Buller High School - 12/05/2017

Findings

Students benefit from a strong pastoral system, a committed board, senior management team and staff. Buller High School is an integral part of its local community. It utilises the wider natural environment and community well. Leaders and teachers remain focussed on improving outcomes for students and on providing a meaningful range of pathways for leavers. The next steps for the school include improving a number of school management systems and practice. These include internal evaluation, success for Māori and evaluating the effectiveness of the school curriculum.

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?

Buller High School is a co-educational secondary school located in Westport. The school’s 333 students are drawn from the town and the surrounding Buller District.

The school receives strong support from its community which benefits many aspects of student learning. A number of families and staff have inter-generational links with the area leading to extended support over the academic, cultural and sporting aspects of school life.

The board has a number of new trustees who bring considerable experience to their role. All trustees maintain strong links with the school, local businesses and the wider community.

The school is part of the Buller Community of Learning which appointed its lead principal at the end of 2016.

Since the 2013 ERO report, the school has implemented a number of useful initiatives to improve student learning and achievement. These are helping the school to move ahead positively. Achievement information shows a trend of continued improvement in National Certificate Educational Achievement (NCEA) over the past three years. The areas identified for improvement in this report are likely to strengthen the progress being made.

2 Learning

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

Trustees, leaders and teachers make effective use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Trustees are well informed of student achievement at senior levels. The data indicates improving overall trends in Levels 1 to Level 3 NCEA results. Strong NCEA literacy and numeracy achievement has been sustained over recent years. Trustees set annual improvement targets to continue to raise student achievement further.

Leaders, teachers and heads of departments regularly analyse achievement data to lift student achievement. Each department has defined goals and targets linked to NCEA. These are analysed in annual department reports and reported to the board. Students succeed in a range of other pathways, including employment, apprenticeships, trades’ academy and Gateway.

Teachers are well supported to identify students who need additional support and extension. A recent initiative to increase the sharing of academic and pastoral information regarding all Year 9 students is improving outcomes for students' learning. Year 9 and 10 students’ achievement is regularly assessed. Teachers make judgements about the degree to which individual students are working within the levels of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) or acquiring the competencies and skills specific to that learning area. Students are being encouraged to use this information to monitor their own progress.

A school-wide team approach to ongoing monitoring and care for students’ learning is leading to improved student outcomes.

Next steps

In order to further support the school’s efforts to raise student achievement, senior managers and curriculum leaders need to:

  • develop a coherent approach to monitoring and tracking the achievement of all students so that they can measure the progress of individuals and groups of students, specifically at Years 9 and 10
  • continue to explore ways of addressing disparity in achievement and the retention of boys at senior levels.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum is effective in supporting students’ learning. The board ensures that appropriate resources are available to support their intention that no student misses out on learning opportunities.

A respectful school culture is evident. Students are encouraged to value teaching and learning and follow the ‘Buller High School Way’, a code of behaviour based on the premise that students are responsible for their own actions. The document has been revised to take into account a restorative approach which is part of the positive behaviour for learning philosophy.

Students participate in a wide range of learning opportunities. Sporting, education outside the classroom, leadership, cultural and performance events are all leading to higher levels of engagement, community involvement and student retention.

Ensuring every student has an equitable opportunity for success is a strong focus of this school. The pastoral care team provides holistic support for all students, and a wide range of ‘wrap-around’ services provide targeted assistance for students who require them.

The school and the community work effectively together to support students’ transitions into, through and out of the school and on to further education, training or employment. Useful networks with the local community and tertiary organisations are being created to provide students with meaningful ways to learn and succeed. Student successes, whether academic, sporting, cultural, or in service to the community, are widely celebrated within the school.

Teachers’ professional learning and development (PLD) successfully aligns with the school’s strategic plan and goals. The recent implementation of teaching as inquiry within the teacher appraisal process, should help to measure the impact PLD is making to improve teaching and learning.

Next Steps

To further improve the way the curriculum supports student learning, leaders and teachers need to:

  • build internal capacity in culturally responsive teaching and learning practices
  • regularly and effectively evaluate the quality and relevance of the school’s senior and junior curriculum to support and enhance learning for all students
  • provide students with more opportunities to give feedback on the quality of the teaching and learning and the impact it has on student progress
  • explore and embed ways  of using digital technology to enhance teaching and learning.

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

The school is rebuilding its capacity to effectively promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

The school has developed a Māori responsiveness plan that identifies priorities and ways of building success for Māori, as Māori. A number of initiatives to strengthen cultural connections with whānau and iwi form the focus of this plan.

In this school Māori students’ achievement has been variable in recent years. In NCEA Level 1, achievement by Māori is lower than that of their peers at the school. Many Māori students leave at the end of Year 11 to employment, training or further learning. The retention of Māori male students at Year 12 and 13 and achievement at Level 3 or University Entrance is lower than for other students at this school.

The school needs to provide regular opportunities for Māori students to share their ideas and opinions.

Next steps

To continue to strengthen success for and as Māori, the board and leaders need to:

  • achieve greater consistency of teachers’ culturally responsive practices to continually strengthen Māori students’ engagement in their learning
  • continue to develop partnerships between the school and whānau of Māori students
  • ensure actions to achieve the school’s strategic goal are having a positive and sustainable impact on improved outcomes for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is appropriately placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The senior leaders have strengthened organisational structures to promote a culture of excellence. The school’s strategic plan informs and guides school improvement and development. Clearer processes are creating greater coherence and consistency so that the school’s vision and mission is working well for every student.

The school’s strong links with the wider community enhances opportunities for students to learn and succeed. Leaders are continuing to develop and build reciprocal and collaborative learning-centred relationships with all stakeholders. The school uses a range of strategies to regularly communicate with parents and whānau.

The board of trustees is committed to fostering success for all students and is keen to be assured by high quality evaluation that all students are making sufficient progress. Leaders ensure that professional learning is well linked to the school’s strategic priorities for improvement.

The board has developed plans and systems to ensure sustainability of good governance and stewardship.

The board supports the principal’s performance by ensuring a useful appraisal process which includes staff input and areas for improvement.

Significant resourcing by the community and the board ensures equity of opportunity for all students and is contributing to increased engagement with learning and raising achievement.

Next steps

To continue to improve school performance, leaders and trustees need to:

  • embed evaluation and inquiry into leadership, systems, processes and practices that collectively express how the school plans for, and takes action to realise, its vision, values, goals and targets.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Student (the Code). Established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989.

No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

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

Students benefit from a strong pastoral system, a committed board, senior management team and staff. Buller High School is an integral part of its local community. It utilises the wider natural environment and community well. Leaders and teachers remain focussed on improving outcomes for students and on providing a meaningful range of pathways for leavers. The next steps for the school include improving a number of school management systems and practice. These include internal evaluation, success for Māori and evaluating the effectiveness of the school curriculum.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern/Te Waipounamu

12 May 2017

About the School 

Location

Westport

Ministry of Education profile number

301

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

333

Number of international students

0

Gender composition

Boy 52%; Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Pacifica
Asian
Other Ethnicities

80%
15%
  2%
  1%
  2%

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

12 May 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

August 2013
December 2009
December 2007