Westland High School - 29/06/2017

Findings

This report identifies a number of serious issues at the school that require immediate attention. Leadership at every level must effectively promote student learning and prioritise improving student achievement. Significant external support is required to address this.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Context

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

Westland High School is a co-educational secondary school located in Hokitika. The school’s 357 students are drawn from the town and the surrounding Westland District. A number of families and trustees have inter-generational links with the school.

The board has a number of new trustees who bring a range of experience to their role. Trustees maintain strong links with the school, local businesses and the wider community.

The school is part of the Westland Kāhui Ako (Community of Learning).

A rebuilding plan is in place following the 2016 fire which destroyed the school hall, staffroom and administration block.

In response to a request by the board in February 2017, the Ministry of Education (MoE) appointed a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) to the school to take responsibility for the financial and personnel aspects of the work of the board.

During this current review, ERO found many issues of serious concern at governance, professional leadership and compliance levels that need urgent attention.

2 Learning

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

School governance, leadership and teachers are not effective in their use of achievement information to make changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Overall student achievement is poor. Since 2014, Level 1 and Level 3 National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) and University Entrance results have been tracking downwards. There are some positive trends in National Standards and Level 2 NCEA.

There is no school-wide documented evaluation of student achievement to understand and measure progress and seek ways to improve outcomes for students. Use of achievement information amongst teachers is variable. Stronger leadership is required to ensure that all teachers regularly track and monitor student progress and modify their practices to improve achievement.

Students require greater access to their own achievement information to set meaningful learning goals and measure progress against them.

The board, school leaders and teachers must develop effective ways of working collaboratively to improve overall student achievement. A coherent, school-wide approach to the use of achievement information is urgently required across all levels of the school.

The board must ensure that:

  • requirements for the reporting of student progress and achievement over time are consistently met by the principal and senior leaders
  • achievement information is well analysed and identifies progress over time, especially of students whose learning is at risk.

The principal and senior leaders must:

  • develop and implement robust guidelines and expectations for data collection, use and reporting across the school
  • ensure that high quality processes are in place for all assessment and moderation processes
  • identify in their reports to the board what is having the greatest impact on positive outcomes for student learning.

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

The school needs to significantly strengthen the way it promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Many Māori students are well supported by Māori staff and other key teachers who know them well as individuals and as learners. Māori learners feel confident to learn and succeed as Māori when their learning is based in the whare. Māori staff support learners and their whānau well in the Māori-immersion learning experience in Years 7 and 8, and in te reo and tikanga Māori learning in Years 9 to 13.

In their overall learning, Māori students in 2016 achieved well at NCEA Level 2, continuing a trend of steady improvement over three years. However, overall achievement by Māori learners at other levels of the school is low.

Māori learners who spoke to ERO were confidently able to talk about what works well for their learning and what needs to be improved. Their opinions and ideas need to be gathered regularly by the school and responded to effectively.

The school has a stated intention to prioritise success for Māori learners. This intention is not supported with action planning by leaders and teachers to cohesively support Māori learners to achieve success. The school has engaged an external expert to identify what is working and what needs to be improved for Māori learners and their whānau. Trustees and leaders need to work collaboratively with Māori learners, whānau, the Māori community and school staff to respond in a culturally appropriate way to make the changes urgently needed in the school.

The next steps to improve the way the school promotes success for Māori learners, as Māori, are to:

  • ensure there is clear alignment from the strategic goal for Māori success to all aspects of school operations to achieve this goal
  • spread the current good practice Māori learners experience in the whare so that all of their learning is culturally responsive and engaging
  • rigorously evaluate the impact of actions taken by the school to promote success for Māori learners.

3 Curriculum

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

There are some aspects of the school’s curriculum that effectively promote and support student learning. Other areas, such as professional leadership and monitoring of curriculum implementation, need strengthening.

Some aspects of the curriculum are responsive to students’ needs and abilities. Pathways through the school and networks with the local community and tertiary organisations are providing senior students with a range of ways to learn and succeed. The curriculum promotes a level of choice for students to foster greater engagement in their learning.

Students value education-outside-the-classroom (EOTC) opportunities. These make use of the rich local environment to further develop ways to learn and succeed.

The school’s pastoral care system needs to be strengthened to better support students’ wellbeing and promote positive educational outcomes. Some useful initiatives, such as a behaviour management system, have been discontinued. The limited capacity of senior leaders to work constructively with staff to maintain systems and deliver consistent messages has destabilised school management systems.

