Wellington College - 01/07/2014

Findings

How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

Wellington College's high expectations and positive culture support student wellbeing and learning. Students very successfully gain National Certificates of Educational Achievement and New Zealand Scholarships. The curriculum, including cultural, sporting and service experiences, strongly promotes success for all students. The college is very well placed to further develop and maintain its high performance.

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

1. Context

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

Wellington College is a large boys’ school of 1620 students in the central city. Learners from a wide range of ethnic groups attend the college. The proportion of students who identify as Māori, now 10%, has doubled since the October 2009 ERO report.

The college's long-established traditions are respected and valued. At the same time, innovation and creativity are encouraged. Involvement and success in activities beyond the classroom significantly contributes to the strong sense of connection to the college felt by students and adults associated with it.

Students strive for excellence in a variety of fields. There is a history of high achievement, both locally and nationally, in academic, sporting, cultural and service activities. This has been maintained since the previous ERO report and in some areas significantly enhanced.

In recent years, there has been a focus on accelerating the academic achievement of Māori and Pacific students. Te reo me ngā tikanga Māori are increasingly incorporated into a range of college activities.

The college has a very good ERO reporting history. This report indicates continued success in supporting high achievement and often excellent student outcomes. Well-established processes are in place to further improve school performance.

2. Learning

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

Achievement information is well used at all year levels to make positive changes to learner engagement, progress and achievement.

A range of assessment information in Years 9 and 10 is used to monitor achievement and progress. A high proportion of students achieve at or above expectations in nationally standardised tests. Extra programmes are provided for students whose literacy levels put their learning at risk. High achievers are identified and involved in extension opportunities. Year 9 teachers regularly meet to share strategies to best support individuals or groups of students in their classes.

The newly developed junior assessment framework (JAF) provides consistent expectations for communicating learning and achievement across subjects to students and parents. This should further assist students to set meaningful goals for improvement. Higher levels of thinking are encouraged in the JAF to prepare students for the senior curriculum.

Teachers are extending their use of assessment information in Years 9 and 10 to track and monitor students. The college acknowledges it should further improve the analysis of literacy and mathematics data to consider progress, especially of those achieving below expectations. This should enable more meaningful targeting and tracking of Year 9 and 10 learning.

Senior students are very successful in national qualifications. Achievement levels are high and mostly above similar boys' schools nationally.

In recent years, over 90% of leavers have gained National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 or above. Māori and Pacific students achieve at similar levels to their Wellington College peers in leaver qualifications. For Māori this represents a significant improvement since 2010. Seventy six percent of all leavers have University Entrance.

Achievement in the NCEAs, both certificate completion and endorsements gained for merit and excellence, has continued to improve from a very high baseline since the previous ERO report. The largest improvement has been in Year 13 where over 80% of students now gain NCEA Level 3.

Students experience considerable success in gaining New Zealand Scholarships. In 2013, 90 students gained 179 scholarships in 22 subjects. A number of these were gained at the outstanding level.

Retention levels into the senior school for all ethnic groups are high. The college's analysis of NCEA data shows that although Māori and Pacific students’ achievement compares very well with that of all students in comparable schools, they perform less well than their peers at Wellington College. The achievement gap is particularly evident in NCEA Level 3 and to a lesser degree in NCEA Level 1.

The board, managers and staff understand the importance of continuing to improve Māori and Pacific achievement and targets have been set. Departmental initiatives, specific to each subject, have been implemented to increase academic success. Strategies have been put in place to strengthen tracking and monitoring for these groups.

3. Curriculum

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

The academic and wider curriculum that includes cultural, sporting and service experiences, strongly contributes to students developing the desired Wellington College learner outcomes. Students are effectively supported to be:

  • intellectually curious, creative and critical thinkers
  • motivated, self-managing, lifelong learners
  • community focused and prepared to lead
  • confident and effective communicators
  • adaptable and responsive to new ideas and experiences.

Learners have an increasingly responsive and broad curriculum that provides a wide range of pathways. Ongoing development of the curriculum recognises the current and future aspirations, interests and needs of students. Learners value the extent of learning experiences and support they receive from teachers both in and outside the classroom.

Developments in the curriculum since the previous ERO review include introducing:

  • a six day timetable to allow greater subject breadth and choice
  • compulsory technology, including a range of contexts, in Years 9 and 10
  • a greater number of non-traditional academic programmes
  • courses deliberately responding to student strengths, such as performing arts and Academy of Sports.

Opportunities are provided for the extension of more able students. This includes preparation for New Zealand Scholarship leading up to, and once students are in, Year 13.

Career education information and advice assists students to access future pathways on leaving school. Students from Years 9 to 13 are involved in a range of class and individual programmes that support them to explore options and make decisions. The college should extend the review of career education provision to include more comprehensive evaluation against current understanding of effective practice in this area.

Good processes identify the strengths and needs of learners with special education needs. School systems and actions are designed to enable flexible approaches to meeting these needs. Parent partnership is promoted through regular contact. A schoolwide culture of care is evident, where students with special needs are well integrated in activities alongside their peers.

Since the beginning of 2013, 'Bring Your Own Device' has been part of a schoolwide focus to integrate information and communication technologies (ICT) into all classroom programmes. ERO observed widespread appropriate use of devices by students. Integration of ICT into learning is well underway.

