Rototuna Junior High School - 18/05/2017

1 Introduction

A New School Assurance Review is a review of particular areas of school performance and is undertaken to specific terms of reference.

New School Assurance Reviews are generally undertaken within the first year of the school’s opening.

Terms of Reference

This review is based on an evaluation of the performance of Rototuna Junior High School. The terms of reference for the review are to provide assurance to the community:

  • that the school is well placed to provide for students
  • that the school is operating in accordance with the vision articulated by the board of trustees.

2 Context

Rototuna Junior High School is a middle school catering for students in Years 7 to 10. The school shares the campus and some facilities with the recently opened Rototuna Senior High School.

3 Background

Rototuna Junior High School opened in February 2016 with over 600 students. The current roll is 960. Ultimately the school will provide for up to 1200 students from the growing north Hamilton suburbs. The school buildings are designed to promote innovative teaching and learning.

The setup phase of this new school, including developing governance and management frameworks, has been capably led and managed by the establishment board, governance facilitator, principal and deputy principals. The establishment board also has responsibility for the governance of the senior high school, and trustees ensure there is a coherent pathway for learning across the two schools.  Elections for the board of trustees are to be held in mid-2017.

4 Findings

The establishment of a community school provides a focus for this largely new housing area. A strong connection with local iwi Ngati Wairere, underpins the vision and values of the school. The local history has influenced the naming and design of areas within the school and the curriculum.

The school’s vision to ‘connect, inspire, soar’ reflects the establishment board’s commitment to providing an innovative model of teaching and learning for the middle school years. The acronym CLOAK (which stands for Challenging our mind-set, Learning is connected, Ourselves as learners, Ako always, Kindness and respect) identifies key learning attitudes and behaviours. The influence of CLOAK (kakahu) is evident throughout the school and is integral to students’ and teachers’ language of learning. Trustees have ensured the vision has been enacted through the effective use of the flexible learning spaces.

Students speak confidently and positively about the learning culture of their new school. While most students find the approach to teaching and learning different to their previous experience, they have been well supported to understand expectations through induction programmes and peer collaboration. Most students bring their own devices to school and use a range of online platforms to support their learning.

The school’s curriculum prioritises collaboration and integration of learning areas. Students have good opportunities to build on their strengths and follow their interests. During learning advisories and flight time, groups of students from across the 4 year levels learn together. During learning modules teachers integrate key concepts from two learning areas for groups of students in Years 7 and 8, and in Years 9 and 10.

Students make choices about the modules they will take and the interests they will pursue. Effective systems for tracking and monitoring students’ engagement in programmes are well established. These systems are helpful in ensuring students take a range of opportunities across all learning areas. Learning advisors guide students through the programme selection process. Students regularly reflect on their involvement in programmes.

Senior leaders provide good professional leadership for the school. They have worked well together to meet the challenges inherent in a school with a large foundation roll.  Senior leaders and teachers continue to refine and improve systems that help them to implement the school’s vision for learning. Parents, teachers and students have contributed worthwhile information through surveys that has informed improvements to school operations. Using ERO publications such as School Evaluation Indicators and Effective Internal Evaluation, could further strengthen this improvement process.

The appointment process for employing staff is focussed on identifying teachers with the ability to work closely with others, and to adopt new teaching practices. Together, staff and leaders have developed a model for teaching and learning that is true to the vision. They communicate and collaborate well in continuing to review and refine programmes, processes and practices.

Senior leaders and trustees value a broad range of outcomes for students. They are aware of the tension that exists between the requirement to measure and report academic achievement particularly in reading, writing and mathematics, while promoting more holistic growth and development for students. They are exploring ways to manage this effectively.

Appropriate assessment tools are used to help teachers make informed judgements about students’ learning. Senior leaders have confidence in the increased dependability of the school’s student achievement information. Along with teachers, they are developing and improving processes to track and monitor achievement of all students, and particularly those who need to make accelerated progress. As these systems are refined it would be helpful for students to know more about their progress and achievement so they are better informed when planning for their learning.

Parents and whānau have multiple opportunities to meet with teachers to find out about their child’s effort, attitudes and behaviours in learning and achievement. Leaders and teachers have plans to increase the use of online platforms to share information with parents in real time.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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:

  • school management and reporting
  • 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 students' 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

Rototuna Junior High School caters for students in Years 7 to 10, and provides them with a coherent learning pathway to Rototuna Senior High School. Students learn through a curriculum designed to promote collaboration and integration between learning areas in innovative learning environments. Specific programmes foster students’ strengths and interests. The school is effectively governed and led.

ERO is likely to carry out the first full review of the school by the end of the third year of the school’s operation. 

Steffan Brough
Deputy Chief Review Officer (Acting) 

About the School                                              

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

708

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 10)

School roll

959

Gender composition

Girls 52%, Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Chinese

Indian

SE Asian

other European

other Asian

other

14%

57%

  6%

  6%

  2%

  6%

  3%

  6%

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

18 May 2017