Mangakahia Area School - 01/08/2014

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Mangakahia Area School caters for students from Years 1 to 13 in the Titoki Valley, twenty minutes from Whangarei. Some students bus to the school from Whangarei, while others travel to the school from Pakotai, Pipiwai, Poroti, Maungatapere, Tangiteroria and Purua. The school connects to seven marae in the area and eighty per cent of students are Māori.

Many students move into and out of the area and the school during the year. This movement interrupts student learning and impacts on their progress and achievement. Students experience small class sizes that provide good opportunities for individual learning attention.

When ERO reviewed the school in June 2011, there were initiatives in place to improve student behaviour and to promote culturally responsive leadership. However, ERO’s report expressed concerns about the quality of teaching and learning from Years 9 to Year 13, and about the quality of school leadership. It also identified poor student achievement, especially for Māori students. It noted limited opportunities available for Māori students to experience success as Māori. Consequently ERO and the board of trustees agreed that a longitudinal review was needed to support the school to make progress.

In early 2012, ERO met with the school and the Ministry of Education (MoE) to develop an action plan to help bring about necessary changes in the school. A new principal started in Term 1, 2013. ERO visited the school twice during 2013 and once in 2014 to evaluate progress made against key priority areas for review and development. These visits included classroom observations and discussions with students, whānau, the board of trustees, the principal, senior leaders and staff.

Since the initial 2011 ERO review, and mostly since the new principal started, many new staff have been appointed, mainly in the secondary part of the school. This new staffing includes a lead teacher for Year 9 students in The Hub, and teachers of te reo Maori, English, media studies, technology, education for sustainability, music and mathematics.

A new teacher in the junior area is providing students with sporting activities at break times, and a kapa haka tutor has reinvigorated the school’s kapa haka group. There are also new teachers’ aides and a gateway coordinator. A long-serving member of the teaching staff is now the senior leader in charge of pastoral care.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO’s 2011 report identified the need for the school to improve its performance, with a particular focus on:

promoting a school culture, including leadership and teaching practices, where Māori students’ language, culture and identity is promoted and valued

  • improving behaviour management systems and approaches, and reducing the high number of stand downs and suspensions
  • ensuring that schemes of work and learning programmes in Years 9 to 13 are aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum, are based on student interests and strengths, and promote Māori cultural contexts and students’ background and experiences
  • raising student achievement, especially for Māori learners at National Certificates of Achievement (NCEA) levels 1, 2, 3 and University Entrance, and supporting students to stay at school until Year 13
  • improving the analysis and use of student achievement information to set achievement targets and plan learning programmes.

Progress

The school has made significant progress in many areas identified for review and development. The majority of this report pertains to the secondary area of the school (Years 9 to 13). The continuity of leadership and teaching staff in the junior area of the school have helped to sustain and further improve the good practices identified in the 2011 ERO report.

Staff, students and whānau report that the school has a more positive tone. They identify that students are taking pride in their school and are more settled and focused on their learning. Staff are also very positive about the school and students appreciate the increased focused that teachers have on promoting their learning. On the whole, students have positive learning relationships with each other and their teachers.

The school has reviewed and improved its approach to managing student behaviour. A more restorative approach is developing that involves whānau, and supports students to take responsibility for their actions.

Staff are also promoting a series of well considered and appropriate initiatives designed to promote student wellbeing, and learning engagement. These initiatives include opportunities for students to share their talents, develop social skills, and to experience whānau house time and tuakana-teina approaches. School values are revisited regularly, and high expectations are set for student behaviour and learning. As a result, student behavioural issues and the school’s stand-down rate are reducing.

Teachers are developing meaningful learning programmes for students in Years 9 to 13 to complement wellbeing initiatives. Increasingly teachers plan courses based on student needs and strengths, and that are responsive to their career pathway aspirations and goals. Learning programmes are valuing the language, culture and identity of Māori students and their whānau. The local area is also being used well as the basis for learning. A recent shift to six subjects is providing more option choices for students from Years 11 to 13. These improvements are having a positive impact on students’ interest, engagement and motivation.

