Columba College

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Summary

Columba College is a state-integrated school for boys and girls from Years 1 to 6, and girls only from Years 7 to 13. The school offers boarding for Years 8 and above. The roll at the time of the review is 600. There are 128 children in Years 1 to 6, 91 in Years 7 and 8 and 381 in Years 9 to 13. A small number of students identify as being Māori. The school has 37 international students.

Since the last review the school has a new principal, a new board of trustees chair and several new trustees. Significant progress has been made in all areas identified in the previous ERO report and, in particular, in building relational trust and strengthening the appraisal system.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school is effectively achieving equitable outcomes for students. School leaders and teachers have high expectations and are strongly focussed on all students reaching their potential. The school’s values and culture contribute to positive relationships and high levels of engagement. Students consistently achieve very highly in the National Standards (NS) and NCEA.

Student and staff wellbeing is prioritised and supported by systems and resourcing.

The school is undergoing considerable well-managed change as it seeks to further improve outcomes for students through greater robustness and consistency of school-wide understandings and practices. Key future focus areas include building teacher capacity, creating cohesive systems and strengthening internal evaluation.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is responding very effectively to Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Māori students are achieving well and make similar rates of progress in their learning against the NS.

Accelerated progress is evident for most students, across the curriculum and in all year levels, within the junior school. Reported achievement information in the middle school shows a trend of improvement and progress for most students. There are very high levels of achievement, including endorsements, at all levels of NCEA.

A range of assessment tools are used to inform teachers’ judgements about student achievement across the school.

Learning support programmes for a small number of identified groups of students are well planned, and effectively support their learning and other needs.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Columba College has very effective processes to support equity and excellence. The school has a history of high achievement, and trustees, leaders and teachers have clearly-stated expectations that all students will achieve well. The board of trustees is committed to resourcing the school to achieve positive outcomes for all students.

The school’s vision and values are embedded and evidenced in behaviour and practices that contribute to the positive school culture. They provide a clear framework for decision making.

The new principal, with the support of the board, is making significant changes. These include the early stages of the development of a school-wide vision for teaching and learning and the introduction of consistent understandings and practices to support both the academic and the wellbeing needs of students. The pastoral care network has been strengthened, roles and responsibilities clarified and systems are in place to monitor and respond appropriately to students’ wellbeing.

At all levels of the school, teachers have a good understanding of their students and respond to their learning needs. There are effective systems and resourcing in place to support learners who require extra assistance and to extend and challenge those who have particular abilities and talents. Students have many opportunities to develop self-management and leadership skills.

The curriculum effectively reflects the New Zealand Curriculum and is increasingly responsive to student needs and abilities. At all levels, a wide range of community resources and expertise is accessed in order to broaden opportunities for learning. Individualised and vocational courses in the senior school provide a broader range of programmes to meet student needs. Students are well supported to make decisions about subjects and pathways.

The school has formed a useful partnership with a neighbouring school. Senior students, in particular, benefit from the increased range of subjects and programmes that can be offered as result of this relationship.

Since the last review there is improvement in the provision for all students to learn, hear and use te reo and tikanga Māori. Bicultural understandings and responsiveness vary across the school.

The school seeks and values feedback from students, staff and whānau. This information is used effectively to inform decisions.

Teachers are supported to pursue areas of specific professional interest. They benefit from comprehensive professional development that is linked to key school focus areas and collaborative practices. An improved appraisal system is building teachers’ reflective capabilities.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

The board and leaders, through their comprehensive strategic plan, are focussed on improving outcomes for all learners. In order to build and sustain consistent, coherent learner-centred practices and understandings, leaders need to:

  • develop greater internal evaluation capacity to better understand the effectiveness of initiatives, programmes and practices
  • review and develop school-wide leadership structures and capacity
  • continue to embed bicultural understandings and practices.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school boarding house, comprising two buildings, provides accommodation for a maximum of 110 students from Year 8. This is 18% of the school roll. Boarders include girls from a wide geographical area and some international students.

The boarding house is a welcoming place for boarders. Positive relationships are maintained between students and boarding staff and these are supported by clear routines and expectations for all. Well-documented and thorough systems have been established to monitor and respond to the safety and wellbeing needs of boarders.

