Otago Girls' High School - 07/03/2011

Community Page

7 March 2011

To the Parents and Community of Otago Girls' High School

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Otago Girls' High School.

Otago Girls’ High School continues to provide high quality education for girls in Years 9 to 13. It upholds its proud history of being the oldest girls’ school in New Zealand. There are high expectations for achievement, behaviour and participation in school activities for all students.

ERO observed caring and respectful relationships between different groups within the school community. Peer support provided by Year 13 students helps Year 9 students settle into school life. At each year level students can choose from a range of leadership opportunities.

At the time of the review, the school roll was 827. Ten percent of the students identify as Māori, an increase from 2007. Their presence and culture are valued within the school. Students from different ethnic groups are valued and effectively included.

A strong partnership between parents and school is encouraged through consultation and reporting. Students’ opinions are valued and they participate in decision making through the School Council and the Board of Trustees.

Over the last two years, senior leaders and teachers have designed a curriculum that is responsive to the interests and abilities of the students. It is well founded on the values and principles of the national curriculum. A major thrust of the school curriculum is to encourage students to participate in the many academic, sporting and cultural activities offered at the school. School information shows high levels of participation. The school continues to embed the curriculum into practice.

Students benefit from good to high quality teaching, where the focus is on achievement. Teachers, deans and leaders use achievement information effectively to identify learning strengths and learning needs, and to support students in their course choices. Class lessons are structured with an emphasis on developing students’ skills for immediate and long-term learning.

Student achievement is high. In National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), students’ overall results for many years compare very favourably with, or exceed, similar schools. Māori and international student achievement is also high. Achievement in sport, cultural activities and individual pursuits of any kind is promoted and celebrated. The school sets challenging targets to raise achievement levels, especially in Years 11 to 13.

Notable strengths of the school are the breadth and depth of professional leadership, governance, strategic planning and self-review practices. New developments and changes are managed well. A key to this good management is the meaningful use of a range of data collected on almost all aspects of the school’s operation. The subsequent analysis provides sound evidence for decision making and identifying areas for development.

Future Action

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Review Coverage

This report provides an evaluation of how effectively the school’s curriculum promotes student learning - engagement, progress and achievement. ERO’s evaluation takes account of the school’s previous reporting history and is based on:

  • what is known about student achievement information, including the achievement of Māori and Pacific students;
  • decisions made to improve student achievement using assessment and selfreview information; and
  • teaching strategies and programmes implemented to give effect to the school’s curriculum.

ERO also gathers information during the review to contribute to its national reports. The national reports are published on ERO’s website.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, www.ero.govt.nz.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

General Information about Reviews

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve educational achievement in schools; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the government.

Reviews are intended to focus on student achievement and build on each school’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting integrates the following:

  • school curriculum;
  • national evaluation topics –contribute to the development of education policies and their effective implementation; and
  • the Board Assurance Statement, including student and staff health and safety.

ERO’s review is responsive to the school’s context. When ERO reviews a school, it takes into account the characteristics of the community from which it draws its students, its aspirations for its young people, and other relevant local factors.

ERO also builds on the school’s own self-review information. ERO is interested in how a school monitors the progress of its students and aspects of school life and culture, and how it uses this information to improve student learning.

This helps ERO to answer the major evaluation question for reviews:

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

Areas for Development and Review

ERO reports include areas for development and review to support ongoing improvement by identifying priorities. Often the school will have identified these matters through its own self review and already plans further development in those areas.

Disclaimer

Individual ERO school and early childhood services reports are public information and may be copied or sent electronically.  However, the Education Review Office can guarantee only the authenticity of original documents which have been obtained in hard copy directly from either the local ERO office or ERO Corporate Office in Wellington.  Please consult your telephone book, or see the ERO web page, http://www.ero.govt.nz, for ERO office addresses.

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Confirmed Education Review Report:Otago Girls' High School

This report has been prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

Otago Girls’ High School continues to provide high quality education for girls in Years 9 to 13. It upholds its proud history of being the oldest girls’ school in New Zealand. There are high expectations for achievement, behaviour and participation in school activities for all students.

ERO observed caring and respectful relationships between different groups within the school community. Peer support provided by Year 13 students helps Year 9 students settle into school life. At each year level students can choose from a range of leadership opportunities.

At the time of the review, the school roll was 827. Ten percent of the students identify as Māori, an increase from 2007. Their presence and culture are valued within the school. Students from different ethnic groups are valued and effectively included.

A strong partnership between parents and school is encouraged through consultation and reporting. Students’ opinions are valued and they participate in decision making through the School Council and the Board of Trustees.

Over the last two years, senior leaders and teachers have designed a curriculum that is responsive to the interests and abilities of the students. It is well founded on the values and principles of the national curriculum. A major thrust of the school curriculum is to encourage students to participate in the many academic, sporting and cultural activities offered at the school. School information shows high levels of participation. The school continues to embed the curriculum into practice.

Students benefit from good to high quality teaching, where the focus is on achievement. Teachers, deans and leaders use achievement information effectively to identify learning strengths and learning needs, and to support students in their course choices. Class lessons are structured with an emphasis on developing students’ skills for immediate and long-term learning.

Student achievement is high. In National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), students’ overall results for many years compare very favourably with, or exceed, similar schools. Māori and international student achievement is also high. Achievement in sport, cultural activities and individual pursuits of any kind is promoted and celebrated. The school sets challenging targets to raise achievement levels, especially in Years 11 to 13.

Notable strengths of the school are the breadth and depth of professional leadership, governance, strategic planning and self-review practices. New developments and changes are managed well. A key to this good management is the meaningful use of a range of data collected on almost all aspects of the school’s operation. The subsequent analysis provides sound evidence for decision making and identifying areas for development.

