Stratford High School - 20/05/2014

1 Context

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

Stratford High School in rural Taranaki caters for students in Years 9 to 13. The school oversees attached units for Alternative Education and Teen Parents and students with high needs. The current roll of 550 includes 157 students who identify as Māori.

The 2010 ERO report indicated a number of areas needing improvement, including student achievement and Māori success.

The board of trustees and school leaders have recently begun a major professional development programme, Positive Behaviour for Learning(PB4L), aimed at improving student engagement, learning and achievement. School leaders have recently accessed the assistance of a Ministry of Education Student Achievement Function practitioner to facilitate planning and support for this initiative.

2 Learning

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

Raising student achievement continues to be a priority to address. Overall, students perform below students nationally and in other comparable schools. Māori student achievement remains below non-Māori school peers.

Teachers use an appropriate range of nationally referenced assessment tools to gather baseline data on students in Years 9 to 11. This is collated, analysed, used to inform class placements and is reported to the board.

Implementation of a well-established system assists students in setting short and long-term personal and academic goals. It promotes the development of learning partnerships between the student, form teacher and parents.

The special needs unit provides a well-structured programme for students with high physical, social and learning needs. Students have individual education plans and their progress is regularly monitored against the goals. Students are supported to participate in mainstream classes where possible and encouraged to experience the many activities that are part of the wider school curriculum.

Trustees and school leaders recognise the need to significantly raise student achievement. ERO recommends:

  • developing schoolwide understanding and consistent approaches for the effective use of student achievement information
  • using information to plan for and meet the identified needs of students
  • implementing a deliberate, planned approach to accelerating the progress of students at risk of underachieving, particularly in literacy and mathematics for students in Years 9 and 10
  • regularly and systematically monitoring and reporting student progress and the impact of teaching initiatives
  • fully and consistently implementing the planned teacher inquiry process.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum provides many opportunities for students to participate and celebrate success in a wide range of academic, sporting, cultural and leadership activities. A range of pathways including Gateway, STAR and agriculture/horticulture programmes provide options for senior students who receive sound careers advice and guidance.

The key competencies underpin students gaining credits towards a junior graduation diploma. Through its involvement in PB4L the school has reviewed and restated its HEART values: honest, excel, aroha, responsible and tolerant. These provide a foundation for the ongoing development of school culture and contribute to student wellbeing. ERO observed some examples of well-engaged students and positive, affirming relationships among teachers and students.

It is timely that school leaders, in consultation with staff, students, parents and community, thoroughly review and define the overarching curriculum framework. It is important that this review results in shared understandings of, and systems for, implementing and monitoring:

  • schoolwide expectations for the use of assessment information to improve planning and teaching
  • the use of local contexts, knowledge and experiences in curriculum design
  • expectations for the inclusion of te ao Māori schoolwide to support culturally responsive teaching practices.
  • Developing and implementing a strategic, ongoing schoolwide professional learning programme to support and embed these key aspects is an essential component of this curriculum review.

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

Senior Māori students have schoolwide presence and leadership roles. The school has recently revitalised the kapa haka group and, in 2014, re-established the whānau support group. The principal is taking the lead in building links with the local marae and trustees have worked to co-opt a Māori representative to the board.

Māori students overall are achieving at levels below those of other students in the school. It is essential that the board and school leaders, in consultation with whānau, develop and implement an action plan to support Māori students to achieve their potential. This should include:

  • growing a schoolwide understanding of and giving recognition to the importance and relevance of culture, language and identity
  • having high expectations for all students to achieve
  • establishing and monitoring appropriate targets and responsive teaching to improve Māori student success.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

School leaders need to increase capacity for driving the important developments and improvements identified in this report.

Trustees are future-focused and plan for board sustainability and succession. They have exercised sound financial management since the 2010 ERO report and no longer need the support of a Limited Statutory Manager (finance). The board receives a range of information about student achievement, activities and school operations to support resourcing decisions. Trustees are exploring ways to better and regularly engage with the wider parent community.

A well-considered pastoral care network supports student wellbeing and sense of belonging. Sound systems are in place to transition students into the school at Year 9. The new appraisal system that links teachers’ practice with school goals and student feedback has the potential to grow capability.

Self-review processes require further development. Leaders and trustees should develop a shared understanding of systematic, evidence-based review to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and initiatives against expected student outcomes.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Joyce Gebbie National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

20 May 2014

About the School

Location

Stratford

Ministry of Education profile number

179

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

550

Gender composition

Male 53% Female 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other ethnic groups

68%

29%

2%

1%

Special Features

Teen Parent Unit Alternative Education

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

20 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2010

August 2007

March 2004