Hamilton Junior High School - 19/04/2016

Findings

HJHS caters for students in Years 7 to 10. In 2015 a new school curriculum focused on flexible use of learning spaces, collaboration between teachers and the use of digital technology. The school is aware of a significant challenge in more effectively accelerating progress for students achieving below expected levels.

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

1 Context

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

Hamilton Junior High School (HJHS) is located in the suburb of St Andrews. The school provides education for 93 students in Years 7 to 10 including 57 of Māori descent. A newly refurbished Technology and The Arts suite provides high quality specialist teaching in science, technology and visual arts for HJHS students, and Year 7 and 8 students from surrounding schools who are timetabled to take part in the technology and the arts programme throughout the year. Other major property developments include upgrades to enable students to bring and use their own computer device (BYOD) to school and major refurbishment of all learning spaces. The school hosts three resource teachers: learning and behaviour (RTLB) that are part of the wider Hamilton RTLB cluster.

Since the previous ERO review in 2013 the school has worked with Ministry of Education (MoE) facilitators to implement the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme. School leadership and teachers have worked with students and whānau to establish clear guidelines for student management and promote well-defined school values and behaviours. There has also been important progress in curriculum review and developments that involved widespread consultation with students, teachers, whānau and local community.

Board of trustees’ leadership has remained constant since 2013 with minor changes in board membership. Trustees have accessed appropriate training as they continue to develop their knowledge and understandings about school governance. In addition, the principal and senior leadership team continue in their roles and some turnover in the teaching staff has occurred. The board has worked hard to manage finances and a surplus is now evident.

A major strategic change implemented in 2015 was the development of the HJHS Learning Model. This model aims to ensure that learning environments are flexible and focused on the learner. To achieve this the school is comprised of three learning hubs, one for Year 7 students, one for Year 8 to 10 students and the specialist technology and the arts hub. Each student is also allocated a smaller whānau class and teacher when they arrive at school to provide more focused pastoral and learning support.

There is an increasingly strong partnership between the school and whānau that promotes student care and wellbeing. The culture evident in the school is inclusive and non-judgmental. This is contributing to students’ and whānau increasing sense of belonging and connection to the school.

2 Learning

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

Trustees receive extensive and relevant information about all aspects of school operations including student achievement. They demonstrate a well-developed understanding of the use of student achievement information when making decisions about school strategic direction, resourcing and improvement.

School leaders have developed comprehensive guidelines to assess student achievement and progress in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers use this information, along with data gathered during teaching to make judgements about student achievement in relation to expected levels of the curriculum. This information is collated and thoroughly analysed to show the extent to which students are making progress with their learning.

On entry at Year 7, a very small number of students is achieving at expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. A significant proportion of students entering the school at all year levels has a wide variety of identified emotional and learning needs. The school can show that these students are well supported to develop their self-management skills, self-confidence and other attributes that contribute to future learning success.

Data gathered by the school shows that most students make some progress with their learning and a small proportion make accelerated progress. The data also shows that on transition to Year 11, many students are achieving below expected levels for their age.

In response to this achievement data, the principal and senior leadership team have worked with teachers and a range of external personnel to develop:

  • clear guidelines for assessment
  • robust processes for teacher appraisal
  • a system for teacher mentoring and coaching
  • a culture of professional reflection, sharing and dialogue.

Leaders have also made a very useful start to developing teachers’ reflective practice and providing teachers with feedback about their performance in relation to the HJHS curriculum and learning model.

Areas for Review and Development

The school recognises that accelerating achievement for all learners, especially those achieving below expected levels, is both a priority and an ongoing challenge. It is now important for school leaders and teachers to continue to work together to:

  • embed current good teaching practice using the identified shared language of learning
  • consolidate shared understandings and expectations about achieving higher levels of student engagement
  • more effectively target and monitor individual student progress, especially for those achieving below expected levels.

3 Curriculum

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

The HJHS Curriculum is broad based and clearly reflects how the school is giving effect to the principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum is based on the school’s unique learning model that prioritises the vision ‘Learning for Life’. Underpinning the mission statement, ‘Growing Success for all Learners’ are the attributes of the HJHS learner, which are clearly identified as exploring, self-managing, contributing, thinking and communicating.

