. The strategic goals focus on improving outcomes for targeted groups of students and the quality of education overall. The next step for middle managers is to link the faculty goals to school-wide goals, and then set and evaluate specific targets for improving achievement in their own area. Some faculties are not yet reporting on the progress of students in Years 7 to 10, or the progress of groups of students, for example, Mäori students. There is limited reporting about the effectiveness of strategies to meet the needs of students with special abilities. Faculty reporting varies in the extent to which the report evaluates the performance of departments. [Recommendations 6.2 and 6.3]

  • Leadership of learning. The school does not have a clear plan for developing its school curriculum based on the revised New Zealand Curriculum. Teachers would benefit from a plan that includes expectations for faculties, what needs to happen, by what time, and who is responsible. Senior leaders know how they want teaching and learning to change but they do not always communicate this vision effectively to faculty leaders and teachers. As a result, there is variation in the quality of practices across departments in terms of planning, review and appraisal. [Recommendation 6.3]

4. Areas of National Interest

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole to Government to be used as the basis for long-term and systemic educational improvement. ERO also provides information about the education sector for schools, parents and the community through its national reports.

To do this ERO decides on topics and investigates them for a specific period in all applicable schools nationally.

During the review of Villa Maria College ERO investigated and reported on the following areas of national interest. The findings are included in this report so that information about the school is transparent and widely available.

Success for Māori Students: Progress

In this review, ERO evaluated the extent to which the school was familiar with the Māori Education Strategy – Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success and progress made since the last review in promoting success at school for Māori students.

The school reports it has discussed the document but has not yet made changes in the light of it.

Seventy-one Māori students attend the school. This is nine percent of the school roll.

Areas of progress

  • Student achievement in NCEA. There has been an improvement in Mäori student achievement in NCEA since the last ERO report. Mäori students now achieve above national norms, and as well as or better than other students at Villa Maria College. In 2008, almost all students achieved NCEA Level 1 and all students gained the required standard for Level 1 literacy and numeracy. All students achieved the requirements for NCEA Level 2 in 2008. Almost all students achieved NCEA Level 3 and the university entrance qualification. The school’s target to increase the proportion of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements should help to raise the number of endorsements Mäori students gain also.
  • Integration of bilingual practices and language into some learning programmes. Students are gaining a greater awareness of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage through the integration of tikanga and te reo Mäori, and information about the Treaty of Waitangi, in some class programmes. The school’s religious education programme informs students about Māori perspectives on grief and loss. Year 12 students studying sustainability learn about Māori views within this subject. Year 9 students learn some tikanga Māori practices through a physical education poi unit, through the integrated studies programme at the end of the year and the te Ao Māori programme which includes a visit to a marae. The next step for teachers is to find more ways to include Māori language and culture in other learning programmes.
  • Consultation with whānau. The board continues to explore ways to improve its consultation with their whānau. At the time of the ERO review, a proprietor’s representative with strong connections with the Māori community was increasing the capacity of the school to serve its Māori community. The board, senior leaders and teachers consult regularly with their Māori community. They use Te Kete a Aoraki framework for this consultation and model this on Māori values. Students attend these consultations with their whānau. Senior students are actively involved in the organisation of these events. The next step for the college is to more formally record the outcomes of these meetings to better inform their reviews and further planning to improve outcomes for Māori students.
  • Strengthening the school community partnership. There has been increased community and whānau involvement with the school on matters relating to Mäori students and their achievement. The school reports a very strong relationship with its kaumätua. Mäori members of the Catholic community assist the school with pastoral matters relating to students when required. Senior leaders are exploring further ways to recognise Mäori student achievement with local Ngāi Tahu. The school is in the process of appointing a Campus Ministry team that will include a Māori representative. This strengthening and broadening of community links should ensure continued positive outcomes for students.

Areas for further improvement

  • Information about Māori student achievement in Years 7 to 10. The information the college has about the achievement of its Māori students, collectively, in Years 7 to 10 is limited and variable. Some heads of faculties report on Māori student achievement to the board while some do not. The college should have a clear picture of how Māori students are achieving and their progress as a group. This would provide information around which to set targets for junior Māori students. [Recommendation 6.2]
  • School reflection of Māori culture and language. There is very limited reflection of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage in classroom environments and some classroom programmes. College assemblies and liturgies do include bicultural practices as does the welcome of new students to the college. Some teachers lack the knowledge and confidence to use te reo Māori with their students. Students told ERO they would like more opportunities to celebrate their culture.

The Achievement of Pacific Students: Progress

In this review, ERO evaluated the progress the school has made since the last review in improving the achievement of Pacific students and in initiatives designed to promote improved engagement and achievement.

Fourteen Pacific students attend the school. This is 2% of the school roll. The board receives information about the achievement of some Pacific students. In NCEA, most students achieve qualifications aligned at their year level. The board has set and achieved its targets for consulting with its Pacific community and raising the levels of Pacific student attendance at the school.

Areas of progress

  • Pacific student presence and engagement. Pacific student attendance and engagement with learning has improved at the school. This has been achieved through the closer links senior leaders and teachers have established with families and closer monitoring and mentoring of some students. Pacific student achievement is being more closely monitored. Students ERO spoke with reported very positive attitudes towards the college and aspects of their learning. They enjoyed celebrating their culture through opportunities to perform dance and singing.
  • Consultation with the Pacific community. The board has co-opted a Pasifika parent trustee and has established regular meetings with parents in its Pacific community. Senior Pacific students help organise the meetings. These meetings include the sharing of food and information about the school curriculum, pastoral care and issues relating to Pacific students. Past Pacific students have given formal presentations at some of these meetings. The board and senior leaders told ERO that parents now feel more welcome at the school, and that parents have suggested that meetings occur more frequently. The school’s target to raise their level of engagement with the Pacific community has been met and is contributing to more positive outcomes for Pacific students. More formal records of these meetings should assist in reviewing and planning further consultation with Pacific families.

