Newlands College - 16/11/2016

Findings

Newlands College is welcoming and inclusive, with positive respectful relationships underpinning all aspects of school life. The curriculum is effective in promoting learning: engagement, progress and achievement. Many students achieve success in national qualifications. The well-resourced learning centre supports the learning and wellbeing of high needs students. Teachers and leaders decisions focus on improving outcomes for all students.

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

1 Context

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

Newlands College is a Years 9 to 13 secondary school in the Wellington suburb of Newlands. Most students are drawn from local primary and intermediate schools. At the time of this review, there are 910 on the roll including 59 international students. The student population continues to be increasingly diverse, with around 12% identifying as Māori, 9% as Pacific and 25% as Asian.

The college is welcoming and inclusive. Positive, respectful relationships characterise school life. Promotion of wellbeing for learning is a high priority. The learning support centre caters for 35 students with high needs.

An external consultant evaluator has worked within the school to facilitate the community survey, curriculum review and developments in teaching and learning.

The Newlands cluster of schools are considering working together in a Community of Learning.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The college uses student achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Many students achieve success in national qualifications. Overall results for the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) have been generally at or above the national figures over several years. However, this pattern of achievement is not consistently so for all groups of students within the college, and particularly at NCEA Level 3. Nearly all students achieve the literacy and numeracy requirements for NCEA Level 1.

The college retains most students to the end of Year 13 to complete their studies. Most students, including Māori and Pacific students, have gained NCEA Level 2 or higher when they leave.

School leaders use student assessment data appropriately to identify priorities for raising the achievement of specific groups. They recognise that the overall achievement of boys, NCEA merit and excellence endorsements, and the number of Māori leavers attaining NCEA Level 3 are areas for improvement.

Improved school systems have increased teachers' access to a wider range of data and assessment tools. There is an expectation they will use achievement information to respond to individual and group needs. Year 9 entry data is used to identify learning needs and group students according to their prior achievement.

School leaders and trustees prioritised the improvement of writing achievement in Years 9 and 10 to support students’ preparation for NCEA. This aligns with the college's strategic goals. Reported data for 2016 shows good progress towards the student achievement targets.

Leaders and teachers collaboratively review data to identify how best to meet the needs of students. There is comprehensive monitoring of overall student achievement and individual progress. This enables leaders to consider the impact of their practices on improving outcomes, and inform future changes.

Students at risk of underachievement are prioritised for additional support and individual mentoring. Year group deans successfully track and monitor progress and respond to students' needs.

Parents are well informed about their child’s attainment and engagement. The digital parent portal enables parents to access regularly updated information about progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The college's curriculum promotes successful outcomes for many students. It is broad and reflects The New Zealand Curriculum. Traditional pathways for students are complimented by an increasing range of subject options.

The outcomes of the recent review of the college's curriculum intentions are articulated in the ‘Vision for learning’ introduced in 2016. This clearly expresses the values and desired outcomes for all learners. Leaders are now focused on its integration into teaching and learning.

A well-considered process supports students’ successful transition into the college. Good relationships with parents and dialogue between teachers are evident in the college's approach.

A collaborative, wraparound system supports student wellbeing and learning. Pastoral teams share responsibility for mentoring and supporting students at risk of underachievement. Requirements for improvement are well understood and articulated. Individual student profiles include goals and planned actions that are responsive to identified needs. Parents are fully involved and contribute to the development of these profiles. Teachers share information to ensure a collective and appropriate response.

A range of programmes support students to make informed choices about options, pathways and careers that relate to their strengths and interests. Useful links to tertiary institutions and work places promote transition from the school to further study or employment. STAR and gateway courses cater well for those who opt for work-place experience. Students can sample career possibilities through a wide range of choices.

Creativity and innovation in curriculum design are encouraged. Leaders and teachers are trialling initiatives for raising achievement. These include:

  • flexible groupings to cater for students' differing learning needs
  • new programmes and practices to respond to students’ strengths, cultures and changing needs
  • assessments to allow students to demonstrate learning in creative ways.

Planned evaluation of these initiatives should determine what practices are most effective in supporting improved student outcomes.

A priority is building positive relationships through mentoring that promotes students' sense of belonging and high expectations for their achievement and success. Students have opportunities to be involved in a range of co-curricular, academic, cultural and sporting groups. Their ideas are valued and responded to.

The well-resourced learning support centre provides an inclusive environment to support the learning and wellbeing of students with high needs. These students learn within the centre and across the college. A wide range of external activities broadens students' horizons. Well-considered processes support students and their families to transition into and from the college.

