Tamaki College - 05/09/2011

1 Introduction

The Ministry of Education has asked the Education Review Office to prepare a series of reports on Services Academies at New Zealand secondary schools. This report is one of 16 individual reports prepared about the quality of education at the Ministry funded academies. A national evaluation report will also be prepared which will synthesise the findings from the individual reviews.

This review was prepared in accordance with standard procedures approved by the Chief Review Officer.

Terms of Reference

The specific terms of reference for this review are to:

  • evaluate how effectively the services academy supports student learning
  • identify the strengths of the services academy
  • identify areas for review and development at the services academy.

2 Background

The Tamaki College Services Academy was established in 2010 and is targeted at students in Year 14. The academy has a fulltime director funded by the Ministry of Education. English and mathematics classes are staffed through the school’s normal staffing allocation.

While the academy has a services focus, it is not specifically intended to recruit students into the New Zealand Defence Force. These are students who have completed five years of secondary school but who lack the necessary qualifications, motivation and work skills to enter employment or go on to further study. The services academy course is one third of each student’s school programme. Students also take services mathematics and English courses. For their remaining two school courses, students study a range of National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) courses, with many taking art, history or sport and recreation.

In 2011 the school introduced an elective course for junior students with an interest in the services academy. This course runs for two hours per week over a term. It is a popular choice with students and numbers are oversubscribed.

During the course of this review ERO spoke with the director, the principal and deputy principal, teaching staff, academy students and two parents. ERO viewed relevant documentation and observed the academy class in action.

3 Findings

Areas of strength

Leadership. The director provides competent leadership for the academy. He has an extensive services background, including in the navy. His wide network of contacts in the service has enabled him to access information, support and hands-on experiences for students. The director also has experience as a naval recruiter and is well aware of the levels of academic, physical and personal achievement required for recruitment into the service. He is supported in his role by the deputy principal and other teaching staff.

Student outcomes. Information collected about students who completed the academy programme in 2010, shows that most students went on to employment or further training. Students spoken to by ERO were positive about the benefits of the service academy programme. Students appreciated the opportunity to learn new skills, improve their motivation, manage time more effectively and increase their fitness. Students reported that they now had better school attendance, greater confidence and a more positive attitude toward themselves and their future.

Documentation. The services academy programme is well supported by comprehensive documentation. A detailed handbook describes the operation of the academy and expectations for students. A strategic plan gives a direction for future development. The director provides a detailed weekly timetable to senior managers. He supplies the board of trustees and school community with useful information on academy activities and successes.

The director produces a weekly summary report with information on each student’s attendance, progress and the development of their attitudes, skills and personal qualities. Individual progress reports show students’ credit achievement, attendance, behaviour and progress toward goals and targets. The director collects and analyses information about student outcomes and destinations at the completion of the programme.

Wide range of educational experiences. Academy students have access to a wide range of educational experiences outside the school. They attend camps run by defence force personal where they experience military life, learn survival skills and undertake challenging physical activities. Some have the opportunity to participate in advanced leadership courses. The director’s naval background enables him to take students to the naval base and have a sea experience onboard ship. They also take part in other activities such as kayaking, search and rescue, and swimming. Students are enthusiastic about these outdoor opportunities.

Facilities and resources. The academy class has access to good quality resources and facilities. Students use a large gymnasium area for parade and drill with an adjacent well equipped classroom for lessons. There is appropriate equipment for physical training and first aid, and students have good access to computers and other information technologies. They proudly wear an academy uniform.

Careers advice. Students receive targeted careers advice and support. The careers advisor interviews all students individually to help them identify career goals and objectives. They produce individualised curriculum vitae and are assisted to develop the necessary skills to help them with applications and interviews. They are well supported by the director and careers advisor to make progress on their career pathway.

Links to the wider school. The services academy has positive links to students in the wider school. Significant numbers of junior students choose to participate in the junior academy elective course. These students experience some aspects of the service academy programme such as physical training, leadership and drill. Some junior students are mentored by academy seniors. Staff provide anecdotal evidence of positive outcomes for some junior students.

Areas for review and development

Self review. The academy has yet to develop systematic processes for self review. An effective self-review process is likely to collect a range of achievement and attendance data, and student and parent voice. This information can then be analysed to focus on ongoing improvement, linked to the strategic plan.

Such self review would be useful to:

  • clarify the expectations, purpose and intended outcomes of the programme so that its success can be better evaluated
  • review the selection criteria for the academy, and the entry year levels, to ensure the programme is meeting the needs of students
  • improve the analysis and use of data about attendance, progress and achievement so that the design and operation of the programme can be further developed and improved
  • establish a framework of support for the director that includes performance appraisal, targeted professional development and a clear line of management responsibility.

4 Conclusion

The services academy at Tamaki College is performing well and meeting the needs of most students. It is well led and the programme is supported by comprehensive documentation. There are some areas for review and development that could further improve the effectiveness of the academy.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

5 September 2011

About this Services Academy

Host School

Tamaki College

Gender composition

Male 16, Female 5

Ethnic composition

Māori 8 Pacific 20

Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

5 September 2011