Solway College - 28/11/2016

Findings

Solway College leaders and teachers understand the girls' individual needs, strengths and future aspirations well. The significant majority of students achieve NCEA at all levels. The curriculum is responsive and effectively promotes and supports student learning. Leaders and teachers care about students’ achievement and wellbeing. Success is widely recognised and celebrated in all aspects of the wider curriculum.

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

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Solway College is a girls’ secondary school in Masterton. Presently there are 134 students from Years 7 to 13 enrolled and 13% are Māori.

  • Christian-based values underpin all aspects of the college. This is strongly supported by the philosophy of ‘making excellence happen’ where each girl is empowered and challenged to:
  • achieve personal standards of excellence
  • reach their full potential in all areas of school life.

Students' skills and attributes are fostered to build confidence and resilience. A variety of leadership opportunities for girls are evident.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Leaders and teachers understand students’ individual needs, strengths and future aspirations well. This information is used to personalise responses that actively promote the individual student's wellbeing, holistic achievement and celebrate success. Schoolwide improvement targets are well considered and informed by data and trends over time for all learners.

High numbers of students achieve National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at all levels. Equity of outcomes for all learners is evident. The school has focused on improving the percentages of merit and excellence endorsed certificates recently. Data from 2015 shows the success of this focus.

Many students in Years 7 and 8 achieve well in relation to National Standards expectations. Mathematics and writing results have improved between 2014 and 2015. Teachers are actively involved in professional development to support their teacher assessment judgements.

A wide range of suitable assessment information is collected and collated for Years 7 to 10. Teachers' analysis supports ongoing reflection on students' progress and achievement, and gauges the impact of the curriculum on learning. Tracking students’ attainments over time supports positive shifts in their engagement, progress and achievement.

Students learn in calm and purposeful environments where their wellbeing is nurtured. They are empowered to take responsibility to learn, participate and achieve.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports equitable and excellent outcomes well for all students.

The curriculum is underpinned by the values, vision and special character of the school. This framework is under review by teachers and leaders. The intent is to share this with the community to collectively frame the future direction of the Solway approach to teaching and learning.

A strong focus on each student to reach their potential through high expectations and positive achievement-focused relationships is highly apparent. The curriculum is flexible. Programmes and initiatives are discussed among teachers to design a meaningful pathway for each student into, through and beyond the school. Student voice increasingly informs teaching strategies.

There are clear supportive processes for catering for learners with additional needs. Transition processes are well planned. A whānau team approach responds to meeting aspirations through ongoing collaborative goal setting.

Pastoral care systems are well-established. A clear restorative philosophy sets a solid foundation to guide behaviour and wellbeing practices. The school is currently enhancing its opportunities to further engage with parents.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Māori learners, their whānau and aspirations are well known by leaders and teachers. There is Māori cultural expertise within the school and links to iwi and local marae provide guidance to further support Māori learners' educational success.

Leaders and teachers are to extend their culturally responsive teaching practices and are incorporating more opportunities for contextually relevant learning programmes. A range of approaches is developing teachers' and leaders' capability to confidently include te ao Māori in the curriculum.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The board is improvement focused. Trustees actively seek support and guidance to build their knowledge of their roles and responsibilities. A recently developed governance operation framework supports their practice. Trustees are in the process of refreshing the school's vision, values and strategic direction. They are supportive of the well-aligned school improvement goals and targets.

Relationships between trustees, leaders and teachers are based on trust, integrity and knowledge-sharing to improve student outcomes. Leaders collaboratively develop and pursue a successful pathway for all learners.

Teachers continue to deepen their understanding, analysis and effective use of data through teacher and departmental inquiry. A useful framework is in place that emphasises improving student outcomes linked to schoolwide goals and priorities. Some good practices are evident and sharing these should assist all teachers to better evaluate the impact programmes and initiatives have on student outcomes.

The teacher performance management process has been strengthened in 2016. Monitoring the quality of reflections and feedback should better support ongoing improvements in practice. School leaders understand the need to continue to build consistently robust evidence for renewing Practising Teacher Certificates.

Trustees are developing a more systematic approach to reviewing the school’s policies and procedures. Priority should be given to reviewing health and safety procedures for education outside the classroom, complaints, personnel appointments in relation to the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 and international student guidelines. All policies and procedures should be accessible to parents.

Knowledge building and inquiry are used well to identify what works well, what does not and who for. Improvements to the curriculum are well founded and evidence-based and inform a cycle of continuous improvement. Continuing to build the consistency and coherency across the school has been identified as a natural progression for further improving outcomes for all learners.

Provision for international students

At the time of this review there were four international students attending the college.

The college 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 and meets all aspects of the Code.

The school has begun to align its policies and procedures to meet the requirements of the new (2016) Code of Practice.

A strategic plan has been developed to increase the number of students attending the college. The board receives regular reports about marketing activities.

The school provides students and their families with good orientation information. A strong whānau-based philosophy for the international students is a priority. To further support and monitor the education and care of international students, the board should:

  • ensure guidelines for international students are comprehensive and up-to-date
  • receive regular reports about how well international students’ pastoral, social, cultural and academic needs are supported and how provision could be improved.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The college hostel accommodates up to 95 students and most are drawn from the Wairarapa area. It is owned by The Solway College Board of Proprietors Incorporated. They have attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

There is a flexible boarding arrangement in place to accommodate needs of parents and whānau. Once enrolled in the hostel girls can stay-over in the hostel either part or full weeks, some terms or all year round.

An inclusive whānau culture is fostered. Strong relationships between the school and the hostel for ongoing education and care for the girls are important. The principal supports the matron and her staff in a variety of ways, including providing professional development for understanding and using the principles of the ‘Solway way’ in everyday operation.

As the new matron and her team establish themselves, continuing to gather and respond to student feedback through a range of avenues should support ongoing improvement.

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.

To improve practice the board of trustees should:

  • implement the recently developed processes for education outside the classroom that include overnight trips and high risk activities.

Conclusion

Solway College leaders and teachers understand the girls' individual needs, strengths and future aspirations well. The significant majority of students achieve NCEA at all levels. The curriculum is responsive and effectively promotes and supports student learning. Leaders and teachers care about students’ achievement and wellbeing. Success is widely recognised and celebrated in all aspects of the wider curriculum.

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

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

28 November 2016

About the School

Location

Masterton

Ministry of Education profile number

242

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

134

Number of international students

4

Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

13%

80%

3%

4%

Special Features

Integrated, School Hostel

Review team on site

October 2016

Date of this report

28 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2013

October 2010

May 2008