Stratford High School - 10/05/2017

Findings

NCEA achievement has improved but remains below national figures. Raising achievement for Māori students and males remains a priority. The school has a number of programmes and initiatives increasingly responsive to students' needs and interests and aimed at improving academic outcomes. Evaluating the effectiveness of initiatives and implementing these more consistently is necessary to improve performance.

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

1 Context

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

Stratford High School caters for students in Years 9 to 13 from Stratford, Eltham and the surrounding rural areas in Central Taranaki. The current roll of 530, includes 111 students who identify as Māori. 

Providing opportunity for success in academic, cultural, sporting, leadership and community activities is a priority for trustees and leaders. Students actively participate in a range of local and regional events. Success is regularly shared and celebrated.

The valued outcomes stated by the school are to provide a safe and inclusive environment that promotes personal growth and values that foster concern and respect. There is a focus on providing for all students who are part of the school community. The school includes a number of students with complex needs who have high levels of adult support. They are supported within the Te Rangimarie class. The school also oversees attached units for Alternative Education and Teen Parents (Whaimano Ako).

HEART values - Honest (Pono), Excel (Hiranga), Aroha (Care), Responsible (Haepapa) and Tolerant (Manawanui) - are promoted within the physical environment and through activities students participate in.

The May 2014 ERO report, identified a number of areas requiring strengthening and improvement to support better outcomes for all students. Although progress has been made in these areas, some groups of students are not yet achieving sufficient success.

2 Learning

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

Raising achievement, particularly for Māori students and males, remains a priority. Achievement information is increasingly used, particularly at Years 11 to 13 to make positive changes to many learners’ engagement and achievement. In Years 9 and 10 a range of assessment tools should be used more effectively to support progress and consider the impact of programmes.

Since 2013, there has been some improvement in the proportion of leavers who have at least National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2. However, achievement as a group for Māori and males is significantly below in-school comparisons. Overall NCEA achievement remains below national figures.

Deliberate strategies have been introduced across all learning areas to increase student literacy levels. This should continue to be a focus, particularly for Years 9 and 10. Some analysis of data, linked to these strategies, is beginning to take place. Extending the use of literacy and mathematics progress information in Years 9 and 10 to consider the impact of programmes and teaching strategies across the curriculum is a priority. This analysis should particularly apply to those students who may be at risk of under achievement.

Tracking and monitoring of progress towards NCEA qualifications encourages a shared focus on students identified as at risk of not achieving and supports some to gain academic success. Targeting should be extended to support an increased focus on raising achievement, particularly for Māori students and males. This should involve setting targets and actions explicitly focused on those requiring accelerated progress or additional support to gain qualifications. Regular monitoring and reporting of the progress of these students should be extended.

3 Curriculum

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

Programmes are increasingly responsive to the needs and interests of students.

A willingness to use a range of approaches to teaching and learning has the potential to increase engagement and is beginning to improve outcomes for some of the students previously at risk of under achievement. For example, some Year 10 students in 2016 were part of a sports-based programme linked to a range of learning areas that has contributed to a greater chance of success in NCEA for these learners.

A broad programme in Years 9 and 10 provides students with experiences to build knowledge and skills in a range of areas and support future choices. Student and parent feedback influences ongoing development of the curriculum. Reporting to parents as part of the Graduation Programme is regular and focused on behaviours contributing to being a successful learner. Teachers should ensure achievement and progress in curriculum areas remains to the fore when sharing learning with parents.

Courses available in the senior school allow students to have a choice of pathways as they move through and out of the school. A number of external providers extend the range of programmes available to meet student interests and to enable exploration of potential career pathways. Broadening of subject choice and flexibility of individual assessment packages are likely to have contributed to improvement in leaver qualifications since the previous ERO review. 

A range of programmes are in place to engage, challenge and promote the learning of students with more complex needs, who are part of Te Rangimarie. Ongoing, two-way communication with parents contributes positively to wellbeing and learning. Programmes respond to carefully considered individual need and include involvement in mainstream options. Preparing students to successfully transition into life beyond school is emphasised. Many students have opportunities to be involved in work experience activities. Student successes are highlighted and celebrated.

ERO observed a sample of classes at a very early stage of the school year. Classes were well settled and purposeful learning was taking place. Collaborative and respectful relationships were contributing to a positive overall tone. Links to prior learning were assisting to build further skills, knowledge and understanding.

The Poutama programme supports student goal setting for improvement and enables the building of partnerships with parents to promote improved learner outcomes. Although the effectiveness of Poutama varies across the school, students and teachers are generally positive about its impact. Increasing ongoing evaluation of the programme should ensure it better meets its overall goal of promoting student wellbeing and achievement.