Future Action

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

2. Otago Girls' High School’s Curriculum

How effectively does the curriculum of Otago Girls' High School promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

School context and self review

The school’s vision is that students value and respect themselves, others and the global community, and that they are passionate about learning and pursuing excellence. The school is committed to providing the highest quality education for all girls in a safe, caring and inclusive environment.

Otago Girls’ High School has a strong reporting history with ERO, especially in the area of self review. Self review supports the focus on ongoing improvement. The two major teacher professional development projects for 2010 are in literacy and e-learning.

Areas of strength

Student achievement. Students continue to achieve at high levels academically and in a wide range of sporting and cultural endeavours. Student achievement in external qualifications is consistently high in relation to similar schools. The school is able to show good rates of progress for students as they move from Year 9 to Year 11. The strategic goal to improve retention and achievement for Māori students is being well realised. The school values the high levels of student participation in sport, culture and clubs and sees this as contributing to the strength of student engagement in classrooms. High expectations across the school are contributing to strong student achievement in terms of a well-rounded education.

Self-managing learners. Students benefit from the school-wide and structured emphasis on developing their skills for immediate and long-term learning. There is a well-developed programme to build students’ learning skills. This is evident in classroom units of work, the interactions between teachers and students, and the expectation that learning skills will support students’ approaches to learning. All students have dedicated teaching time to introduce and revisit learning techniques. This emphasis on learning to learn links directly to the school’s vision for passionate learners pursuing excellence.

Learning environment. Students’ learning is enhanced by the high quality learning environment. The contributing factors to this environment include:

  • affirmative and supportive relationships where individuals really matter;
  • an inclusive culture where diversity is celebrated and a genuine commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi is shown; and
  • strong collegial staff relationships.

Curriculum design. The recently redesigned curriculum is a key component of the learning environment. It has been revised to effectively promote student success and best meet students’ needs and interests. It is defined in wide terms and appropriately incorporates all that affects students while they are at school. The initial review process identified what was worth retaining. The principles of the New Zealand Curriculum are evident in the design and ongoing curriculum decisions. The curriculum is challenging and responds to different learning levels and needs through programmes such as learning support, Gateway and the careful use of teacher aides. The design promotes student engagement and achievement, and includes multiple opportunities for students to develop their leadership abilities.

Quality of teaching. Overall students benefit from good to high quality teaching. Teachers demonstrated pedagogical knowledge, effective classroom management and a focus on learning. They benefit from a coordinated approach to their professional development and appraisal, where they are encouraged to reflect on their practice and develop their skills. Classroom-learning activities are varied, including cooperative and differentiated tasks, and problem solving. Teachers use effective questioning and give students meaningful feedback that checks and extends their understanding.

Leadership. Professional leadership is strong at all levels of the school. The principal models effective leadership and is central to promoting and maintaining the school culture. Senior leaders, heads of department and staff with specific responsibilities work well together to implement the academic and cocurricular activities for students. Goals and expectations to move the school forward are very clear and allow all staff to make use of their leadership skills. Leaders manage change effectively. Strong school-wide leadership is building the pedagogical and cultural conditions needed for successful learning and teaching. Students demonstrate their leaderships skills where appropriate.

Strategic planning. Trustees, senior leaders and staff work strategically to bring about the achievement of school goals and to run the school effectively. Trustees and leaders are constantly looking for improvement. There is appropriate alignment between the strategic plan, the annual plan and what happens in classrooms for students. The board’s strategic goals support the vision of school. Trustees are well informed about school achievements through reports from heads of departments and committees. In turn, the board reports to the community on how well the strategic goals have been achieved.

Self review. School leaders continue to develop and make good use of robust self-review processes. Self-review processes are well integrated into school management and operations. They link to the school’s strategic direction and are usually focused on student achievement. Where appropriate, student and parent perspectives are included. The self-review approach of focusing on “data causing concern” is a useful approach that ensures that reviews lead to positive actions. Self review is used for setting targets for improvement and to raise student achievement. Self review generates valid information which is used to provide evidence for change at department, school or board level.

Area for development

During the course of the review, the school leaders, trustees and ERO discussed priorities for ongoing development.

Embedding curriculum developments. ERO and the school agree that continuing with developments in curriculum delivery is desirable. Teachers have been engaged in ongoing professional development to improve the quality of teaching and levels of student engagement since before the 2007 ERO review. ERO observed multiple examples of good quality teaching during the review but also observed aspects of teaching that could be improved. Many teachers have identified specific areas of their teaching they would like to improve. The school has effective systems in place to monitor and develop the performance of all teachers. Senior leaders know where further improvement is needed to benefit student engagement and learning.

3. Provision for International Students

Otago Girls' High School is providing its international students with high quality education and pastoral care. Monitoring systems are effective. For example, great care is taken to ensure that students are well prepared for their next educational destination after this school. International students are valued by, and are well integrated, into the wider school community.

Compliance with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students and the Provision of English Language Support

Otago Girls' High School 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 school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

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

4. Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of Otago Girls' High School completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • board administration;
  • curriculum;
  • management of health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management;
  • financial management; and
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO looked at the school’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records. ERO sampled recent use of procedures and ERO also checked elements of the following five areas that have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);
  • physical safety of students;
  • teacher registration;
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and
  • attendance.

During the course of the review ERO identified no areas of non-complaince.

5. Future Action

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

7 March 2011

About The School

School type

Secondary (Year 9 – 13)

Decile1

9

School roll

827

Number of international students

25

Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 73%

Māori 10%

Asian 6%

Pacific 2%

Others 9%

Review team on site

November 2010

Date of this report

7 March 2011

Previous three ERO reports

Education Reviews September 2007

August 2004

Accountability Review October 2001

1 School deciles range from one to ten. Decile one schools  draw their students from low socioeconomic 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.