Cambridge Middle School - 26/06/2015

Findings

Cambridge Middle School provides a programme that successfully addresses the specific learning and developmental needs of emerging adolescents. The curriculum includes specialist teaching, support and extension opportunities for students. The school is well engaged with its community, and parents are well informed about the achievement and progress of their children.

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?

Cambridge Middle School is located in the Waikato town of Cambridge and caters for students in Years 7 to 10. The roll of 444 includes 56 students who identify as Māori and a small number of students from other ethnic groups. There are also five international fee-paying students enrolled. The school maintains a focus on addressing the unique needs of the emerging adolescent in environments that are very well resourced for teaching and learning. School programmes, organisation and student experiences are carefully planned to cater for the complex range of academic, sporting, cultural and social needs of this group of students.

The experienced principal continues to adopt a distributive approach to leadership practice, making appropriate delegations, and empowering staff to grow their leadership skills. School leaders and teachers continue to promote a culture of reflective practice and professional dialogue, which is motivating and supporting teachers to build on their practice.

Since the last ERO review in 2012:

  • the roll has remained stable and the leadership team is unchanged
  • there have been few changes to the team of teachers and support staff
  • the charter has been reviewed in consultation with the parent community
  • a new board chairperson is in place and there have been some changes to board membership
  • there has been school-wide involvement in a Ministry of Education (MoE) initiative to promote consistency in student behaviour management and a positive school culture.

The school values of ‘Respect, Honesty, Determination, Consideration and Citizenship’ are well known and reflected in interactions among students and teachers, and throughout the classroom and playground environments.

There are many opportunities for parents to be involved in the school and well informed about school direction and priorities. The school hosts a satellite class from Patricia Avenue School which caters for students with very high and complex needs.

The school has responded positively to the recommendations from the last ERO report about refining teaching and learning practices, aspects of the school’s management, and use of achievement information.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

In classrooms ERO observed very high levels of student engagement and motivation. Classrooms were settled with students consistently on task and enjoying taking part in the learning experiences provided.

Teachers gather information about student achievement using a range of suitable nationally referenced tests. They combine this with information gained from observing and interacting with students during each lesson, to make judgements about student achievement in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. This data shows that while achievement levels dropped from 2013 to 2014, current achievement levels are consistent with national and regional averages. It also indicates that teachers need to continue to explore ways to enhance the consistency of their judgements about student achievement in relation to National Standards.

Achievement information is used effectively by teachers to group students for instruction in literacy and mathematics. This information is also used well to monitor student progress and to identify students for inclusion in extension programmes and learning support initiatives.

School leaders share a collective responsibility and mutual accountability for the quality of teaching in the school. The deputy principal is providing well-informed leadership for learning, particularly in regard to the use of data to improve student achievement. She works closely with other school leaders to make very good use of data to monitor school-wide levels of achievement for groups of students, and to identify trends and patterns in achievement. This approach enables leaders to:

  • be responsive to students’ emerging needs
  • put learning support programmes in place when needed
  • set appropriate targets to raise achievement for students achieving below expected levels
  • report clearly to trustees about the effectiveness of school programmes, enabling the board to make appropriate decisions about school resourcing and targets to improve achievement.

Achievement data is reported clearly to parents through detailed written reports, parent teacher interviews, and attractive informative individual student portfolios. Parents reported to ERO that they feel welcome in the school and that the open-door policy allows parents to approach the school for information about student achievement or to discuss a range of aspects of school organisation and direction.

A recent school-wide initiative has focused teachers on making better use of achievement information to enhance their effectiveness in raising achievement, especially for students achieving below expected levels. Planned professional development, beginning in 2015, is likely to impact positively on this initiative. ERO and the school agree that, although good progress has been made, continued professional learning in this area is a useful next step in enhancing student achievement and improving teaching practice. ERO and the board also agree that this professional development is likely to further improve teacher knowledge about formative teaching practice and result in improving student knowledge of their own learning progressions and next learning steps.

