Alfriston College - 26/06/2015

Findings

Alfriston College provides students with very good opportunities to belong, learn and succeed. It values New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and celebrates the richness of students’ cultural diversity. Students have positive relationships with their teachers and each other. They receive innovative and interesting learning programmes and are well supported to make good progress and achieve.

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?

Alfriston College opened in 2004. It was purposefully designed as a modern learning environment to promote an innovative and inclusive curriculum for students from Years 9 to 13. A significant feature of the school is the well established whānau approach that promotes student wellbeing, belonging and leadership. School wide whānau approaches also encourage student and staff pride in the school, in each other, and in bicultural Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The school’s wharenui, Te Pai o Takānini, sits at the centre of the grounds. It signifies clearly the place of Māori as tangata whenua and represents the school’s strong commitment to its local Takānini and Manurewa areas.

Thirty five per cent of students in the school are Māori. The culturally diverse student group also includes more than 20 other ethnicities, including 20 percent from various Pacific heritages and a growing Indian population. The school values New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and celebrates the richness that its cultural diversity brings.

The school’s vision of students, staff and community belonging, learning and succeeding is reflected in many ways throughout the school. School values are aligned clearly to the curriculum design for Years 9 and 10 and within whānau time for all students. The five whānau groups of students from Years 9 to 13 provide opportunities for tuakana-teina relationships to support student learning and wellbeing.

The 2012 ERO report identified many positive features that were promoting student learning. These features continue to be evident. A new principal joined the school in mid 2014. With two long serving deputy principals, he has restructured the leadership team to promote leadership expertise and strengths. The restructure has refocused the junior curriculum, starting in 2015 with Year 9 students.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is used increasingly well by school leaders and teachers to develop a curriculum that engages students in their learning, provides authentic learning experiences and supports their success.

Many students enter the school in Year 9 with achievement levels lower than national expectations in reading and maths. School data shows that these students make good progress over time.

The board and leaders use analysed data for different groups of students to set strategic goals and achievement targets. Teachers and leaders have an improved picture of junior student progress and are more responsive to students’ learning needs. This improvement results from their use of better assessment tools, and strengthened data analysis. Teachers have also recently introduced innovative teaching and learning programmes for Year 9 students.

Students in the senior school are skilled in tracking their own progress and understanding their own next steps for learning. This individualised approach to using achievement information has been strengthened through the school’s home-school partnership initiative where all students set and evaluate their learning goals. The school’s next step is to continue to support students to have greater ownership of their own learning.

The school’s achievement trends and patterns in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) shows that over time the number of students gaining qualifications at Levels 1, 2 and 3 remains constant, or improves slightly. The gap between the NCEA achievement of Māori and Pacific learners and other students is continuing to close. However school leaders are aware of the need to continue increasing achievement levels overall and especially for Māori students.

Senior leaders are also keen to explore new ways of working with the parents/whānau of students at risk of not achieving, to accelerate their learning. Setting specific achievement targets and more focused reporting processes may help to support the progress of these students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning very effectively. It is broad based and very well designed to meet students’ interests, backgrounds, strengths and needs. It supports students’ engagement and success, and connects well to their future pathways and to the community. The curriculum ensures that student successes are recognised and celebrated in many ways.

Significant features of the school’s curriculum include its focus on Māori concepts, and on key learning skills, especially self management and independence. Students in Year 9 experience a revised and innovative curriculum approach that features team teaching and collaboration. This new approach provides students with very good levels of challenge, and improved opportunities for choice about what and how they learn.

Teachers are responsive to students’ learning needs and provide them with additional support where needed. The school’s vision is for this successful, student-centred approach to curriculum design and delivery to be in place for all students from Years 9 to 13 by 2019.

Teachers are hard working and skilled practitioners. They are open to the changes required to enact future-focused curriculum expectations. Capable school leaders guide and support teachers well, and provide appropriate conditions for them to be innovative.

Students from Years 10 to 13 also experience very good learning programmes. They are highly engaged in learning and appreciate the positive relationships they have with their teachers and each other. The school’s well-considered independent learning centre supports all senior students to manage their own learning. This well-staffed centre shows value and respect for students’ time and wellbeing.