This curriculum (learning model), organisation and environment is consistent with modern, innovative practice in promoting:

  • collaborative learning and teaching
  • flexible use of spaces and resources
  • authentic contexts for learning
  • the integration of digital technology in meaningful contexts.

The implementation of the HJHS curriculum and learner model is in the early stages. Students are increasingly developing an understanding about what it means to be an actively engaged and successful learner at the school. Teachers are also focused on improving their understanding of implementing the school curriculum using collaborative and culturally responsive practices as a foundation for improving learning outcomes for students.

Students also enjoy success through opportunity to learn in authentic contexts during a range of camps, trips and education outside the classroom activities. ERO observed examples of the use of effective teaching strategies where students were:

  • engaged in authentic and collaborative learning
  • reflecting on their achievements and progress
  • making decisions about their learning and next steps.

A good range of strategies, including innovative use of digital technology, is used to engage parents and students in discussions about student progress, set future goals and share student successes.

Areas for Review and Development

In order to fully implement the HJHS Curriculum, school leaders will need to continue to work with teachers to firmly establish and embed shared understandings about:

  • school pedagogy and expectations about lifting levels of student resilience and engagement
  • student learning progressions, especially in literacy and mathematical learning.

Further attention to these aspects of curriculum implementation is necessary to more systematically and consistently accelerate progress, especially for those students achieving below expected levels.

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

The inclusive culture evident at the school is encouraging more Māori whānau to engage with the school, share their aspirations and work alongside teachers in the interests of their children. Through ongoing consultation whānau are developing a better understanding of the school’s vision, values and priorities.

School kapahaka provides a valuable avenue for Māori student leadership, community engagement and curriculum enrichment. The school has accreditation with The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to provide achievement standards in Māori performing arts at National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1. In 2015 three students achieved these standards.

Areas for Review and Development

A high number of Māori students continue to achieve below National Standards. The school is aware of the urgent need to address this disparity.

A kaiako works alongside teachers and students to promote te reo and tikanga Māori. The school recognises the need to build teachers’ confidence and competence in using te reo Māori as a functional language with the students, and integrate aspects of te ao Māori in everyday teaching and learning interactions.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Aspects of school operations that are currently contributing to positive outcomes for students and whānau are:

  • a strategic and well-managed approach to change management by school leaders and trustees
  • high levels of knowledge about and commitment to the school’s mission, values and new curriculum
  • a sound framework and good understanding of the purpose and process of self review
  • well-informed and dedicated leadership from the principal supported by her leadership team
  • the breadth of skills and knowledge that trustees bring to their governance roles.

Areas for Review and Development

There are important aspects of school operations closely linked to accelerating student achievement that need to be addressed. These relate to:

  • building teacher capacity to systematically target and accelerate progress of students achieving below expected levels
  • continuing to work with whānau to further develop partnerships based on student learning
  • fully implement the HJHS Curriculum.

ERO will continue to work alongside the school to evaluate the progress made in relation to these aspects.

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 ERO review there was one international student attending the school, with no exchange students.

Well-monitored systems are in place to cater for the pastoral and learning needs of international students. The school has good systems in place to monitor the extent to which it is meeting the Code and relevant policies and procedures are up to date.

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.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the board in order to bring about the following improvements:

  • building teacher capacity to systematically target and accelerate progress of students achieving below expected levels
  • fully implement the HJHS Curriculum.

Conclusion

HJHS caters for students in Years 7 to 10. In 2015 a new school curriculum focused on flexible use of learning spaces, collaboration between teachers and the use of digital technology. The school is aware of a significant challenge in more effectively accelerating progress for students achieving below expected levels.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

19 April 2016

About the School

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

1942

School type

Restricted Composite (Years 7 to 10)

School roll

93

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Boys 47 Girls 46

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

South East Asian

Other European

Other

Indian

Other Asian

Pacific

57

19

5

3

3

2

2

2

Special Features

Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour 3

Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

19 April 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

January 2013

November 2011