Avondale College - 27/02/2013

Findings

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Avondale College is one of the largest Year 9 to 15 schools in New Zealand. The school roll is culturally diverse, including 12% Māori and 30% Pacific students. Almost half of the students attending come from outside the school’s enrolment zone. The school also has a significant number of international students. Students choose to attend the school for the wide range of educational, social, recreational, cultural and sporting opportunities that the college continues to provide.

A major area of development over the past three years has been the multi-million dollar rebuild of school premises. Modern learning environments support teaching and learning and complement the school’s well resourced learning areas. Information and communication technology infrastructure has been enhanced to facilitate digital learning opportunities for staff and students.

The rebuilding project has been managed by the board of trustees and the principal. This placed considerable strain on other aspects of school performance that are now priorities for the board to address. The school has a unique and challenging context, with at least two further years of rebuilding to plan, manage and complete.

School leaders have used ERO’s 2009 review to develop and implement a self-review strategy. The approach is directed specifically at department level, with expectations to improve student achievement overall. School leaders have spent considerable time implementing self review at that level of the school.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

School leaders have high expectations for students to be engaged in positive learning experiences. Classrooms are generally settled and focused. Students know the school expectations and most benefit where there are effective learning programmes and teachers who support their learning well.

The school offers dual qualification pathway for students in the senior school. In the past three years, the school has offered the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) as well as the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA). Students selecting the CIE pathway are generally achieving well, and almost all also achieve University Entrance. Some students in both pathways achieve well in New Zealand Scholarship examinations and are well supported by their teachers.

The achievement of students in the NCEA pathway, including the majority of Maori and Pacific learners, has varied considerably in the past three years. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has supported the school to diversify school assessment practices. Recent achievement trends are positive, most notably at NCEA Level 1 and 2. School data for literacy and numeracy at NCEA Level 1 show that overall student achievement is above the average for similar schools.

The school is continuing to find ways to strengthen Maōri and Pacific student achievement. Māori students as a group significantly improved their achievement in NCEA Levels 1and 2 in 2011. This strong upward trend continued in 2012. Their overall achievement was above national averages for Māori students. Recent school initiatives for mentoring Level 1 and 2 students are being implemented more widely to support all Māori and Pacific students to improve outcomes.

Ongoing work to strengthen partnerships between the home and school are beginning to benefit Pacific students. They are now achieving results that are better than national averages for Pacific students. School leaders are aware of the need to continue this positive trend and to support Pacific students to achieve highly. Some Pacific students have achieved very highly.

The school has some useful assessment tools that could be used to measure progress and achievement in Years 9 and 10 school wide. Work to align curriculum levels with meaningful assessment in order to better evaluate student progress and achievement is worthwhile. School leaders should also focus on setting specific and measurable achievement targets for students in Year 9 and 10.

Teachers, as part of their ongoing self review and inquiry into the impact of their teaching strategies, should consider documentingthe impact of their teaching practices and interventions that support students to make accelerated progress. This would assist senior leaders in the school-wide review of good teaching practices and identifying effective teaching practice across the school.

Further evaluating the progress of groups of students in Years 9 and 10 over time and reporting regularly to the board of trustees on school-wide achievement against the curriculum levels will help inform board strategic planning and enhance self review.

The school’s recently compiled data on student attendance and discipline indicate some groups of students are not well engaged in learning. ERO also notes that student management approaches and pastoral care systems are not well aligned with the vision and values in the school’s charter. An increased focus on using positive behaviour management approaches will promote student engagement in learning. Maintaining positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students and greater use of restorative practices would better align with recent teacher professional development about effective teaching and learning.

The board is committed to improving engagement in learning and achievement for all students, especially Māori and Pacific learners. ERO agrees with school leaders that they should continue to sustain recent improvement in teaching and learning and to strengthen data analysis and teaching as inquiry. External support is available to embed effective self review.

ERO recommends that school leaders review the school system for grouping students for learning. Where students are likely to be at risk of leaving school without qualifications at Level 2 NCEA, they should review how well current strategies engage these students in learning and serve to accelerate their progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The large student roll allows the school to staff a broad curriculum and co-curricular programme for the school’s diverse learners. The high student retention level through Years 11 to 13 provides evidence that the curriculum supports many students to succeed and be well prepared for future education. It is important, however, that school leaders continue to review curriculum pathways and qualifications to ensure that the curriculum responds to the needs of all groups of students.

Valuable academy-based programmes support students who have talent in sport and in the performing arts. Students in Years 9 and 10 have access to a broad, open curriculum. Those in Years 11 to 13, who meet the pre-requisites, have a wide range of curriculum choices. School leaders should continue to focus on building school-wide strategies that enable all learners to succeed at higher levels of the curriculum.

Career planning is available and supports Year 13 students well. Access to career guidance for students in other year levels will be expanded as the school reviews their services. The career benchmarks indicators could be a useful resource to extend this review. Better connecting pastoral care and career planning services could also be useful for supporting students in their selection of subjects and learning pathways. Work-based programmes, such as Gateway, are currently available as an extra subject for 42 learners.

