Middleton Grange School - 05/11/2012

1. Context

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

Middleton Grange School provides education for students from Years 1 to 13. The school comprises a primary school for Years 1 to 6 students, a middle school for Years 7 to 10 students, a senior college for Years 11 to 13, with international students supported by specialist staff. The staff and students display strong Christian principles that are well integrated in the curriculum and other aspects of school life. The current principal started at the school in Term 2, 2010.

Students benefit from positive, respectful and supportive relationships. School leaders and staff encourage an inclusive culture. Students come from diverse backgrounds and have a wide range of learning needs. There is a large international student roll, and a wide range of cultures represented across the school. International students are well integrated into mainstream programmes and school events. They are provided with effective support in developing their English language skills.

The school has significant levels of enrolments at Years 7, 9 and 11. The majority of enrolments at Year 11 come from other Christian schools. This process is well planned. Middleton Grange School also provides technology classes for students from other local Christian schools.

The board, school leaders and staff have made very good progress in response to the 2009 ERO report. This includes a strong focus on developing high quality teaching practices and strengthening assessment systems.

There have been major building developments and improvements to facilities over the last three years. This includes a new performing arts centre, a primary school hall and new digital suites in the senior school arts department.

The board and staff responded well to the earthquakes of 2010-2011. They put in place systems and processes to support students and each other. There has been minimal physical damage to school buildings and grounds. The school provided facilities for some other groups from across Christchurch who were affected following the 22 February, 2011 earthquake. There are ongoing effects for staff and families resulting from damage to their homes or businesses.

The board and school leaders are effectively managing a period of substantial school-wide change that is supporting an increase in the quality and consistency of teaching practice.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

High levels of student interest and motivation in learning are evident across all year levels. Students benefit from positive and productive relationships, focused on students’ learning and wellbeing.

Teachers use a wide range of strategies to successfully engage students. Students know the purpose of learning and what they need to do to improve. Many students are able to talk about what and how well they are learning. Students receive specific feedback on their learning and progress. Teachers increasingly seek and respond to students’ views on the appropriateness and effectiveness of their programmes.

Learning support programmes are well organised and targeted to meet the needs of students requiring additional support with their learning. Staff plan and monitor a wide range of programmes that are adapted to suit individual needs. Specific programmes are provided for high needs students in an adjoining house owned by the school. These programmes focus on building life skills, cooking, budgeting and gardening. Students with significant learning needs are also well integrated into the life of the school.

Some useful steps are being taken to increase staff awareness of Pacific learners, such as the board’s Pacific trustee talking with staff about Pacific learners. School leaders have met with Pacific families in 2012 to identify their aspirations for teaching and learning.

Leaders and teachers are making better use of assessment information to guide their planning and to raise achievement. They monitor the achievement and progress of individual students well. Teachers have participated in professional development to extend their knowledge and use of effective assessment practices. Better school-wide data management systems are in place. National Standards are being effectively implemented in Years 1 to 8. Leaders and teachers in Years 1 to 8 are continuing to develop their assessment practices in line with the National Standards to help ensure consistency and accuracy.

Achievement reports presented to the board at the end of 2011 show that most students are meeting the National Standards. For example:

  • all students achieved at or above the National Standards in writing after one and two years at school
  • after three years at school all are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading
  • most students in Years 1 to 8 achieved at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics
  • nearly all Pacific students in Years 1 to 8 achieved at or above the National Standards in writing and mathematics.

There is some lack of continuity in assessment and reporting in the middle school. Teachers in Years 7 and 8 are reporting achievement against curriculum levels. This is not yet in place in Years 9 and 10. This makes it difficult to monitor and report on progress and achievement across these year levels.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results show very good levels of achievement overall. For example:

  • the proportion of students gaining NCEA Levels 1 and 2 over the last two years is higher than similar schools
  • there were very high pass rates for NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements
  • there has been an increased number of scholarships awarded over the last three years.

Areas for development and review

Individual student progress is very closely monitored, particularly in the primary school. Further development needs to occur in assessment and data management systems to provide reliable information to the board and school community about progress over time, as students move through the school.

Trustees, school leaders and teachers should widen the scope of annual target setting to focus on all groups of priority learners. This should include:

  • regular progress reports against the targets to the board
  • linking targets to school leaders’ and teachers’ appraisals
  • clarifying the rates of progress that students are expected to make in a year
  • closer monitoring and reporting of targets set by teachers and teams in Years 7 to 13.

Achievement reports could be analysed further to identify the factors contributing to students’ success, and what needs to be improved or sustained.

3. Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

The curriculum is strongly responsive to the diverse interests, needs and abilities of most students. The school’s Christian character is highly evident in teaching programmes and practices. A number of innovative developments have occurred since the previous ERO review to make learning more relevant for students. These include:

  • strengthening the process for identifying and responding to the needs of students at risk of not achieving
  • significant additions to the senior school curriculum, such as a building academy, contemporary music course, and a mathematics programme for able learners
  • an increased the range of learning pathways that relate to students’ possible career or vocation preferences
  • extending the range of learning experiences within and outside the school
  • establishing some boys only classes in Years 11 and 12
  • extensive development of the curriculum in Years 1 to 6
  • offering an international English language testing system (IELTS) for international students.

