Kingslea - Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence - 21/10/2016

Findings

Students at Te Maioha o Parekarangi receive a broad range of learning opportunities with a focus on students’ readiness for future learning or employment. A particular feature are the agriculture and life skills programmes. Teachers and leaders are prepared to go the extra mile to assist students to achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Context

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

Kingslea - Te Maioha o Parekarangi Youth Justice Residence is a 30 bed residence catering for young males aged from 13 to 17 years. Most are severely at risk with varied and complex needs. The residence is situated out of Rotorua on land gifted by local iwi who also own the farm adjacent to the school, which is the venue for an agricultural course.

Child Youth and Family (CYF) is responsible for running the residence and Kingslea School provides education onsite for the young people. The principal is responsible for all Kingslea schools located on four sites, in Dunedin, Rolleston, Christchurch and Rotorua. The recently appointed assistant principal provides the day-to-day leadership of Kingslea - Te Maioha o Parekarangi site. Apart from those young people who are serving a sentence, the average stay in the residence is eight days.

The residence is organised into three units, Ngā Whetū, Te Marama and Te Rā with ten young people per unit. Within the Te Marama unit, there is a sub group, which is a life skills unit for four young people who have been sentenced to attend a 12 week agricultural course.

The school classes are housed within each unit. CYF organise who will be in each unit with no input from the school. Teachers are supported in classroom management by CYF residential staff.

1 Transitions

How effectively managed are the transitions students make into the residence?

The school and residence have effective transition processes to ensure the young person settles in well. Students can arrive with less than two hours’ notice, making prior planning unrealistic. The school does not receive information from the student’s previous school or provider.

The school has effective processes to collect information about the incoming student, to use as the basis of an interim programme. At an initial interview the school determines the student’s readiness to engage in learning. Students complete a questionnaire about their emotional triggers, attitude, interests, and vocational aspirations.

Literacy and numeracy testing is carried out over two to three days using a range of appropriate assessment tools. If applicable, staff access the student’s New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) record of learning. Staff use this information to develop a formal learning plan for students.

Students who are at the school for a short period of time have an individualised programme designed to enable initial engagement until a fully developed Individual Learner Profile (ILPs) can be established. Teachers use information from the initial interviews and assessment, and also ongoing teacher observations over this initial period, to set goals for literacy and numeracy and the Key Competencies.

The ILP is reviewed in four week cycles but programmes and students’ progress are reviewed informally on a daily basis. Sentenced students are likely to complete two reviews of their learning progress and achievements.

Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) and FLAIR (fairness, leadership, achieving success, integrity, respect) values are the foundation of the very positive relationships with, and between, students. Together residence staff and teachers model and encourage the values, and have developed a therapeutic environment for the young people.

The FLAIR values are displayed on the wall in every classroom and regularly referred to by teachers, such as at the beginning and end of the class. Each day teachers personally meet and greet their students in their unit with a handshake and chat to gauge how each student is feeling before entering class together. The school and residence operate a points system to incentivise, acknowledge and reward students for positive behaviour. There are awards for young people displaying FLAIR values. Students, teachers, and residential staff work together and interact in a mutually respectful manner.

How effectively managed are the transitions students make out of the residence?

Generally the teaching and residential staff effectively manage their separate roles in the transition out of the facility, when they have prior warning of the departure. This is a challenge as many students’ entry and exit is reliant on the courts and can be unpredictable. Planning for the transition out of the residential school is led by CYF. The school’s formal role includes exit testing, interview and providing information to the caseleader, whanau and a new school if requested.

On occasions the CYF site social worker and school roles come into conflict. The CYF site social worker sees it as their role to provide information to the school and broker the school placement. However the school believes that direct communication between the residential school and the student’s new school is better for the success of the student and therefore sometimes step beyond their formal role to negotiate a place in a school for the young person. On one occasion the assistant principal worked hard to establish a student in a school only to be undermined by the CYF site worker who spoke negatively to the potential principal about the young person. The various roles should be clarified to make sure the most appropriate person supports the student to successfully continue to engage in learning.

The school sometimes goes beyond what is expected to ensure the young person is well positioned for education, training or employment beyond the residence. An example observed by ERO was where a young person was due to leave in less than a week and was just four credits short of attaining his NCEA Level 2. The school had no control over when the young person left. The young person, school and residential staff pulled together a plan supporting him in the evenings and weekend so he could complete the four credits before leaving. They optimise opportunities for students.