Boarding staff communicate and work constructively with school leaders and staff to support boarders’ learning and participation in all aspects of school life. Boarders benefit from well-established study routines and access to appropriate resources when needed.

Parents and caregivers are kept well informed and there are systems in place for the views of boarders and their families to be considered.

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 attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there were 37 international students attending the school, and no exchange students.

International students benefit from comprehensive and well-documented pastoral care. Their learning needs are monitored and, where necessary, extra support is provided. They consistently achieve very highly. International students are well integrated into the school culture and community and take advantage of the range of opportunities offered.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Learners are achieving well. The school demonstrates strong progress toward achieving equity in educational outcomes, supported by effective, sustainable processes and practices.

Agreed next steps are to further develop and embed a school-wide vision regarding:

  • the valued outcomes for all students
  • the expectations for teaching and learning.

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

Jane Lee
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

16 November 2017

About the school 

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

386

School type

Composite:  1-13  

Co-ed:            1-6

Girls:          7 – 13

State Integrated

School roll

600

Gender composition

Female:  559

Male:        41

Ethnic composition

Māori:     11%

Pākehā:   74%

Other:     15%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

16 November 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review:     July 2014

Education Review:    December 2007

Findings

The college has a long tradition of excellence. Students achieve highly across a range of academic, sporting and cultural activities. Their learning is closely monitored and supported. Their interests are enriched and extended. The wellbeing of staff and outdoor safety guidelines for students have been reviewed and are being monitored by the board.

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?

Columba College is a state-integrated school with a well-established history of high academic, sporting and cultural achievement. It provides education for boys and girls from Years 1 to 6 and caters for girls only from Years 7 to 15. The college boarding facilities provide accommodation and care for out of town students. International students contribute to the rich cultural diversity at the school.

The college has longstanding traditions built on its private, Christian school foundations. The ongoing involvement of past students, its historic buildings and modern facilities, help maintain pride in the college and its history. In 2015 the college will celebrate its 100th year of service to its community.

The college community has high expectations of personal excellence for its students. Staff provide high levels of support and seek ways to enrich and prepare students for life-long learning. Digital technologies are being increasingly used to enhance teaching and learning and to help retain the essential elements for success at Columba College while preparing students for their future.

Since the 2010 ERO review, a new board chair and some new trustees have been appointed. After 34 years in the position, the principal will retire at the end of 2014. Under her leadership the school has experienced significant developments in roll size, facilities and consistently high levels of academic and other achievements at local, regional and national levels.

A board of governors has responsibility for the college boarding houses and school property. Students benefit from strong support from parents and the wider community. Parent-teacher, old girls' and friends' associations continue to provide significant support for students’ learning and school resources.

2 Learning

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

The college effectively uses learning information to support students’ engagement, achievement and progress. The board, senior leaders and teachers closely monitor students’ progress and achievement at all year levels. They maintain a strong focus on student achievement and high expectations for students to excel. Teachers are deeply committed to supporting and encouraging students’ academic, sporting and cultural development. As a result, students achieve highly in these areas. Students who need extra help with their learning are well supported by classroom teachers, teacher aides and tutors.

The college produces high levels of student achievement. In NCEA, students consistently achieve highly when compared to similar schools, locally, regionally and nationally. This includes endorsements across all NCEA levels. A significant number are awarded scholarships at NCEA Level 3 in a range of subject areas. Almost all school leavers go on to tertiary training and/or university. The majority of students in Years 9 and 10 achieve at or above nationally expected curriculum levels in literacy and mathematics.

Students in Years 1 to 8 generally achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. They use learning information to know how well they are achieving and progressing, and to identify their next steps for learning. They know what they are learning and what they need to do to achieve.

Teachers make very effective use of learning information for years 1 to 8 to inform their judgements about how well students are achieving and progressing. There are comprehensive guidelines to support teaching expectations for all learning areas. The literacy and numeracy focus supports a shared responsibility for students’ learning and achievement across year levels. The teachers have identified that they need to continue to develop consistency in relation to the National Standards for writing.

The board receives comprehensive annual department reviews to help inform its decision making. Reviews are informed by meticulous teacher assessment data and link to the board’s strategic priorities for ongoing improvement. Extending the year level responsibility of department leaders to include Years 7 and 8 has created greater continuity in learning for students and smoother transitions into and between the junior and senior school.

