Takapuna Grammar School - 15/09/2008

 

1. About the School

Location

Takapuna, North Shore City

Ministry of Education profile number

0036

School type

Secondary (Year 9-15)

Teaching staff: Roll generated entitlement Other Number of teachers

95.77 6.05 102

School roll

1477

Number of international students

135

Gender composition

Boys 54%, Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 66%, Māori 5%, Korean 6%, British/Irish 5%, Chinese 5%, other European 4%, Indian 1%, Middle Eastern 1%, other 7%

Special features

Adult Community Education Programme

Review team on site

August 2008

Date of this report

15 September 2008

Previous ERO reports

Special Review, May 2008 Education Review, March 2005 Education Review, October 2002 Accountability Review, February 1998 Assurance Audit, February 1995 Review, June 1992

2. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Takapuna Grammar School is a co-educational secondary school that provides very good standards of education for students in Years 9 to 15. The principal and teaching staff place strong emphasis on the development of learning behaviours and competencies that promote personal excellence, high standards of educational achievement and the skills for life-long learning. The school offers students a wide range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities and actively fosters strong links with its community.

Since the 2005 ERO report the board of trustees has continued to develop the school’s physical environment in accordance with an extensive multi-phased building programme plan designed to provide students and teachers with high quality teaching facilities. Under stage one of the property development plan an art/technology block and a new performing arts centre have been completed. Work is now underway on a new multi-level block that will accommodate the library/information and communication technologies (ICT) centre, the social sciences teaching spaces, a student services centre, and a senior students’ study area and student cafeteria. Stage two of the building programme is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009. Good progress has also been made in progressing the school’s ICT infrastructure, enhancing staff and student access to e-learning resources.

For this review, the board asked ERO to evaluate the extent to which the school’s teaching and learning, leadership and co-curricular programmes and opportunities enable students to achieve personal excellence. Several areas of national interest are also evaluated, including those relating to Mäori and Pacific student achievement, teacher readiness to implement the revised New Zealand Curriculum and the school’s thinking about the educational needs of its future students. The report further comments on aspects of the school’s adult community education programmes and its provisions for international students.

Findings indicate that the school has a settled and productive atmosphere, which is characterised by mutually respectful and affirming relationships amongst all members of the school community. Students are generally confident, enthusiastic about learning and are motivated to succeed. Many achieve to a high standard and overall attainment levels in national qualifications exceed national averages and compare favourably with those of schools of a similar socio-economic background. The particularly high academic performance of some students is evident in the school’s scholarship statistics. These exceed national averages and indicate student excellence in wide range of subject areas. Students spoken with during this review show pride in their school and are appreciative of the many academic, sporting, cultural, and social opportunities that teachers make available to them.

The principal provides strong educational leadership, sets clear strategic direction and is well informed about current educational theories and research in relation to best practice in teaching and learning. He works closely with a capable and committed senior management team to foster a collective vision for ongoing school improvement and to build leadership capacity at all levels of the school. His work with principals within the local area has resulted in the development of a shared vision for teaching and learning for the Devonport Peninsula schools. The school participates in the Ministry of Education’s Extending High Standards Across Schools (EHSAS) schooling improvement project and receives additional funding to implement this work.

Teachers are responsive to school improvement initiatives and accompanying professional learning and development programmes. They set high expectations for student success and take collective responsibility, with the principal and senior managers, for moving the school forward. ERO notes significant progress in the consistency and quality of teaching practice since the 2005 review and an increasing use of achievement data to identify and cater for students’ interests, abilities and learning needs. Further developing these data analysis skills would now be beneficial so that teachers gain a more in-depth overview of students’ specific learning strengths and the next steps needed for their development. Moves already underway to increase the consistency of assessment practices in Years 9 and 10 should also increase teachers’ ability to monitor and support student achievement across the curriculum.

The board of trustees governs the school capably and has developed a comprehensive self-review system to monitor the effectiveness of school policy and procedures. Trustees bring a range of valuable skills and experience to the board and are clearly united in their support for the school’s educational directions and for the principal and staff. The board places a high priority on ensuring that the school is well placed to provide for the diverse needs of its students.

