Northland College - 21/06/2017

Findings

A new board of trustees is governing the school efficiently with the support of a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM). Some progress has been made to improve the quality of teaching and learning and in NCEA results. ERO intends to keep working with the school to ensure other areas impacting negatively on students' learning are addressed.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

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

Northland College provides co-educational secondary education for young people from Years 9 to 13. The college, located in Kaikohe, has an adjoining dairy farm, forestry block and honey bee farm. Nearly all students are Māori and most descend from Ngapuhi and surrounding subtribes.

Following the 2012 ERO review of the school, the Secretary of Education replaced the board of trustees with a commissioner. A new principal was appointed in 2013. During 2012, 2013 and 2014 ERO visited the school regularly and evaluated the progress the school made against agreed priorities.

The 2015 ERO report identified continued concerns about the conditions of the school property and the school’s financial viability. It highlighted ongoing concerns about the school’s strategic direction, the school’s curriculum and the quality of teaching and learning.

During 2015 and 2016, the Ministry of Education (MoE) provided considerable professional learning for teachers and school leaders. ERO continued to visit the school in this time to evaluate the progress made against agreed priorities identified in the 2015 ERO report.

ERO and the school discussed the following priorities for improvement, identified in the 2015 report:

  • the development of leadership capacity and capability
  • the development and implementation of a Northland College curriculum
  • the development of quality teaching practice and inquiry
  • the effective use of student progress and achievement data to refine achievement targets and inform programme planning
  • the continuing development of a culturally nurturing environment for Maori learners where language, culture and identity are supported.

ERO visited the school early in April 2017 to verify the two year process. This 2017 ERO report describes the progress made over the past two years.

It also identifies on-going concerns around the quality of leadership including inadequate systems to ensure student safety and staff accountability, curriculum and teaching and learning practices throughout the school.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO and the school discussed the following priorities for improvement identified in the 2015 ERO report:

  • the development of leadership capacity and capability
  • the development and implementation of a Northland College curriculum
  • the development of quality teaching practice and inquiry
  • the effective use of student progress and achievement data to refine achievement targets and inform programme planning
  • the continuing development of a culturally nurturing environment for Maori learners where language, culture and identity are supported.

Progress

The development of leadership capacity and capability

There has been both stability and change in the school leadership team since ERO’s 2014 review. The principal is now in his fifth year leading the school. A long-serving deputy principal continues to be in charge of the school’s pastoral care systems. An experienced leader is currently employed in a temporary role as acting deputy principal with responsibilities for curriculum and assessment. Since 2016 three middle managers have taken responsibility for the collection of student achievement information and use it to identify students at risk of poor academic performance.

Progress has been limited in terms of providing the required school and curriculum leadership to affect change and result in positive outcomes for students.

The board of trustees are not yet receiving regular assurance from school leaders that the school is meeting legislative requirements. A lack of appropriate systems and accountability measures place students and the board of trustees unduly at risk. These include:

  • inaccurate records of registered teachers and non-registered staff
  • non-registered staff working without supervision, without Limited Authority to Teach status or without being police vetted
  • inadequate appraisal of teachers and support staff
  • not meeting mandatory reporting requirements to the New Zealand Education Council about teachers whose actions might constitute serious misconduct
  • non-scheduled school closure.

These poor practices and lack of adherence to the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 places students and the board of trustees unduly at risk.

In addition, consultation with parents about the school’s health curriculum has not been completed for at least four years.

Of continued concern are student attendance records and truancy statistics which indicate high numbers of students are disengaged from school. There are also high numbers of stand-downs. Considerable numbers of students are out of class during the school day.

School leaders should:

  • prioritise the collection, analysis and evaluation of student engagement data and use it to plan proactively to engage young people in meaningful learning
  • ensure that new and beginning teachers have an effective induction programme.

The board and principal have identified that the appointment of a permanent senior leader to lead curriculum and guide the use of student achievement information is urgent.