Implementing the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010

Progress to date

In preparing for teaching the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010 the school has:

  • developed a school vision, or mission statement, after full consultation with teachers, parents, board and proprietors;
  • used whole-school professional development to support teachers in developing new ways of teaching that engage students more in their learning;
  • started to use key competencies in reporting to parents; and
  • trialled some courses and units of work that integrate learning for students across several curriculum areas.

Next steps

The school has agreed that its priorities for preparation over the next three to six months are to:

  • establish a plan for whole-school development of a school curriculum that reflects the interests and needs of the students and the priorities of the school’s community;
  • engage all stakeholders in the design and revision of the school curriculum; and
  • use the next two teacher-only days to focus on implementation across the school, particularly for programmes in Year 7 to 10.

Thinking about the Future

ERO is currently discussing with secondary schools how they are thinking about the future and what it might mean for their students.

The school reports that it has thought about the future and what it might mean for their students in the following ways:

  • changing demographics and the growing demand for Catholic education for girls, including girls outside the main cities in the South Island;
  • the need for better access to the internet and technologies in the school environment to promote more self-directed, independent learning for students;
  • thought about future learning environments in the development of a longer-term property plan; and
  • started to consider how the timetable and structure of the school day might be reorganised to provide students with a wider range of choices and pathways.

Provision for International Students

Compliance with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students and the Provision of English Language Support

Villa Maria 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. This is a requirement of all schools that enrol international students in terms of the Act. Schools are also required to provide English language support for their international students.

At the time of the review, the school had 34 international fee paying students.

The school complies with all aspects of the Code.

Areas of good performance

  • Pastoral care. International students are well supported both at school and in their homestays. The director, assistant director and homestay coordinator show a strong commitment to the care and support of the students. A weekly meeting with all students alerts the director to any need or concern that may have arisen. Prompt action can then be taken. Homestay providers told ERO that it was easy to contact the coordinator and the director both within and out of school hours. Students told ERO they felt safe and happy at school and spoke positively about the care and support that they receive.

  • Management practices. The newly appointed director is further developing documentation and processes using sound reflective practices. Students, caregivers and parents are well informed about the school and support systems. The department has comprehensive records for each student. Good liaison and understanding of others’ responsibilities amongst staff members in the department helps maintain good communication with students, parents, homestay parents, guardians and teachers. It is now timely that organisation of filing systems, and ways in which homestay parents are given information, be reviewed

  • Management of individual and group exchanges. A high level of compliance with the Code is evident in the operation of exchange students whether through an international exchange agency or through group exchanges with sister schools. Procedures and contracts are in place to make sure outcomes for students are meaningful and positive. Students’ safety and welfare is a major focus.

  • Teaching of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). The ESOL teachers deliver well organised, individual programmes to all students who require support in the English language. All teachers are well qualified and provide programmes that cater for the specific needs of students. As students become more competent and confident in oral and written language, they move into more challenging programmes. The assistant director regularly supports students in their subject classes to understand specific vocabulary and assessment instructions in the subject class when the need arises. Students gain NCEA credits in ESOL and English.

Areas for improvement

  • Leadership and management of English language programmes. While a member of the languages faculty is responsible for the ESOL department, the overall management and of the programme is not yet effective. Although each teacher of ESOL classes has plans and programmes in place for her students there is no curriculum documentation linking all levels and programmes. In addition, communication and guidelines need to be developed with the English faculty to support the moderation of the English assessments.

  • Reporting to the board. The regular reports to the board do not include information about progress and achievement of international students. The assistant principal has indicated this as a next step to be included in curriculum reports. The board should receive regular updates of the progress and achievement of international students so that they can evaluate the quality of education the school provides for this group of students. [Recommendation 6.2]

5. Board Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of Villa Maria College completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. 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; and
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);
  • physical safety of students;
  • teacher registration;
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and
  • attendance.

Compliance

ERO’s investigations did not identify any areas of non-compliance.

ERO identified one area where practice could be improved. The board has not yet adopted a policy outlining the provision of education for students who are identified as gifted and talented. The teacher-in-charge has drafted a policy and some procedures and there is evidence that the school is making some provisions for these students. The next step is for the board to consult over the school’s policy, including a rationale and definition of what the concept of giftedness means at this school. Once the expectations are clear, further development is needed in the identification process and strategies for meeting the students’ needs in classroom programmes. The policy will provide something against which the school’s approaches can be reviewed, evaluated and reported to the board.

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • adopt a policy for meeting the needs of gifted and talented students, after consultation with the school’s community.

6. Recommendations

ERO and the board of trustees have developed the following recommendations to further improve outcomes for students. That:

6.1 the senior leadership team and teachers use professional development supported by the appraisal process to extend high quality teaching to enhance student learning;

6.2 the college continue to improve the quality of analysis of learning and achievement data form Years 7 to 13 including evaluating the effectiveness of initiatives and the next steps to improve learning and evaluating the performance of groups of students, including Māori, Pasifika and international students; and

6.3 the board of trustees and senior leadership team improve the communication and understanding of the college’s strategic goals to all areas of the college community and further develops the self-review processes.

7. Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can govern the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

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

Isabell Sinclair Irwin

Area Manager

for Chief Review Officer