ERO finds that the school is performing well in many areas and that high quality practices are in place to support teaching and learning. ERO and the board of trustees agree that the principal and staff should continue with school initiatives for promoting personal excellence and life-long learning.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can manage the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

ERO is likely to review the school again as part of the regular review cycle.

3. The Focus of the Review

Student Achievement Overall

ERO’s education reviews focus on student achievement. What follows is a statement about what the school knows about student achievement overall.

Student achievement in Years 9 and 10. The school gathers a range of data about achievement in Years 9 and 10 to assess students’ reading, mathematics and reasoning skills and to guide class placements. Nationally standardised entry-level testing in literacy and numeracy shows that, at the time of enrolment, the large majority of Year 9 students are performing at or above expectations for their year level. Data also indicate an overall positive shift in students’ literacy and numeracy attainment levels during Year 9, with a subsequent increase in the proportion of students achieving above expectations in Year 10. The school continues to refine its database for Year 9 and 10 students and plans to replace current test materials with alternative assessments to obtain a more detailed profile of student strengths and needs in literacy and numeracy. Changes planned should also provide better indications of value added to learning across the curriculum as students progress through to the senior school.

Assessment of learning for Year 9 and 10 students in other subject areas is managed within departments. While heads of departments (HODs) and teachers have good knowledge of students’ learning and achievement, they acknowledge that current practices for assessing and reporting on progress differ from one subject area to another. Consequently, staff are now considering best practice models, both within the school and more widely in the education sector, to establish a process for assessing and reporting on junior student achievement in more consistent and meaningful ways across all subject areas.

Student achievement in Years 11-13. Ongoing improvements in data analysis and use since the 2005 ERO review have led to significant increases in the amount of information gathered about the achievement of senior students at Takapuna Grammar School. Data gathered by senior managers and by teachers in departments indicate that many students make very good progress in their learning during their time at the school.

Analysis of overall trends and patterns in achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) shows that student pass rates for Level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications exceed national averages and compare very favourably with those of schools with similar socio-economic composition and decile rating.

Data also show that overall pass rates for Level 1 qualifications have remained reasonably constant over time, with some evidence of improved performance in the proportion of excellence grades being obtained. Pass rates for Level 2 and 3 qualifications have continued to increase over time, with merit and excellence grades aligning well with, and sometimes exceeding, decile averages. The particularly high academic performance of some students is evident in the school’s scholarship statistics. These exceed national averages and indicate student excellence in wide range of subject areas, including those relating to the arts, commerce, English, mathematics, media studies, physical education, science, and the social sciences.

Achievement in co-curricular areas. Support for and recognition of co-curricular achievement is an integral part of the school’s promotion of personal excellence. Students enjoy many co-curricular successes in a variety of regional and national events and competitions. These successes arise from both individual and team-based endeavours in areas including athletics, cricket, cycling, music, sailing, swimming, rugby, tennis, soccer and surf life saving. A number of students have also performed to a high level in academic competitions where their artistic, literary, scientific, mathematical and other talents have been recognised. Contribution to the local and international community represents a further dimension of student endeavour, with some groups and individuals giving considerable service to various charitable and aid agencies. Co-curricular achievements are celebrated in assemblies, prizegiving ceremonies and through achievers’ breakfasts that are held once each term.

School Specific Priorities

Before the review, the board of Takapuna Grammar School was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the school to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the board of trustees. This discussion focused on existing information held by the school (including student achievement and self review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to the achievement of the students atTakapuna Grammar School.

ERO and the board have agreed that the school specific priority for the review will focus on the extent to which the school’s teaching and learning, leadership and co-curricular programmes and opportunities help to promote personal excellence.

ERO’s findings in this area are set out below.