Leaders have a clear understanding of the strengths and development areas for teachers. In the classrooms ERO observed, it was evident that:

  • students were well engaged in their learning
  • teachers selected suitable strategies to meet learning needs
  • classroom environments were positive and inclusive
  • relationships between students and teachers were a strength.

Leaders and teachers focus on strengthening student agency. ‘Active learning’, a whole-school initiative in 2016, is seeking to increase students' understanding of their learning. It encourages them to follow their interests in authentic contexts.

The introduction of digital devices and elearning has provided extended opportunities for students to be involved in decisions about their learning and take responsibility for their achievement. Further developing teacher knowledge and practice to achieve this aim, and reflect the college's learning vision, is a well-considered next step.

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

The college is continuing to promote educational success for Māori students, as Māori. Māori students can access a wide range of cultural experiences and leadership opportunities. Student voice is valued through the Komiti Māori that provides a forum for communication and collaboration. The whānau advisory group has continued to strengthen its contribution to the college’s strategic direction.

Developments in active learning encourage students to inquire into their cultural heritage and demonstrate their strengths and knowledge. Students can now achieve NCEA credits through cultural performances and activities. Continuing to building staff capability to meet the needs of Māori students should support sustainable development and improvement. A newly appointed leader of Māori is a valuable source of support for teachers who are seeking to increase their knowledge and culturally-responsive practice.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The college is well placed to promote and sustain continued improvement.

Teachers and leaders make well-considered decisions focused on improving outcomes for all students. Initiatives and curriculum modifications are introduced in a measured manner, reflective of the college's vison for learning. Students are increasingly at the centre of curriculum decisions.

Faculty reviews and reports are well aligned to the college's achievement priorities. Collaborative processes provide information about learning, activities, and student progress and achievement over the year. The college is seeking to engage faculty leaders in working to improve the current framework for annual reporting.

Strengthening the evaluative capability of all leaders should support knowledge and understanding of the impact of curriculum changes on student engagement, achievement and progress, and inform decision making about next steps.

A strengthened appraisal process was introduced in 2016. It provides clear expectations and focuses on improvement. Teachers are encouraged to reflect on their practice in relation to performance criteria and Tātaiako – Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners. Fully implementing and embedding all aspects of the appraisal process is a next step.

Teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching in order to strengthen responses to students’ differing needs. Further developing their understanding of inquiry should support them to use data more effectively to determine what strategies make the biggest difference to students' learning. Whole-staff professional development is well planned and implemented, and aligned to college priorities.

The stable and experienced senior leadership team sustains a positive school environment to promote learning and support wellbeing. It manages change well. Leadership is collaborative and develops a culture of trust and collegiality that supports development of professional practice. A distributive approach is promoting leadership opportunities across the college.

The college has strengthened relationships with its community. Leaders sustain good relationships that engage parents and whānau in supporting their children. The digital parent portal enables tracking and monitoring of students’ achievement and attendance. Regular communication and reporting promotes learning-centred partnerships.

Effective community collaboration occurs through the work at the Pacific fono and whānau advisory groups. Māori and Pacific trustees assist community input into the college's strategic direction. Development of a new college vision and charter has included wide community consultation.

Trustees are well informed about student achievement and progress. The principal provides analysed data as a basis for their discussion and decision making. The board receives information that shows progress towards annual goals and in relation to its strategic direction. Trustees scrutinise the effectiveness of the college in achieving valued outcomes for students. Including more detail in annual targets for priority groups of students should assist decision making about what supporting actions are needed.

Provision for international students

The college is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The college has attested that it complies with and meets all aspects of the Code. At the time of this ERO review there are 59 international students from Asia, Europe and South America. The college makes positive changes for students in response to its internal evaluation findings.

Students' pastoral care includes learning and accommodation support. Their orientation to the college is well considered. Systems for identifying and responding to individual needs and interests are effective. English language learners receive appropriate tuition. Care is taken to provide courses, including for NCEA, that reflect the interests, needs and aspirations of students and their families. Students participate in cultural and sporting activities in the college and community. They are able to share their cultures with others and show leadership.

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

Newlands College is welcoming and inclusive, with positive respectful relationships underpinning all aspects of school life. The curriculum is effective in promoting learning: engagement, progress and achievement. Many students achieve success in national qualifications. The well-resourced learning centre supports the learning and wellbeing of high needs students. Teachers and leaders decisions focus on improving outcomes for all students.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

16 November 2016

About the School

Location

Newlands, Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

268

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

910

Number of international students

59

Gender composition

Boys 52%, Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pacific

Pākehā

Asian

Indian

Other ethnic groups

12%

9%

42%

20%

8%

9%

Special features

Learning Support Centre Van Asch Deaf Education Unit

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

16 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2013

September 2010

November 2006