ERO evaluated the provision of education for international students in all schools with international students that were reviewed during Terms 3 and 4, 2011. The evaluation included 51 schools (state, integrated and private). The average number of international students in these schools was five for primary schools and 15 for secondary schools.

Reviewers made judgements on six aspects of the provisions and outcomes for international students. Overall, 29 percent of schools were judged to be highly effective for five or six of these aspects and 24 percent for three or four aspects. Twenty-nine percent were highly effective for one or two aspects and 18 percent of schools were not highly effective for any of the aspects.

One school demonstrated limited effectiveness for two aspects (self review and education provided), and three schools had limited effectiveness for one aspect (two for self review, and one for progress and achievement).

Self review

ERO evaluated how effectively schools were reviewing their provisions and outcomes for international students and using this information for improvement (see indicators and criteria in Appendix Two). Figure 1 shows that 72 percent of schools were highly or mostly effective at reviewing their provisions and outcomes. In 28 percent of schools self review was partially effective or of limited effectiveness.

Figure 1: Overall, how effectively is the school reviewing its provisions and outcomes for international students and using this information for improvement?

This graph shows how effective the schools are in reviewing their provisions and outcomes for international students. 29% were highly effectively, 43% mostly effective, 22% partially effective and 6% wiht limited effectiveness.

In the schools where self review was highly effective, the process was ongoing, comprehensive, based on sound evidence, and focused on improvement. These schools used a range of reliable information such as student achievement data, surveys and interviews of students, parents, homestay parents, and teachers. Schools analysed the information, documented their analysis and made changes to their provisions where appropriate. Reports to boards included collated information about international student achievement [7].

Where review was partially effective or limited, it tended to be informal or cover only some of the key aspects. Some schools held meetings where they discussed international students but did not keep records, making it difficult to monitor agreed actions or their outcomes. Schools varied in the areas covered by their reviews. Aspects reviewed generally included accommodation, wellbeing/welfare, programmes, progress, and social integration.

Student progress was usually monitored for individual learners but often not collated to provide a picture of the progress of international students as a group. Some schools did not keep records in a way that enabled them to collate achievement information. Some boards received only general information or did not receive a report at all. Many boards did not receive information about how well international students had progressed or achieved.

Student voice was not always sought in a systematic way. Some schools obtained students’ views about their homestay accommodation but did not ask for feedback about aspects of their education programme or progress. Some did not provide opportunities for students to comment in a confidential or anonymous way.

Although schools completed their annual attestation of compliance with the Code to the Ministry of Education, they varied in the processes they used, the quality of information they obtained, who they consulted, and whether they covered key aspects. Some schools reviewed their provisions informally and did not document their processes or findings.

Although a majority of schools had some relevant information about each key aspect (overall approach, pastoral care, educational programme, student progress, integration), ERO reviewers usually needed to carry out further investigation before they could make a judgement about the school’s provision or outcomes for international students. There were only a few schools where the school’s information was sufficient.

Schools that were highly effective were most likely to be schools in main urban areas (36 percent were rated highly effective compared with eight percent of the others) and high decile schools (50 percent compared with none of the others) [8].

The following paragraph describes an example of good practice in self review:

The school continually reflects on the quality of the programme that it provides for international students. Teacher review and student reflections are gathered and any areas for improvement noted and acted upon.

Schools’ overall approach to international students

ERO evaluated each school’s approach to enrolling international students. Figure 2 shows that almost all schools were highly or mostly systematic in their approach to enrolling international students. Only four schools were partially systematic.

Figure 2: How systematic is the school's approach to enrolling international students?

figure 2 shows that 53 percent of the schools evaluated had a highly systematic approach to enrolling international students, 39% had a mostly systematic approach, 8% wiht a partially systematic approach and no schools with an ad hoc approach.

Schools with highly systematic approaches usually had:

  • a clear rationale for enrolling international students
  • a systematic approach (often through an agent) to enrolling students
  • gathered information about students’ interests and aspirations to inform decisions about homestays and courses
  • developed and documented sound strategies and systems to provide for international students
  • understood their obligations and responsibilities regarding international students
  • maintained accurate records that facilitated monitoring of individual students
  • established relationships and communicated regularly with parents
  • provided or accessed professional learning and development on cross-cultural awareness for staff involved
  • a system to monitor compliance with the Code
  • regular reporting to the board.

