Te Awamutu College - 08/07/2013

1 Context

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

Te Awamutu College is a co-educational secondary school providing education for students in Years 9 to 15. The school is located in the south Waikato town of Te Awamutu and has a roll of 1170 students and approximately 31% are of Māori descent.

Since the last ERO review in 2010, the senior leadership team has remained relatively constant with one new appointment in 2012. The appointment of a significant number of new teachers has been a positive addition to the school. The board has continued to provide effective governance and although the longstanding board chairperson has resigned he continues to support his successor.

Teachers continue to participate in a range of professional learning and development opportunities including the Te Kotahitanga initiative, to enhance their teaching practice. This initiative has been ongoing for a number of years and is now funded by the board. A recent development has been the building of an expansive, purpose-built gymnasium to enhance recreational and sporting opportunities for students. The school continues to build strong networks with the local community.

The board, senior leaders and staff work collaboratively towards their vision of ‘Creating learning success for every student’. The school offers a broad range of educational opportunities for a diverse student population within a supportive and very well resourced learning environment. O-Twahao marae has a high profile and continues to be integral to the school community.ā

The principal, with support from the staff and board, is promoting a culture of high expectations. He continues to be widely respected and well supported by a committed board of trustees and senior leadership team. Positive relationships, care for the environment and a focus on raising academic achievement are evident throughout the school. Students and staff demonstrate a strong sense of pride in, and belonging to, the college.

2 Learning

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

Senior leaders collate and analyse National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data to guide annual planning and reporting. Achievement targets relating to the expected percentage of students achieving NCEA are set each year and provide the basis for ongoing review. Heads of department make good use of data to design relevant courses for students. Deans work closely with senior students through academic counselling to monitor and track their achievement. The parent electronic portal was introduced in 2012 to keep parents informed about their child’s progress and to strengthen home/school partnerships. Teachers are increasingly using student achievement information to keep parents informed through this electronic portal. This approach, along with parent, teacher and student interviews, is strengthening communication and partnerships with parents.

While NCEA information indicates an overall improvement in achievement levels since the last ERO review, senior leaders acknowledge the need to continue to focus on raising achievement levels so that patterns of achievement are consistent with national expectations. It is acknowledged that the school was pleased Māori students met school targets for NCEA Level 2 Māori students and exceeded the targets for Levels 1 and 3. It should be noted however, that NCEA achievement data for Māori students shows that, with the exception of Year 13 in 2012, achievement levels continue to be below national expectations.

Area for Review and Development

Professional leadership: The interpretation and use of achievement information at Years 9 and 10 is an area for significant development. Senior leaders have yet to gather robust assessment information, and effectively analyse and report on overall patterns of progress and achievement for Years 9 and 10 students.

ERO has identified, and senior leaders agree, there is a need to use achievement information more effectively to inform decision making across the school. Senior leaders need to further develop and embed the following critical aspects of professional leadership by ensuring:

  • senior leaders critically analyse and interpret school-wide achievement information, including Years 9 and 10, to set specific and relevant student achievement targets as part of the annual reporting process
  • senior leaders and heads of department align performance management goals and professional development with identified priorities for raising student achievement
  • heads of department use achievement information from departmental analysis to inform the annual reporting process to management and the board
  • key personnel use achievement information to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of programmes and initiatives, particularly those designed to raise the achievement of Māori students and priority groups of learners
  • the board uses evidence based reports to strengthen and shape strategic decision making.

This should lead to better alignment of key school-wide operations, strengthen evidence-based self review and inquiry, and contribute to positive changes to learners' engagement, progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school continues to review and refine its curriculum, particularly for senior students. This approach is effectively promoting and supporting students' learning through:

  • a flexible approach to timetabling and accommodating students' course needs
  • the provision of a variety of academic and vocational pathways leading to relevant qualifications
  • opportunities for students to develop knowledge and skills in education outside the classroom (EOTC), student leadership, and cultural and sporting activities
  • the provision of learning support programmes for students with identified learning needs
  • an extensive pastoral care network to support student’s academic, social and emotional needs.

There is an increasing focus on strategies to engage students in purposeful learning. In classes observed by ERO there were positive and respectful interactions between students and teachers and among students, and many examples of cooperative group learning. Teachers clearly explained the purpose of the learning, used meaningful examples and gave constructive and helpful feedback to guide the learning process.

Professional learning and development is positively influencing teaching practice. School-wide professional learning and development centres around teacher focus groups that provide opportunities for teachers to lead and take responsibility for curriculum developments. Teachers are able to discuss, share and reflect on their practice. School leaders acknowledge the need to foster this approach and formalise a process for inquiring into teaching and learning practices. This is particularly important for progressively raising the achievement levels of students attaining Level 2 NCEA and for priority learners across the school.

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

The school promotes success for Māori in many ways. There is a strong emphasis on strategies and initiatives to lift the presence, engagement and achievement of Māori students. Improving learning relationships between teachers and Māori students is a significant focus for teachers and is contributing to calm and settled environments for teaching and learning. Māori students are benefitting from the many programmes and opportunities that promote their cultural identify, leadership skills, confidence and enjoyment of learning.

There is a need to improve the achievement of Māori students. While there are several initiatives designed to support and engage Māori students, school leaders now need to set specific targets and measurable goals to determine the effectiveness of these initiatives through ongoing self-review processes.

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 because:

  • the board is providing effective governance particularly in relation to financial management and resource allocation
  • the principal’s inclusive leadership style is fostering a strong commitment and ownership of the school’s vision and values
  • senior leaders work collegially to support the principal and ensure effective school operations
  • there is a safe and supportive school culture underpinned by high expectations and standards
  • there are many examples of effective teaching and teachers' commitment to professional learning and development
  • there is provision of holistic education and learning pathways that support students to succeed.

In order to strengthen sustainability it is essential that the board and senior leaders work collaboratively to develop and implement evidenced-based self review that is informed by student achievement information.

Provision for international students

The 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. At the time of this review there were two international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

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.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

8 July 2013

About the School

Location

Te Awamutu, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number

146

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1170

Number of international students

2

Gender composition

Girls 55% Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Other European

Other

60%

31%

5%

4%

Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

8 July 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

June 2007

March 2005