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

Opportunities are provided to promote Māori language, culture, identity and leadership. Tikanga Māori and local Māori contexts are integrated into school protocols, activities and class programmes. Toi Māori (Māori performing arts) has been introduced to the senior curriculum. Academic and cultural kaitātaki are part of the student leadership group. The wharenui (Te Amorangi) is increasingly used a resource to support greater understanding of tikanga Māori. The mana of Māori students is enhanced through the valuing of te ao Māori.

An increasing number of Māori students experience academic success. However, improving academic outcomes for Māori students as a group is a continuing priority.

A draft Māori Achievement Plan, to strengthen bicultural awareness and improve student engagement, retention and achievement, has been developed. Additional consultation with whānau, students and staff is planned. The implementation of the plan during 2017 should include ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of actions on improving outcomes.

Close connections with the community marae (Whakaahurangi) contribute to establishing positive relationships with local hapū and iwi. The school informally consults with students and whānau. Systematically collecting information from Māori students and whānau focus groups should assist leaders and trustees to further ascertain the school's effectiveness in promoting educational success for Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Processes and practices in place have the potential to improve school performance and in particular academic outcomes. Implementing these more consistently across the school should contribute to increased effectiveness.

Student learning and achievement is an increasing focus of board meetings. Trustee discussions regularly focus on better supporting students’ future pathways. A range of student achievement information is shared with the board. This should have a greater emphasis on students at risk of not achieving and include more commentary on how to further improve outcomes for these learners. 

The annual plan links closely to the board’s strategic priorities. Future direction appropriately focuses on achieving successful student outcomes, effective teaching and learning, and purposeful relationships between school, whānau and community. Annual achievement targets are linked to leavers having at least NCEA Level 2. Targets should include links to specific Year 9 and 10 literacy improvement. Regular reporting to trustees on progress for targeted students should allow a greater focus on strategies likely to contribute to improved outcomes for those students at risk of underachievement.

Trustees involve themselves in training to build understanding of their role. Revisiting Hautū - Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review Tool for Boards of Trustees should strengthen bicultural awareness and would be a worthwhile addition to the Māori Student Achievement Plan currently under development.

Teacher appraisal includes appropriate components, guidelines and prompts to support teacher and leadership improvement. Despite professional learning opportunities that have taken place, the implementation of the process lacks consistency and overall robustness.

School leaders acknowledge the need to improve teacher appraisal. A plan is in place to ensure there is a shared understanding of the process and its various elements. Enhancements should include:

  • increasing ongoing and summative feedback from appraisers on effectiveness of teacher practices and possible areas for improvement
  • the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) having a higher profile within the documented process to enable them genuinely to act as “a benchmark and a beacon”
  • using evidence collected to make annual judgements as to how well a particular PTC is being met
  • cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners being a more explicit part of the overall process
  • the use of an annual summary document to record and attest to the rigour of the process.

Better monitoring of the implementation of appraisal is necessary. This should support a process that then affirms good practice and contributes more effectively to increasing teacher capability to improve student outcomes.

Documented internal evaluation tends to lack the depth necessary to appropriately consider the impact of systems and practices, particularly in relation to those students who are underachieving.

Senior and middle leaders need to more effectively drive acceleration of student progress and improved learner outcomes through:

  • promoting teacher development by means of robust, improvement focused appraisal
  • building collective capacity to carry out evaluation for sustained improvement.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

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.

The board is currently reviewing and strengthening policy, procedures and practices related to student health, safety and wellbeing. Areas that should be priorities include:

  • anti bullying guidelines
  • hazard identification
  • staff appointments
  • management of complaints.

The appraisal for the principal should be strengthened. A recently appointed principal performance appraisal board committee has initiated this process. This is an area of non-compliance.

In order to address this the board must:

  • appraise the principal annually.
    [S77C of the State Sector Act 1988] 

Conclusion

NCEA achievement has improved but remains below national figures. Raising achievement for Māori students and males remains a priority. The school has a number of programmes and initiatives increasingly responsive to students' needs and interests and aimed at improving academic outcomes. Evaluating the effectiveness of initiatives and implementing these more consistently is necessary to improve performance.

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

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

10 May 2017

About the School 

Location

Stratford

Ministry of Education profile number

179

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

530

Gender composition

Female 52%, Male 48%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
Pacific
Other ethnic groups

77%
21%
  1%
  1%

Special features

Attached units - Alternative Education and Teen Parent

Review team on site

February 2017

Date of this report

10 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2014
November 2010
August 2007