The school’s inclusive ethos promotes tolerance and appreciation of difference. This ethos is underpinned by a very good whānau structure that supports student learning, belonging and wellbeing. Vertically grouped classes offer students significant opportunities for leadership and for developing tuakana-teina relationships. In addition the school has very good systems for ensuring students receive culturally appropriate support for learning and pastoral care. The board’s specific resourcing of youth workers based at the school exemplifies the importance the school places on student welfare.

The board and senior leaders agree that some of the school’s curriculum initiatives could now be more formally evaluated for their impact on student engagement and wellbeing. They are also interested in engaging an external consultant to support the school in evaluating more recent curriculum design and initiatives.

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

The school is a leader in how effectively it promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori. Māori cultural practices provide the foundation for the school’s welcoming, whānau-focused and inclusive school climate. Tikanga Māori is embraced by staff, students and parents. It is an integral and unifying part of school life and students’ learning experiences. Kapa haka is a strength of the school and Māori students ably fulfil the many opportunities available for leadership.

Experienced and committed staff continue to promote positive outcomes for Māori students. Their strategic approaches include sustaining the practices and principles of Te Kotahitanga initiative, and providing mentoring programmes for Māori students. A long-serving mana whenua trustee continues to provide the board with advice and guidance from a Māori perspective.

The school’s kaumatua now has a paid position and office space at the school, showing the value that the school places on promoting Māori success. As a result of very good school practices Māori students’ language, culture and identity are validated. Students are proud and confident in themselves as learners and leaders.

The school’s next steps in this area include further strengthening partnerships with whānau, and providing professional learning that continues to develop teachers’ understanding and use of culturally responsive practices.

How effectively does the school promote Pacific success?

The school promotes Pacific success effectively. Twenty-two percent of students have Pacific Island heritage. Most are Samoan, with smaller numbers of Tongan, Cook Island, Fijian, Tokelauan and Niue students. Many staff, including the principal, are from these Pacific groups. This feature, alongside the very good communication between school and home, provides Pacific students and their families with a strong connection to the school. Celebrations of Pacific student success during the year are capably led by the school’s Pacific team in partnership with students and parents.

The board, principal and Pacific staff and parents recognise the importance of having a Pacific cultural perspective at the governance level of the school. This matter could be addressed as the school reviews its Pacific success strategy and aligns it more clearly to the board’s strategic goals and targets.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The school is well led by the principal and senior leadership team. The deputy principals and senior team are dedicated to promoting positive outcomes for students. Senior leaders are reflective and are responsive to teacher needs. The principal has approached his new role thoughtfully and aligned his vision to that of the school. Trustees, parents, staff and students appreciate the active role that the principal has in the school and community. They value his calm and capable leadership style.

The principal and senior leaders have increasing expectations for more rigorous self review at all levels of the school. They recognise the need to align curriculum review and reporting to the school’s strategic plan, especially at Years 9 and 10. They are also interested in evaluating how well the senior leadership team is leading change throughout the school.

Trustees bring a variety of governance experiences to their board roles and have good understanding of their governance responsibilities. They are committed to the school and to promoting the school’s vision of supporting students to belong, learn and succeed.

A key next step for the board and senior leadership team is to develop greater alignment between the board’s strategic goals and targets, its reporting mechanisms and decision making practices. This development would enable trustees and senior leaders to maintain a more critical lens on student progress and achievement during the year.

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

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. The school places a strong focus on providing high-quality pastoral care and many opportunities for integration into the life of the school. International students requiring assistance in learning the English language receive appropriate levels of targeted support.

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.

Conclusion

Alfriston College provides students with very good opportunities to belong, learn and succeed. It values New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and celebrates the richness of students’ cultural diversity. Students have positive relationships with their teachers and each other. They receive innovative and interesting learning programmes and are well supported to make good progress and achieve.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

26 June 2015

About the School

Location

Manurewa, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

6929

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1361

Number of international students

8

Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

European

Indian

Samoan

South East Asian

Cook Island

Tongan

Chinese

Niue

Fijian

Middle Eastern

other European

other

36%

15%

14%

12%

5%

4%

3%

2%

2%

1%

1%

2%

3%

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

26 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2012

May 2009

March 2006