The development of the Year 9 learning space, The Hub, is promoting a seamless transition for students as they move from Year 8 into the secondary area of the school. The current Year 9 students contributed to the design of The Hub, which is staffed by a lead teacher. They experience a strong sense of whanaungatanga and manaakitanga, and have interesting and engaging learning experiences. Modern furniture and digital technology in this space is further enhancing students’ enjoyment of and motivation for learning.

The school’s kapa haka group is providing a significant forum and opportunities for Māori students, their whānau and staff to experience success. In 2013 the board of trustees increased the budget for the kapa haka group. Students feel proud of their new uniforms, purchased through whānau support. They value the positive relationships they have with their kapa haka tutor. In 2014 the tutor is supporting Years 10 to 13 kapa haka students to gain NCEA achievement standards in the performing arts.

Teachers are responding well to professional learning opportunities and curriculum changes. Updated curriculum schemes strongly reflect the principles and values of The New Zealand Curriculum. Increasingly good teaching and learning approaches are enhancing student engagement in learning.

Student achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) levels 1, 2 and 3 is improving. The number of students who achieved University Entrance in 2013 also increased, with some receiving merit endorsements in subjects such as art. Students are increasingly supported to achieve meaningful qualifications that link to their career interests and aspirations, and that support them to move on to tertiary study.

The achievement and progress of students in Years 1 to 8 remains steady with just over half of students achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers are continuing to build their confidence in making overall teacher judgements about student achievement in relation to the National Standards.

Staff are using student achievement information in a more targeted way. In particular they are using it to identify students who need specific support to make better progress and achieve to their potential. They are using the staff website and other databases to share information and track student progress and achievement. The principal reports regularly to the board, providing useful updates on progress towards meeting strategic goals and student achievement targets. This good information allows the board to make well informed decisions about school resourcing.

ERO, the board, principal and senior leaders agree that continued next steps include:

  • broadening vocational pathway options for senior students and strengthening careers advice and guidance
  • promoting a more seamless curriculum that links learning from Years 1 to 13
  • supporting teachers to develop an integrated curriculum approach, particularly for students in Years 9 and 10
  • further strengthening teachers’ use of student achievement information to promote progress and achievement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO’s 2011 report identified the need for the school to improve its performance, with a particular focus on:

  • implementing a more strategic and planned approach to self review and promoting a culture of reflective practice
  • working in partnership with the school’s communities, especially Māori parents and whānau to promote student learning
  • ensuring that the principal is appraised annually, and that board policies are reviewed regularly and are evident in practice.

Progress

The school is well placed to sustain and further improve its performance.

The principal is providing effective professional leadership. She is promoting a highly strategic approach to leading and managing change. This approach includes consulting and collaborating with the whole school community to develop the school’s curriculum and strategic direction. She has established positive relationships with the board, staff, whānau and students and has made key appointments that are supporting the enactment of a clear and shared vision for the school.

The board of trustees is well led and trustees are committed to the school and their community. They make well considered decisions and resource the school appropriately.

The principal appreciates the different strengths and skills of the senior leadership team. They are working well together to create a student-centred school culture.

Parents and whānau are more engaged in the life of the school and are positive about the improved opportunities for their children. They appreciate the respectful approaches the school is taking to celebrate their children’s successes. The principal and board are now looking to further build on these good relationships and develop opportunities for a more strategic partnership with whānau. The school is now well placed to support parents as partners in their children’s learning.

Other key factors that are promoting a sustainable and improvement-focused school include:

  • well planned and robust self review, that includes the review of board policies against practice
  • high expectations for teachers, with improved opportunities for teacher leadership
  • a meaningful teacher appraisal system that is evidence based and assists teachers to be effective and professional practitioners
  • well considered external appraisal for the principal.

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.

Conclusion

Managakahia Area School benefits from effective leadership and governance. An improved curriculum, together with increasingly good teaching and learning approaches, is resulting in students engaging well with learning. Staff promote positive outcomes for students. Students have good relationships with each other and staff. Māori students have good opportunities to experience success as Māori. Student progress and achievement continues to improve across the school.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager

Review Services Northern Region

1 August 2014

About the School

Location

Mangakahia, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

18

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 15)

School roll

129

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori NZ European/Pākehā

80% 20%

Special Features

He Mataariki Teen Parent Unit

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

1 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2011

May 2008

May 2005