Waikato Diocesan School For Girls - 11/01/2012

1 Context

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

Waikato Diocesan School for Girls is a well-established state integrated school in Hamilton catering for day and boarding students in Years 9 to 13. At the time of this review there were 669 students enrolled, 49 of whom identify as Māori.

Students benefit from an attractive, well-resourced and maintained learning environment. A comprehensive building programme including new arts and sports education facilities is nearing completion. The school’s provisions for boarders have been extensively reviewed, and systems have been restructured and improved.

Trustees have responded positively to recommendations in the 2009 ERO report. They are supportive of the principal who is successfully managing well-planned and strategic school-wide change and improvement. A newly appointed senior leadership team is leading effective professional learning and development programmes to further enhance the quality of teaching.

Waikato Diocesan’s special Anglican character, strong family values, nurturing and supportive relationships, and effective restorative practices, are clearly evident in all aspects of school life. Bicultural perspectives are being increasingly embedded throughout the school.

The majority of students participate in, and experience, considerable success in a wide range of sporting, cultural and academic pursuits.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

All students, including Māori, make significant progress during their time at the school. A range of assessment tools is used at entrance, and in Years 9 and 10, to gather achievement information about the learning needs of students. Entrance and subsequent data show that most students, including Māori, achieve at or above national expectations in English and mathematics. Progress and achievement during Years 9 and 10 are monitored within the learning areas. The information gathered is increasingly being used at classroom and department level to inform teaching and learning programmes, report to parents and the board, and guide decision-making and resourcing.

Senior students achieve at levels well above those of similar schools in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), Levels 1, 2 and 3. School leaders have set targets to further raise the endorsed with excellence grades and the number of scholarships.

High levels of attendance and engagement contribute to student achievement. An effective learning support programme helps to address students’ identified learning needs. Students needing further extension are well provided for by an Advanced Learning Programme. To better recognise the importance of academic success, an Academic Achievement Council and position of student Academic Leader have been created.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

There is now a wide range of initiatives to support Māori student success. Under the leadership of the current principal, staff and board have undertaken training in the principles and concepts of Ka Hikitia and have made changes to school practices and protocols. The kaiawhina provides a te reo Māori programme that caters for students from Year 9 to 13. The establishment of a central whānau room and focus group is effectively engaging Māori parents and families. The kapa haka group has grown in size and diversity, and Māori student leaders continue to be role models for other students. Māori students surveyed were positive about the initiatives that supported their success.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s comprehensive curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. Good quality school-wide overviews and guidelines provide useful frameworks for each curriculum area. The principles, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum are aligned with the school’s special character and strategic goals. Timetable and option choices have been reviewed so that students are able to access a wide range of subjects and learning pathways. In addition, they are provided with opportunities to experience success in an extensive range of leadership roles and co-curricular activities.

Teachers establish strong, supportive and affirming relationships with students. They are committed to helping students achieve their goals, and provide many additional opportunities for them through coaching, mentoring and tutorials outside of regular class times. Good quality careers advice and guidance supports students with subject choice and pathways beyond school. Team participation in professional development encourages reflective practice and the trialling of new approaches to teaching and learning. These approaches include integrated cross-curricular topics that use authentic local contexts.

The quality of the teaching and learning in most classrooms is contributing to high levels of engagement and achievement. However, school leaders have identified, and ERO agrees that the priorities for ongoing improvement include:

  • increasing the use of student achievement and other information to better inform classroom planning and programmes in order to maximise students’ individual potential
  • reviewing shared understandings about effective teaching and learning at Waikato Diocesan
  • more closely aligning school-wide teaching and learning goals with individual teacher appraisal.

These priorities are likely to continue to further increase the consistency in the quality of teaching and learning across all curriculum areas.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has made good progress since the previous ERO review and is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Factors that influence this include:

  • high quality internal and external self review at all levels of the school
  • a knowledgeable, well-informed board, that is led by an experienced chairperson and is committed to maximising the potential of all students
  • deliberate and effective management of change by the principal who sets high expectations for the well-being and achievement of students
  • the effective senior leadership team who provide clear direction for school improvement
  • hard working and enthusiastic staff who are committed to high levels of student achievement
  • a supportive and committed school community
  • an extensive pastoral care and guidance network that promotes a safe, nurturing physical and emotional environment for staff and students.

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 21 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.

The school’s International Department’s systems and processes effectively support students’ integration into the school and achievement of their academic goals.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school boarding house accommodates 150 students, 22% of the school roll. It is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki.

Girls’ well-being and learning are supported by effective systems and procedures that promote a safe emotional and physical environment. The school regularly reviews the boarding house practices. A 2004 external review of hostel operations and the subsequent new structure is providing positive outcomes for students.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Recommendations to other agencies

Not applicable.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

11 January 2012

About the School

Location

Hamilton

Ministry of Education profile number

140

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

669

Number of international students

22

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

NZ Māori

Other European

Chinese

Other Asian

81%

7%

6%

3%

3%

Special Features

Host for Itinerant Teachers of Music

Review team on site

October 2011

Date of this report

11 January 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

January 2009

November 2005

December 2001