The school’s curriculum continues to develop and benefits from opportunities provided for teachers to work collaboratively on improving teaching and learning. They should now evaluate how well programmes enable priority learners, particularly Māori and Pacific students and students with specific learning needs, to make accelerated progress. Key strategies for curriculum development should include:

  • extending teachers’ use of student achievement information to cater for individual and group learning needs within classroom programmes
  • sharing achievement information with students to help them develop purposeful goals and strategies for achieving success
  • developing systems for documenting and sharing effective teacher practice, at both a school-wide and department level.

Strategic planning for the long term development of e-learning is underway. The school has very good infrastructure in place to support e-learning and e-access. Some teachers are trialling new ways of delivering the curriculum that could provide useful information for further curriculum development. School leaders are working towards using digital feedback strategies from students to inform school review. Ongoing review of the alignment of the school’s curriculum programmes with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) would also be useful. The principles, values and key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum could prove useful tools for guiding this review.

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

A number of useful initiatives to support Māori student success have been recently introduced. School leaders have also re-established consultation with whānau. The overall impact of these developments has yet to be evaluated. School leaders have usedthe Ministry of Education’s Ka Hikitia framework to inform school initiatives to promote educational success for Māori.

Māori students enjoy supportive relationships with many teachers and benefit from improved opportunities to be together. Ongoing work to promote school kawa and tikanga could further strengthen Māori students’ identity and sense of inclusion in the college.

The school is justifiably proud of recent overall improvements in academic success for Maori students. School leaders have identified the need to develop a plan to sustain and ensure the continued success of recent developments. Planning should focus on promoting success for Māori as Māori and lifting overall levels of Māori educational achievement. It would be useful for trustees and school leaders to develop even closer links with the community at governance level. External support to help school leaders and trustees would also be useful.

Ministry of Education resources such as Tātaiako may be helpful for teachers to evaluate their level of cultural responsiveness and for monitoring school plans and goals to improve Māori success.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The principal and senior leadership team have been under significant pressure balancing school operations and educational leadership while managing the school’s large scale school rebuilding programme. ERO recommends that senior leaders and trustees access targeted support in order to improve and sustain school performance.

Self-review systems are being established at the level of department planning and evaluation. To improve school performance, self review and evaluation is being extended to senior leadership and governance levels. ERO also recommends that school leadership delegations be reviewed to provide more support for the principal. Senior leaders should be annually appraised in order to develop their leadership capabilities.

Trustees have made appropriate and well considered decisions regarding property development. Careful resourcing decisions are ensuring the financial stability of the school. Trustees should now focus on improving board operations and implementing their new work plan. Other priorities for the board include:

  • setting more specific and measurable targets focused on the achievement of priority learners
  • keeping policies aligned with legislative requirements, ministry and good practice guidelines
  • ensuring it receives documented evaluative reports on school operations, including health and safety, pastoral care and student progress and achievement
  • ensuring strategic planning goals are regularly evaluated and reported to promote the school’s ongoing success.

The school tone remains positive for many students who are proud of their school. Promoting high quality education and outcomes for all students remains the key goal of the school.

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. At the time of this review there were 165 international students attending the school.

International students feature among some of the school’s highest academic achievers, including those who attain New Zealand scholarships. They have access to a variety of courses and benefit from the wider learning opportunities that the college provides. They receive good language support.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. However, ERO’s investigations found that the school does not yet fully comply with the Code.

To comply with the Code, the school should complete a thorough self-review process for international students. Recent changes to the international department personnel and operations provide a timely opportunity for an external review to develop more robust processes. The board should also receive more detailed and frequent reports on how well international students progress and achieve.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

During the course of the review ERO identified three areas of non-compliance. In order to address these, the board of trustees must:

  • maintain an on-going programme of self-review
    [NAG 2(b)]
  • comply with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students
    [Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students 28.3, s238F Education Act 1989]
  • ensure senior managers are appraised annually
    [s 77C State Sector Act 1988; NZ Gazette and relevant Collective Employment Agreement].

In order to improve practice the board should:

  • review the patterns and trends apparent in student discipline numbers. Trustees and senior staff should evaluate whether school resources could be used more effectively to reduce the relatively high number of students who are suspended and excluded from the school
  • receive documented reports that provide assurance that teacher registration and police vetting requirements are implemented, and that health and safety requirements are met.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing targeted support to the school in order to continue to improve outcomes for students by strengthening school governance and management.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

27 February 2013

About the School

Location

Avondale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

78

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

2499

Number of international students

165

Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Samoan

Indian

Chinese

African

Niue

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

South East Asian

Fijian

Middle Eastern

other Asian

other European

other Pacific

other

22%

12%

16%

11%

8%

4%

4%

4%

3%

3%

2%

2%

5%

2%

1%

1%

Review team on site

August 2012

Date of this report

27 February 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Discretionary Review

June 2009

June 2006

February 2002