ERO evaluated the provision of education for international students in 95 schools that were reviewed during 2012. The median number of international students enrolled at the time of these reviews was three long-stay students in primary and intermediate schools, while in secondary schools it was seven long-stay and four short-stay students.
Reasons for enrolling international students
Although many schools enrolled international students for the additional revenue, they also recognised the benefits for their own students. These included adding to the school’s cultural diversity; providing opportunities for local students to learn about and understand different cultures, values and perspectives; and providing opportunities for students to develop a global perspective. Some schools had responded to requests from parents to enrol a small number of international students living nearby rather than actively marketing their school.
Some schools enrolled international students so that these students could receive high quality education, experience a New Zealand way of life and develop their English.
Reviewers made judgements on five aspects of the provision and outcomes for international students. Overall, 21 percent of schools were judged to be highly effective for four or five aspects and 18 percent were highly effective for three aspects.
ERO evaluated how effectively schools were reviewing their provision and outcomes for international students and using this information for improvement.
Figure 1 shows that ERO found 64 percent of schools were highly or mostly effective at reviewing their provision and outcomes. In 36 percent of schools, self review was partially effective or of limited effectiveness.
In the schools where self review was highly effective, their review process:
Reports to boards included collated information about the progress and achievement of international students.
The following two quotations provide examples of highly effective self review.
Review is ongoing and is of good quality. A cycle of review includes setting overarching questions, indicators of what outcomes are required, and research through exit interviews and term meetings with international students. Vocabulary and reading strategies were reviewed in 2011 and ways to support international students in mainstream classes were reviewed in 2010. Information gathered is analysed and changes are made in response to the findings. Changes are strategically introduced with responsibilities, timelines and plans to monitor the impact of changes agreed.[Large, high decile Years 9-15 secondary school in a main urban area]
The school has robust self-review processes that encourage review and reflection including regular annual reporting to the board. The report to the board is structured like department reports and is part of the well-developed, school-wide, self-review programme. The director conducts quarterly surveys of students along with meetings and interviews. Feedback is received from agencies, parents and teachers, and homestay procedures are regularly reviewed. There is a comprehensive self-review document that they have completed to monitor compliance with the Code. The director says: ‘I have not consciously linked my Strategic Plan and Report to my Code review, but I am now thinking this would be good to look at doing this year.’ [Large, medium decile Years 9-15 secondary school in a secondary urban area]
In schools where self review was partially effective or limited, reporting to the board usually described what the school provided for international students, but not the outcomes for students. In some schools, review was informal, low level or covered only some aspects of the provision for international students. Some schools had no current policies or procedures to review their processes and programmes in relation to international students. In three schools, the staff responsible for international students were new and in two others, international students had arrived only recently.
Some of the schools had attested to the Ministry of Education that they had completed their ongoing self review of all Code policies, procedures and documentation. ERO found limited self review in some schools – not enough to provide a robust basis for their attestation. These schools were not meeting the Coderequirement regarding self review and their attestation had little value.
Concerns regarding two of the non-compliant schools are presented below.
Although the school submits its annual attestation to the MoE, it does not meet the requirements of s28.3 in terms of supporting self-review documentation. The school does not base its attestation on a robust self-review process. The director reports that the school has never been required to submit additional information. The principal’s reports to the board regularly include information about international students, but the emphasis is more on inputs than outcomes. The board has not received collated information about the achievement of international students. [Small, medium decile Years 7-15 secondary school in a rural area]
The most recent Code compliance attestation sent to the Ministry of Education does not appear to be supported by any documented evidence of self review of performance against the Code. The international department and school management do not have clear measures of international student success that they can use for self review and reporting. Quality assurance processes, for reviewing performance of the international department against the Code are not strong. The measure of success seems based on the success the school has in enrolling overseas students (international student business). Subject or school-wide analysis of international students’ achievement is not expected and the board of trustees does not receive evidence-based reports on the achievement of international students. [Very large, medium decile Years 9-15 secondary school in a main urban area]
ERO evaluated the quality of the pastoral care provided for international students. Fifty-six percent of schools provided highly effective pastoral care and 38 percent were mostly effective. Only six percent were partially effective.
Many schools had a specified staff member with responsibility for international students’ pastoral care. In some schools this was the coordinator or director of international students. In others, it was the person with responsibility for pastoral care of other students, English language teachers, or class teachers. In some schools, staff met students formally on a regular basis such as each term. In other schools, staff talked with students informally on an ongoing basis. Students interviewed said they felt well supported, and knew who to contact to discuss any concerns.
Effective pastoral care systems included a range of elements, such as:
Some schools communicated with parents and caregivers in a variety of ways such as informal outings or morning teas, translating material for parents, and employing a teacher aide fluent in the home language.
The principal has overall responsibility for pastoral care provision along with classroom teachers and two teacher aides. The principal provides his after-hours contact details to parents and caregivers. On enrolment, parents are provided with a comprehensive information pack. The principal and teacher aides meet with parents and students each term and discuss progress, any needs and ways parents can help at home. The school’s special character is evident in all aspects of school life and this includes programmes and practices that relate to international students. Students are provided with a student buddy based on the school’s knowledge of each student and who would be most compatible. [Large, high decile full primary school in a main urban area]
Six schools were partially effective. Some of these schools had out-of-date orientation booklets, did not keep records of meetings, and/or did not seek feedback from students.
ERO evaluated how effectively the education programme responded to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students.
Aspirations and interests
Most schools had formal or informal processes to find out about the aspirations and/or interests of their international students. Some schools consulted parents and students directly, while agents provided this information for others.
