London House Learning Centre - 18/02/2013

1 Background

Introduction

London House Learning Centre is one of 14 activity centres in New Zealand that provide alternative schooling for students in Years 9 to 11. Students are referred by their enrolling schools to activity centres because they are likely to benefit from a specialist programme that will meet their social and educational needs.

Once accepted at an activity centre, students remain on the roll of the enrolling school, and attend the centre for periods that vary in length depending on students’ readiness for a successful return to schooling.

The programme of learning for students at an activity centre should improve:

  • the attendance of students
  • students’ academic achievement
  • students’ personal and social skills, through a programme that is based on the core competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum or the graduate profile in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

A key component of the programme is the successful and planned transition back into the enrolling school or on to further education for activity centre students.

The host school’s Board of Trustees is responsible for the governance of this activity centre.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of London House Learning Centre in relation to the terms of reference for this review. The terms of reference are:

  • educational and social outcomes for students, including the extent to which students’ learning has been accelerated
  • the use of information to plan and implement individual programmes for, and with, students, and to monitor their progress
  • management and governance practices including planning, self review and professional capacity-building
  • support for students to achieve improved outcomes
  • students’ experience of interagency support for them and their families
  • transitions in and out of the activity centre.

2 Context

London House Learning Centre (LHLC) is part of an integrated support network provided by the Dunedin Secondary Schools’ Partnership (DSSP). The DSSP manager coordinates a range of partnership programmes of which LHLC is one. He is largely responsible for school and agency liaison. The board of the managing school, Bayfield High School, has delegated responsibilities for the centre to the DSSP manager. He is supported in this role by the activity centre director who manages the day-to-day activities of the centre.

The centre has a focus on students spending as short a time as possible at LHLC and on maintaining a continuing relationship with their enrolling school. LHLC offers two programmes that run concurrently. There is a one-week programme (Short Change) that provides an early intervention for students at risk of being stood-down at school. The other programme is longer term, and caters for students whose behaviour continues to cause concern. Most students on this long-term programme have already participated in the one-week course.

Each enrolling school contributes 0.1 full-time equivalent student-funding to the centre staffing, providing in total a further 0.9 of a teacher. This allows for a more favourable student/teacher ratio at the centre and has enabled the centre to establish the short-term programme.

3 Findings

The focus of the 'Short Change' programme is on developing positive behaviours for learning. It intends to address behavioural issues before they become too serious. Centre data shows that over time there has been a significant increase in successful reintegration of students to school, with fewer students enrolling for the long-term programme.

The long-term programme has a strong focus on academic learning and this provides the context for behavioural development, preparing students to reintegrate successfully into a mainstream learning environment. The priority is to reintegrate students quickly back to school with most students spending an average of six to eight weeks in the programme. A few students stay in the programme for up to two terms. In 2011, 83% of students returned to school compared with 44% in 2008. A further 13% went on to Alternative Education providers with 4% transferring to The Correspondence School (TSC).

Students in the long-term programme are provided with structured literacy and numeracy teaching and learning, targeted to their individual needs. They experience focused teaching, in both a group and individual setting, with teachers using current, good practice, particularly in numeracy. Students’ progress in learning is regularly assessed using nationally-normed assessments and The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) levels. Students' progress in developing positive behaviours is also closely monitored and recorded.

Routines and behavioural expectations are well established and known by students. They learn in orderly and secure surroundings, where staff take all reasonable steps to provide a safe environment. Students' success and progress in learning and behaviour is reinforced by positive feedback from staff.

The goal of the centre is for students to return to school, able to effectively manage their presenting behaviours. Consequently, a clear focus on developing students as independent learners is necessary. Learning and behaviour modification programmes are largely teacher directed. Teachers' and students' use of learning goals and self assessment is in the early stages of development.

Students spoken to by ERO were unable to talk about how they managed their own learning. Some students didn't know or understand the centre’s academic/behaviour management expectations that are used to review their progress.

Teachers should be provided with professional learning opportunities to increase their skills in developing students' ability to independently manage their learning and behaviour.

The centre focuses strongly on students' academic learning as a means of improving their behaviour. This reflects the expectations of the enrolling schools and is an appropriate strategy in preparing students for a successful return to school.

The 'Short Change' programme appropriately focuses on addressing the presenting behaviours. Students participate in core modules and further modules selected by the enrolling school as being appropriate for their individual behavioural needs.

The curriculum provided by the centre for the longer-term students has strong links to the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The NZC key competencies and values form the basis of planning behaviour programmes for individuals. Staff develop a detailed individual learning plan for each student. These identify specific learning objectives for English, mathematics, social studies and life skills. The plans indicate teaching and learning strategies to achieve these objectives. They are regularly reviewed and modified with the students' progress recorded.

Students are encouraged to continue to participate in sporting and cultural activities at their enrolling school and this assists in maintaining their school links, facilitating transitioning back to school.

Centre data indicates that outcomes for Māori students in the 'Short Change' programme are at least as effective as for other students. Outcomes for Māori students in the long-term programme are not as effective as for other students with fewer transitioning successfully back into school. Māori students are supported by a Māori support worker funded by DSSP.

There is little in the centre curriculum or environment that shows a value for biculturalism, or how the centre supports Māori students to achieve as Māori. The recent incorporation of biculturalism into staff appraisals should provide a basis for teacher development in this area.

The DSSP structure provides integrated support for students. The DSSP manager closely monitors students' progress and development, and centre programmes. As a result, students are provided with consistent and ongoing support through the centre, and access to a wide range of other agencies. The centre's self review has identified an opportunity to support students returning to school through the support of a social worker.

The principal of the managing school and the centre director maintain a close working relationship. They meet regularly to share information. They work together in a collaborative and supportive partnership for the benefit of students.

The provision of staffing by the enrolling schools strengthens their relationship with the centre. Students continue to wear the uniform of their enrolling school as a means of reinforcing that they are still students of that school. Schools work cooperatively through the DSSP to provide places for students transitioning back to school. This is of particular value when a return to the enrolling school is not in the best interest of the students' reintegration into mainstream education.

Since the July 2007 ERO review, the centre has addressed many of the recommendations made in the last report and has significantly improved the facilities for learning.

4 Recommendations

Self review. The centre manager agrees that the views of students and teachers from the referring schools would benefit the formal review of centre programmes.

Strategic plan. The board and director need to develop useful strategic, annual and professional development plans. Current planning lacks detail and doesn’t provide a useful framework for ongoing improvement.

5 Future Action

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

18 February 2013

About the Activity Centre

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

6116

Activity Centre roll

9

Gender composition

Boys: 6 Girls: 3

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

5

4

Special Features

Attached Unit of Bayfield College

Review team on site

November 2012

Date of this report

18 February 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Supplementary Review

Supplementary Review

Special Review

July 2007

July 2006

July 2005