Once the young person has left the residence, the education staff have little influence on future outcomes. It is difficult to monitor outcomes when the young person comes from, and returns to, different parts of New Zealand.

2 Curriculum

How responsive is the programme to the strengths, needs and interests of each student?

The programme is generally responsive to the strengths, interests and needs of each student. There is some variability between classes as to how well the overall programme is linked to students’ strengths and needs, and their ILPs. In two of the three classes students have individualised daily plans for literacy and numeracy, and teaching that reflects those plans. Students were observed working individually in these classes and joining in whole-class activities when they were ready. In the other class, teaching was more with the whole class.

Variability was also evident across the classes in the teaching approaches teachers used to engage students. In two classes teachers provided hands-on and visual learning experiences, some providing templates to guide thinking and responses. These teachers were responsive to student requests or had formally gathered student voice on learning styles and implemented the appropriate teaching approach to respond to the student. The other class made greater use of worksheets and online programmes which were not as engaging for students.

A variety of learning opportunities develop students’ readiness for future learning or employment. These include art, food technology and physical education in specialist facilities. Students are interviewed on entry about their vocational aspirations, which are noted in their ILPs. Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) and Gateway funding is accessed to provide vocationally orientated learning, including attaining a driver’s licence and attending Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for carving. The Family Planning organisation provides regular education on sexual health.

Competencies and skills to successfully transition to future training or employment are supported in the agricultural course and life skills unit. Students are able to attain up to 46 credits to complete the National Certificate in Agriculture. They develop independent living skills in the life skills unit. These young people buy their groceries, and plan and cook their own meals. They are exposed to other agriculture-related industries and some students are placed in agricultural settings beyond Te Maioha o Parekarangi when they transition out.

The assistant principal identifies that more can be done in careers education, identifying vocational pathways and accessing resources in the community.

The curriculum is generally culturally responsive. Karakia, waiata and mihi are a part of classroom routines and are respected by the young people. Teachers also include Māori themes in their topic work such as visual pepeha through art, Treaty of Waitangi and Matariki units. Teachers show a respect for the young people’s cultural backgrounds with some teachers able to speak te reo Māori, and non-Māori teachers able to pronounce Māori well.

How effectively is the programme improving students’ engagement and educational achievement?

Students were well engaged in their learning in most classes. This was particularly evident in literacy and numeracy in the two classes where teachers worked collaboratively with students on individualised programmes, and the student and teacher together monitored progress. Students, teachers and residential staff interact, engage and learn in a relaxed manner as a group sitting around a common table. High levels of engagement were also evident in the art, food technology and agriculture programmes, where there were relevant contexts and hands-on activities.

Short-term stays make it challenging to collect and analyse data of progress in literacy and numeracy. Students have goals in their ILPs. Evidence of progress against the goals can be seen through NCEA credits gained and student classwork. Teachers identify a validity issue with the assessment data both on entry and exit. Pressure to assess in a timely manner can mean students complete assessments when they are not yet settled enough to focus. On exit, students are anxious about their next placement and therefore their performance on exit tests sometimes shows little or no improvement, or possibly a decline in their results. Analysis of data from the six-weekly assessments would provide some information on the impact of teaching on students’ learning.

Students are keen to accumulate credits and some students on the agricultural course gain up to 46 credits in the National Certificate in Agriculture over 12-13 weeks. Some other students gain credits in literacy, numeracy or physical education. Ninety percent of the students enter Te Maioha o Parekarangi without any NCEA credits and a key goal of teachers is to support the young people to attain as many NCEA credits as possible in their time at the school.

3 Internal and external relationships

How effectively do internal and external relationships support the programme for each student?

Residence and school staff work together to meet the needs of individual young people. The residential manager has an inclusive approach to working with school staff. At the beginning of 2016 residence and school staff developed and launched the PB4L and FLAIR values programmes together, modelling, encouraging and supporting students to develop social competencies. The values form the basis of the cohesive and consistent approach to social competencies across the residence and school.

Residence and school work together to provide a cohesive approach to aspects of students’ learning. Holiday programmes, such as training for driver’s licence and first aid certificates, were instigated by the residence, using a tutor funded by the school and supported by both residence and teaching staff. While residential staff see their primary role in the classroom as to support behaviour management many engage and help the students with their work, and to complete their homework in residence. Staff collaborate for the benefit of students.