Targeted professional learning and development is improving teachers’ knowledge and use of effective practices. Greater use of good to high-quality teaching practices is apparent since the previous ERO review. This includes a wider range of effective teaching strategies and increased use of student-centred learning approaches.

Areas for development and review

The senior leaders and teachers should continue to extend and develop the school’s curriculum and use of effective teaching practices, so that all students experience greater continuity of learning as they progress through the school.

This could include clarifying what knowledge and skills students should have at key points in their learning, and how this will be assessed and reported.

School leaders and teachers need to further consider the provisions for:

  • careers education in Years 7 and 8
  • students with special abilities
  • transitions for students at key points, into and through the school.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The board and staff have taken positive steps to increase the prominence of Māori language, identity and culture across the school. These include:

  • establishing a whare and whare kai
  • appointing a teacher of te reo Māori for Years 7 to 13 students, and a tutor for kapa haka
  • the involvement of an external adviser to help raise the achievement of Māori students
  • regular whānau hui.
  • The school’s values, culture and relationships provide a strong link to concepts in tikanga Māori, including:
  • ako: recognising everyone as a learner and teacher
  • manaakitanga: care; respect and hospitality
  • tuakana-teina: younger and older students learning from each other.

These links could be made more explicit in school-wide documents.

Most Māori students in Years 1 to 8 achieve at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2011, three quarters or more of Māori students achieved NCEA or higher endorsements in Years 11 to 13. All Māori students achieved the NCEA Literacy and Numeracy requirements at Levels 1 and 2.

A number of Māori students achieved significant academic success in the senior secondary school in 2011. School leaders and teachers are establishing roles for Māori student leaders in 2012.

In 2011, Māori students achieved at the same or higher than all students in similar schools nationally in NCEA. There are still some gains to be made between Māori students and their non-Māori peers within the school for NCEA.

Areas for development and review

Teachers gather information regularly to identify how well individual Māori students are achieving. Extending the analysis of Māori student achievement to evaluate their success as a whole would inform the board and school leaders better about how well Māori students are achieving and progressing.

The principal and teachers should continue to extend the use of bicultural learning across the school and find ways to strengthen engagement with Māori whānau.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. A school-wide focus on improvement is evident.

A clear direction is being set for ongoing improvements to teaching and learning. The board and principal have taken steps to strengthen leadership opportunities for staff. Professional development is being provided to support school leaders in their roles.

The principal strongly articulates and models the school’s vision, values and expectations for teaching and learning. Other strong and effective leadership is evident across the school. School leaders are effectively supporting staff to improve their teaching practices.

The board and staff regularly seek the views of parents, whānau and students. They take action as a result of the information they gather, to improve aspects of teaching and learning, and school operations.

The board governs the school well. Trustees have good systems in place to guide their operations. The board has strengthened its self-review processes over recent years. These processes are well understood and are embedded in a way that ensures their ongoing use. Trustees and the principal work collaboratively to achieve the school’s goals.

Professional development is well used to support developments in targeted aspects of teaching and learning. Good use is made of external expertise including for assessment, leadership and raising the achievement of specific groups of students.

The school’s appraisal process is becoming well used to support the school’s goals and priorities. This involves teachers considering the effectiveness of their own practice and making changes to improve outcomes for all students.

Areas for development and review

There has been an increasing amount of review over recent years. However, there is some variation in their quality and usefulness. Aspects of self review could be improved by:

  • making more consistent use of evaluative questions to guide reviews
  • ensuring the scope of review is sufficient to answer the questions set
  • using agreed indicators to guide judgements about the quality of what is being reviewed
  • ensuring the findings of reviews are acted on.

School leaders are responding to feedback from some staff regarding the pace and extent of school-wide change. In light of the extensive amount of change across the school, and the ongoing effects of the 2010-2011 earthquakes, the board should continue to seek staff views about aspects of their work and wellbeing.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code). The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this ERO review, 74 international students attended the school.

The board and school leaders take a well-planned approach to their provision for international students. The director of the programme effectively leads staff to deliver programmes to meet students’ needs and to help ensure that students are included in all aspects of school life.

Students receive good quality English language support and pastoral care. Students spoken with by ERO stated that they enjoy their schooling and feel well supported.

School leaders regularly review their compliance with the Code and other relevant government regulations. The board receives reports on the International Student programme and the progress students make in their learning.

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

5 November 2012

About the School

Location

Riccarton, Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

335

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

Decile1

9

School roll

1250

Number of international students

74

Gender composition

Girls 53%; Boys 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific – Tongan, Cook Island, Samoan

Asian

African

79%

7%

3%

7%

4%

Special Features

Integrated School

Review team on site

August 2012

Date of this report

5 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2009

August 2005

September 2002

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.