Gore High School - 27/06/2017

Findings

Gore High School effectively supports most students to experience academic success and transition into future pathways. It is increasingly responsive to a range of students' learning needs. Leaders and teachers focus on continuing to strengthen the conditions that promote learning and achievement. The school is well placed to sustain its performance and make improvements.

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?

Gore High School is located in eastern Southland and caters for students from Years 9 to 13. Students are drawn from the district or travel by bus from the surrounding rural area. The roll is 487 students at the time of this review, with 15% identifying as Māori. Two international students are enrolled.

The school has been involved in the Ministry of Education (MoE) programme “Positive Behaviour for Learning” (PB4L) and has established the school wide values of “Courtesy, Effort and Responsibility”.

Since the July 2014 ERO report, the school has closed and demolished the long established school hostel. Boarding students are now accommodated at a neighbouring hostel through a partnership with a local secondary school.

The school is part of the Gore East Community of Learning| Kāhui Ako (CoL) with 12 other schools in the Gore area. The CoL is in its establishment phase and has recently appointed a foundation leader.

2 Learning

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

Leaders and teachers are continuing to strengthen their use of achievement data to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Most students at Gore High School are experiencing success in National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA). Overall statistics for students leaving the school having gained Level 1 and Level 2 NCEA have steadily improved since the previous ERO review. In 2016, results were well above national averages for all schools, with 85% of school leavers attaining at least Level 2 NCEA. Students have increased the number of endorsements at the higher grades. The number of students leaving having gained Level 3 qualifications has fluctuated and in 2016 around a third of students gained university entrance qualification.

Māori students have been increasingly successful in leaving the school having gained NCEA Levels 1 and 2. However, there remains a disparity between their achievement and that of their peers, particularly at Level 3. Leaders have identified that achieving equity of outcomes for Māori students is a priority.

There is a well-considered approach to transitioning students and their families into the school at Year 9. Through strengthening partnerships with students' previous schools, leaders have increased the range and improved the quality of information they gather about learners’ achievement and wellbeing before they arrive at the High School. Membership of the CoL provides opportunities to work collaboratively with other local schools to raise achievement of all students in the town.

More accurate assessment data and achievement information is now shared between schools. This is used for class placement and identification of learning needs. A range of useful assessment data is gathered and collated in Years 9 and 10. Teachers have increased access to this information. It has the potential to be used to show rates of progress of students, particularly in literacy and numeracy.

Teachers and leaders are aligning school-based assessments at Years 9 and 10 to a wider range of The New Zealand Curriculum levels. This should provide a clearer and more coherent approach to measuring achievement, progress and identifying next steps for improvement. Strengthening moderation of judgements about curriculum levels to further improve accuracy and consistency, is a next step.

Students are encouraged to take more responsibility for and to make more decisions about the direction of their learning. Student voice and feedback are valued and increasingly sought. Better use of achievement information in three-way conference meetings should promote understanding between teachers, parents and students and focus on collaboration to further support learning and achievement.

Leaders have identified next steps to strengthen their analysis and use of data to consistently:

  • inform teaching practices and actions
  • individualise learning programmes
  • track and monitor student progress over time
  • evaluate the impact and effectiveness of actions taken to raise achievement.

Strategic planning provides a clear direction for school improvement. Annual targets focus on overall levels of achievement at NCEA levels for whole school and Māori student achievement. Priority students who are at risk of underachieving increasingly feature in these targets.

Leaders and ERO agree that strengthening targeted action to accelerate progress for students who need it the most is required. Targets should be more explicit, specifically in Years 9 and 10. Clearer expected outcomes should enable better evaluation of the impact of planned actions on improving achievement. 

3 Curriculum

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

The Gore High School curriculum effectively supports most students to experience success and transition to future pathways. It offers a wide range of extracurricular opportunities in sports and the arts. The rich natural and local environments are increasingly used to enhance contexts for learning.

Ongoing review and development has made the curriculum more responsive to a diverse range of student strengths, needs and interests. The school has increased the variety and relevance of both vocational and academic pathways that support successful transition beyond the school. More students have access to different pathways linked to employment, including the Hokonui Tertiary High School and the Murihiku Trades Academy.

There is a positive tone and climate in the school. It is welcoming and inclusive. Respectful and considerate relationships are clearly evident. Classrooms visited by ERO were calm, with purposeful teaching evident. Students observed were well engaged in their learning.

School values are explicit and well understood. Values form the basis for learning conversations and teachers increasingly use restorative practices. Vertical house groups promote positive relationships among students across the school.

The school has strengthened processes to respond more effectively to students' learning needs, particularly for those at risk of underachieving. Many make good progress and in some cases, accelerated progress. Teachers are becoming more innovative about approaches to planning and assessment. New technologies are being introduced to enhance learning.

The recently introduced mentoring for Year 10 students encourages collaborative goal setting between students, parents and their teachers and focuses on improving academic outcomes. Senior students also volunteer to work with and peer mentor at risk younger students.

A sustained focus on promoting student wellbeing continues to be a high priority. There is a coordinated approach to cater for the pastoral care needs of all students. Effective targeted additional classroom support is provided when required. External agencies are appropriately used when needed.

Students with significant needs are well catered for within the “learning hub” that includes a range of special needs facilities. Their care and wellbeing are strongly promoted through a holistic approach. Programmes are guided by individual education plans, developed in consultation with specialist agencies, parents and whānau. Some students are successfully mainstreamed for adapted activities.

The school has a strong sense of its place in the local community and seeks to engage strongly with all stakeholders. Leaders identify the desire to increase the range of opportunities for communication with parents and students, focused on learning. Digital developments have provided opportunities to extend ways to connect and provide information. Continuing to build partnerships that promote improved achievement are recognised as a next step. 

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

Steps have been taken to integrate aspects of te ao Māori into learning and school culture. The school has established strong links to the local runanga. Teachers and leaders are aware of the need to continue to build culturally responsive capacity and practice. Including Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners as part of the teacher appraisal process, should assist.

Consideration should be given to developing a strategic direction for success for Māori as Māori in consultation with whānau.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Gore High School is well placed to sustain its performance and make improvements to outcomes and success for all students.

Trustees are knowledgeable, well informed by the principal and work in close partnership with senior leaders to improve outcomes for students. Trustees bring a range of strengths to fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

Strengthening evidence-based evaluation of the impact of planned actions on improving achievement and progress should show what makes the biggest difference to achieving equity and excellence for all learners.

Senior leaders have continued to further develop the appraisal process. They have sought external advice to clarify aspects of the process for staff. Teachers' goals are increasingly aligned to school priorities for raising student achievement and growing their practice. Leaders are promoting deeper reflection and a collaborative approach to improve outcomes. They should further strengthen the rigour of the process and explore ways to provide quality feedback and feedforward.

A process to assist teachers to examine the effectiveness of their practice is becoming established. Continuing to build a shared understanding of evidence-based teaching as inquiry and how it would help to improve practice is a next step.

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.

At the time of this review there was two international students attending the school. The school’s practices and processes well support the pastoral care, quality of education, student involvement and integration into the school community.

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

Gore High School effectively supports most students to experience academic success and transition into future pathways. It is increasingly responsive to a range of students' learning needs. Leaders and teachers focus on continuing to strengthen the conditions that promote learning and achievement. The school is well placed to sustain its performance and make improvements.

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

Alan Wynyard Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

27 June 2017

About the School 

Location

Gore

Ministry of Education profile number

396

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

487

Number of international students

2

Gender composition

Male 50%, Female 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā

15%
85%

Review team on site

May 2017

Date of this report

27 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

July 2014
February 2011
September 2007