The development and implementation of a Northland College curriculum, and quality teaching practice and inquiry

School leaders have increasing expectations for teachers to change and improve their practice and work collaboratively. Professional learning is beginning to impact on how some teachers use student achievement information to plan learning programmes and reflect on their practice.

Students in Years 11, 12 and 13 have access to increasingly varied curriculum pathways including trades, hospitality and agriculture. Students now have access to NCEA levels 2 and 3 qualifications through Telford and Lincoln Universities. Around 60 senior students are also involved in Gateway programmes that provide them with work experience each week.

In Term 4, 2016 the principal led staff in the first phase of a new curriculum to start in Term 1 2017 for Years 9 and 10. This new approach requires teachers to collaboratively plan integrated learning programmes, with two or more teachers working with combined Years 9 and 10 students in an open learning space. Unfortunately, due to the new building not yet being complete, teachers and students are having to use existing open spaces in the school, including the hall. Other teaching and learning for all students continues to take place in the old classroom blocks.

Generally, teachers find the new teaching and learning expectations for Years 9 and 10 challenging. In junior and senior classrooms most learning programmes are traditionally teacher-led and are not effectively engaging students in learning. Many students are unprepared for learning, arriving to class without their required chrome books or other equipment. On the whole, teachers are not yet using digital devices to modify, redefine and enhance learning for students.

Some teachers maintain positive learning relationships with students. However ERO is concerned about the deficit attitudes and beliefs about students’ behaviour and learning, and about whānau and community that are also evident among staff.

The effective use of student progress and achievement data to refine achievement targets and inform programme planning

The school’s academic counselling initiative supports teachers to track students’ progress. Whānau group teachers identify students requiring targeted action and conference with parents and students to develop and adjust learning goals. School leaders report that these initiatives are successful in engaging students and parents in learning partnerships with the school.

The school retains very few of its students until the end of Year 13. Many students leave the school during or at the end of Year 11. Collecting and analysing student destination data could provide the school with useful information about why students leave and where they go. This data would support the school in planning for improved student retention.

The school’s achievement continues to be low for students in NCEA Levels 1 and 3 and in University Entrance. NCEA level 2 results are more positive with around 70 percent of students achieving this qualification over the past three years.

School leaders know that Year 9 students enter the college with low levels of numeracy and literacy. However they take up a significant amount of learning time formally testing students at the start, middle and end of the school year. These testing expectations have increased with the school’s involvement in a digital learning project. Students’ lack of interest in this formal testing regime makes the validity and reliability of data questionable.

Areas for continued improvement include senior leaders:

  • appointing a senior leader with responsibility for the school-wide picture of student achievement and for assessment systems and processes throughout the school
  • accessing students’ National Standards information from which to design differentiated teaching and learning approaches that engage and challenge students appropriately
  • supporting teachers to understand National Standards and accelerated learning
  • designing an assessment approach for the integrated teaching model at Years 9 and 10
  • reconsidering the place of formalised testing for Years 9 and 10 students.

Some Year 12 and 13 NCEA courses operate with very small student numbers but have low rates of success. School leaders should increase expectations for teachers to provide individual learning plans for classes with small numbers of students. They should monitor the academic performance of students during the year and plan for all students to achieve.

In addition, NZQA’s 2011, 2013 and 2016 National Moderation Reports identify ongoing concerns about the school’s internal moderation processes for the senior curriculum. These aspects require urgent attention.

The continuing development of a culturally nurturing environment for Maori learners where language, culture and identity are supported

The 2012 ERO report identified that Te Whānau o Te Awatea was providing successful learning pathways in te reo Māori for students in Years 9 to 13. However at the time of this 2017 ERO visit, staff, trustees and whānau were confused about the school’s bilingual status and the place of Te Whānau o Te Awatea. Whanau and members of the school community expressed concern about changes to the teaching and learning of te reo Maori with the introduction of the new integrated teaching model.

