ACG Parnell College - 25/03/2010

1. Background

Introduction

The Chief Review Officer has a statutory duty to report on the performance of private schools throughout New Zealand.

Under section 35A of the Education Act 1989, private schools are required to be “efficient”. The Act defines “efficient”, in relation to a private school as -

(a) Having suitable premises, staffing, equipment, and curriculum; and

(b) Usually providing tuition for 9 or more students who have turned 5 but are under 16; and

(c) Providing suitably for the inculcation in the minds of students of sentiments of patriotism and loyalty; and

(d) Giving students tuition of a standard no lower than that of the tuition given to students enrolled at…schools of the same class.

This report focuses on the extent to which the school meets this requirement and other statutory obligations.

This review report was prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

2. Efficient

ACG Parnell College continues to provide high quality education for students from Year 1 to those who are preparing for tertiary education in their final year at school. The inclusive culture and purposeful atmosphere of the school provides a learning environment in which students’ creativity and capacity for lateral thinking are nurtured. Student success is recognised and celebrated within the school community. ACG Parnell College continues to provide challenging academic programmes alongside a growing range of sports and cultural opportunities.

Previous ERO reports have recorded the growth of the school. It is now at a stage of organisational maturity and consolidation. While the roll continues to grow, senior leaders are aware of the importance of maintaining the family culture and the emphasis on pastoral care to support learning. A well articulated educational vision underpins the philosophy of the school, and the impact of enthusiastic and energetic leadership is clearly evident.

The primary area of the school now has a class at every year level and, at some levels, two classes. Class sizes are small and teachers know individual students well. They make good use of data to determine student learning needs and to extend and support individual students. Primary teachers take care to share information about learning with parents and caregivers. Families enjoy the transition times when they come into the classrooms and share their child’s day. Attractive, well organised classrooms provide an environment in which children are confident to make choices and use learning resources independently.

The junior school curriculum is based on the previous New Zealand CurriculumFramework and the Cambridge primary curriculum for Years 1 to 6. There is an appropriate emphasis on literacy, numeracy and science. New Zealand texts and resources are used in the programme and students are encouraged to think globally and locally.

As the students move through the school, they maintain close and reciprocally respectful relationships with their teachers. Older students in the junior school benefit from being challenged to think critically and develop good skills for future academic success. Senior students benefit from a rigorous academic programme that encourages personal growth and challenge.

The values that underpin the school’s programme are closely aligned with those of the New Zealand Curriculum and are reflected in practice at every level of the school. Every lesson starts with a discussion of an appropriate value and its application in the particular learning situation. Some teachers are also skilled at discussing the purpose of the learning with students and helping them to develop appropriate tools to determine the extent to which they have been successful in their endeavours.

Throughout the school, lessons are well prepared, well paced, and the programme is purposeful. Time is used well in a highly focused learning culture. Teachers are skilled at using strategic questioning to engage students in discussion and students clearly enjoy the opportunity to explore ideas.

A feature of the school is the very good use of information and communication technologies (ICT) as a teaching tool that expands the classroom and allows personalised learning to occur. Student confidence in developing resources to support their own and others’ learning has resulted in Studywiki, a shared school website run by students. Some teachers are making very good use of ICT, including the use of blogs, to provide students with detailed comments on their work and to stimulate further thinking. Students respond positively to ICT teaching initiatives.

Good systems are in place for reporting to parents on student achievement. Written reports to parents are clear and detailed. Throughout the year, priority is given to face to face interviews, including student-parent-teacher conferences, to set learning goals and to monitor students’ achievement throughout the year. Teachers make good use of ongoing assessment data to improve teaching as well as learning. Careful analysis of external examination results is undertaken to determine where improvements can be made in course structures and in teaching strategies.

The growing senior school presents a new dimension in the culture of the school. Senior leaders have ensured that students have access to a range of leadership opportunities. Students enjoy the growing number of sports and cultural activities, and the opportunities for personal challenge outside the classroom.

The curriculum from Years 11 to 13 is designed to prepare students for success in the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). Students’ ongoing success in these examinations reflects well on the quality of teaching in the school. The school is justifiably proud of the hundred percent success rate at Year 10 IGCSE, where every paper sat received an A or A* grades. School leaders attribute this outstanding result to the success of the Year 10 extension programme, particularly in science and mathematics. Results in Years 11 to 13 were also very pleasing and a number of students were awarded ‘Top in the World’ in individual examinations. The school received a Top School Award in recognition of its academic excellence.

Teachers maintain a collegial professional culture across the school. The appraisal system in place across all ACG schools provides useful overview reports to managers to highlight professional development needs and to identify trends in teaching. Teachers are thoughtful practitioners. There is good evidence that professional development programmes for staff have been effective in helping them to stay abreast of new and significant developments in teaching and assessment practice.

The school is well equipped to support learning. Provisions for practical subjects such as art, physical education and the sciences are generous and well organised. Classrooms are clean and very well maintained. Teachers in the senior school are taking increasing care to make sure that classrooms are attractive to students, support learning, and reflect the high quality of student work. Ready access to ICT, such as data projectors and laptops, helps teachers to make good use of the school’s website to support learning and provides efficient data management systems. Generous provision of space, and thoughtful planning, has enabled the development of specialist teaching facilities in the Titoki Street site. These facilities are shared by the younger students from the George Street site when appropriate.

3. Statutory Obligations

The principal and senior managers maintain efficient and effective systems to ensure that statutory obligations are met. Good processes for self review are evident. Systems that operate across the ACG group, such as personnel and property management, are comprehensive, careful and well managed.

4. Other Matters

Provision for International Students

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

ACG Parnell 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.

The school complies with all aspects of the Code.

The international students on the roll of ACG Parnell College are in Years 1 to 8. The school also provides programmes for international students in Years 9 to 15 on behalf of ACG New Zealand International College. The administrative oversight of all ACG international students is handled by the Academic Registrar, and efficient, effective systems are in place to meet administrative requirements. Documentation is carefully processed. Self-review systems are good.

International students at ACG Parnell College benefit from high quality teaching and a supportive learning environment at all levels of the school. The diverse ethnic makeup of the school population encourages students to mix freely with others, while also enjoying the support of other students who share their first language. Care is taken with placement of students so that their academic and personal needs are met. English language support programmes operate effectively to enable students to make a gradual transition into classes at an appropriate level. Teachers have continued to undertake professional development in effective strategies for teaching students from other language backgrounds. These good teaching techniques benefit all students.

Staff take care to ensure that students are enjoying their time at the school. The staff responsible meet with students regularly. Confidential surveys are used so that students can express any concerns. Students in these surveys describe themselves as happy, and are confident that help is available should they need it. They regard the school as very well run. Close contact is maintained with parents and caregivers.

Conclusion

ACG Parnell College is deemed to be efficient as defined within section 35A of the Education Act 1989. It complies with all components of its suitability statement and continues to provide very high standards of education and care for students.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

About the School

School type

Private School – Years 1-15

Numbers of teachers

64

School roll

802

Number of international students

150

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 77%, Chinese 6%, Indian 6%, other Asian 4%, other 7%

Gender composition

Male 62%, Female 38%

Review team on site

February 2010

Date of this report

25 March 2010

Previous ERO report

Private School Review 2007 and as ACG Junior College Private School Review, February 2004 Accountability Review, March 2001 Statutory Review, November 1998