Ruapehu College - 05/02/2015

Findings

Ruapehu College has made significant changes to its curriculum and leadership since the previous ERO report. Increased levels of student achievement, engagement and attendance are now evident. However, Māori student engagement and achievement continues to be a concern. The school needs to further strengthen its capacity to sustain ongoing improvement to ensure successful outcomes for all students.

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?

Ruapehu College is a rural secondary school catering for students from Years 9 to 13. At the time of this review there were 147 students on the roll and 67% identify as Māori.

The newly established vision of the school as “...the heart of our community making a mountain of difference in learning and for life…” is articulated throughout school documents. A range of changes and developments to the school curriculum have been put in place, aimed at promoting student achievement and engagement.

At Limited Statutory Manager was in place at the time of the March 2013 ERO report to support board operations. This position was revoked in July 2014. There have been significant personnel changes. The principal joined the school in Term 2, 2013. One assistant principal began at the start of 2014 and another has been appointed to begin in 2015. Changes to teaching staff continue to be ongoing. Leadership structures are being reviewed for 2015.

An alternative education classroom unit has been introduced in the neighbouring town of Raetihi to support students to re-engage in mainstream education. A rationalisation of classroom spaces has been undertaken. Ngāti Rangi have plans to use some of the buildings for educational purposes.

The school curriculum is extended through ongoing involvement in the ‘Volcanic Cluster’ of schools that provides collaborative distance learning using video link up.

The school was part of the He Kākano project in 2013. This professional development programme focused on improving culturally responsive leadership and teacher practices to ensure Māori learners enjoy educational success as Māori.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The March 2013 ERO report identified a range of concerns and multi-facetted areas for review and development in:

  • learning
  • curriculum and assessment
  • teaching
  • sustainability of practice
  • leadership
  • compliance.

Progress

Leaders and teachers are developing how they use achievement data to promote learning. Leaders have focused on improving the range and quality of assessment information. Teachers are now using an appropriate selection of assessment tools to provide more robust and reliable data.

Leaders have taken steps to strengthen links and increase shared information with local primary schools. Teachers are beginning to use transition data to identify students who are in need of additional support and to plan programmes. Further developing teachers’ use of information at this stage should improve transition and respond more effectively to students' needs on entry to the school.

Teachers and leaders are more aware of students' overall achievement levels. Continuing to improve the tracking and monitoring of students’ learning and progress should identify needs early and enable teachers to respond more effectively. Increasing the quality and availability of information should enable leaders to have a clearer view of what is making the biggest difference to outcomes for students.

Improving student levels of achievement in literacy and numeracy at National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1 has been an area of priority since the previous ERO report. Literacy levels have been raised and are now comparable with all students nationally. However, numeracy achievement levels are below all students nationally and require significant improvement. School wide strategic targets have yet to be achieved. Continuing to focus on improving teaching of literacy and numeracy across the curriculum is likely to support more students to be successful.

Leaders report higher student pass rates at Levels 1 and 2 of NCEA, which compare well to all students nationally. However there has not been an improvement at Level 3.

Trustees recognise that improving results for all students is an ongoing strategic priority, and increasing the number of NCEA merit and excellence endorsements is a next step. Predictive data made available to ERO suggests that the 2014 achievement levels are anticipated to be higher in most learning areas when compared to 2013.

It is now possible to determine levels of achievement in Years 9 and 10 using standardised assessment tools. Newly developed assessment frameworks have been introduced that support students' transition to NCEA. Once comparative data is available over time, school leaders will be able to clearly determine rates of progress and achievement in literacy and numeracy, particularly for learners at risk of not achieving.

Closer tracking and monitoring of attendance rates show improved attendance since the 2013 report. Appropriate procedures to address and resolve attendance issues are more evident. Further developing strategies to increase student engagement in the curriculum should support progress towards achieving the school’s desired attendance targets.

A process of academic mentoring has been introduced to enhance achievement and engagement. The impact of this programme has yet to be determined.

Trustees receive regular reports about student achievement and attendance. Information is suitably used by leaders and trustees to identify areas of strategic priority and set annual targets. High expectations for learning and achievement are articulated. Parents receive useful reports about their child’s progress and achievement.

Senior leaders are continuing to explore ways to develop a more responsive curriculum that promotes engagement, progress and achievement for all students. Ongoing review of the curriculum has led to a more balanced selection of appropriate courses available to students and a greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy. The organisation of the timetable has been reviewed and changed to promote increased engagement. The number of students entering external examinations has increased.