Low levels of staff morale are evident and there is a high turnover of staff. This is having a negative impact on the breadth of curriculum offered at the school. Teachers are doing the best they can to make learning work well for students under difficult circumstances.

Students would benefit from greater opportunities to give feedback on the quality of teaching and the impact of this on their learning.

Professional development is not well planned and does not align with the school’s strategic direction. More deliberate and effective leadership of teaching and learning is required.

In consultation with the board and community, school leaders should implement a cycle of regular and robust curriculum review. They need to ensure that the curriculum is designed to:

  • be flexible and responsive to the interests, needs and aspirations of students, their families and the local community
  • integrate te ao Māori across all programmes and practices
  • provide all students with equitable opportunities to experience success and achieve individual excellence
  • promote high levels of student engagement through responding to student voice and building student agency and ownership of their own learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

There are significant shortcomings in the leadership, management and governance of the school. Trustees recognised that they needed support and have been working closely with the MoE and the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA). This resulted in the appointment of an LSM early in 2017 with responsibility for personnel and finance.

The board is aware that there needs to be alignment from its strategic goals to the principal's and teachers' performance agreements, through to targeted classroom teaching and learning. Trustees need to make clear their expectations for ongoing monitoring of their strategic goals. This should include high quality reporting of student progress and achievement throughout the year.

ERO has serious concerns about the leadership and management of the school. There has been a breakdown in working relationships between the board and senior leaders, and senior leaders and staff. A lack of effective communication between the principal, senior leaders and staff is affecting staff relationships. Major decisions affecting teaching and learning have been made with little consultation. This has led to a lack of collaboration and low morale amongst staff. This is having an impact on the quality of teaching, and outcomes for students. There is an urgent need to address these matters.

ERO recommends timely training for the newly co-opted trustees, and close monitoring by NZSTA and the MoE in order to provide a greater level of support if this becomes necessary.

The board, principal and senior leaders must:

  • significantly strengthen the professional leadership of the school
  • rebuild relationships and improve communication and collaboration at all levels of the school.

The board, principal and senior leaders need to develop and implement a robust framework, systems and practices for internal evaluation across the school. This should include the regular evaluation and reporting of the effectiveness of leadership and governance at the school.

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 section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has not attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. The school is working with a national body to revise its contracts to ensure they meet all requirements of the Code of Practice (2016).

At the time of this review there were 10 international students attending the school.

Processes for orientation to the school provide students and their families with detailed information. The school has effective systems for identifying and responding to student’s individual needs and interests. Students are well integrated into the life of the school.

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.

At the time of the review, the school was facing significant issues to do with managing staffing and responding to complaints. Systems to carry out a programme of self review, manage the performance of staff, and regularly report to the board about meeting legal requirements, including the implementation of health and safety practices, had not been sustained.

Action required

To meet legal requirements, the board must:

  • maintain an ongoing programme of self review in relation to the school’s policies, plans and programmes, including evaluation of information on student achievement
    [ NAG 2b]
  • adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once every two years, after consultation with the community.
    [Education Act 1989 S 60B]

To improve current practice, the board and LSM must ensure that:

  • the school’s personnel policies promote high levels of staff performance
    [NAG 3]
  • the school’s appraisal process for teachers meets the requirements of the New Zealand Education Council
    [Education Act 1989, S 31]
  • the requirements for safety checking of staff, including police vetting, have been carried out
    [Vulnerable Children Act 2014]
  • regular reporting gives the board assurance that health and safety practices follow the school’s policy and procedures, including for EOTC activities, to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students
    [NAG 5 (i)]
  • the school provides appropriate career education and guidance for all students in Year 7 and above
    [NAG 1 (f)]
  • the effectiveness of the school’s complaints process is regularly reviewed
    [NAG 2b]
  • surveys of students and staff are carried out regularly and responded to effectively.

Conclusion

This report identifies a number of serious issues at the school that require immediate attention. Leadership at every level must effectively promote student learning and prioritise improving student achievement. Significant external support is required to address this.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Dr Lesley Patterson Deputy

Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

29 June 2017

About the School 

Location

Hokitika

Ministry of Education profile number

305

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 14)

School roll

357

Number of international students

10

Gender composition

Male: 46%

Female: 54%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Asian
Pacific
Other

74%
20%
1%
1%
4%

Special Features

Two bilingual classes

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

29 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review Supplementary Review Education Review

July 2013
September 2011
September 2008