Waimea College - 02/12/2014

Findings

School leaders and staff make very good use of the school’s attractive and spacious grounds to provide a calm and settled environment for students. Positive relationships across the school contribute to a warm and welcoming culture. Student achievement is continuing to improve. A broad, balanced curriculum and strong pastoral systems are school strengths. Areas for improvement mainly relate to aspects of planning and review.

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?

Waimea College is a large, well-established secondary school with a growing roll. Attractive and expansive grounds reflect high standards in caring for students and contribute to a positive, settled environment. School values are highly evident in the way students interact and respect each other’s wellbeing and property.

Students benefit from a wide range of facilities and resources that support the school’s broad curriculum. Many of these facilities are shared with the community. Very good support from the local business community is helping to expand opportunities for students.

Opportunities to participate in trades academy, job preparation and alternative education programmes provide specialist support for students’ learning and career planning.

Since the October 2011 ERO review, some new trustees have been appointed to the board and a major redevelopment of guidance facilities has been undertaken.

The strengths identified in the previous ERO report have been sustained. The school has made good progress towards addressing most of the areas for review and development identified in that report. Reporting on the progress of students in Years 9 and 10 still requires further development.

2 Learning

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

The school is using achievement information increasingly effectively to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. This is most evident in:

  • the way leaders analyse information and report to the board about learning and achievement trends over time
  • the use of a data manager to more effectively track the achievement of key groups in the school and support transitions into the school at Year 9
  • the use of more regular reporting to parents about students’ engagement and readiness for learning
  • the extensive analysis of pathways and destinations for Year 12 and 13 students who are not going on to tertiary training.

Achievement information over recent years shows a trend of continuing improvement at National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1 and 2. Subject and course NCEA merit and excellence endorsements are generally increasing. The number of scholarships being gained reflects a positive trend.

Students with special learning needs are provided with high-quality programmes based on information about students’ individual social, learning and wellbeing needs. Innovative practices in transitions and health provide strong, well-informed support for students with high needs and their parents. Teachers provide these families with helpful daily information about their children’s learning strengths, needs and other important details about how students are progressing.

Area for review and development

Leaders and teachers should continue to extend the analysis of student information to identify changes that will further support learning and raise achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum very effectively promotes and supports student learning. Students experience a broad and balanced curriculum that provides a wide range of rich learning opportunities within and beyond the school.

The curriculum is well managed and supported through an effective committee structure. The senior curriculum provides vocational and transition pathways that support students’ diverse needs and interests. Regular review and evaluation of the curriculum involve some innovative approaches. Leaders prioritise students’ interests and needs when developing the timetable.

Students spoken with by ERO said that they valued the many opportunities they had to learn and succeed both in and beyond the classroom. They spoke positively about the number of leadership roles and training available to students and the strong focus on service to others.

The school’s high-quality careers programme strongly supports students’ decision making about appropriate academic and vocational pathways across their years at the school. Provisions for gifted and talented students are generally of a high quality.

An extensive pastoral care network, including a guidance system highly regarded by students, is effectively supporting students and their wellbeing. A wide range of support programmes is helping to meet the individual needs of students. Students often have opportunities to take leadership roles that strengthen relationships between older and younger students.

Areas for review and development

The school’s well-developed curriculum would benefit from an evaluation of:

  • how well the New Zealand Curriculum principles are evident in curriculum planning and delivery across learning areas
  • the gifted and talented programme to ensure that the policy, definition and practices are sufficiently broad to include such areas as cultural giftedness.

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

Information provided by the school shows that the achievement of Māori students at NCEA Levels 1 and 2 is continuing to improve over time. Māori students spoken with by ERO identified a good range of strengths about the school, including tuakana teina relationships and the support they receive from their teachers. Some professional development for teachers about te reo and te ao Māori has included presentations by Māori students.

Leaders provide opportunities to meet and consult with whānau and use a clearly-identified process to develop an annual Māori achievement plan.

Areas for review and development

The principal and leaders responded positively during the review to student feedback and suggestions for improvement. A review of how well the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are evident at the school would provide important information for identifying priorities and planning for improvement.

ERO recommends that leaders extend the Māori achievement plan to:

  • develop a more strategic focus that, in consultation with whānau and Māori students, identifies valued outcomes regarding the achievement of all Māori students
  • set clear priorities and goals for current and future developments.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has a range of considerable strengths that make it well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Improvements to some aspects of strategic planning will further strengthen the way the school is addressing current and future priorities.

Areas of strength

The board uses clearly-defined roles, systems and processes. Trustees bring a good range of expertise and experience to their roles and have undertaken some board training. Many staff members told ERO that relationships with the board were positive, that they felt well supported by trustees and that the active involvement of the board in department reviews was valued.

The professional leadership of the principal and senior management team is a significant strength. Leaders are reflective, strongly focused on ongoing improvement and are keen to make positive changes that benefit students. Feedback from staff clearly indicated the importance of senior leadership in maintaining a positive culture of collaboration, respect and support. A large number of staff told ERO that they enjoyed working at the school.

Since the 2011 ERO review, the school’s appraisal system has been strengthened. The new process is comprehensive and is well supported by evidence, a strong emphasis on reflection and opportunities for students to provide their feedback and ideas.

Self review is focused on promoting positive outcomes for all students. Leaders are continuing to improve the way learning areas are reviewed and findings are reported to the board. A shared understanding of self review across the school is continuing to develop.

Areas for review and development

It is now timely for the board and leaders to develop:

  • a more useful strategic plan that sets clear goals and challenging targets for the development of current and future priorities
  • an annual plan that reflects priorities for improvement and provides a clear framework for the actions, responsibilities, timeframes and monitoring requirements that will lead to valued outcomes.

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

At the time of the review, there were 50 international fee-paying students attending the school. Leaders were in the process of appointing a new director of international students.

Information provided by the school shows that very good provision is made for:

  • supporting international students
  • promoting their learning and involvement in the life of the school
  • ensuring that the wellbeing of international students remains a priority.

Area for review and development

School leaders should now extend their reporting to the board to include further details about the progress, achievement, wellbeing and integration of international fee-paying 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
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Conclusion

School leaders and staff make very good use of the school’s attractive and spacious grounds to provide a calm and settled environment for students. Positive relationships across the school contribute to a warm and welcoming culture. Student achievement is continuing to improve. A broad, balanced curriculum and strong pastoral systems are school strengths. Areas for improvement mainly relate to aspects of planning and review.

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

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

2 December 2014

About the School

Location

Richmond, Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

296

School type

Co-educational Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1471

Number of international students

50

Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Asian

Other Ethnicities

78%

9%

1%

3%

9%

Special Features

Attached Special Education Needs Facility

Job Track

Attached Alternative Education Facility

Review team on site

September 2014

Date of this report

2 December 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2011

December 2008

November 2005