The four least systematic schools lacked a strategic plan or strategy, had limited documentation of provisions, and the teacher involved had no cross-cultural training.

Similar concerns were identified for some of the other schools that were mostly systematic. They also had limited reporting to the board, and no records of meetings.

Example of a highly systematic approach to enrolling international students:

The school has a well thought out rationale for enrolling international students and has developed and documented coherent plans and systems for ensuring international students needs for pastoral care, academic progress and social integration are met. The school has based their provisions on information gathered from students and parents about their aspirations and needs. (Medium size, low decile secondary school in main urban area)

Reasons for enrolling international students

Although many schools enrolled international students for the additional revenue, schools also acknowledged the benefits for their own students. These included increasing the cultural diversity in the school; fostering appreciation and understanding of different cultures, cultural values and perspectives; providing opportunities for students to engage and think more globally; and building relationships internationally.

Some schools felt that providing opportunities for international students to experience living in New Zealand, develop their English, achieve academically, and participate in sporting and cultural activities benefited these students. Some responded to requests from parents or the community, and some schools had established relationships with overseas schools (most often in Korea or Japan).

Some schools had decided to limit the number of international students overall and also the number from any one country. This was to encourage international students to mix with other students, to add to cultural diversity and to ensure there were not too many international students to look after.

Pastoral care

ERO evaluated the quality of the pastoral care provided for international students (see the indicators and criteria in Appendix Two). Two‑thirds of schools were highly effective in the pastoral care they provided, and 31 percent were mostly effective.

Most of the schools had a specified staff member with responsibility for the pastoral care of international students. In some schools this was the dean, coordinator or director of international students. In other schools, the person with responsibility for pastoral care of other students had this role. These staff met with students regularly both formally and informally. Classroom teachers and English language teachers also had this responsibility. Students interviewed said they felt well supported by these people.

Figure 3: How effectively does the school provide pastoral care for international students?

figure 3 is a graph that shows 67% of schools were highly effectively in providing pastoral care for international students, 31 percent mostly effective, 2% partially effective and no schools with limited effectiveness in providing pastoral care for international students.

Effective pastoral care systems included a range of elements, such as:

  • orientation programmes and handbooks
  • monitoring homestay accommodation, either directly or by an agency
  • communicating regularly with homestay parents and international students’ parents
  • buddy systems and strategies to encourage students to mix with other students
  • access to pastoral care resources within the school such as counsellors, medical staff, careers advice
  • providing access to home language speakers and interpreters and to ethnic groups in the community for students and parents
  • ongoing monitoring of students’ progress, wellbeing, and satisfaction.

The one partially effective school had two international students who were in Year 1 and Year 2. The Year 2 student had been in the school for only two weeks. While the school did not provide any documented information about pastoral care, the principal had regularly talked informally with the students and their parents.

Concerns about the lack of formal systems to monitor and document pastoral care of students were identified by ERO in other schools. Although evidence was visible from student interviews that monitoring occurred, in some schools records of meetings with students were limited, student files were not comprehensive or up-to-date, student achievement information was not included in reports to the board, and roles and responsibilities were not clearly documented.

Education programme

ERO evaluated how effectively the education programme responded to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students.

Figure 4: How effectively does the education programme respond to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students or their parents?

This diagram shows that 53% of the schools education programmes responded highly effectively to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students or their parents, 37% mostly effectively, 8% partially effectively and 2% wiht limited effectiveness.

Figure 4 shows that 90 percent of schools were highly or mostly effective in responding to the aspirations of students or their parents.

Highly effective schools:

  • accurately assessed students on entry to the school and placed students in appropriate classes and programmes
  • designed targeted programmes in response to prior learning, strengths, interests, needs, and aspirations
  • frequently monitored student progress
  • communicated regularly with parents and sought their feedback
  • modified programmes and placements as students progressed and in response to student and parent feedback.

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 other schools.

