Wesley College - 19/06/2013

1. Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s Arotake Paetawhiti review?

Wesley College is a state integrated school affiliated to the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The school’s special character is clearly evident in its guiding principles, daily school life, and students’ understandings of school values and Christian ethos.

The college is located in Pukekohe, Auckland, and caters for boys from Years 9 to 13 and girls from Years 11 to 13. Most students board in the school hostel. A key feature of the school is its capacity to provide students with a welcoming, inclusive environment and good pastoral care that fosters students’ pride in, and loyalty to, the college.

The college’s previous ERO report in February 2011 noted that classrooms were generally settled and productive work environments. Teachers established positive relationships with students to support learning. Students had good opportunities to participate in co-curricular activities, and were achieving some noteworthy successes in sport and the performing arts. Most students continuing their education beyond Year 11 achieved well in NCEA Level 2 and 3 qualifications in comparison with national results and results of students in similar schools. The progress of Māori boys, and the low levels of retention of these students beyond Year 11, was identified as an area of concern.

ERO also identified the need to review and further develop several areas of school management and governance. Particular concerns included curriculum management, the monitoring of and reporting on student achievement, and school self review.

2. Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The school’s 2011 ERO report identified the following areas as particularly in need of review and development:

  • board provisions for monitoring the implementation of the school’s outdoor education (EOTC) policy
  • the quality of teaching and learning and related provisions for teacher performance appraisal and professional development
  • school curriculum provisions, including planning and target setting for increased student achievement
  • processes for consulting with the school’s Māori community and for developing and making known policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students
  • the analysis of, and reporting on, student progress and achievement at all year levels and for identified groups, particularly at risk Māori and Pacific students, at both departmental and whole-school levels.

Progress

Progress made over the past two years by school senior managers, teachers and the board against the above development and review priorities has been variable. Priorities have been incorporated into school annual plans. The Ministry of Education has provided support through the Student Achievement Function (SAF) project. This has been helpful in keeping the above priorities central to school development work.

Board policy framework and EOTC provisions. Rationalisation of the school’s policy framework has been helpful for streamlining board documentation. Revised documentation for education outside the classroom (EOTC) and improved systems for overseeing risk management planning for trips are providing trustees with greater assurance that policy expectations are being met.

Teaching and learning. Improvements are evident in the quality of teaching. There is a clear focus on learning in classrooms, with purposeful use of time and thoughtful selection of learning contexts to promote student interest and participation in lessons. A school-wide initiative to increase literacy and numeracy skills is evident and continuation of this remains a priority. Positive relationships between students and teachers have been sustained. Teacher professional learning and development (PLD) is now better aligned to students’ learning needs through SAF improvement planning.

Work done to build and document teacher understandings of effective teaching practice has been helpful. Revisiting this work and explicitly connecting it to the principles, key competencies and teaching as enquiry approaches of The New Zealand Curriculum would further increase teacher understandings of the features of high quality teaching practice.

Greater emphasis on strategies that build students’ critical thinking skills is needed. Increased student access to information and communication technologies (ICT) is a desirable future priority for the board. Increased collaboration and information sharing between the school and hostel with a focus on supporting student learning and achievement is advised, while maintaining appropriate boundaries between the school and students' home and hostel life.

Curriculum provisions. Further work is needed to strengthen connections between curriculum leadership at senior and middle management levels. The purpose of work done by senior managers to update guidelines for curriculum delivery and departmental review is not yet well used by school heads of department. More collaborative approaches should produce more robust, distributed and sustainable curriculum management structures. They would also enable teachers to make best use of new learning gained through PLD currently being undertaken by heads of department.

Target setting is undertaken, particularly for at risk students, at all school levels. Setting more specific targets for Years 9 and 10, rather than generalised goals for overall improvement, should provide more detailed information about the effectiveness of strategies for accelerating the progress of students most at risk of not achieving.

Consultation with Māori. Consultation with families of Māori students continues as a work in progress. Trustees have played an active part in gathering whānau perspectives in meetings held in a variety of locations. Strategies for promoting educational success for Māori students and targets for their achievement are documented in the school’s 2013 charter. The board recognises, however, that further work is needed and has attested that it has not met requirements for reporting to its Māori community about Māori student achievement or on progress in relation to its plans and targets for these students.

Analysis and reporting on student progress and achievement. Data analysis and use, and reporting on student achievement at all year levels remain particular areas for improvement. With the support of the school’s SAF practitioner and other external advisors, heads of department are receiving targeted advice and guidance in this area as part of professional development to improve curriculum management.

Outcomes expected from this work are still in the early stages of being realised and the school acknowledges that much progress still needs to be made. Improved practice in data analysis and reporting on student achievement is essential for good decision making about curriculum provisions and planning for improved student achievement. The continued use of external advisors is anticipated for the remainder of 2013.

3. Sustainable performance and self review

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

Progress

The college is not yet well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance.

An overarching finding of ERO’s 2011 report was the need for senior managers and the board to increase the school’s capacity to maintain an ongoing programme of self review. This remains a key and ongoing concern.

A revised framework for the school charter that includes strategic and annual planning, rationalisation of board policies, and refinements of teacher performance appraisal systems has the potential to contribute to improved self review.

It has been a slow and lengthy process, however, to develop and implement strategic action plans to address improvement priorities. This indicates the need for a heightened sense of urgency by senior managers and the board. Considerable work is still required to ensure systems for reviewing, evaluating, and reporting on the outcomes of strategic and annual planning are sufficiently well developed to promote and sustain ongoing improvement.

It is important that trustees take more responsibility for ensuring expectations for reporting to the board are sufficiently comprehensive to promote well informed decision making about how the board can best support student progress and achievement. Senior managers should summarise work within and across departments and provide the board with high quality and well documented information about:

  • the effectiveness of programmes provided for students, including teaching, learning and pastoral programmes
  • the effectiveness of teacher performance appraisal
  • trends and patterns in progress and achievement overtime for students at all year levels on a school-wide basis, and in terms of the progress made by targeted groups of students
  • any variance between school performance and charter strategic goals and targets.

ERO recognises that a number of initiatives currently in place could lift the quality of school self review and improve processes for promoting sustainable and ongoing improvement. Continuing work to embed and sustain these initiatives is required.

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.

During the course of the review ERO identified the following areas of non-compliance. In order to address these, the board of trustees must:

1. maintain an on-going programme of self review, including evaluation of and reporting on student achievement information

[National Education Guidelines 1993, National Administration Guideline 2(b)]

2. include a statement in its annual report about the variance between the school’s performance and the relevant aims, objectives, direction, priorities or targets set out in the school’s charter

[Education Act 1989, section 87 (2) (e)]

3. in consultation with the school’s Maori community, develop and make known the school’s policies, plans and targets for Māori students and report in the board’s annual report on the progress of Māori students

[National Administration Guidelines 1(e) and 2(c)].

4. Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education continue its external support for the school to progress work aimed at improving teaching, and student engagement, learning and achievement. ERO further recommends that Ministry of Education support be extended to strengthen school leadership and governance, and the self-review practices of senior managers and the board.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

19 June 2013

About the School

Location

Pukekohe, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

104

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll

314

Number of international students

6

Gender composition

Boys 86% Girls 14%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Tongan

Samoan

Fijian

Cook Island Māori

Niue

Other

19%

4%

48%

20%

3%

1%

1%

4%

Special Features

Hostel boarding facilities

Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

19 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review: Hostel

Supplementary Review: Hostel

Education Review

February 2011

July 2009

September 2008

July 2007