St Hildas Collegiate - 16/06/2015

Findings

St Hilda’s is a high performing school. Students benefit from a wide range of learning experiences. They enjoy high levels of achievement and success academically, as well as in sporting and cultural areas. The focus on wellbeing is highly evident. Senior leaders, teachers and trustees have high expectations for learning.

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

1 Context

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

St Hilda’s Collegiate is a state integrated girls’ school providing education for students in Years 7 to 13. The associated hostel facility caters for students in Years 9 to 13 so that the school can offer this particular learning experience to girls from other parts of the country. The school makes a point of ensuring St Hilda’s Christian special-character values are evident in the everyday life of the school.

Students benefit from the efforts of staff to promote a family-like atmosphere and build positive relationships with a focus on how girls learn best. The school community has high expectations for students at the school. Staff members in the pastoral-care system work purposefully to support girls’ emotional wellbeing and resilience as the students respond to these high expectations.

Teachers are generous with their time and effort to support students’ learning and their other interests. Staff members are professionally collaborative and open to purposeful change.

A new principal was appointed at the beginning of 2015. She is well supported by the senior leadership team, trustees and the wider staff. The principal works collaboratively to determine plans for the future and lead the staff towards realising the school’s vision.

The school has been successful in addressing the recommendation in the 2010 ERO report. Teachers continue to improve and build on their practices that support students to know about their learning, to use the language of learning and to be involved in evaluating their progress.

2 Learning

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

The school effectively uses learning information to make positive changes to teaching and learning for the benefit of students.

Areas of strength

There are high levels of achievement across all year levels. In Years 7 and 8, over ninety percent of students are achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. High levels of achievement continue to be evident through Years 9 and 10, where summary information from English and mathematics shows a similar proportion of students continue to make very good progress.

NCEA information for the senior school shows that a higher percentage of students at this school compared with similar schools nationally:

  • achieve certificates in Levels 1, 2 and 3
  • gain merit or excellence endorsements at Levels 1, 2 and 3
  • achieve University Entrance in Year 13.

Students know how well they are achieving and their learning goals. Students who are at risk of not meeting expectations are well supported. Students’ achievement of excellence is celebrated. Key staff members discuss with students the manageability of students’ workload and goals so they can be best supported to achieve well while maintaining their wellbeing.

Teachers are aware of the individual needs of students and they plan appropriately to meet these needs. They make very good use of a purposeful five-week monitoring process to:

  • communicate regularly with students and their parents about how well each student is learning
  • support students to continue to make appropriate progress.

Senior leaders ensure the achievement of students overall is well documented and analysed with recommendations for future improvements. Curriculum leaders and teachers analyse student achievement information well to decide how to adapt teaching to better meet the needs of their students.

Trustees are well informed about student achievement and indicators of progress over time. They make very good use this information to inform their decision making.

Next steps

School leaders are aware of the areas where refinements and improvements will strengthen the quality of teaching and improve outcomes for students. ERO agrees with these focus areas which include ensuring that teachers:

  • help students in Years 7 to 10 know more about the learning process, how well they are learning, and what they need to do to improve
  • respond to students’ opinions more regularly so that they can adapt learning and evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching
  • continue to embed and strengthen teaching-as-inquiry practices
  • refine the National Standards targets to focus more on those students that need to make accelerated progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports students’ learning.

Areas of strength

The school’s curriculum strongly reflects the school’s desire to foster the holistic development of each girl. This desire is closely aligned to the notion of service to the school and, local and global communities.

Students are encouraged and well supported to achieve personal excellence academically, culturally and in a wide range of sporting activities. Students are helped to decide their priorities across these areas. The head of guidance and the guidance counsellor work in a proactive and responsive way to ensure students maintain a positive balance between personal excellence priorities and their emotional wellbeing. Parents are well supported to help their daughters manage issues related to adolescent wellbeing and learning.

Significant features of the school’s curriculum include the purposeful ways that:

  • the curriculum is designed to respond to the emerging needs and interests of students
  • students are offered a range of subjects and choice about what they want to learn
  • teachers and students use ICT to access learning at anytime of the day and anywhere, including beyond the school
  • teachers use the local environment and further afield to extend students’ sporting, cultural and academic opportunities.

Students benefit from very good quality teaching practice. Teachers are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subject areas. Students told ERO that they appreciate the level of support and encouragement they receive from their teachers.

Teachers actively participate in professional learning and development (PLD) that leads to ongoing improvement to teaching and learning. PLD is targeted and personalised to teachers’ individual interests and needs. Teachers told ERO that they appreciate the range and quality of professional development they receive and that it continues to lead to positive outcomes for students.

Trustees demonstrate a high level of commitment to spreading best practice and building a coherent approach to teaching and learning. Senior and middle leaders continually encourage teachers to reflect on and improve teaching across the school.