Promoting personal excellence

Background

exploring ways in which its educational provisions could better foster students’ understanding of, and capacity for, life-long learning. Work in this area led to the identification of four key learning behaviours, namely knowing, connecting, relating and supporting(KCRS), which the school sees as underpinning effective learning and the attainment of personal excellence.At the time of the 2005 ERO review, the school was in the early stages of

Since 2005, senior managers and teachers have been working to promote these learning behaviours through the school’s teaching and learning programmes and through the various leadership and co-curricular opportunities provided for students.

The board, principal and senior management team (SMT) were interested in an external evaluation of the school’s work relating to the KCRS learning behaviours and the promotion of personal excellence. ERO agreed to carry out this evaluation and its findings are presented below.

Student progress and achievement

See section above on Student Achievement Overall.

Areas of good performance

Strategic, well planned approaches to school improvement. The principal and SMT use strategic and well planned approaches to promote the school’s KCRS learning behaviours. They have worked closely with staff to establish a set of key competencies that describe the attributes and skills required to enable each of these behaviours to develop and become embedded in both teachers’ and students’ approaches to learning. Student awareness of the KCRS behaviours and associated competencies is actively promoted through attractive, well displayed posters throughout the school, regular discussions with students about this approach to enhancing learning capacity, and through the inclusion of key competencies in programme plans. Co-curricular and leadership experiences are also used to good effect to endorse the KCRS behaviours and key competencies.

The above strategic approaches are helping to establish a shared educational philosophy within the school and a sense of unity in student and staff thinking about what constitutes successful learning and personal excellence.

Supporting effective implementation. The school has developed a comprehensive range of provisions to help embed the KCRS behaviours and key competencies. High priority is placed on providing a targeted programme of professional development for staff to help ensure that teaching strategies actively promote these behaviours and competencies. The professional development programme includes opportunities for teachers to share personal expertise, work with external consultants, and to engage in regular professional reading and discussion with colleagues. Opportunities for mentoring and other individualised support provisions are further assisting teachers to increase their understanding of effective classroom practice and to develop a common language for reflecting on the characteristics of meaningful teaching and learning.

Work currently being undertaken by senior managers and teachers to devise a set of performance indicators for the school’s key competencies should also be of considerable value. Completion of this work should provide an important mechanism for monitoring the development of the KCRS behaviours in students’ approaches to learning, and should enable teachers to assess the effectiveness of their teaching strategies in promoting these behaviours.

Teaching practice. Observation of teaching practice provides a good indication that the above strategic approaches and implementation support systems are having a positive impact on the quality of teaching and learning. Findings show that teachers across the school have sound subject knowledge and that teaching practices in the large majority of classrooms are of a good to very high standard. Best practices used by teachers in these classrooms include:

  • setting high standards and expectations for student success;

  • establishing affirming and respectful relationships between teachers and students and amongst students;

  • using well planned units of work and learning contexts that are of high interest to students;

  • using questioning, resource material and other teaching strategies effectively to motivate, challenge and extend students;

  • enabling students to work on learning activities in flexible and diverse ways;

  • valuing students’ contributions, creativity and individuality; and

  • providing opportunities for students to share their knowledge and skills with their peers both within classes and across year levels.

These good practices result in productive working environments and high levels of student enthusiasm for, and engagement in, learning. Student involvement in the review of teaching programmes and in surveys to assess the extent to which KCRS behaviours are being promoted within the school also encourages students to reflect on the development of their own capacity for learning.

Expansion of leadership opportunities. Over the past three years, students have benefited from a considerable increase in the number and variety of leadership opportunities available within the school. The re-introduction of a house system has been particularly valuable in extending leadership opportunities for all year levels, while also increasing opportunities for co-curricular participation and social interaction between students of all ages. Student-based committees led by the Year 13 prefects provide a further avenue for students to take on responsibilities for many recreational, environmental, cultural, and sporting activities within the school. Significant scope for student leadership is also evident in the peer mentoring, support and coaching programmes operating within the school. These leadership opportunities are underpinned by good training provisions for student leaders and are supported by regular contact with senior managers and teachers.