Principal and leaders are at an early stage of developing a learner profile and establishing the criteria for what success looks like at Ruapehu College.

Teachers attest that there is a more positive tone in classrooms. Teachers are beginning to consider the use of restorative practices. Participation in the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) initiative is already underway. Improved attendance rates and a reduction in the number of stand downs and suspensions indicate that the level of engagement of students is steadily increasing.

Ruapehu College is developing its capacity to promote educational success for Māori students. Levels of achievement and attendance for Māori students have improved. However there is still a significant gap in engagement and achievement when compared to their peers. There are opportunities to learn Te reo Māori at all levels. Students enjoy a strengthening of well established kapa haka.

School leaders have successfully established links to the local iwi, and the principal is part of the “Whānau Transformation project”. Regular meetings of the school cultural group provide a vehicle for strengthening the school's kawa and the presence of tikanga Māori.

The school has yet to separate data for Pacific students. The planned Pacific fono should enable parents of Pacific students to have access to a forum that will provide further information about achievement and be able to inform the school strategic direction.

Key next steps

School leaders and teachers need to further improve the quality and use of student achievement information to promote engagement, learning and progress. This includes using it to:

  • inform teaching that better responds to students' individual needs
  • improve analysis, review and decision making at leadership level
  • better monitor and support effective use of data across the school
  • improve the quality of information shared with trustees.

Further review and strengthening of the curriculum should include:

  • an improved response to students' cultural, academic and individual learning needs
  • suitable pathways for students, in line with the developed desired learner profile
  • courses that are of sufficient quality and depth to support future success
  • promotion of literacy and numeracy progress for all students, particularly priority learners.

ERO identifies, and leaders agree that in order to further strengthen teaching and learning, there is a need to:

  • develop a shared understanding of what effective teaching looks like
  • improve teachers’ capability to respond to individual needs and multi-level classrooms
  • develop a shared understanding and implement teaching as inquiry.

To continue to improve Māori students' success as Māori, leaders and trustees should:

  • further develop relationships with whānau, community and iwi to promote partnerships that support students’ learning.
  • include iwi education plans as part of curriculum review and school operations
  • consult with the school's Māori community to develop and make known to the school's community policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school continues to develop its capacity to sustain and review its performance.

The principal and trustees are setting a clear direction for school improvement. Self review is occurring at senior leader level across aspects of school operation and is leading to developments. Successfully managing change continues to be a challenge and a priority.

Trustees have restructured and strengthened board operations and procedures with the help of external support. They are developing a greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Training is promoted and accessed where possible. There is a regular cycle of policy review.

Opportunities for school wide professional learning and development have increased and these are better aligned to strategic priorities. The current appraisal process has an appropriate framework and includes expectations for goal setting and classroom observations.

Key next steps

Leaders, heads of department and teachers need to strengthen self-review processes by:

  • establishing a shared understanding of robust, evidence-based review
  • clearly evaluating the impact of decisions, strategies interventions on improving successful outcomes for all students
  • developing teachers’ capability to inquire into the effectiveness of their own practice.

In order for appraisal to have an impact on improving teaching and learning the process needs to:

  • be rigorously and consistently implemented for all staff
  • include goals linked directly to outcomes for students
  • identify individual professional development needs
  • integrate Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori learners.

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.

ERO identified an area of non-compliance. The school does not have a procedure to ensure that all non-teaching staff are vetted every three years, and contractors or other adults with unsupervised access to students are police vetted. Not all non-teaching staff, contractors or other adults with unsupervised access to students have been appropriately police vetted.

  • The school must ensure that it has and fully implements a policy and procedure for police vetting of non-teaching staff, contractors or other adults with unsupervised access to students and that all persons requiring a police vet are re-vetted at least every three years. [Education Amendment Act 2010; Education Circular 2010/09]

Conclusion

Ruapehu College has made significant changes to its curriculum and leadership since the previous ERO report. Increased levels of student achievement, engagement and attendance are now evident. However, Māori student engagement and achievement continues to be a concern. The school needs to further strengthen its capacity to sustain ongoing improvement to ensure successful outcomes for all students.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

5 February 2015

School Statistics

Location

Ohakune

Ministry of Education profile number

183

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

147

Gender composition

Male 58%, Female 42%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

66%

26%

5%

3%

Review team on site

November 2014

Date of this report

5 February 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

March 2013

December 2009

June 2006