Next steps

Through the school’s self-review processes, the board, senior leaders and teachers have identified the next steps for continued improvement to teaching and learning are to:

  • identify the key attitudes, skills and attributes that they want each student to have when they leave the school
  • continue to explore the provision of te reo Māori as a subject in the school’s curriculum.

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

The school effectively promotes the educational success of Māori students and continues to strive to promote the success of Māori students, as Māori. Since the last review, the number of Māori students has increased, at a rate similar to the overall increase in the school’s roll.

Māori students achieve highly. In 2014 all students at each NCEA level achieved a National Certificate. This is significantly higher compared with other Māori students nationally and to Māori students at similar schools. In Years 7 to 10 Māori students are achieving and progressing well across a range of subject areas, and sporting and cultural activities. Students’ achievement and progress is closely monitored to ensure that they sustain these high levels of achievement.

Students told ERO that they appreciate the support of the deputy principal and the many initiatives that help them feel a sense of belonging that affirms their personal identity.

Students enjoy a range of opportunities to hear te reo Māori and learn about their culture. There is an increased use of te reo Māori in all aspects of school life, including chapel service and assemblies. Many of the students belong to the kapa haka group and demonstrate a sense of pride when they perform at special events.

The board is responsive to the views of the parents of Māori students. Parents’ views and opinions have helped the school identify key priorities. Trustees and senior leaders demonstrate a good understanding of the importance of Māori students succeeding as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

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

Areas of strength

The board and senior leaders are highly responsive to identified needs and continue to maintain a strategic focus on improving student outcomes.

Trustees bring a wide range of experience and skills to their role. They skilfully ask evaluative questions to ensure that they have the relevant information to inform their decision making. The board and the Board of Proprietors work well together for the benefit of students.

The board receives detailed reporting about curriculum and achievement. The principal reports to the board at each meeting to show how the implementation of annual planning is achieving the school’s strategic focus.

The principal and the senior leadership team are effectively leading and managing the school.

Other key features that are contributing to the school’s sustainable performance and improvement are:

  • the importance given to the Specialist Classroom Teacher role in improving and promoting high quality teaching practice across the school
  • the quality of the advice and guidance programme for new and beginning teachers
  • the well-developed self-review framework for the various kinds of review that cover all aspects of the school’s operations
  • the board’s commitment to strengthening the ICT network to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of students and staff.

Next steps

The board and senior leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that the next steps are to:

  • refine strategic planning to show more clearly a manageable number of strategic priorities
  • share with students how their views and opinions have been responded to
  • include the Registered Teacher Criteria in the principal’s appraisal and the teachers’ professional standards in the teachers’ appraisal.

Provision for international students

The 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 discussions with key staff confirmed that the school has an appropriate self-review process for international students. The outcomes of this review process are reported annually to the board.

At the time of this review there were 26 international students attending the school. International students benefit from very good pastoral care. Their involvement and integration into the school and its community is closely monitored. They are well supported to achieve well and make appropriate progress. International students at the school are highly motivated to take every opportunity to improve their English. The students told ERO that they would appreciate more opportunities for informal speaking interactions with domestic students.

Reports to trustees about provision for international students should have a greater focus on how well the wellbeing of these students is supported, how well they are integrated into the school and community, and how well they are progressing in their learning.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, Tolcarne House, accommodates 140 students, 29% of the school roll. It is owned by the St Hilda’s Collegiate School Board of Proprietors. The hostel owner has attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

The director of boarding, appointed since the previous review, continues to build on the strengths identified in the 2010 ERO report. She has sustained or improved systems for promoting positive relationships, students’ welfare and learning.

Students told ERO that they feel safe. They spoke highly of the help they receive from the hostel staff and other boarders. Boarders told ERO that they particularly enjoy the family-like atmosphere.

The director of boarding works collaboratively with hostel staff to ensure that boarders benefit from their time in the hostel. There are strong links between the school and the hostel to support the boarders’ wellbeing and learning. The Tolcarne Committee displays a strong sense of pride in the hostel and works closely with the boarding director to ensure that the hostel’s attractive environment contributes to the boarders’ wellbeing and personal development.

Boarders are well supported in taking increasing responsibility for managing themselves. In Year 13, the boarders live independently in flatting accommodation on the hostel grounds. Students told ERO that this is helping them to prepare for life after school.

Other key features include:

  • the useful processes for gathering and responding to the girls’ views and ideas
  • the high-quality information parents receive about their daughters’ lives while in the hostel
  • the many opportunities the girls have to participate in a range of activities.

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

St Hilda’s is a high performing school. Students benefit from a wide range of learning experiences. They enjoy high levels of achievement and success academically, as well as in sporting and cultural areas. The focus on wellbeing is highly evident. Senior leaders, teachers and trustees have high expectations for learning.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

16 June 2015

About the School

Location

Dunedin

Ministry of Education profile number

380

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll

472

Number of international students

26

Gender composition

100% Girls

Ethnic composition

European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other

81%

8%

1%

10%

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

16 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

February 2010

October 2006

November 2003