A positive flow-on effect of moves by the principal and staff to develop students’ leadership skills can be seen in the increasing number of student-initiated groups operating within the school and wider community. It is also evident that both teachers and students are using the focus on building student leadership capacity to promote and embed KCRS behaviours within the culture of the school. Senior students interviewed during this review showed a strong sense of responsibility for helping younger students to aspire to personal excellence and to take on leadership roles at an early stage.

Inclusive co-curricular opportunities. Growth in leadership opportunities has been complemented by initiatives to help ensure that the school’s co-curricular provisions are inclusive of the diverse range of student talents and interests. Consequently, the school offers a comprehensive array of sporting, artistic, cultural, recreational, community service and academic extension opportunities. The development of leadership skills is well integrated into co-curricular provisions, and many students give considerable service to the school through their coaching efforts on the sports field and through the work they do with younger peers for artistic productions and other school events.

Co-curricular provisions are also used to good effect to foster KCRS behaviours and to recognise curriculum-related achievement. Teachers often use student involvement in co-curricular activities as an opportunity to gain NCEA credits in a number of subject areas, including, dance, drama, music, visual art, physical education, business enterprise and technology.

Use of data. The collection and use of student achievement data has progressed considerably since the 2005 ERO review. Teachers are increasingly using data from student assessments to inform their classroom programmes, to reflect on teaching practice and to guide course planning and structure, especially in the senior school. Developments in this area are also leading to expansions in learning and qualification pathways for students as new options are introduced in response to the differing interests, abilities and aspirations of students. A further benefit relates to the way in which senior students are becoming increasingly skilled in using assessment criteria to review their own progress and to set personal challenges for improved performance.

Work in progress to establish specific performance criteria for measuring student progress in relation to the school’s key competencies should further enrich the quality of data available to staff. It should enable teachers to gain indications of the extent to which the KCRS learning behaviours are becoming embedded in student approaches to learning and should provide a useful basis for reflecting on dimensions relating to the attainment of personal excellence. Plans to explore correlations between student use of the KCRS behaviours and their subsequent achievement in NCEA and the various learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum should also provide valuable information about whether these behaviours are having a positive impact on student learning.

Enhancing the school’s student database. The school continues to enhance its systems for tracking student progress, achievement and participation in the wider life of school. A new student database is nearing readiness for use. The database will provide students and their parents with access to detailed information about relevant programmes of work, assignments and assessment schedules, together with a regularly updated overview of assessment results and attendance records. The board, principal and staff anticipate that the database will have considerable potential as a tool for enhancing learning, and for enabling parents and whānau to work in close collaboration with teachers to support their children’s progress and achievement.

Simultaneous work to upgrade information services for teachers through the provision of a new electronic student register is further adding to the range of data available to facilitate effective teaching and learning.

The student database is likely to be of significant value in helping teachers to readily identify students’ individual strengths, interests and learning needs to inform decisions about programme differentiation and course content, structure and resourcing. Its capacity for collating and analysing information about students’ participation in the wider life of the school should also provide good quality information for reviewing the effectiveness of strategies to foster students’ leadership abilities and engagement in co-curricular activities.

Areas for improvement

Aspects of formative practice. ERO acknowledges the overall high standards of teaching within the school, but also notes the need for some teachers to further develop aspects of their formative assessment practices, particularly in Year 9 and 10 classes. Concerns in this area relate mainly to variability in the practices of sharing learning intentions with students and in providing focused feedback to students about their progress and the next steps for improving their performance. While these practices are used to good effect in some classes, they are not yet consistent across the junior school. Consequently, some students are not always clear about the purpose of learning activities in terms of the key knowledge, concepts, processes or skills to be mastered.

Assessment practices in Years 9 and 10. The school has self-identified the need to establish greater consistency in assessment practices used in Years 9 and 10. Student progress and achievement in these year levels is currently measured in a variety of ways and in relation to various types of criteria. Plans to address this situation and to bring assessment approaches in the junior school into greater alignment with standards-based approaches used in NCEA qualifications should benefit students and better prepare them for senior studies.