However, the ICPs and ILPs are not particularly well aligned due to strict CYF protocols to complete the care plan within a specific time frame whereas the school prefers to get to know the student better through observation in class before formalising the ILP. In cases where the stay of the student in the residence is short, the two plans may not be well aligned.

4 Sustainable performance

How effectively do programme leaders conduct internal evaluation?

Since the previous ERO review Kingslea School has experienced some significant issues related to leadership and staffing at Te Maioha o Parekarangi. A new assistant principal took up their position during 2015, resulting in positive changes, including a clearer focus on teaching and learning.

Kingslea School has an effective, school-wide, self-review process with a strong evidence base for decision making. The process for internal evaluation follows a consistent model, has a clear rationale, seeks the views of all stakeholders, identifies benefits and risks, and identifies key messages.

The school’s effective self-review processes identified a need for consistency in the approach to behaviour management and developing students’ social competencies across the residence and school. The outcome was collaboration on implementing PB4L and the FLAIR values. This collaborative approach is seen by the principal as a model for introducing PB4L across all Kingslea schools in 2017.

The principal has established a Centre of Excellence across the four schools to share and further develop effective practice. The curriculum and pastoral care community of practice leaders share research readings and newsletters amongst the sites. There is a focus on Kingslea being one school rather than separate entities, and developing consistent curriculum and pastoral practices in all classrooms at the four sites. This has yet to impact on procedures for developing ILPs at Te Maioha o Parekarangi. This process is growing leadership across the whole school and providing rich opportunities for professional collaboration.

A robust formal appraisal process common to Kingslea School contributes further to ongoing development of teachers and effectively identifies any issues related to teacher competence. The school currently has appropriate processes in place to manage an area of concern it has identified at Te Maioha o Parekarangi.

A review of the performance management system has placed more responsibility on teachers to evidence their own practice, and seek and act on feedback from peers and others to maintain ongoing improvement in their expertise. Teachers are in the early stages with the new model but the system is increasing professional discussion, research, professional reading, and feedback. Teacher self-reflection requires further development.

Professional learning and development (PLD) is strongly linked to the teaching and learning priorities, and the therapeutic approach of the school. The principal and assistant principal actively promote and encourage ongoing learning to improve staff responsiveness to student needs. All staff have completed PLD about the trauma-informed approach and practice. In addition, individual teachers have opportunities to attend PLD appropriate to their needs.

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.

Governance

The board of Kingslea School is a specially constituted board made up of two Ministerial Appointees, two Child, Youth and Family representatives, and two co-opted members along with the staff trustee and principal. Trustees bring to the board high levels of expertise, experience and passion for young people. The board provides effective stewardship for this complex school covering four sites in Dunedin, Christchurch, Rolleston and Rotorua. Efficient governance processes support both accountability and continuous improvement. The board’s strategic planning considers the longer-term needs of children in residences, who have high and complex needs that have not been met in mainstream school settings. It seeks innovative solutions and scrutinises carefully the effectiveness of the school in achieving positive outcomes for vulnerable young people.

Conclusion

Students at Te Maioha o Parekarangi receive a broad range of learning opportunities with a focus on students’ readiness for future learning or employment. A particular feature are the agriculture and life skills programmes. Teachers and leaders are prepared to go the extra mile to assist students to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Strong self review and performance management practices effectively identify areas requiring attention and capable leadership implements processes to address these. While high quality teaching practice is dominant, professional leaders have identified some variability and are taking steps to address this. Consideration should also be given as to how to better coordinate the ILPs and ICPs.

Processes for transition out of residential schools require review by CYF and the Ministry to ensure better continuity of learning that meets students’ needs.

Recommendations

ERO recommends that:

  • leaders should continue to implement their rigorous performance management processes to promote a consistent quality of teaching and learning across the school
  • CYF and the Ministry should review processes for transitioning out of residential schools to ensure better continuity of learning that meets students’ needs.

The timing of the next review will be decided in consultation with the Ministry of Education and Child Youth and Family. 

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu Southern

21 October 2016

About the School

Location

Rotorua

Profile No

518 (Kingslea School)

School type

Special School, Residential

School roll

Up to 30

Special features

Youth Justice facility administered by Kingslea School under contract to the Ministry of Education

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

21 October 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

June 2013