De La Salle College - 29/06/2016

Findings

De La Salle College is committed to the provision of high quality learning opportunities and qualifications success. Increasingly, pathway opportunities outside the traditional classroom are offering valuable personalised learning. School leaders and staff are strongly committed to providing good opportunities to develop students’ personal, spiritual and academic wellbeing.

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?

De La Salle College is a large, state-integrated Catholic secondary school for boys in South Auckland. It opened in 1953 and caters for young men from Years 7 to 15 who travel from the greater Auckland area. Many families have long historical ties to the college. Since the last ERO review in 2012, the school roll has increased significantly to nearly 1000 students, the majority of whom are of Pacific heritage. Approximately eight percent of students are Māori.

The school’s charter places a strong emphasis on its special Lasallian character, Bonum certamen certa (Fight the good fight), student learning and pastoral care. Key values of faith, service, community and excellence are visually represented in the school’s environment and are evident in many aspects of school life. Students are proud to represent their school and have a strong sense of belonging and a respect for tradition.

The current principal was appointed in 2012. Many staff are long serving and have been joined by newer staff who share their commitment to providing worthwhile achievement pathways for students.

The school has had a positive ERO reporting history. The 2013 ERO report recommended that the board develop a long-term strategic plan for accelerating success as Māori, and devising strategies for improving outcomes for Māori learners. Work in this area has progressed well. Senior Māori students are achieving as well as other students and positive initiatives have been put in place for building bicultural understandings in the school and for accelerating the achievement of younger Māori learners in writing.

2 Learning

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

De La Salle College uses achievement information well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school’s National Standards data for Years 7 and 8 indicate that most students make accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

Data for the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) indicate that students overall are achieving above levels of achievement for students in schools of a similar socio-economic background, but below national averages for all students in New Zealand. Pacific students are achieving just below national averages in NCEA Levels 2 and 3. Māori students in 2015 achieved above national averages in NCEA Levels 2 and 3. The proportion of students gaining qualifications has continued to grow since the 2013 ERO review, positioning the school well in relation to the 2017 national targets for student achievement.

Achievement information is used effectively by the school to:

  • determine achievement targets at school-wide level and report progress against those targets
  • guide decisions about individual student’s learning pathways
  • identify students requiring learning support and/or extension
  • provide parents with frequent and timely information on their child’s engagement, progress and achievement.

Senior leaders have developed achievement targets for students in Years 9 and 10 through the Year 9 and 10 De La Salle Certificate. This is enabling better monitoring of student achievement across the school, particularly for students at risk of not achieving. It should also promote coherence in curriculum and assessment practices from Years 7 to 10.

Achievement information is also used well to determine the impact of professional learning and to inform internal evaluation processes for promoting ongoing improvement in teaching practice.

3 Curriculum

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

De La Salle College’s curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting student learning.

The curriculum is aligned with the vision, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. Students experience a broad and holistic curriculum that is closely aligned to the school’s special character.

Students benefit from opportunities to develop leadership with involvement in service activities, sport and the performing arts. The school considers there are good opportunities for personal growth and learning through service to others. This view aligns well with many students’ cultural backgrounds.

The reintroduction of compulsory science for students at Year 11 reflects the school’s commitment to ensuring that students benefit from a meaningful and relevant curriculum with clear links to employment or tertiary education. Recent initiatives in Health Science and Careers Education, with particular links to Middlemore Hospital, have been useful in promoting possible career pathways in this curriculum area.

The school values learning through education outside the classroom. There are good opportunities for vocational pathways with over 100 senior students involved in workplace learning. Students can experience learning in a wide range of varied activities, both locally and overseas, that are designed to appeal to diverse student interests.

School leaders are also tracking students’ destination data to determine how well students are prepared for vocational pathways and the adequacy of the school's curriculum provision. These good practices help the school to deliver a curriculum that is responsive to learners’ increasingly diverse needs.

Teachers are enthusiastic about their roles and supportive of their students. The school is characterised by settled learning environments where interactions between teachers and students are positive and respectful. Teachers are using increasingly effective strategies to engage students in their learning. Students respond positively when teachers share the purpose of learning with them, provide feedback and discuss their next steps in learning.

Curriculum delivery, teaching, learning and student wellbeing are supported by a well-led, highly effective and cohesive pastoral care team. This includes a wide range of student support services, as well as academic mentoring. Students gain leadership experience and provide service to others by their involvement in peer mentoring and tutoring.

Professional learning and development is well supported and managed by school leaders. Internal and external expertise is used and professional development is aligned with school priorities and teacher goals. Opportunities for staff to share expertise and skills are increasing. School leaders are promoting a culture where teachers reflect on the success of their teaching and student learning.

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

The Māori student roll has increased significantly since the last ERO review in 2013.

A whānau ropu is active in the college and has developed an aspirational document for their sons’ educational journeys. School leaders are appreciative of support from ngā kaumatua no Tainui. A whānau dean, who meets regularly with Māori school leaders, assists in an academic counselling role.

There is now an expectation that all students will have an understanding of tikanga Māori. School pōwhiri protocols for all new staff and students are developing. Learning the school haka is part of student culture for all students, and whaikorero is an expectation for some senior Māori students. A strong focal point for Māori identity is the increasing popularity of waka ama. Many boys compete successfully in this event.

For the next phase of development, school leaders, whānau and iwi should make the school’s education plan for Māori learners more specific and clarify accountabilities. School leaders are aware of the need to make kapa haka and te reo Māori sustainable and embedded in the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. ERO is confident that there are systems and practices in place to address the areas for development identified in this report.

The school is well governed. The board is led effectively by a committed chairperson. Board operations are guided by comprehensive systems and procedures that could now be reviewed to ensure they provide clear guidelines as requirements change.

Trustees are kept informed about the school and have good relationships with senior staff. Trustees have strong community connections and are clearly focussed on promoting student achievement, accountability and the school’s special character. Next steps for the board include ensuring that there is regular consultation with Māori whānau, and deepening their shared understanding of their stewardship role as new trustees take their place on the board.

Leadership at all levels of the school is effective. The principal has high expectations for teaching, learning and improving student achievement. He is well supported by a cohesive leadership team. Together they are providing clear direction for school development.

Other features of the school that contribute to high levels of sustainability are the positive school culture with:

  • internal evaluation processes that use indicators of effective practice and take account of student achievement data to guide ongoing development and decision making
  • highly effective pastoral care systems that promote a safe and inclusive culture, a strong sense of belonging and a broad range of learning experiences for students
  • a strong commitment to ongoing professional development and support for teachers to reflect on and improve teaching practices
  • positive relationships and engagement with students, parents and the wider community.

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. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code and regularly reviews its practices against the Code.

At the time of this review there were no international students attending the school.

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

De La Salle College is committed to the provision of high quality learning opportunities and qualifications success. Increasingly, pathway opportunities outside the traditional classroom are offering valuable personalised learning. School leaders and staff are strongly committed to providing good opportunities to develop students’ personal, spiritual and academic wellbeing.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

29 June 2016

About the School

Location

Mangere East, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

94

School type

State Integrated Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll

996

Number of international students

0

Gender composition

Boys 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Samoan

Tongan

Cook Island Māori

other

8%

66%

16%

4%

6%

Special Features

Social Worker in Schools (SWiS)

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

29 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

May 2010

December 2007