Ruapehu College - 22/06/2016

Findings

Ruapehu College has made significant changes to improve its curriculum and teaching. High expectations for attendance and achievement have increased student engagement. Links with iwi and culturally responsive practices are supporting Māori students to be engaged achievers. The school has strengthened its capacity to sustain ongoing improvement to enable students to achieve successful outcomes.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three 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 are 155 students on the roll, including 69% who identify as Māori and 4% as Pacific.

The February 2015 ERO report identified areas that required further review and development. These included aspects of the curriculum, teaching and learning, the use of student achievement information, Māori student achievement and internal evaluation.

Following the 2015 ERO report, the board and principal developed an action plan. This has guided progress and review over the past year. A Ministry of Education (the Ministry) Senior Advisor also worked with the school during this time.

During 2015-16 a new deputy principal and several other teachers were appointed. Local iwi, Ngāti Rangi, have established an education facility on the school site. Leaders have meaningful relationships with iwi through regular conversations and events. Building learning partnerships with whānau is an ongoing focus of these occasions.

The school is participating in Te Kākahu, a joint Ministry and iwi initiative. This professional development programme is focused on improving culturally responsive teaching practices to enable Māori learners to enjoy educational success as Māori.

This report is an evaluation of progress made since 2015 and how well the school is placed to sustain and continue its improvements.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The principal and trustees, in collaboration with ERO, agreed that priority be given to:

  • teaching and learning
  • curriculum
  • quality and use of student achievement information
  • partnerships with whānau, for Māori student success as Māori
  • appraisal
  • internal evaluation.

Progress

The school has made good progress in improving the areas for further development identified in the 2015 ERO report. This is evident in school documentation, processes, systems and teaching practices designed to improve students’ outcomes.

Leaders and teachers effectively use student assessment information to identify students at risk of underachieving. Conversations about these students are helping to build teachers’ collective knowledge of their strengths and needs. Teachers share practices that are successful in engaging these students in learning.

Some teachers are specifically targeting students’ needs and evaluating the effectiveness of strategies to progress achievement. A next step is for all teachers to strengthen their inquiry into teaching strategies most likely to accelerate the progress and achievement of students at risk of not achieving.

Improved Year 9 and 10 standards-based assessments provide clear information about achievement in relation to the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) levels. Literacy data is used by departments to identify literacy knowledge and skills that are relevant in their particular learning area. Greater emphasis on Years 9 and 10 achievement should ensure students have good access to the NZC and National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) Level 1. Data is reported to the board. Year 8 student achievement data is used effectively to build a picture of students’ strengths and needs when they transition into the college.

Levels of achievement in NCEA literacy and numeracy have continued to improve since the previous ERO report. These are now comparable to students nationally and schools of similar type. NCEA Level 2, 3 and University Entrance results for 2015 are higher than schools of similar type. Merit endorsements at Level 2 have improved, but leaders and trustees recognise that increasing NCEA endorsements and achievement across all NCEA Levels is still an area that requires improvement.

Māori students’ levels of achievement in NCEA literacy and numeracy and Levels 1 to 3 have improved in the past two years. Achievement targets in the charter give priority to accelerating these students’ achievement. A diverse range of strategies are in place that should result in improved outcomes.

Conversations with iwi and whānau continue to explore and influence programmes and strategies to improve educational success for Māori students. Students’ attendance has continued to improve. The school cultural group provides a vehicle for strengthening the presence and inclusion of tikanga Māori in school practices. Students have opportunities for leadership and participation in kapa haka.

There is a planned and considered approach to investigating how responsive the curriculum is to students’ needs. The school’s curriculum includes the principles and key competencies of the NZC. Leaders are working with iwi to develop ways to meaningfully link to their education plans, languages, histories and contexts in the Ruapehu College curriculum.

A greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy teaching has been an outcome of curriculum review. An evaluation of student achievement at Years 12 and 13, by two departments, has resulted in the combining of some courses. The aim is to improve students’ NCEA Level 2 and 3 achievement in these learning areas. A review and changes to multi-level teaching at Years 11 to 13 has improved teachers’ capability to better respond to students’ individual needs.

Students are given useful and timely information about subjects to support their choice of learning pathways. Industry-based courses are providing a significant number of senior students with experiences that are responsive to their aspirations, needs and possible career pathways.

Progress with the inclusion of students’ experiences and preferred ways of learning are increasing their engagement, particularly in junior classes. The school curriculum has continued to be extended through involvement in the Volcanic Cluster of schools that provides collaborative distance learning using video link-up.

Te Kākahu continues to develop and strengthen teaching strategies and culturally responsive practices to support Māori students' engagement and achievement. Teachers have attended Te Puna Mātauranga subject hui to build their knowledge and understanding of strategies that should enable success for Māori students, as ngā iwi, through the college curriculum.

Learner and teacher profiles based on expectations for effective teaching and learning have been developed. Te Kākahu is providing teachers and students with avenues to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and learning. This is having an impact on raising student engagement and partnership in their learning. Teachers are using student assessment data more effectively across curriculum areas to plan differentiated programmes responsive to students’ interests and needs.

The Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit Support (CACTUS) programme has a positive impact on students. It includes physical, leadership, confidence and resilience building activities. Whānau and families' participation is central to the course. Inspirational speakers from the community share their experiences with students. Students highly value the opportunities provided. This is reflected in increased attendance, engagement and belief in themselves as learners and achievers.

Annual department reports now include more NCEA student achievement information and course evaluation. Some learning areas also include these aspects for Years 9 and 10. However, an area for improvement is to ensure there is consistency in this reporting in all learning area reports. Strengthening consistency in the evaluation of the quality of courses and identification of how teachers will improve student achievement are areas for further development.

The school reports on the progress and achievement of its six Pacific students. Data shows that these students are achieving very well. A Pacific fono enables families of Pacific students to be involved in their children’s progress and have input into school decision-making.

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 well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance.

The board have a clear focus on their stewardship role. They receive regular and informative reports on student achievement and school operation. Including reports on the impact of specific interventions for students with diverse needs is a next step. Trustees’ participation in training has improved their capacity to understand data. They are actively involved and well informed about changes and improvements at the school.

A shared understanding of schoolwide evaluation is continuing to emerge. A stronger focus on evaluating the impact of the curriculum and teaching and learning strategies on student outcomes should assist with identifying what to do next.

The principal and senior leaders effectively collaborate as a team to make positive changes and improvement for students. They are inclusive of staff, whānau and families in decisions about the school’s direction. The principal encourages and supports leaders to grow their capability.

Professional learning and development is appropriately aligned with school priorities. The appraisal process is aligned with the Practising Teacher Criteria and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners. Teachers set a literacy goal. Observations and feedback is provided through Te Kākahu. Including summary comments and feedback from appraisers should further improve the effectiveness of the appraisal process to develop teaching practice.

4 Future priorities for review and development

ERO, trustees and leaders agree that the following areas require further strengthening:

  • the school’s capacity to continue to improve Māori student achievement
  • evaluating the effectiveness of current strategies and interventions to improve outcomes for all students
  • teachers’ capacity to inquire into the effectiveness of their own teaching.

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

Ruapehu College has made significant changes to improve its curriculum and teaching. High expectations for attendance and achievement have increased student engagement. Links with iwi and culturally responsive practices are supporting Māori students to be engaged achievers. The school has strengthened its capacity to sustain ongoing improvement to enable students to achieve successful outcomes.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

22 June 2016

About the School

Location

Ohakune

Ministry of Education profile number

183

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

155

Gender composition

Male 56 %, Female 44%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

69%

24%

4%

3%

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

22 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2015

March 2013

December 2009