The main purposes for studying in New Zealand were to learn English language, to gain academic qualifications for tertiary study at home or in New Zealand, and to experience the New Zealand lifestyle or culture. 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.

Schools provided English language programmes through various combinations of withdrawal classes, individual tuition and in-class support. Some schools placed students in separate classes with specialist teachers initially and then moved them to mainstream classes as their language understanding developed. English language teaching helped students to access other curriculum areas in English by linking with, and supporting students in, classroom programmes.

Specialist teachers supported students in regular classes by supplying additional material and relevant resources, pre-teaching subject-specific language, guiding students in undertaking assignments and providing extra classes on request for students sitting exams.

In one school, international students found it difficult to work with the school’s inquiry‑learning model. The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher provided them with a more supportive and structured way of learning a topic until they were confident using an inquiry approach.

Each student’s learning and development was monitored frequently and their progress reported to parents. Students were aware of their own progress. When appropriate, placements and programmes were modified in response to the changing needs identified.

In some schools classroom teachers were supported by professional development on cross‑cultural awareness and information about effective strategies for supporting second language learners.

Example of a school that was highly effective in responding to student and parent aspirations:

The director has very good knowledge of student expectations both here in New Zealand and overseas in their own countries. A good example is of the German requirement that students have an acknowledged course here in New Zealand that they can use as evidence of study back in Germany to get into university there. The teacher has developed, in consultation with German requirements, a suitable diploma that accurately records international student achievement, the standards they have achieved, and the curriculum area that is relevant to the standard. Over the past three years, 95 percent of the students have secured their place in a tertiary institution in their home country and the rest in New Zealand. (Large, medium decile secondary school in main urban area)

Four schools were partially effective and one had limited effectiveness in providing an education programme that responded to the aspirations, interests and needs of international students. The lack of relevant professional learning and development was the main concern identified for these schools.

Small numbers of schools did not systematically gather information about learners’ aspirations, did not record aspirations, recorded only general information, or did not use the information to plan programmes or monitor progress towards meeting goals. Other concerns identified included assessment of students, and the need to improve self review.

Examples of effective education programmes:

The ESOL teacher identifies each international student’s English language skill as soon as they arrive in the school. Students are supported in the withdrawal room for two hours per day until they feel comfortable to work in the homeroom or until they reach a competent standard of English. The principle is to get the student working confidently in the homeroom as soon as possible. The support programme is based on increasing skill and comprehension with English as well as building technical vocabulary around the topic/theme being researched in the homeroom. (Very large, high decile intermediate school in main urban area)

The ESOL teacher maintains very detailed records of students’ needs from diagnostic assessments and their current levels of achievement against the English Language Learning Progressions. She has designed a week by week individual learning plan for each student and made regular recordings on video camera of students’ oral language proficiency. Students can see evidence of their level of achievement against clear criteria and what they need to do next. (Medium size, high decile secondary school in a main urban area)

Progress and achievement

ERO evaluated how well international students were making progress and achieving (see the indicators and criteria in Appendix Two).

In three-quarters of the schools, international students were progressing and achieving very well or well (see Figure 5). Schools were effectively monitoring student learning and could show that students were making progress, particularly in English. English levels were often assessed against the English Language Learning Progressions, and some schools used other evidence, such as classroom observations, student work, and discussions with students and class teachers.

Some students were progressing in mathematics/numeracy and other curriculum areas, and some students were achieving National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) unit and achievement standards in various subjects. Some secondary school students were achieving their goals, had achieved university entrance and had gone on to university in New Zealand or their home countries.

Students and their parents received regular reports on their progress, and some schools included information about achievement in reports to the board about international students.

Figure 5: How well do international students make progress and achieve?

This graph shows that in 33% of the schools evaluated international students make progress and achieve very well, 43% make progress and achieve well, 22% to some extent and 2% to a limited extent.

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 were students being short-stay or not seeking academic achievement. Some schools could not show longer-term progress as few students had been in the school in the previous year. There were only two schools where there was evidence that students were not making satisfactory progress.

The need to collate and analyse achievement data for international students and use it to inform teaching practice and programme planning was also identified as a concern for some other schools.

