Waimea College - 10/10/2011

1. Context

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

Waimea College in Richmond, Nelson has a mix of Years 9 to 13 students from both the urban and rural community. The college has handled steady roll growth well, with carefully managed property development, curriculum and pastoral care provision.

The physical environment has been thoughtfully developed over the years and both the indoor and outdoor areas are conducive to learning. The college is well resourced and includes a newly built gymnasium.

Students respect their environment. They participate in a wide range of activities. Form classes, which include Years 9 to 13 students, promote stability and a sense of place for them throughout their time at the college. Relationships between teachers and students are respectful. Routines are well-established and students respond positively to high behavioural expectations.

The pastoral care network is strong with procedures and guidelines focusing on students’ all-round development. Restorative justice strategies have reduced stand-downs and suspensions.

The campus has a shared boundary with the intermediate school, which facilitates reciprocal student visits and eases transition for Year 8 students from that school.

2. Learning

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

Years 9 and 10

Information about Year 9 students' prior-to-entry literacy and mathematics achievement is shared with teachers. While individual students’ progress is clearly tracked and monitored, there is no college-wide analysis of the year groups’ results to show progress over time.

The board of trustees receives little analysed Year 9 and 10 achievement data to inform its planning and resourcing. The senior management team acknowledges that collating and analysing Year 9 and 10 achievement information is a next step.

Teachers are expected to use assessment data to adjust their teaching strategies and identify next steps for students. Differentiated courses within English and mathematics departments cater for student needs. However, the assessment information is not otherwise widely used to provide lessons differentiated according to students' levels of achievement.

The English department has implemented some strategies to support student literacy learning in Years 9 and 10. It would be useful for the outcomes to be analysed and shared as part of the annual departmental report. Some other departments use literacy teaching strategies effectively to improve subject vocabulary and understanding of concepts. This good practice should be extended to all classes.

Years 11 to 13

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results for 2010 show high levels of success for students in Years 11 to 13. Students overall achieve results comparable with those in decile 8 to 10 schools nationally. The percentages of students who gain the qualifications are well above the overall national figures. Numeracy achievement at Level 1 is high.

NCEA information is collated, analysed and used to address identified trends. A goal has been set to raise the attainment of merit and excellence grades in the NCEAs. Senior staff also identify that boys’ achievement at Level 3 requires improvement. The correlation between attendance and achievement is acknowledged and attendance is effectively monitored.

The college provides a wide range of opportunities, including sporting and cultural activities, for students to develop their social and physical skills. There is very high participation with many students succeeding at a national level. Achievements are celebrated. The scope of activities reflects the college’s commitment to the value of ‘attaining excellence in all aspects of college life’. The quality of the many public student performances and exhibitions enhances the college profile within the wider community.

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

The college's Māori achievement plan is regularly reviewed in consultation with whānau. The clear vision is supported by explicit goals for Māori students’ success. Based on the principles of Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success/Māori Education Strategy, it links to the strategic plan and focuses on continuously improving outcomes for Māori students.

Māori students spoken with by ERO feel that teachers encourage them to aim high. Tuakana/teina relationships are fostered.

NCEA data for 2010 shows that the percentages of Māori students gaining qualifications are comparable with the overall national figures, and that the small number undertaking Level 3 achieve well. However, for Levels 1 and 2, success for Māori does not yet reach the same percentages as for students overall in the college.

Professional development has been undertaken to increase teachers’ understanding of their role and individual responsibility for raising Māori engagement and achievement. Integrating and further improving teachers’ knowledge of and confidence in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are areas for continuing development.

3. Curriculum

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

The college’s well-designed curriculum has been revised as the result of extensive consultation with key stakeholders to purposefully implement The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The school bases its approach to curriculum on an education for enterprise concept incorporating NZC principles, values and key competencies. This focuses on learning in authentic, real-life contexts, and involves positive links with the community and relationships with businesses and local organisations.

Professional development is ongoing to implement the intent of NZC and identify appropriate teaching strategies.

The curriculum committee investigates ways to have well-rounded students provided with many alternative pathways to further study or employment, while at the same time maintaining an appropriate focus on academic achievement. A wide subject choice provides for the needs and interests of seniors. New academic subjects are introduced after consideration.

Students with high needs are very well supported in their learning and are fully integrated into college life. Capable teachers and trained teacher aides work alongside students to minimise the barriers to success. Effective use of information and communication technologies enhances learning.

Career advice and guidance is a strength. A lead team which has representatives from all departments promotes career education throughout the college. Students are given appropriate guidance in selecting subjects, and future education, training or employment options. A successful Job Track programme for 16 to 19 year old school leavers provides guidance, positive motivation and assistance to enter employment or further training.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school's charter is well considered. Its mission statement 'to bring out the best in students and staff and encourage life-long learning' is highly evident at all levels of operation. There is a strong strategic focus. The charter was developed so that goals, priorities and activities were established for the beginning of the 2011 school year. This provided staff with a clear sense of direction and allowed them to develop systems for appraisal, assessment and reporting early on.

Trustees contribute relevant experience, a range of individual skills, and operate as a cohesive team, committed to student progress and well-being. The board is guided in its work by a comprehensive governance manual.

The principal's forward thinking and effective leadership contributes to a positive working environment. Members of the senior management team are approachable, supportive, and bring a range of skills and a clear understanding to their roles and responsibilities. Management decisions are effectively communicated to staff.

The concept of self review is well-understood by the board and senior managers. Heads of department prepare annual reports to the board. Trustees visit to review all departments over a three year cycle. The next step is for the trustees to increase the focus on outcomes for students.

As part of self review, surveys of Year 9 students have been undertaken to monitor the performance and engagement of students. The resulting information has been collated for board and staff reflection. These surveys, and others conducted when students leave the college, confirm that students feel they experience a safe, inclusive college environment in which diversity is celebrated.

The system for performance appraisal of staff has been revised since the 2008 ERO review. The process is now more rigorous with clear links between college-wide, departmental and personal goals. Teachers are expected to use evidence to reflect on their teaching strategies. The next step for this process is to ensure the appraisal comments are consistently focused on improving teacher performance.

The professional development committee provides appropriate programmes focusing on the college-wide annual professional development theme and other identified areas to foster a learning community. There is also targeted help for teachers to promote student engagement.

The college seeks to make links with parents and whānau and the wider community in a variety of ways.

Provision for international students

The 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 1989. At the time of this review there were 42 international students attending the college.

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

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

Waimea College provides high quality education and care for international students. Orientation and pastoral care are strengths of the international department. Student aspirations and interests are matched with a host family as early as possible and an exchange of information takes place prior to students arriving.

Academic achievement is monitored, tracked and reported each term to all stakeholders. Students are well supported in their learning.

Many social events, camps, and trips are arranged. There are workshops for host families. Students participate in sport, music and art opportunities built into the community-focused curriculum. The students' diverse cultures are celebrated at special events in the college calendar.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' 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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Kathleen Atkins

National Manager Review Services Central Region

10 October 2011

About the School

Location

Richmond, Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

296

School type

Co-educational Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

Decile1

8

College roll

1466

Number of international students

42

Gender composition

Male 51%, Female 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

86%

9%

1%

4%

Special Features

Attached Special Education Needs Facility

Job Track

Attached Alternative Education Facility

Review team on site

August 2011

Date of this report

10 October 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

December 2008

November 2005

October 2002

1 School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides.