Gore High School - 08/07/2014

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Gore High School provides education for students from Years 9 to 13. Students come from the town and the wide surrounding rural area, with about 40 students staying in the school hostel during the week. Plans are in place to re-configure some learning spaces into modern learning environments, and to modernise the hostel.

The school is responding positively to changes in the makeup of the school roll. Managers and teachers take a personal approach to encouraging and developing students’ learning, especially for those at risk of not achieving. This is helped by the very good relationships between most students and teachers.

The collaborative leadership style of the new principal is ensuring that developments are at a pace that teachers and students can manage and that developments focus on enhancing student achievement.

2 Learning

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

The school uses a wide range of learning information well. Achievement information guides school-wide planning and review practice. It is used:

  • as a key indicator of school performance, when compared with similar schools and the school’s own performance
  • to monitor the value added to students’ achievement over their time at school
  • to monitor students’ engagement and lift achievement
  • as a current focus for targeted teaching and to review the quality of classroom learning
  • to inform decisions made to support students’ learning.

The effectiveness of the school’s use of achievement information is evident in its positive results in NCEA over time. The NCEA results for 2012 and 2013 indicate that targeting of areas of lower achievement has been successful.

Subject department heads and teachers are placing a stronger focus on the learning and achievement of groups of students in their classes. To support this initiative, the board should extend the school-wide Year 11, 12 and 13 student achievement targets down into Year 9 and 10. This should provide the board with a broader view of school-wide achievement across the year levels, and a more refined measure to support school self review.

Students receive regular information from a variety of sources about their progress in learning in subject areas. They have many opportunities to monitor their own rate and level of learning. This includes self assessing their performance against known criteria for learning. Senior students are well supported to monitor their own progress in achievement toward NCEA. The level of engagement of students in Years 9 and 10 is also closely monitored. For example, they are regularly informed about development of the key competencies and their progress toward achieving their graduation diplomas.

A strength in the use of achievement information is the close monitoring and support for all students, especially those identified as ‘at risk’ in their learning. Teachers and senior leaders use a range of information to closely monitor the progress of students receiving individual support.

Assessment information is the key driver of school-wide planning and review practice. Senior leaders closely monitor the overall levels of value added to students’ achievement over their time at school. They have continued to increase the focus on achievement information as a key indicator of school performance and driver of learning and teaching. They are assisting trustees and teaching staff to be more evaluative in their analysis of data. As a result, the school reporting and review processes are becoming more informative. Trustees and teachers are well placed to make informed decisions to support teaching and learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is effectively promoting students’ learning. There is a strong emphasis on providing students with personalised programmes that are responsive to their interests, needs and strengths. Senior students are role models and some volunteer to help younger students in classes.

Key features of the school’s curriculum include:

  • the range of innovative programmes and initiatives designed to keep students actively engaged in learning
  • the breadth of subjects students can select from to support their career aspirations and interests
  • the extensive support systems for students identified at risk of not meeting achievement expectations.

Teachers have high expectations for students. Senior leaders are focused on establishing consistency in what effective teaching and learning looks like in this school. The current literacy initiative provides a good model for improving teaching and learning.

ERO supports the school’s stated priority for enhancing school-wide effective teaching practices. As the senior leaders and teachers further develop the school’s approach for effective teaching and learning, they should consider the following:

  • how the cultural competencies for engaging Māori students are reflected in teaching guidelines for the benefit of all students
  • how teachers respond to students’ views as part of reviewing the impact of their teaching on achievement and progress
  • how the school’s expectations for teaching and learning are reflected in teacher appraisal.

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

The school is making good progress in promoting educational success for Māori.

NCEA results for 2013 show that Māori students at the school achieved higher than national expectations in Level 1 and 2. To raise achievement levels further, senior leaders are taking a leading role in raising teachers’ awareness about how they can support their Māori students’ achievement and progress.

The school leaders and staff are increasingly valuing Māori language and culture in the school. They have made use of some self review to continue to improve the success of Māori students. The views of Māori students are sought and used to show progress in relation to their engagement and learning.

The school has been part of He Kakano, an initiative to raise Māori student achievement and progress. In order to sustain the school’s practices as a result of this initiative, the board, senior leaders and teachers should develop and regularly review a shared understanding of how to promote success as Māori.

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.

Factors that contribute to this view include:

  • the quality and effectiveness of leadership and relationships
  • the clarity and pace of past and planned developments
  • the focus on success for individual students
  • the quality of information the board receives and the use trustees make of it
  • the managed way the school is evolving.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel currently accommodates 36 students, 7% of the school roll. It is owned by the Gore High School Board of Trustees. The hostel owner, through the principal, has attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met. The board is working through a process of rationalising and renovating the hostel. It has secured funding for major capital work to address overdue maintenance, reorganise the buildings to better meet the needs of students and to develop the hostel to cater for students on a seven-days-a-week basis.

Goodwill to improve the hostel and support students is very strong. Trustees and managers acknowledge the importance of establishing and building effective relationships between hostel staff and students and between the students themselves. The next task is to define how this might be achieved.

Board documentation to plan for hostel developments and to guide the administration and operation of the hostel is in need of development and/or review. This should help clarify expectations about roles and responsibilities for employees and provide a structure for the board to review the performance of the hostel.

The Board of Trustees should investigate ways of providing further opportunities to enhance student learning for hostel boarders. For example, consideration should be given as to how hostel students might benefit more from the adjacent school facilities. Student could be asked to suggest how they might contribute their time and energy to make improvements to the environment and what could be done to improve their experience as boarders.

ERO identified and discussed several outstanding maintenance issues, beyond the need for refurbishment, and gaps in record keeping, for example in relation to students’ whereabouts. ERO suggest that the board carry out regular anonymous surveys about students' wellbeing. Taken altogether, the number of details to be addressed is significant enough to warrant a full review of the hostel to identify current strengths, matters that can be quickly rectified and issues that will need to be addressed over a longer period of time. This will ensure that all reasonable steps are in place to ensure students safety and welfare.

Recommendation

ERO recommends, and the board agrees, that the board:

4.1 carry out a full review of all aspects of the hostel’s management and operation, including, but not restricted to, compliance with Sections 3 and 4 of the Education (Hostel) Regulations 2005 and how the hostel supports students’ learning.

ERO intends to carry out another review of the hostel over the course of one-to-two years.

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 of the school in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

8 July 2014

About the School

Location

Gore, Eastern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number

396

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

535

Gender composition

Male 51% Female 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Other

81%

15%

1%

3%

Special Features

School hostel

Review team on site

April 2014

Date of this report

8 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2011

September 2007

June 2004