Integration into the school and local community

All schools were effectively integrating international students into the school and local community, with just over half doing this in a highly effective way.

Schools encouraged and supported international students to take part in the sporting and cultural opportunities they provided, either in the school or through the local community. These included sports, cultural activities, drama classes, school productions, bands and camps. Some schools interviewed students to identify their interests and encouraged them to participate. Some monitored students to ensure they were involved and that they felt confident to join the things that interested them.

Figure 6: How effectively does the school integrate international students into the school and local community?

This graph shows that 51% of the schools evaluated are highly effective in their intergration of international students in to the school and local community and 49% are mostly effective.

Schools used a range of strategies to encourage students to become involved with other students. These included orientation activities, providing buddies, teachers facilitating interactions in the classroom, encouraging shy students to join in, and processes for students to reflect on their interests and how to develop them. Social activities and trips were also organised so that international students could visit local and national sites of interest. Some (usually secondary) schools provided leadership opportunities for students. Ethnic communities in some schools formed support and social groups for international students.

One school spread international students across several form and teaching classes to encourage them to mix with other students, and another enrolled students from many countries to discourage students from staying within country groups.

Students interviewed talked about the friendliness of students and staff. Schools provided opportunities for students to share and celebrate their cultures, often through cross-cultural events such as cultural days where students could share their food, culture and languages.

Students who stayed in homes within the school community tended to integrate readily. Children in the homestay family were often buddies and families included the students in family, school and community events. Hostels provided additional opportunities for some secondary school students to mix and develop relationships with a range of students. One school arranged homestays during weekends and holidays for their hostel students, often with families of the students’ New Zealand friends.

Some schools had strong community links and were able to provide a wide variety of experiences in the community for personal, social and cultural development. Schools linked with ethnic groups in the community which provided support for parents of international students.

Concerns about integration were identified for six schools. These included schools not having developed strategies to engage international students with the local community, no specific leadership roles for international students, and cultures not being celebrated across the school.

Non-compliance with the Code

During these reviews, ERO identified one school that was not complying with theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. This was a medium-size secondary school in a minor urban area, with 10 international students. Most international student enrolments were exchange students, with four foreign fee‑paying students in 2011, an increase from two the previous year.

The key area of non-compliance was with section 28.3 of the Code:

Signatories must, at least annually, review their own performance and the accuracy and relevance of all information provided to prospective and enrolled international students to ensure compliance with the Code. The outcomes of this review must be recorded in a form that can and must be made available to the Administrator if requested.

The main concern was the minimal records available in the school to provide a strong evidential basis for the school’s attestation on compliance with the Code in matters relating to accommodation and welfare. There were no formal records of how accommodation was monitored, or records of any issues raised by students in discussions with the director in relation to their welfare. It was therefore not possible for ERO to verify the extent to which the school complied with the Code.

ERO also identified other concerns, particularly with the limited self review. The school could provide little information about how effectively it reviews its provision and outcomes for international students. There was no system for keeping files on individual students on welfare, academic progress and social integration that would allow for the collation and analysis of information. The director did not keep records of his home stay checks, or meetings with students, although students confirmed that these occurred. The school did not collate and review the achievement of international students as a group, and the board was not informed about student progress and achievement.

Review was not ongoing throughout the year but appeared to occur around the attestation date. In 2011, the handwritten annotations to the Ministry of Education key evaluation questions signalled a variety of areas for development, including the need to formalise the orientation process, and to develop systems for teacher professional learning and development on teaching speakers of other languages.

The school’s overall approach and the education programme were both partially effective, and student progress occurred to some extent. Pastoral care of international students was regularly monitored and their integration into the school and local community was mostly effective.

Delegations, roles and responsibilities were not clear for programme planning, teaching, assessment, evaluation and reporting of the ESOL programme. The director of international students felt that he did not have the time to carry out all the responsibilities effectively. The teacher of the ESOL programme was a registered teacher who was employed as a teacher aide, and did not have any particular ESOL qualification. The English Language Learning Progressions were not in use, and it was not obvious that other significant Ministry of Education publications were used to support the programme.