Kelston Boys’ High School Services Academy - 02/09/2011

Evaluation of the Kelston Boys' Services Academy

The Ministry of Education has asked the Education Review Office to prepare a series of reports on Services Academies at New Zealand secondary schools. This report is one of 16 individual reports prepared about the quality of education at the Ministry funded academies. A national evaluation report will also be prepared which will synthesise the findings from the individual reviews.

This review was prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer. 

1 Introduction

The Ministry of Education has asked the Education Review Office to prepare a series of reports on Services Academies at New Zealand secondary schools. This report is one of 16 individual reports prepared about the quality of education at the Ministry funded academies. A national evaluation report will also be prepared which will synthesise the findings from the individual reviews.

This review was prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

Terms of Reference

The specific terms of reference for this review are to:

  • evaluate how effectively the services academy supports student learning
  • identify the strengths of the services academy
  • identify the areas for development at the services academy.

2 Background

The Kelston Boys’ High School Services Academy was established in 2008. The initial funding for the academy was provided by the Ministry of Social Development. Since 2010 the academy has been funded by the Ministry of Education. The academy operates under a Memorandum of Understanding that sets out its annual funding arrangements and expectations for performance.

The academy is staffed by a director, the second since 2008. The current director is highly skilled as a result of extensive experience in the New Zealand Defence Forces. He has established a support network with other service academy directors throughout New Zealand. The director works closely with the school’s careers department to administer and manage the programme.

Twenty boys from Years 12 and 13 are selected to attend the academy each year. Many of them hope to enter the defence force after leaving school. Places are keenly sought and the selection progress is rigorous. The year-long programme is focused primarily on military skills, physical fitness and life skills. School-based courses in literacy, numeracy and technology enable students to complete Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA).

ERO reviewers visited academy facilities and observed aspects of the programme, including services training. They spoke with the principal, curriculum manager, director, head of careers, a group of parents and caregivers, and academy students. Reviewers also examined documentation relating to the programme.

3 Findings

Areas of strength

High expectations. Students are carefully selected for the academy and are expected to maintain high standards of attendance, participation and achievement. The high entry standards are a motivating factor, enabling students to experience success in their learning and gain confidence in their ability to succeed.

High profile. Academy students take pride in their appearance and achievements. They demonstrate clear commitment to the programme and become role models in the school, particularly for junior students. The local service they perform and the physical activities they take part in, have a high profile in the school and community

Learning programmes. Academy students enjoy a diverse and relevant education. They are motivated to stay at school and engage in learning. The programme has a strong emphasis on military training, life skills and outdoor education. Students gain literacy and numeracy credits in NCEA and develop high levels of physical fitness.

Values-based learning. The programme generates considerable mana (self-worth) and camaraderie. Students learn respect for themselves and others. The values inherent in the programme support manaakitanga (sharing) and whanaungatanga (belonging). Students who have previously disengaged from school find a new focus and purpose in learning through the academy. They are expected to transfer their learning to other areas, including relationships with their families and communities. Families and whānau support the programme and comment positively on the changes they have observed in the students’ attitude, behaviour and motivation.

Leadership. The skills, capability and experience of the academy director are highly respected by the academy students and the staff of the school. He motivates and inspires students to achieve and to attain high standards. Connections between current and ex-students of the academy have been improved recently using new communication technologies. These networks are likely to strengthen monitoring and tracking of student destinations.

Student outcomes. Academy students make good progress academically. Over half are on track to gain Level 2 NCEA qualifications and most of the others will complete their Level 1 qualifications. Students get regular updates about their progress and are encouraged to complete NCEA credits. In addition, they gain excellent long-term skills in self-discipline, time management and physical fitness through their military training programme. Academy students leave school with improved opportunities for employment, including future careers in the defence force.

Areas for review and development

Self review and reporting. It would be useful for managers to document and analyse the outcomes of the programme. Information such as student leaver destinations, student and parent surveys and student achievement should be collated, analysed and reported to the board of trustees. These reports would enable school managers to review the programme and would inform future planning, including milestone reports required by the Ministry of Education.

Programme management. Management systems for supporting the director are not well documented. Programme budgets should be formally approved and managed. School managers should update the programme outline to show links with NCEA more clearly. They should review how student progress and achievement is reported to parents.

Supporting student learning. Teachers should ensure that academy students get more regular and helpful feedback about their progress and achievement. It would be useful for school-based information about the academy students to be shared with the director and teachers. This would enable the school’s learning support and pastoral care staff to work with the teachers to support identified learning and personal needs.

4 Conclusion

The Kelston Boys’ High School Services Academy provides students with a diverse and relevant education that promotes high levels of engagement in learning. It would now be useful to strengthen self-review processes and management systems to improve the sustainability of the academy and to further enhance outcomes for students.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

2 September 2011

About this Services Academy

Host School

Kelston Boys’ High School

Gender composition

Male 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori 4

New Zealand European/Pākehā 2

Pacific 11

Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

2 September 2011