Positive and respectful relationships foster purposeful and productive learning. High expectations are clearly stated and consistently evident. Students are regularly challenged to extend their thinking.

Student wellbeing is a shared responsibility across the college. Respect, compassion and concern for others of diverse backgrounds and beliefs are encouraged and apparent.

Teachers have varying confidence and capability in how they include Māori and Pacific students' culture and identity in programmes. Professional learning is building teachers' capacity to respond more effectively to students’ cultures.

Student leadership and responsibility is strongly fostered. Senior students, in particular, provide leadership, mentoring and tutoring for others. International students operate a support network for their peers at the college and across the Wellington area. Students value the support for their individual development in sport, cultural and service activities.

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

Promoting the achievement and success of Māori students is a priority in the 2010-2014 strategic plan. Strategies adopted to support the learning of Māori students include:

  • strengthening the strategic impact of the whānau group, Te Piringa, by establishing a sub-group, Te Whakaruruhau, comprising whānau members, trustees and staff
  • requiring every department to include a Māori success goal in its annual plan and for teachers to set a related goal for themselves
  • providing professional development for teachers to increase their cultural competency to successfully work with Māori learners
  • embedding of bicultural practices in the everyday life of the college
  • systematically implementing academic and pastoral mentoring.

Positive outcomes resulting from the above include:

  • tikanga Māori and a Māori perspective integrated more into school life
  • a genuine voice for parents and whānau of Māori students as partners in decision-making related to their sons’ learning
  • students well engaged in classroom lessons and other activities in the wider curriculum
  • teachers tracking Māori student progress and increasingly including Māori contexts in their programmes.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific?

Positive relationships have been established with Pacific parents and communities and contribute to the school, effectively promoting success for students.

Pacific students' potential to progress and achieve is supported by:

  • regular Pasifika Parents Support Group (PPSG) meetings and involvement in a variety of activities
  • an 'Afio Mai' evening to welcome new parents, a Pacific students' camp focused on sharing high aspirations and regular Achievers Evenings
  • the Together as Brothers (TAB) mentoring group where senior Pacific students guide juniors to develop a sense of belonging and to encourage success
  • student tracking, monitoring and mentoring that focuses on building positive relationships and engagement.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The college is very well placed to sustain its high level of performance. High quality, critical selfreview effectively underpins continual improvement. There is a culture of inquiry characterised by:

  • an appropriate focus on improving outcomes for priority learners
  • reference to well-analysed, valid information
  • links to the values, aspirations, and different cultures of the school community
  • responsive and inclusive practices involving students, parents, teachers and trustees
  • continuity in building the capacity of teachers to support learning outcomes
  • responsiveness to external review
  • provision of direction for future planning.

Innovation and challenge is encouraged to further promote high quality student learning outcomes. Professional learning and development (PLD) effectively supports teachers to reflect on and continually improve their practice. A range of forums enable successful learning strategies to be shared.

There is a strong alignment between PLD and the board’s strategic goals. Regular reference to research and best practice strengthens the quality of whole-school professional learning. This includes examples generated from within the school.

Teacher appraisal goals support the board’s strategic priorities and promote improved teaching and learning. Building cultural competency is included as part of consideration of Registered Teacher Criteria. Student feedback and class observations assist teachers to reflect on the use of effective teaching practices.

Learning and organisational leadership is strong. Effective leadership by the headmaster is based on the well-articulated expectation that all students will achieve and grow holistically. He successfully gives priority to keeping in touch with students.

The development of professional leaders is deliberately fostered. Senior managers are an effective, leadership team. Change is well considered and carefully implemented. Curriculum leaders initiate and successfully guide developments to enhance student learning and achievement.

A highly motivated group of trustees skilfully carry out their governance role. They are well informed about student achievement and success in a range of areas. They are involved in school improvement forums alongside staff. The board gives priority to raising achievement for Māori and Pacific learners.

High levels of community engagement are valued. Various strategies are used to seek the views of parents and whānau. Comprehensive consultation contributes to strategic planning. Partnerships for learning are encouraged by increased use of ICT for communication.

Area for review and development

Departments and individual teachers set goals linked to strategic targets to raise achievement for Māori and Pacific students. Senior managers should further support staff to consistently develop goals that are measurable in terms of student learning outcomes.

This should promote greater teacher reflection and inquiry into the effectiveness of teaching practice for these learners. It should also assist more regular monitoring and reporting of progress, including by the board, towards schoolwide goals.

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 73 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. Effective policies and practices support the social integration and academic learning of international students throughout the school.

The newly appointed international department team are aware they should provide more regular reports to the board and senior staff about student progress towards successfully gaining NCEAs.

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

Wellington College's high expectations and positive culture support student wellbeing and learning. Students very successfully gain National Certificates of Educational Achievement and New Zealand Scholarships. The curriculum, including cultural, sporting and service experiences, strongly promotes success for all students. The college is very well placed to further develop and maintain its high performance.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

1 July 2014

About the School

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

275

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

1620

Number of international students

73

Gender composition

Male 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

10%

61%

21%

5%

3%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

1 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2009

October 2006

August 2002