Further extending data analysis and programme evaluation. While data analysis and use has developed considerably since the 2005 ERO review, further progressing this aspect of teaching practice within departments is recommended. Increased tracking of achievement trends over time, more in-depth analysis of student learning strengths and needs in individual NCEA standards, and more explicit examination of the performance of various groups of students should provide increasingly useful information for evaluating the effectiveness of departmental teaching and learning programmes. It should also facilitate more focused target setting for improved student performance and should strengthen the rigour of departmental self-review processes. Work already under development in a few departments to enhance the quality and depth of data analysis should provide a good starting point for discussion among senior managers, HODs and teachers.

4. Areas of National Interest

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole to Government to be used as the basis for long-term and systemic educational improvement. ERO also provides information about the education sector for schools, parents and the community through its national reports.

To do this ERO decides on topics and investigates them for a specific period in all applicable schools nationally.

During the review of Takapuna Grammar School ERO investigated and reported on the following areas of national interest. The findings are included in this report so that information about the school is transparent and widely available.

The Achievement of Mäori Students: Progress

In this review, ERO evaluated the progress the school has made since the last review in improving the achievement of Mäori students and in initiatives designed to promote improved achievement. Five percent of students at the school identify as Māori.

Areas of progress

Consultation. The school’s processes for consulting and communicating with its Māori community have continued to strengthen since 2005 ERO review. A Māori representative on the board of trustees is proactive in her advocacy for Māori students and informal processes for communication are complemented by whānau hui that take place three times per year. As a result, good progress has been made in working through a strategic plan for enhancing the achievement of Māori students.

Increased profile for Māori. Work to enhance the profile of Māori within the school has continued over the last three years. Professional development opportunities for staff to extend their knowledge of Māori language and culture, and their awareness of teaching practices that facilitate Māori student engagement in learning, have increased. Continuation of the school’s whānau class and the strengthening of the kapa haka group have also been effective in helping to raise the profile of Māori within the school. A new option class aimed at encouraging Māori students to re engage with taha Māori, and at providing greater opportunities for other students, including internationals, to learn more about Māori heritage and traditions has further promoted student understanding of tikanga Māori. Ongoing evidence of good pastoral care and learning support provisions and the introduction of restorative practices are also likely to be having a beneficial impact on the progress and wellbeing of Māori and all other students.

Māori student achievement. Achievement data collected within the school provides evidence of improved Māori student achievement in NCEA examinations. Overall achievement levels for Māori students at Takapuna Grammar School generally exceed those for Māori nationally and compare increasing well with those of their non-Māori peers. The board, principal and senior management team acknowledge that the challenge now is to fully eliminate remaining discrepancies between the overall attainment rates of Māori and non-Māori students, particularly in terms of the proportion of merit and excellence grades achieved in national qualifications.

Areas for further improvement

Explicit targets and monitoring of achievement for Māori. The school’s charter and strategic plan include general statements about improving outcomes for Māori students. A useful next step would be to set some explicit targets for improving the achievement of these students. These targets would provide a mechanism for measuring the success of school initiatives for improving educational outcomes for Māori and for evaluating the success of the developing strategic plan for Māori. They would also provide a basis for HODs and teachers to assess and report on the extent to which their department is helping to meet school-wide achievement targets for Māori.

Integrating Ka Hikitia goals and targets with KCRS behaviours and competencies. A further useful step would be for the school to explore ways in which the goals and targets outlined in Ka Hikitia-Managing for Success, the Ministry of Education’s national strategy for Māori, might be incorporated into the school’s KCRS behaviours and associated competencies. This integration would ensure that the Ka Hikitia strategies become an integral part of the ways in which the school seeks to promote personal excellence for its Māori students.

The Achievement of Pacific Students

During the review ERO evaluated the extent to which the school has knowledge of and strategies for promoting the achievement of its Pacific students. The school currently has eighteen students who identify as Pacific. Because of the small number of these students at each year level, their progress and achievement is monitored both individually and in terms of overall success rates for Pacific as a group. The school has good systems to ensure that programmes of learning, and extension and support provisions meet the individualised needs and interests of these students.

