Cambridge Middle School - 09/10/2018

School Context

Cambridge Middle School is located in the Waikato town of Cambridge. It provides education for students in Years 7 to 10. The school roll of 609 includes 83 Māori students and 47 students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The school’s vision aims to prepare learners to adapt to the ever changing world by understanding and meeting the needs of emerging adolescent learners within a happy and safe environment. Students are encouraged to uphold the school’s culture of ‘Pride’ through the principles of participation, resilience, integrity, diversity and excellence.

The school places importance on the values of:

  • respect/whakaute
  • honesty/pononga
  • determination/hiringa
  • consideration/aaronui
  • citizenship/raraunga.

The school’s strategic goals focus on improving student learning and engagement for all students, particularly Māori and boys. The school prioritises accelerating progress of all students and specifically those achieving below expectation.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the previous ERO review in 2015, there have been significant changes to the teaching and leadership team. All senior leaders are new to their roles and a newly appointed principal commenced at the beginning of 2018. There are a number of new trustees along with a new board chairperson. The overall roll has increased significantly over the past three years and the school has built two new collaborative learning environments as replacements due to a fire in 2016.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all of its students.

The school’s achievement data from 2016 to 2017 shows the majority of students is achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing, and mathematics. Overall levels of achievement have remained consistent over the past two years. There is significant disparity in achievement for Māori students in relation to their Pākehā peers in all areas. This pattern of disparity for Māori has remained consistent over time. Boys and girls are achieving at comparable levels. While boys’ achievement has improved in all areas, especially writing, a slight decline in girls’ achievement is evident. 

The school’s data shows that students with special needs make appropriate progress in relation to their individual goals.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school has accelerated the progress of some at-risk students in reading, writing and mathematics.  Māori students have made accelerated progress in mathematics. In an 18 month period from 2017 to mid 2018, just under half of the students who were underachieving in reading and mathematics made accelerated progress and slightly less in writing. This analysis was completed by leaders during the ERO review.

The school’s data for targeted interventions also shows high levels of accelerated progress for smaller numbers of Māori and other students in writing from 2015 to 2017 and mathematics from 2017 to 2018.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1  What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The curriculum is responsive and inclusive. It provides students with a wide range of experiences and authentic contexts which enhance student leadership, engagement and success in learning. Technology classes facilitated by specialist teachers respond well to the needs and interests of the emerging adolescent. Students develop problem solving, self-management and other life skills and competencies. A strong focus on inclusion for all students with additional learning needs provides equitable opportunities to learn. 

Teachers use deliberate strategies to improve learning. Students at risk are clearly identified through a range of appropriate assessment information. Open-ended questions and a variety of whole class, group and peer activities develop students’ thinking, understanding and problem solving. Digital technology is used effectively to support students’ independence. Positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students contribute to calm and settled environments for learning.

Leadership ensures a well-managed and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. There are positive relationships between leaders, teachers, trustees and parents which result in a collaborative and cohesive team. Clear guidelines and expectations are in place to guide teaching, learning and behaviour management practices. Leaders prioritise many school-wide interventions to improve and accelerate learning. Effective liaison with external agencies supports students’ learning and behavioural needs. Leadership is enhancing culturally responsive practice school-wide.

The board is working closely with the principal to improve school systems and outcomes for students. Trustees bring a range of skills and expertise to their roles and are undertaking ongoing training. They are increasingly scrutinising all aspects of school operations including achievement data and using this information to improve opportunities for all students, including those needing additional learning support.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

There is need to continue to develop a more strategically aligned approach to accelerate the progress of all students at risk of not achieving. Priority should be given to:

  • strengthening annual targets to focus on all students whose learning requires acceleration
  • monitoring and reporting on rates of progress and acceleration for at-risk students over time
  • inquiring more deeply into what is making a difference for student learning and specific outcomes of interventions.

Leaders and teachers should consider ways to:

  • develop consistency of teacher’s knowledge and use of learning progressions to identify and respond to students’ learning needs and next steps
  • strengthen partnerships for learning with parents, families and whānau
  • continue to broaden and enrich bicultural practice in classrooms and across the school.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (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 nine international students attending the school.

The school has well-considered systems and processes for the provision of pastoral care and the integration of international students into the life of the school and the local community. Formal instruction in English language learning supports students’ academic work. Their progress and achievement is well monitored.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • teaching practices that promote student engagement and learning
  • a rich and inclusive curriculum that promotes high levels of student engagement
  • leadership that sets clear expectations for teaching and learning
  • governance that demonstrates a commitment to the importance of raising student achievement across the school, and the achievement of equitable outcomes for Māori and all learners.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • internal evaluation to inform targeted action to address in-school disparity
  • building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achieve equity for Māori students, especially in reading and writing
  • empowering students and parents in learning pathways to accelerate learning.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Adrienne Fowler
Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

9 October 2018

About the school 

Location

Cambridge

Ministry of Education profile number

1701

School type

Restricted composite (Years 7 to 10)

School roll

606

Gender composition

Boys      49%
Girls       51%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                    14%
Pākehā                                  79%
MELAA                                   3%
Asian                                     3%
Other ethnic groups                1%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)

Yes

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

July 2018

Date of this report

9 October 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2015
Education Review February 2012