Auckland Girls' Grammar School - 05/07/2018

Findings

Relationships at all levels of the school are being strengthened, resulting in a more positive professional culture. The momentum for change is clearly focused on achieving equity and excellence for all learners. ERO concludes that leadership and governance capability has developed sufficiently to be confident that school leaders can self-manage ongoing internal evaluation and school improvement.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

ERO expressed major concerns about the performance of Auckland Girls’ Grammar School in its 2015 report. In 2016, the Ministry of Education (MoE) appointed a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) with wide responsibilities across areas of governance and management. The board of trustees (BOT) had received an independent report in 2014 that also identified serious risks to school operations. The board has sought advice over this time from the New Zealand Trustees Association (NZSTA), about improving school performance.

Since 2016, Auckland Girls' Grammar School has been involved in a 1 to 2 Year ERO review process. ERO has made subsequent visits to the school, talking with school leaders and trustees, and evaluating the school’s progress, and outcomes for learners. ERO has also considered reports from the MoE in relation to the LSM intervention. The BOT in conjunction with the LSM appointed an experienced new school principal in late 2016. The work of the BOT, the LSM and the new principal since that time has prompted school-wide reviews, targeting improved academic and engagement outcomes for students.

Progress has also been made in building a more trusting and learner-focused relationship between trustees and school leaders. The BOT receives information that is increasingly aligned to the school’s strategic directions and annual goals. The recently appointed BOT chairperson is committed to continued board training and has established regular meetings with the principal. Foremost for the BOT are decisions about the future direction for Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi, the school’s Māori whānau unit.

Evidence of improved student achievement in 2017 supports the deliberate focus on targeted and personalised learner support. ERO concludes that leadership and governance capability has grown sufficiently since 2015, to be confident that school leaders can sustain improvements in school performance and continue to strengthen internal evaluation.

Auckland Girls' Grammar School will return to ERO’s regular cycle of three years reviews from the date of this confirmed report.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO reported in 2015 that the school was not well placed to sustain its performance, and faced significant challenges with relationships between key personnel. Priorities for review and development were identified, that were clearly and purposefully outlined in the LSM’s plan of action.

In addition to its concerns about relationships, ERO identified the need for school and BOT leaders to focus on:

  • planning strategic goals and targets for school improvement
  • clarifying roles and expectations of teachers, and school leaders
  • improving the analysis and reporting of student achievement information
  • building capability to evaluate initiatives in teaching and learning
  • improving outcomes for students, particularly Māori students, school-wide.

Progress

The appointment of the LSM in early 2016 was a catalyst for prioritising and planning school improvement. Trustees initially worked to increase their awareness of governance and stewardship. They used the manual of procedures and a work plan to guide their governance responsibilities. The BOT has sought advice from educational agencies, and more recently commissioned an independent report on the future direction of Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi.

Trustees are becoming more mindful of their responsibilities. They are more confident about meeting procedures and the use of their policy framework. Trustees are developing capability for working together and for understanding their role in supporting the school’s new principal. They value the well analysed information school leaders provide that enable evidenced-informed decision making to improve outcomes for students. The relationship between the board and principal has been further enhanced with the recent election of a new Board chairperson.

The new principal initiated a series of well-considered internal reviews in 2017. The appointment of a new deputy principal and restructuring of the senior leadership team have also contributed to improved ways of working and school-wide communication. Roles for deans, heads of faculty and tutor teachers were redefined in relation to prioritising students’ learning needs. Support for targeted learners was personalised and monitored at an individual level.

The school also introduced a new student management system in 2017 to provide better access to achievement data for all teachers. The use of analysed achievement trends and patterns is becoming a powerful tool in understanding how to respond effectively to the learning needs of students individually. Teachers’ classroom practice and priorities for teacher development are now better informed by the use of evidence-based outcomes and analysis.

The work of the senior leadership team has been refocused around outcomes for learners and increased accountability. A revised philosophy for learning that supports the school’s vision of “learners equipped for the world” has been developed in consultation with teachers. Faculty leaders report meaningful information that relates to school goals and targets. The professional learning and development groups enable teachers to participate in relevant inquiry.

The school demonstrated improved student achievement in the 2017 National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). There was substantial improvement in Levels 1, 2 and 3, reversing a decline in NCEA results over recent years. There is clear evidence that the focus on priority learners, the deliberate use of achievement data, and the reorientation of roles and resources focused on lifting student achievement, have been critical steps in improving outcomes for learners.

Confidence in the principal’s targeted approaches is growing. The majority of teachers and faculty leaders are lifting their expectations for student achievement in line with the school’s revised goals and targets. They are sharing progress and achievement information with students and encouraging better levels of engagement, attendance and participation. Māori student achievement across the school, and within Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi, is individually monitored and shared with whānau.

Key next steps

School leaders agree that the next major challenge in improving outcomes for all learners is undertaking a planned and comprehensive review of the school’s curriculum. The process should focus on building student agency for learning through increased:

  • student ownership of learning opportunities
  • use of assessment information at Years 9 and 10
  • student-led approaches to teaching and learning across the school
  • emphasis on the school’s bicultural, and culturally responsive, curriculum.

ERO also recommends that school leaders place greater value on student voice through the use of student wellbeing surveys, extending opportunities for student leadership, and continuing to broaden curriculum pathways options.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is now well placed to sustain its performance, and to continue improving outcomes for all students. Targets for continued improvement in NCEA, increased levels of credit endorsement, work completion and attendance are well on track for 2018.

Students continue to be proud of their school. They particularly enjoy the cultural diversity the school celebrates, and value the additional efforts teachers make to support their achievement and learning success. The school and board are both benefiting from more effective leadership. Relevant information about the school’s progress in relation to key goals and targets is improving relationships between the school and board.

The senior leadership team understands that they too have a critical role in communicating the school’s direction to parents, whānau, staff and students. Systems and procedures are being reviewed and appropriately updated. However, the rationale for change must continue to be promoted so that all stakeholders can contribute to the school’s direction for continued success.

Trustees are more confident of the school’s leadership. They appreciate the focused attention on priority learners and the improved academic achievement of learners overall. Continued scrutiny and data analysis will assist board and school leaders to identify areas of success and greatest need. The continued use of evidence for inquiry, in classroom, school management and leadership practice, will further develop internal evaluation capacity and sustainability.

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.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

It is timely for the MoE to review the role of the Limited Statutory Manager. Ongoing support for the board could now be more appropriately focused on the alignment of strategic planning and curriculum development.

Conclusion

Relationships at all levels of the school are being strengthened, resulting in a more positive professional culture. The momentum for change is clearly focused on achieving equity and excellence for all learners. ERO concludes that leadership and governance capability has developed sufficiently to be confident that school leaders can self-manage ongoing internal evaluation and school improvement.

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

5 July 2018

About the School

Location

Newton, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

53

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1030

Number of international students

22

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Samoan
Tongan
Niuean
Indian
Cook Islands Māori
Southeast Asian
Fijian
Middle Eastern
African
other Pacific
other Asian
other

23%
3%
23%
16%
6%
6%
5%
5%
2%
2%
1%
5%
2%
1%

Special Features

Whānau Unit - Ngā Tūmanako o Kahurangi

Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

5 July 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Longitudinal Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2015
October 2012
August 2009