Bay of Islands College - 07/03/2014

1 Background and Context

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

Bay of Islands College, in the Kawakawa Valley, caters for students in Years 9 to 13. The majority of students at the school are Māori, who affiliate largely with Ngāti Hine and fifteen other hapū. There is a strong history of Māori community presence and support for the school. This strong connection has enhanced Māori students’ pride in their language, culture and identity, and has reinforced for students the importance of learning and achieving.

ERO’s 2009 review of Bay of Islands College identified that the school had sustained and improved its performance, particularly in relation to teaching and learning, and student achievement. The acting principal, senior leaders and many teachers were committed to promoting Māori student success. Values and practices of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage were evident throughout the school and were well supported by kaumātua.

In 2010 a new principal started at the school. Within a short period of time, the principal’s relationships with staff, a section of the school’s Māori community, and members of the board of trustees, had deteriorated. Three trustees resigned from the board between 2011 and 2012. At this time, the board of trustees requested support from the Ministry of Education. A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) was appointed from the start of 2012 to help the board overcome issues, including the quality of the principal’s leadership, low staff morale and limited community involvement in the school.

ERO’s 2012 report for Bay of Islands College identified significant concerns with the principal’s leadership of the school. It noted that the LSM was supporting the board with personnel management, complaints management and community engagement. The report recognised the board’s ongoing commitment to governing the school effectively under difficult circumstances, and the staff dedication to promoting student learning and improving student achievement.

As the level of conflict in the school was impeding progress at many levels, ERO recommended that the board seek support from the Ministry of Education to increase the level of intervention in the school. In addition, an arotake paetawhiti (AP) review was initiated by ERO. The purpose of this review was to support the school by providing an ongoing evaluation of the extent to which concerns were being addressed.

In April 2013 the principal was dismissed following performance management steps taken by the LSM. A new principal was appointed in September 2013 after operating in an acting principal capacity since April. The Ministry of Education revoked the LSM in October 2013, being confident in the board’s capacity to govern the school effectively.

In December 2013, ERO brought its AP review to a close with a concluding visit to the school. Information gathered during this visit, together with evidence collected through its contact with the school since December 2012, has been used to evaluate progress made by the school over the last year. ERO’s findings are outlined in the following sections of this report.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO’s 2012 report identified the need for the school to improve its performance, with a particular focus on:

  • improving the principal’s professional leadership
  • re-establishing a meaningful partnership with the runanga and longstanding school kāumatua
  • promoting robust, wider community involvement in the development of the school’s charter, vision and values
  • ensuring sound and prudent governance practices and decision making
  • developing high quality self review clearly linked to improving outcomes for students
  • improving the analysis, use and reporting of school-wide achievement data for students in Years 9 and 10.

Progress

Since April 2013, the school has made good progress in a number of areas identified for review and development. The newly appointed principal is having a positive influence on restoring a settled and inclusive school culture. Staff report that the school has a more positive tone, and that staff morale has significantly improved. They remain committed to promoting positive learning outcomes for students.

Teachers have good access to a number of professional learning programmes. They are continuing to promote opportunities for students to be involved in and understand their own learning, progress and achievement. There is also a more consistent school-wide approach to the way achievement information for students in Years 9 and 10 is collated, analysed and used.

Senior leaders have reviewed and modified the school’s approach to managing student behaviour, promoting a more positive system and with the aim of reducing the high stand down rate. The principal and school leaders plan to restore Te Kotahitanga, the teacher professional learning initiative designed to promote Māori student success. They also plan to more formally promote restorative practices throughout the school. The board, leaders and staff expect that these initiatives, combined with stronger whānau partnerships and improved curriculum opportunities, would engage students more in learning, and reduce behavioural issues.

The leadership team is a new extended group consisting of the principal, two senior leaders and two senior members of teaching staff. The principal appreciates the different strengths and skills of the team and values the diverse thinking that the extended team structure promotes. The team is supportive of the new principal and is continuing to establish productive working relationships.

A significant area of progress is the reconnection of kaumātua and kuia to the school. A community forum, Te Roopu Whakakotahi, with combined school and community leadership, was established soon after the new principal arrived at the school. This group is reunifying the school and community, providing a significant place for Māori elders and others to contribute to decision making at a strategic level. The board and principal are in the initial phase of consulting with Te Roopu Whakakotahi to develop a shared ownership of the school’s charter, vision and values.

The principal is responsive to the community’s desire for the college to be more connected with the wider Bay of Islands community. In partnership with long-serving staff, he has reconnected the school with local community events, and visited local marae and contributing schools. He is also networking with local business organisations to promote student learning opportunities and experiences.

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 well placed to sustain and continue improvements and to review its own performance. The following areas of progress are pivotal in the school‘s ability to sustain improvements.

The board of trustees is representative of its community, and has a good mix of newer and more experienced board members. Trustees valued the LSM’s support and guidance in their appointment of the new principal. They are continuing to strengthen their understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities.

The senior leadership team is improving its systems and processes for self review. They have a clear structure for undertaking planned reviews, and in the past year have reviewed and modified the school’s timetable structure and behaviour management system. Self review increasingly includes student and staff consultation.

Improved relationships within the school and between the school and its communities are a significant factor in the school sustaining its performance. All parties express their strong willingness to work in partnership to sustain and promote ongoing improvements for students.

Key areas for further development

Key next steps for the school include:

  • continuing the process of consulting with parents, whānau, staff, students, and the wider community to develop the school’s charter, vision and values
  • school leaders providing clear, unified and decisive leadership to promote the shared vision for the school
  • clearly aligning the school’s professional learning and development programme with the school’s strategic direction
  • reviewing and documenting the school’s policy and procedures for staff and principal appointments
  • continuing to explore ways to further engage students in learning, and reduce stand-down and suspension rates.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey
National Manager Review Services
Northern Region

About the School

Location

Kawakawa Valley, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

8

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

371

Gender composition

Girls       54%
Boys      46%

Ethnic composition

Maori
NZ European/ Pākehā
Pacific
other

87%
10%
  2%
  1%

Review team on site

December 2013

Date of this report

7 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

December 2012
December 2009
August 2006