Implementing the New Zealand Curriculum in 2010

Progress to date

In preparing for teaching the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) in 2010 the school has familiarised itself with Ministry of Education guideline documents and is making good use of resources included in these documents to map out an implementation timeline for the new curriculum. The school’s strategic plan is also seen as linking well to the NZC through its strong focus on teaching, learning and the promotion of life-long learning and personal excellence.

The principal and staff also see strong connections between the NZC competencies and values and the school’s KCRS learning behaviours and associated competencies for assisting students to become successful life-long learners. They have already undertaken significant work to match the NZC competencies and values with the school’s KCRS approaches. Teachers have also been involved in considerable professional discussion and planning about how best to develop the school’s key learning behaviours and competencies within their classroom programmes. This sound work leaves the school well placed to ensure that the NZC competencies and values are fully integrated into its teaching and learning programmes.

Next steps

The school has decided that its priorities for preparation over the next three to six months are to:

  • continue work to develop performance indicators for monitoring students’ attainment of the school’s key competencies and KCRS behaviours; and

  • explore possibilities for integrating the learning areas of the NZC as a basis for implementing cross-curriculum inquiry-based teaching and learning approaches in Years 9 and 10.

Thinking about the Future

ERO is currently discussing with secondary schools how they are thinking about the future and what it might mean for their students.

The school reports that, after thinking about the future and what it might mean for students, it has done the following:

  • undertaken a re-visioning exercise, involving the board, staff, parents and students, to identify key areas for school development over the next four years and to guide future planning over the next 20 years;

  • used findings of the re-visioning exercise to begin a prioritising process for future school development that includes considerations for teaching and learning, co-curricular provisions, programme resourcing, relationships with the local community, the physical environment, and other aspects of school operations;

  • identified an approach for developing an action plan to address the above priorities;

  • established a long-term strategic plan for the development of school buildings;

  • examined the NZC to explore ways in which this document connects with and supports the school’s own teaching and learning principles and the community’s aspirations for its children, both now and in the future; and

  • continued to manage school finances in a prudent manner to help ensure that both current and future students have access to high quality facilities and resourcing.

Provision for International Students

Compliance with theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Studentsand the Provision of English Language Support

Takapuna Grammar 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. This is a requirement of all schools that enrol international students in terms of the Act. Schools are also required to provide English language support for their international students.

Takapuna Grammar School meets the requirements of the Code.

Background

Takapuna Grammar has 142 international students. A team of six staff works with the international students and the HOD of English for second language learners (ESOL) is also involved in providing education for these students.

Areas of good performance

Administration and documentation. The international student manager has well established procedures for managing administration requirements for international students. Documentation maintained by the school is of a high standard and the information provided for international students and their parents is comprehensive. The school also undertakes a thorough review of information provided to international students each year and the school’s homestay co-ordinator carefully monitors the students’ accommodation.

First language support and counselling. The school employs two full-time international counsellors, one Korean and one Chinese, to assist students. These counsellors provide first language support, translation advice and, together with the dean for international students, ensure that students receive good pastoral care. Students interviewed during this review report that they are well supported by staff in the international department and find their classroom teachers helpful and encouraging.

English language support. Teachers in the ESOL department provide students with well planned teaching and learning programmes based on their individual language learning needs. This support helps students to both develop their English language skills and to attain the NCEA literacy standards required for university entrance and further education.

Provision of Adult and Community Education (ACE)

Progress with the Implementation of Provision of Quality Assurance Arrangements

New funding and quality assurance arrangements for ACE providers have been progressively implemented over a three-year period 2005 to 2007. The quality assurance arrangements are set out in the NZQA publication Quality Assurance Arrangements for Providers of Adult and Community Education (March 2005). These requirements became a requirement for continued funding in 2008.

