Kingslea - Te Oranga Residential School - 21/10/2016

Findings

Teachers and leaders at Kingslea - Te Oranga Residential School focus on providing the best outcomes for the individual students during their time in the classroom and when supporting their transition back to mainstream schools. They work as a team to closely monitor and cater for the needs of the individual. Students’ needs are catered for in a stimulating, modern learning environment. Teachers have high expectations for student achievement, which are reflected in the quality of student work. This high quality practice is underpinned by Kingslea School’s culture of ongoing improvement.

Context

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

Kingslea - Te Oranga Residential School is a 10 bed, mixed gender, Care and Protection residence that caters for young people aged from 8 to 17 years. Most are severely at risk with varied and complex needs.

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. An assistant principal provides the day-to-day leadership of Kingslea - Te Oranga site.

Student-to-teacher ratios are low to allow for attention to students’ individual needs. A challenge for the teachers is the variable and unpredictable length of time a young person might spend in the residence. Teachers are supported in classroom management by CYF residential staff.

1 Transition

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

The school has highly effective processes for managing the transition of students into the residence. The associate principal receives a range of useful information on incoming students’ social needs from the CYF Care Team, including their history and specialised psychological reports. Some achievement information may be available but this is often limited because the student may have been disengaged from school for a substantial period of time. The school relies on its own extensive assessment processes to determine the student’s learning needs.

Reliable data is collected by teachers using a range of appropriate assessment tools. Individual plans are developed for each student that include their interests and strengths, goals linked to the values and key competencies in the school's curriculum and specific achievement targets for literacy and numeracy. Individual planning is in place from the first week the young person is in the school.

Teachers and residential staff focus on building positive relationships to ready the young person for learning as soon as possible. They work collaboratively on building relationships between the key teachers, the residential staff and the student. Teachers are matched to students’ needs in the classroom so that each young person can form a trusting relationship with at least one teacher.

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

Transitions out of the residence and school are carefully planned and managed to provide the best outcomes for students. The school works closely with the residential staff to plan effective transitions out of the residence to another residence, community placement or mainstream school. Teachers communicate with the next school and share the academic information they have gathered. The assistant principal may sometimes communicate with parents, while at other times the communication is with, or through, the young person’s case manager.

Teachers work hard to ensure that the placement is the best fit for the young person so that the educational experience is more likely to be a positive one. On occasions, the student and a staff member may visit the new school before the placement. In some cases the young person might begin the new school part time with mentoring and ongoing support from Te Oranga teachers in the early stages. Sometimes the transition is staggered with dual enrolments. Considerable care is taken to ensure that the student has the best possible chance to continue their schooling.

The school tries to track and maintain contact with all young people who leave for at least six months. This is not always possible if the young person returns to the North Island or the case worker changes the transition plan.

2 Curriculum

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

The overall programme provides very good opportunities for students to build on their strengths, improve their literacy and numeracy and prepare themselves for their future learning pathway or transition to further training. High interest learning contexts are developed from the interests and needs of the young people. Teachers work very closely together to ensure that the curriculum is continually adapted to meet the individual needs of the student.

Students learn in a stimulating, modern learning environment with individualised programmes, flexible seating and good access to information communication technology. Teachers provide intensive, one-to-one teaching to build students’ confidence in themselves as learners. Teachers meet before, during and after the school day to reflect, plan and discuss how they can enhance learning. Individual Learning Plan (ILPs) include weekly goal-setting and targets, specific learning tasks, self reflection and teacher feedback. Teachers have high expectations for the students’ learning and behaviour, lifting the achievement targets as the student progresses.

The programme provides a wide range of high interest learning opportunities. Learning is well resourced with books, games and construction materials that effectively engage students. They enjoy learning experiences that include physical activities, animals, food, and graphic and performing arts. Holiday programmes broaden the range of learning experiences. Students develop their social skills, working with their peers, and collaborating to achieve things together. A particular focus is the Adventure-Based Learning Programme that provides a range of challenging outdoor learning experiences where students have the opportunity to demonstrate the key competencies and school values. These experiences are then used as the context for their classroom learning.

Teachers provide a culturally responsive curriculum. Classroom protocols such as karakia, waiata and mihi are respected by all the young people. Teachers are working to build their confidence in using te reo Māori as a natural part of the programme. The associate principal and other staff provide leadership in this learning.

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

Many students make progress in literacy and mathematics during their time at Te Oranga. This is particularly the case when they are at Te Oranga for a longer period of time. The standard of content and presentation of students’ work is high and they are justifiably proud of their work. Samples of student writing indicate that the teaching of writing is effective and that they are able to use writing as a vehicle to talk about their lives and reflect on their experiences.

Teachers support students to set goals to engage them in managing their own learning. Students are very aware of their ILP goals, which are displayed on the classroom walls, and take ownership of their learning. They are able to make choices about their learning within the basic structure of the school day.

The classrooms have a calm, settled atmosphere and students are generally motivated to try hard and learn basic literacy and numeracy skills.

3 Internal and external relationships

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

Positive relationships between residence and school staff effectively support the programme for each student. Roles and responsibilities for managing the young people are clear and well understood by both teachers and residential staff. Reciprocal respect and positive relationships are evident between these two groups. They have attended joint professional learning and development (PLD) on managing challenging behaviour. Teachers and residential staff work together to develop students’ social competencies.

Collaboration between teachers and residential staff provides a cohesive approach to catering for students’ needs. Close alignment between the ICP and the ILP means students benefit from a consistent approach. The ILP is developed after the ICP and then adapted as the ICP is revised. Teachers consult the latest ICP regularly. Staff access appropriate ancillary services for young people at risk. They seek expert advice if a student presents with a condition or trauma that is challenging. Everyone is informed of the strategies and approaches to be used.

Since the last ERO review, improvements have been made in the liaison and communication with the residence, including daily handover notes, updates on individual care plans available to all staff, and weekly meetings between the associate principal and the residential team.

School staff have identified that the next steps in building more cohesion between the school and the residence is to align behaviour management between the classrooms and residence. The planned rollout of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) across Kingslea School and the residences, following a trial at Te Maioha o Parekarangi School is likely to assist them to achieve this goal.

4 Sustainable Performance

How effectively do our programme leaders conduct internal evaluation?

Kingslea School has an effective, school-wide, self-review process. There is a strong evidence base for decision making. Assessment data is used to identify trends and patterns and the impact of teaching on student achievement. The process for internal evaluation follows a consistent model, has a clear rationale, seeks the views of everyone, identifies benefits and risks, and identifies key messages.

The principal has established a Centre of Excellence across the four schools to share further effective develop 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 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. 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, reflection and feedback.

Professional learning and development (PLD) is strongly linked to the teaching and learning priorities, and the therapeutic approach of the school. The principal and associate 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. The impact of PLD on teaching writing is evident in the quality of student work in this curriculum area. 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

Teachers and leaders at Kingslea - Te Oranga Residential School focus on providing the best outcomes for the individual students during their time in the classroom and when supporting their transition back to mainstream schools. They work as a team to closely monitor and cater for the needs of the individual. Students’ needs are catered for in a stimulating, modern learning environment. Teachers have high expectations for student achievement, which are reflected in the quality of student work. This high quality practice is underpinned by Kingslea School’s culture of ongoing improvement.

Recommendation

ERO recommends that:

  • residential and teaching staff should continue to strengthen collaboration to provide a cohesive and consistent approach to behaviour management across the residence and school
  • processes for transition out of residential schools require review by CYF and the Ministry 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

Christchurch

Profile No

518

School type

Special School, Residential

School roll

Up to 10

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

March 2013