Te Aroha College - 08/04/2016

Findings

Students at Te Aroha College benefit from the welcoming and inclusive culture. There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities, especially sporting, available to them. The new principal, senior leaders and trustees are promoting a strong focus on student learning and all forms of success and achievement.

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

1 Context

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

Te Aroha College is located on an extensive and attractive site in the country town of Te Aroha. The student roll has remained steady since the 2013 ERO report, and is currently 376, and of these students 76 identify as Māori. A majority of students whakapapa to various hapū within the Hauraki iwi.

The principal was appointed at the start of 2015, and she has brought a strategic focus on student learning and intended outcomes. She is well supported by an experienced, capable and cohesive team of senior leaders. Together they have worked collaboratively with staff, trustees and the wider community to establish an agreed graduate profile as a positive point of reference for the systematic review of planning and college operations. The current board chairperson took up his role in late 2015. Trustees have continued to provide effective governance for the college through a period of change and challenge.

The college has a positive reporting history with ERO. Teachers have undertaken significant professional development related to recommendations in the 2013 ERO report in the use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning, and the revised performance management systems to promote a shared understanding of good practice.

2 Learning

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

The school is making increasingly effective use of student achievement. School self review and evaluation of programmes inform planning and determine how positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement are implemented.

School leaders and members of the pastoral care team work with their contributing primary schools to strengthen the purposeful sharing of achievement information concerning students entering the college. Students at risk of not achieving their educational potential should benefit particularly by initiatives to ensure compatible digital communication systems and coherent approaches to literacy learning between the college and its contributing schools. 

At Years 9 and 10, teachers use achievement information gathered from a range of sources, including standardised assessment tools, to plan programmes to meet students' diverse learning needs. Students who would benefit from additional support or extension have appropriate access to programmes both within, and beyond, the classroom. Teachers are strengthening the use of school data as part of their inquiry to monitor students in these two years. School leaders recognise that an important next step is to develop a shared understanding of the annual expected progress for students. This is likely to enhance programme evaluation and reporting processes to parents and board of trustees.

Students in Years 11 to 13 have their progress towards national qualifications carefully tracked and reported. National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data for the past three years shows that the proportion of students completing the Level 1, 2 and 3 qualification continues to be comparable to, or slightly above, national averages. Māori and Pacific student’s achievement levels are comparable to other students in the college. The proportion of school leavers with the NCEA Level 2 qualification exceeds the government’s priority goal of 85%. 

Trustees receive regular reports on student achievement and progress. They set and monitor appropriate progress targets, and make resource decisions to support programmes.

3 Curriculum

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

Throughout 2015, school leaders and teachers successfully initiated strategies of review and development to design a curriculum that supports students to develop the attributes, knowledge and skills to be life-long learners. The collaborative and inclusive processes involved in the initiation of innovative strategies are focused on ‘learner-centred learning'. This approach strengthens the high quality of positive relationships evident among students, staff and parents at the college. 

This year the college moved to 100 minute learning periods and all students in Year 9 were provided with board-funded laptop computers. The effective use of digital technologies for learning and teaching is a focus for teacher professional development. Plans are in progress to introduce an ‘interest day’ once a week, when students at any year level are able to follow a course of study and activity directly related to their strength or interest. The college has successfully extended the number of community-based trade training courses available to senior students.

School leaders have successfully coordinated a systematic review of systems and processes to raise the professional capability and collective capacity of staff, in line with the school vision and purpose. The roles and expectations of staff, including those with additional responsibilities, have been clarified and integrated into a strengthened appraisal process. There is an increased expectation that good practice and relevant achievement information will be effectively shared among staff to support student engagement and progress. School leaders recognise that teachers need ongoing professional development and support to realise the full benefit to student educational outcomes of recent curriculum changes.

Students benefit from an effective holistic pastoral care system that is coordinated through experienced deans, guidance and career staff, and senior students themselves. The relatively small college roll and well-established community links, ensures teachers know students and their families well. Restorative practices are well integrated into the management of relationships. Parents are kept well informed through strengthened digital communication systems. A feature of the college is the high proportion of students and staff who are involved in extra-curriculum activities. Students participate with pride and considerable success in a wide range of sports. 

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

The school is demonstrating a strengthened commitment to ensuring equitable outcomes for Māori students, who continue to experience success in academic, sporting, cultural and leadership areas.

A Māori advisory group has been established with a particular role of developing authentic partnerships with local iwi and marae. The Year 13 leadership camp at the start of 2016 was marae based and increased the confidence and competence of these senior students to take greater responsibility for tikanga practices, such as school welcomes for new students and important visitors.

Te reo Māori is taught to all Year 9 students and is available as an academic option at Years 10 and 11. School leaders intend to extend the availability of te reo Māori learning to all year levels.  Curriculum leaders have department goals to increase the integration of local and cultural relevant contexts in all courses of learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Factors that support this are:

  • trustees who are focused on building positive partnerships with school leaders, staff and the wider community. They make resource and policy decisions that support equitable outcomes for all students
  • the effective and collaborative leadership approach by the principal, which is positively transforming the culture for learning
  • the shared ownership and united support of the senior leadership team, which is supporting the strategic direction of the college
  • teachers feeling valued,  respected and supported through consultation and feedback processes
  • students who experience an inclusive and caring culture and share the positive sense of purpose and direction
  • parents who contribute as partners in their child’s education
  • an effective self-review process that makes use of internal consultation and external sources  and is focused on improving outcomes for students.

It is important for the college to continue to carefully monitor and evaluate the outcomes for students from the revised curriculum. This evaluation is particularly important for individual and groups of priority students at risk of not achieving their full potential.

Provision for international students

Te Aroha College 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 of 1989. The college has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this ERO review there were nine international students attending the college.

International students benefit from the holistic pastoral care systems already well established in the college. They are encouraged to become involved in the wide range of sporting and extra-curricular activities. School leaders recognise that areas for strengthening in relation to the support of their international students are:

  • evidence-based review of current systems and processes
  • monitoring classroom support
  • reporting to trustees on the effectiveness of their academic and pastoral support.

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

Students at Te Aroha College benefit from the welcoming and inclusive culture. There is a wide range of extra-curricular activities, especially sporting, available to them. The new principal, senior leaders and trustees are promoting a strong focus on student learning and all forms of success and achievement.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

8 April 2016

School Statistics

Location

Te Aroha, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number

116

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

376

Number of international students

9

Gender composition

Girls       55%
Boys      45%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā
Māori
South East Asian
Tongan
Other European
Other Asian
Other

66%
20%
  2%
  2%
  4%
  3%
  3%

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

8 April 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2013
April 2010
April 2007