In November 2007 ERO reviewed the school’s Adult and Community Education provisions as part of a national review and provided a report to the board in February 2008. The report noted that the school offers a wide range of courses within its adult and community education programme, including those focused on personal development, business and finance, information and communication technologies, languages, and artistic creativity. The report found that the school has well documented quality assurance systems that meet the 2008 requirements for continued ACE funding.

Areas of good performance

Commitment to adult learners. The board has a strategic focus on raising the profile of community education. The ACE programme is seen as a key component of initiatives for extending the school’s role in adult learning. The board’s plan to relocate the ACE administration centre to new premises near the front of the school is likely to further raise the profile of, and improve accessibility to, its adult and community education programme.

Efficient coordination. The school’s ACE co-ordinator has experience and skills in organising and managing the delivery of community education programmes. Awareness and understanding of the new funding requirements underpin the comprehensive documentation that supports programme objectives. The co-ordinator has developed administration, financial and self-review systems that meet ACE quality assurance requirements.

Local networks and consultation. The co-ordinator uses opportunities for networking with other local ACE providers. Where possible, courses are planned in consultation with other schools to achieve greater efficiency and to avoid duplication of courses within the local community. The co-ordinator also liaises with local community groups, who are allocated a percentage of the school’s ACE funding.

Programme management. The school’s ACE programme is clearly documented and well publicised. Considerable efforts have been made to survey and respond to the identified needs and interests of the adult learners in the community. An informative website has been set up and good use is made of on-line feedback and evaluation of programmes.

Support for tutors. Many tutors have had a long-term involvement with the school’s ACE programme. They are provided with appropriate information about policies and procedures relating to working on the school site. While there is no formal appraisal of tutors, there is good support and communication between tutors and the ACE co ordinator.

Areas for improvement

Progressing aspects of ACE organisation and management. The February 2008 report indicated the need to strengthen some ACE quality assurance provisions, particularly those relating to:

  • the school’s framework for guiding ACE policy development and self review, including appraisal procedures for ACE tutors and the programme co-ordinator;

  • the establishment of an effective ACE advisory support group;

  • procedures for updating the co-ordinator’s job description; and

  • the oversight of the school’s ACE programme.

The board and principal have responded appropriately to all the above areas for improvement. ACE quality assurance documents have been used to develop a structure for policy development and self review. An advisory group now meets regularly to provide input and feedback from the community. The programme co ordinator’s job description has been updated and suitable provisions for ACE staff and tutors have been established. A member of the senior management team now has responsibility for overseeing and supporting ACE programmes. The prompt action taken by the board to address the findings of the February 2008 ERO report reflects the school’s continuing commitment to community education.

5. Board Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of Takapuna Grammar School completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. 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; and

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);

  • physical safety of students;

  • teacher registration;

  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and

  • attendance.

Compliance

ERO conducted an in-depth review of the school’s health and safety provisions in May 2008. The review identified many areas of good practice relating to health and safety policies and procedures, pastoral care provisions, careers and transition education and discipline procedures, and also identified two areas in which health and safety practices could be further improved. The school has acted promptly to address these areas by extending student access to health education in Years 11-13, and by improving systems for ensuring that students in Years 9 and 10 have a good awareness of the school’s pastoral care provisions.

ERO’s investigations during this review did not identify any concerns.

6. Recommendation

ERO and the board of trustees agree that:

  • the principal, senior management team and teaching staff should continue with school initiatives for promoting personal excellence and life-long learning, and should include in this work strategies for further enhancing:
  • the use of formative practices and consistency of assessment practices in Years 9 and 10; and

  • data analysis, interpretation and evaluation within departments to facilitate more precise identification of students’ learning strengths and next steps.

7. Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can manage the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

ERO is likely to review the school again as part of the regular review cycle.

 

Elizabeth Ellis

Area Manager for Chief Review Officer

15 September 2008

 

 

To the Parents and Community of Takapuna Grammar School

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Takapuna Grammar School.