In consultation with its community, the school should urgently address the provision of te reo Māori as an academic pathway for students. It would be useful for the school to review the position of te reo Māori against Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles and Ngapuhitanga expectations. School leaders should also ensure that Māori students continue to experience high levels of whānaungatanga and a school context that actively promotes their language, culture and identity, and success as Māori. 

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not well placed to make progress with or sustain improvements in its performance without support. Processes to enable the school to review its own performance are limited.

The commissioner continues to support the board as a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM). He holds key responsibility for managing finance, personnel and curriculum. The LSM has been instrumental in establishing partnerships with private enterprise and improving the financial viability of the school’s farm. This enterprise, that includes forestry and honey bee production, provides good opportunities for student learning and vocational pathways. The school farm is being managed effectively and efficiently in partnership with Lincoln University.

A new board of trustees was formed in May 2016 with some trustee positions appointed by the Minister of Education on behalf of the Kaikohe community. Trustees are connected to Kaikohe and affiliate to Ngapuhi iwi. They bring varied professional skills and experiences to their governance roles and have strong aspirations for the future of Kaikohe students and the school. The board is functioning well under the guidance of an experienced board chairperson. The new board of trustees is working efficiently and effectively with the support and guidance from the LSM.

With external specialist support, the school’s charter and strategic planning documents are now more streamlined and meaningful. Charter goals and achievement targets are well-defined. The board’s policies provide a good framework for guiding school operations, and a governance manual guides the work of trustees in their governance roles.

The new school build is due to be completed in August 2017. The opening and move into the new learning spaces is much anticipated by staff, students and whānau. The student support area, Te Puna Wai o te Hauora now has its own base, giving more space and privacy to students requiring wellbeing support. Hiwaiterangi, the teen parent unit hosted by Northland College opened early in 2017.

Key next steps

The board of trustees, principal and school leaders should work urgently to:

  • develop the school’s internal evaluation processes and understanding so that the board receives useful information about the impact of initiatives, including from the pastoral care team and Hiwaiterangi, the school’s teen parent unit
  • implement the teachers’ appraisal system and align it to New Zealand Education Council requirements for accountability and improvement
  • develop and implement an appraisal system for non-teaching staff
  • align professional learning and other school-based initiatives to the school’s strategic planning documents so that the board can evaluate the extent to which goals and targets are being met
  • ensure a safe physical and emotional environment for students and staff
  • use evidence to review policies and investigate how policies align with practice.

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.

In order to meet its legal requirements the board of trustees and college leaders must:

  • provide teaching and learning programmes for all students in years 9 to 10 in the Arts and Technology learning areas
  • implement a health consultation with the community at least once in every two years 
  • provide yearly appraisals for non-teaching staff and align teacher appraisals to Education Council requirements
  • ensure that all non-teaching staff are regularly police vetted
  • provide adequate supervision for non-registered teachers who do not have LAT status
  • meet mandatory reporting requirements to the NZ Education Council.

The New Zealand Curriculum, National Administration Guideline 1(a)I; Section 60B; 139AK of the Education Act 1989; State Sector Act 1988 77C; Vulnerable Children Act 2014, 25(1),26(1),27(1).

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education continues the intervention under s78 of the Education Act 1989 to maintain progress addressing the remaining concerns about the quality of leadership, curriculum, and personnel practices.

Conclusion

A new board of trustees is governing the school efficiently with the support of a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM). Some progress has been made to improve the quality of teaching and learning and in NCEA results. ERO intends to keep working with the school to ensure other areas impacting negatively on students' learning are addressed.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Violet Tu'uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

21 June 2017

About the School 

Location

Kaikohe, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

9

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

299

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Pacific
other

93%
2%
4%
1%

Special Features

Northland College Teen Parent Unit, Hiwa i te rangi Services Academy Trades Academies: farm, forestry and hospitality Te Whānau o Te Awatea bilingual facility

Review team on site

April 2017

Date of this report

21 June 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

April 2015
April 2012
May 2010