3 Curriculum

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

The college curriculum is designed to challenge, extend and enrich learning for all students.

The college values are highly evident and embedded in the life of the school. Students are motivated to achieve highly. They develop a strong work ethic and discipline for managing their own learning. This includes a desire to provide service within the school and wider community.

Students are encouraged to develop the skills for independent life-long learning. This is supported by a measured approach to how e-technologies are used in teaching and learning. ICT is increasing students’ access to and processing of information for learning, both in and out of the classroom. In addition, students are provided goal setting, mentoring and enrichment activities that motivate, challenge and inspire them to explore areas of interest.

Students identified as having special gifts and talents are highly engaged in a programme that comprehensively caters for their individual and group abilities. The programme also provides wider opportunities of benefit to all students, such as access to speakers of interest.

Students have many opportunities to excel. Their class programmes are planned to meet their level of learning and challenge. Their classes are grouped according to their ability in different subjects. Students receive regular teacher and teacher-aide support, as needed, to help ensure that each student’s potential is being met.

The school seeks the views and opinions of students to inform its review of learning and engagement in the school. A next step is to make more extensive use of student opinion information to evaluate the impact of aspects of teaching and learning.

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

Māori students at Columba College experience the same high levels of achievement as their school peers. Māori students spoken with said that they enjoy the many opportunities for learning and achievement that the college provides. The college closely monitors the achievement of its Māori students. It regularly consults with students’ parents to gather their views and aspirations for their children.

The college needs to review how effectively its curriculum responds to the interests of its Māori students. Over half of the Māori students spoken with by ERO said that they would learn te reo Māori, if offered as a class choice. ERO noted that teachers could be better supported to use te reo and tikanga Māori in their daily teaching and in their interactions with all students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The college’s well-defined systems for accountability and improvement effectively support it in maintaining its high levels of academic performance and in achieving its strategic goals. There is clear alignment between the college vision and school planning and implementation.

The board, school leaders and staff are united in their commitment to the college’s mission to provide an education of the highest quality at all levels. They share a continual quest to enrich teaching and learning. The board agrees that it is timely to review how well the staff appraisal system introduced in 2012 contributes to developing professional practice and leadership across the college.

Trustees need to ensure that the college provides safe and constructive ways for resolving issues of concern, including staff workload. Positive processes have been initiated for raising concerns. These should be documented, shared and scheduled for review. This should include the use of regular and anonymous staff surveys that evaluate the outcomes of changed approaches.

Provision for international students

The school 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. At the time of this review there were 28 international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

International students benefit from high-quality pastoral care. Their education, accommodation arrangements and integration into the school and its community are well supported and closely monitored. Information provided by the school shows that international students achieve highly. The college leaders have comprehensive reporting and review processes in place to support international students.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school boarding houses, Bishopscourt and Katharine Buchan House, accommodate 121 girls. These students represent 19% of the school roll. The boarding houses are owned by the Columba College Board of Governors. Since the last review Bishopscourt House has been extensively refurbished.

Areas of strength include:

  • the way in which the Director of Boarding liaises closely with the school to support the girls’ learning and wellbeing
  • the support that boarding staff provide for individual student’s pastoral care and learning
  • the processes for gathering and responding to the girls’ views and ideas
  • the high-quality information parents receive about their daughters’ lives at the boarding houses.

The Director of Boarding has continued to build on the strengths identified in the 2010 ERO report. There are highly effective systems for promoting positive relationships, students’ welfare and learning. The boarding houses are well lead and managed.

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.

The board has reviewed its policies and procedures for the risk management of students’ education outside the classroom and dealing with complaints and issues of concern. Trustees are committed to ensuring that these revised procedures are effectively implemented.

Conclusion

The college has a long tradition of excellence. Students achieve highly across a range of academic, sporting and cultural activities. Their learning is closely monitored and supported. Their interests are enriched and extended. The wellbeing of staff and outdoor safety guidelines for students have been reviewed and are being monitored by the board.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

21 July 2014

About the School

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

386

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

629

Number of international students

28

Gender composition

Girls: 92% Boys: 8%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other

67%

6%

1%

5%

21%

Special Features

Boarding Houses

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

21 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

December 2010
November 2007
June 2004