Takapuna Grammar School is a co-educational secondary school that provides very good standards of education for students in Years 9 to 15. The principal and teaching staff place strong emphasis on the development of learning behaviours and competencies that promote personal excellence, high standards of educational achievement and the skills for life-long learning. The school offers students a wide range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities and actively fosters strong links with its community.

Since the 2005 ERO report the board of trustees has continued to develop the school’s physical environment in accordance with an extensive multi-phased building programme plan designed to provide students and teachers with high quality teaching facilities. Under stage one of the property development plan an art/technology block and a new performing arts centre have been completed. Work is now underway on a new multi-level block that will accommodate the library/information and communication technologies (ICT) centre, the social sciences teaching spaces, a student services centre, and a senior students’ study area and student cafeteria. Stage two of the building programme is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009. Good progress has also been made in progressing the school’s ICT infrastructure, enhancing staff and student access to e-learning resources.

For this review, the board asked ERO to evaluate the extent to which the school’s teaching and learning, leadership and co-curricular programmes and opportunities enable students to achieve personal excellence. Several areas of national interest are also evaluated, including those relating to Mäori and Pacific student achievement, teacher readiness to implement the revised New Zealand Curriculum and the school’s thinking about the educational needs of its future students. The report further comments on aspects of the school’s adult community education programmes and its provisions for international students.

Findings indicate that the school has a settled and productive atmosphere, which is characterised by mutually respectful and affirming relationships amongst all members of the school community. Students are generally confident, enthusiastic about learning and are motivated to succeed. Many achieve to a high standard and overall attainment levels in national qualifications exceed national averages and compare favourably with those of schools of a similar socio-economic background. The particularly high academic performance of some students is evident in the school’s scholarship statistics. These exceed national averages and indicate student excellence in wide range of subject areas. Students spoken with during this review show pride in their school and are appreciative of the many academic, sporting, cultural, and social opportunities that teachers make available to them.

The principal provides strong educational leadership, sets clear strategic direction and is well informed about current educational theories and research in relation to best practice in teaching and learning. He works closely with a capable and committed senior management team to foster a collective vision for ongoing school improvement and to build leadership capacity at all levels of the school. His work with principals within the local area has resulted in the development of a shared vision for teaching and learning for the Devonport Peninsula schools. The school participates in the Ministry of Education’s Extending High Standards Across Schools (EHSAS) schooling improvement project and receives additional funding to implement this work.

Teachers are responsive to school improvement initiatives and accompanying professional learning and development programmes. They set high expectations for student success and take collective responsibility, with the principal and senior managers, for moving the school forward. ERO notes significant progress in the consistency and quality of teaching practice since the 2005 review and an increasing use of achievement data to identify and cater for students’ interests, abilities and learning needs. Further developing these data analysis skills would now be beneficial so that teachers gain a more in-depth overview of students’ specific learning strengths and the next steps needed for their development. Moves already underway to increase the consistency of assessment practices in Years 9 and 10 should also increase teachers’ ability to monitor and support student achievement across the curriculum.

The board of trustees governs the school capably and has developed a comprehensive self-review system to monitor the effectiveness of school policy and procedures. Trustees bring a range of valuable skills and experience to the board and are clearly united in their support for the school’s educational directions and for the principal and staff. The board places a high priority on ensuring that the school is well placed to provide for the diverse needs of its students.

ERO finds that the school is performing well in many areas and that high quality practices are in place to support teaching and learning. ERO and the board of trustees agree that the principal and staff should continue with school initiatives for promoting personal excellence and life-long learning.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the board of trustees can manage the school in the interests of the students and the Crown and bring about the improvements outlined in this report.

ERO is likely to review the school again as part of the regular review cycle.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Elizabeth Ellis

Area Manager for Chief Review Officer

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVIEWS

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve educational achievement in schools; and

  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on student achievement and build on each school’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on three review strands.

  • School Specific Priorities – the quality of education and the impact of school policies and practices on student achievement.

  • Areas of National Interest – information about how Government policies are working in schools.

  • Compliance with Legal Requirements – assurance that this school has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of school performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to student achievement and useful to this school.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a school is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this school.