3 Curriculum

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

The Cambridge Middle School curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. It is well defined and broad in coverage of all subject areas with a suitable emphasis on mathematical and literacy learning. The curriculum is clearly documented and provides teachers with clear expectations about the planning and delivery of their classroom teaching programmes. The curriculum enables students to have access to high quality resources to support their learning, creativity, artistic talents and physical skills.

Key aspects of the school curriculum that contribute to student engagement, progress and achievement are:

  • high expectations for student behaviour that are reflected in classrooms across the school
  • teachers’ use of strategies to engage and challenge students’ ideas and understandings
  • a well managed and responsive approach to student pastoral care and wellbeing
  • high quality specialist learning experiences in visual and performing arts, and technology
  • support from a team of trained, experienced and dedicated teachers’ aides who work across a range of learning support initiatives, programmes and administrational duties
  • a planned and sequential approach to teaching te reo Māori.

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

Achievement information gathered and analysed by the school shows that Māori student achievement is generally consistent with national and regional averages for other Māori students, but below that of other students in the school.

The following measures have been implemented in response to this data:

The school has set an annual target to raise achievement levels for Māori boys in writing. Progress for these students is closely monitored by classroom teachers and a specialist teacher has been employed to provide contextually relevant withdrawal programmes. Senior leaders and teaching teams meet regularly to evaluate programmes and discuss the progress being made by these students.

In 2013 trustees became familiar with Ka Hikitia (MoE Accelerating Success for Māori Strategy).

In 2014 teachers and trustees discussed Tātaiako (MoE Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners) and as a result the competencies from Tātaiako have been included in the school curriculum and teacher appraisal systems.

With assistance from a board funded external tutor a school kapa haka group performs regularly and in 2014, took part in a local festival.

A Whānau Group and Whānau Room provides a forum:

  • for whānau and students to discuss Māori student achievement
  • where the school can establish whānau aspirations for their children
  • that enables whānau to have a voice in decisions affecting their tamariki
  • where Māori parents and students can meet to discuss issues that are important for Māori learners.

A teacher with skills in te reo and tikanga provides knowledgeable support and encouragement for teachers to improve aspects of their bicultural practice. With her assistance an extension te reo programme has been established. This teacher is also currently surveying staff to establish their level of confidence and knowledge about te reo and tikanga Māori. From this data she has identified a need to focus on improving teacher knowledge and confidence to teach aspects of te reo and tikanga, and promote an acceptance that these needs become a school priority.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The following factors contribute to the school being well placed to sustain and improve its performance:

  • The school is well engaged with its community.
  • The chairperson has a thorough understanding of school governance and maintains focus on school improvement and raising student achievement.
  • An experienced senior leadership team is providing direction and oversight for school developments.
  • School leadership is making a contribution to the wider and national educational community.
  • There is knowledgeable, well-informed and effective leadership for developments in teaching and learning.
  • There are well-developed processes in place for self review covering all aspects of school administration, management and curriculum.
  • School strategic documentation and direction are coherent, connected and focused on school improvement.

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 5 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review processes for international students are thorough.

The small number of international students has access to a well equipped facility where they receive individually planned programmes to support the development of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Many students attend this ESOL facility for short periods during each week to support their participation in classroom activities alongside their peers. The academic progress of international students is closely monitored and information is shared with parents and designated carers as appropriate.

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

Cambridge Middle School provides a programme that successfully addresses the specific learning and developmental needs of emerging adolescents. The curriculum includes specialist teaching, support and extension opportunities for students. The school is well engaged with its community, and parents are well informed about the achievement and progress of their children.

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

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

26 June 2015

About the School

Location

Cambridge

Ministry of Education profile number

1701

School type

Restricted Composite (Years 7 to 10)

School roll

444

Number of international students

5

Gender composition

Boys 50%

Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Pacific

Other

80%

13%

2%

1%

4%

Special Features

Attached Unit for students with high and complex needs

Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

26 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

February 2012

February 2009

February 2007