The main reasons for studying in New Zealand were to learn the English language, to experience the New Zealand lifestyle or culture, and to gain academic qualifications for tertiary study in New Zealand or at home. Other reasons included to achieve academically, to socialise, and to participate in sport, outdoor education and cultural activities.
Students from different countries varied in the focus of their study. Students from Asia in particular came to learn English. The parents of some Korean students in primary schools were also in New Zealand to learn English.
Figure 3 shows that 84 percent of schools were highly or mostly effective in providing a programme that was responsive to the aspirations of students or their parents.
Figure 3: Effectiveness of education programme in responding to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students
Highly effective schools:
Sixteen percent of schools were partially effective or had limited effectiveness. The main reasons for these judgements were teachers not adapting programmes to respond to the students’ needs and aspirations, limited collection and use of achievement data, and lack of relevant professional development for teachers.
ERO evaluated how well international students were progressing and achieving.
In 75 percent of the schools, international students were progressing and achieving very well or well (see Figure 4). Schools could show that students were making progress, particularly in English. Some schools assessed English levels using the ELLP or IELTS.  Some primary schools assessed international students against the National Standards, while some secondary school students achieved NCEA standards or moved on to tertiary institutions.
Figure 4: International students’ progress and achievement
The following are examples of schools that could show their international students were making very good progress.
The teacher uses the ELLP to identify students’ needs and uses school-wide assessments to compare their progress and achievement with their peers. Students entering the school often have low levels of English but higher levels of maths. All students were at or above the National Standards in maths on entry. Students make very good progress in their time at the school. Students are assessed in relation to the National Standards and, in 2011, all students progressed to be achieving at or above the reading and writing standards by the end of the year. [Very large, high decile intermediate school in a main urban area]
Most students make very good progress in their learning and achieve their personal learning goals. There is a strong culture in the international department of high expectations and good quality support for students. School destination data indicates that students transition successfully to further education, in New Zealand or in their home countries.[Small, medium decile Years 9-15 secondary school in a main urban area]
Monitoring vocabulary acquisition by international students receiving ESL support indicates most are quickly learning English. This progress is reported to trustees, the students and their families. Senior international students access literacy and numeracy pathways in NCEA. Some international students have performed well on IELTS and ELLP assessments. This information is often used to identify next learning steps for the students. This year, two students are studying to attend university or polytechnic in New Zealand. Others have achieved well in level 1 and 2 NCEA courses. [Large, high decile Years 9-15 secondary school in a main urban area]
In one-quarter of the schools, international students were progressing to some extent or to a limited extent. These ratings were usually given when the school did not have information to show progress or had not collated data for all international students. Other reasons for limited monitoring were having only a small number of international students, students not seeking academic achievement or students being short-stay.
Ninety-three percent of schools were effectively integrating international students into the school and local community. Seven percent were partially effective or had limited effectiveness. Schools welcomed international students and encouraged them to take part in sporting and cultural opportunities provided by the school or in the community. These included cultural performances, festivals and events, sports and camps.
Some schools provided opportunities for international students to share their cultures with other students, and to take a leadership role on the student council or as a peer mediator. Some international students had made local friends or stayed with local families during the holidays.
Figure 5: Effectiveness of integration of international students into the school and local community
A small number of schools did not effectively integrate international students. There were limited opportunities for these students to mix with others or to contribute to the cultural diversity of the school.
Mothers of some international students were living locally so that they could also learn English. Schools included and supported these parents in various ways such as:
Some other ways schools supported international students included:
Figure 6 compares ratings of schools for each of the four evaluative questions that covered the same general areas across the three years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Although the aspects were broadly similar, the focus of the questions has changed.
The self-review rating in 2010 only covered schools’ review of their provision for international students, while in 2011 and 2012, ERO also judged how effectively schools were reviewing the outcomes for international students. In 2010 ERO evaluated the quality of education, and in 2011 and 2012 ERO focused on how effectively the education programme responded to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students.
Although the questions over the past three years had subtle differences, Figure 6 shows that some schools have experienced some challenges in meeting increased expectations related to self review and providing responsive programmes.
Figure 6: Comparison of judgements of four aspects in 2010-2012 (percentage of schools rated highly or mostly effective)
Almost all schools reviewed during the three years were judged to be highly or mostly effective in pastoral care, social integration, and education programme/quality of education. In each year, schools’ self review received the lowest ratings.
During these reviews, ERO identified eight schools that were not complying with theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.
The main aspect of non-compliance was self review. In seven of the eight non-compliant schools, self review was partially effective or of limited effectiveness. Seven of the non-compliance reports to the Ministry of Education noted that the school had no documented evidence of robust review as a basis for their attestation.
The Code (s28.3) states that signatories should review their own performance annually and record the outcomes. The Ministry’s Guidelines state that review should be ongoing throughout the year.
Three schools had no data on achievement of international students and three schools did not collate or analyse achievement data. Most schools did not report to the board on outcomes for their international students, although some reported numbers of students and provision made for them in general terms.
It is of concern that the 2008 report for one of these schools also identified that they were not reviewing their compliance with the Code. The latest review found that the school’s own self-review documents did not meet current requirements although they had completed the attestation. Another school had not completed a formal self review since 2008.
Five of the eight non-compliant schools were judged as having education programmes that were either of partial or limited effectiveness. Four of the eight schools had little monitoring of achievement and progress of their international students. Students in one school did not have a current visa or insurance. All eight schools were mostly effective in integrating international students into the schools.
Seven of these eight schools were secondary schools, six were medium decile, and five had fewer than 15 international students. The schools varied in size (three were small, one middle sized, three large and one very large). A new coordinator of international students had been appointed recently in three of these schools. Three of the schools had not actively marketed for international students but had enrolled a few students whose families had approached them.