Whakatane High School - 05/06/2014

1 Context

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

Whakatane High School provides a quality education based on values of respectful relationships, personal achievement and responsibility. There are extensive opportunities for students to experience success. Maori students in particular learn and achieve in a supportive environment that acknowledges and affirms their language, culture and identity.

New appointments to the senior leadership team have provided an opportunity to introduce new thinking and ideas about ongoing improvements to the quality of education for students. A hard-working teaching staff demonstrates a strong commitment to improving their teaching practice.

The board of trustees are focused on governing the school in the best interests of students and undertake their governance roles in a collegial and professional manner. The school has had a positive reporting history with the ERO.

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information effectively to:

  • identify trends and patterns of achievement and inform strategic decision making and resourcing for initiatives to improve student achievement and engagement
  • identify and monitor students needing additional support and extension, including priority groups of learners who require targeted assistance
  • report clearly and comprehensively to the board, parents and community
  • establish school-wide achievement targets in literacy and mathematics for groups of Years 9 and 10 students
  • set measurable targets in relation to the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) and track the schools progress towards the Ministry of Education expectation of 85% of school leavers attaining Level 2 NCEA in 2017.

Engagement and achievement information from 2013 shows that levels of attendance have improved, and standowns and suspensions have significantly decreased. NCEA roll-based data for Levels 1, 2 and 3 indicates improved levels of achievement from 2010 to 2012, and compares favourably with schools of similar type. However student achievement overall is slightly below national averages.

While 2013 NCEA data shows that Māori students overall achieved below their non-Māori peers, the school reports the difference in achievement between these two cohorts has decreased since 2010. It is important for school leaders to critically analyse this and similar patterns of achievement so that they can better respond to the needs of Māori students and other groups of priority learners. While there are relatively small numbers of Pacific students, their progress and achievement is closely monitored.

Senior leaders in consultation with heads of department should give careful consideration to the management and use of achievement information at Years 9 and 10. In particular, there is a need to:

  • set clear expectations for teachers about the use of achievement information to inform classroom planning and teaching, especially for priority groups of learners
  • strengthen the analysis and interpretation of progress and achievement of Years 9 and 10 students in departmental reports
  • effectively use data for cohorts of Years 9 and 10 students to establish specific and measurable departmental targets.

Improved management and use of achievement information should assist leaders and teachers to evaluate programme effectiveness, identify priorities for development and assure the board that students in the junior school are making expected progress and levels of achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The school provides a broad curriculum that is designed to engage students in purposeful learning. It recognises and celebrates the diverse nature of its school population. The curriculum caters well for students with special needs, English Language Learning (ELL) students, low income families and Māori students. There are extensive initiatives to support individual talents and needs. A transition class supports students who are finding the transition to secondary school difficult. The well-established pastoral care network contributes to the provision of a safe emotional environment and student well being.

The board is committed to providing senior students with a range of vocational and academic subject choices and career pathways. In the senior school students have access to a range of courses such as the Trades Academy, GATEWAY programme, video conferencing and marine studies.

At Years 9 and 10, students undertake a mix of core and options subjects. Increasingly there is a move towards integrating these across the curriculum in Years 9 and 10. The purpose is to provide more authentic meaningful curriculum and contexts that motivate and engage students in learning.

The school is developing teaching as inquiry. Since the middle of 2013, teachers have been participating in a Ministry of Education professional learning and development contract. The process of teachers effectively using data to inquire into their practice is at an early stage of development. Teachers work collegially as a team. Their involvement in the Positive Behaviour for Learning initiative (PB4L) is contributing to improved levels of student engagement in their learning. ERO observed examples of highly motivated teachers using a range of effective strategies, which support learning and promote positive and respectful relationships.

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

Māori students learn in an environment that values and respects their language, culture and identity. They benefit from a wide variety of educational opportunities and the high levels of support made available to them. Special initiatives such as the Aka Matua and the integration of Māori contexts and history into learning programmes further reinforce the school’s commitment to improving educational outcomes for Māori students. Maori students also appreciate the schools' culturally responsive approach to the promotion of Māori culture in all aspects in the life of the school.

The board’s strategic aim is to further improve the achievement of Māori students. This includes ongoing resourcing and coordination, implementing the Te Kotahitanga initiative, and appointing a new Director of Māori Achievement. Although a relatively recent appointment, it is intended this person will engage with parents and whānau, support leaders and teachers to raise achievement and monitor the progress and achievement of Māori students. These strategies support the board’s increasing emphasis on te reo and tikanga Māori, consultation with whānau, and continued commitment to promoting success for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance because:

  • experienced and knowledgeable trustees are highly committed to school improvement and raising student achievement
  • the senior leadership teams inclusive leadership style is fostering a strong sense of ownership of the school’s vision and values
  • the principal promotes and maintains professional relationships based on mutual respect and trust
  • aspects of school self review are contributing to ongoing school improvement
  • there is a shared commitment by the board, staff and students to the provision of a safe, supportive and friendly culture and learning environment
  • there is a strong focus and commitment to enabling Māori students to take pride in their language, culture and identity.

ERO recommends the senior leadership team access appropriate support to build their capability in the management and use of progress and achievement information.

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

At the time of this review there were 27 international students attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. Students are well supported and their learning and development is carefully monitored. There is a strong focus on providing high-quality pastoral care and integrating students within the life of the school.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

5 June 2014

About the School

Location

Whakatane

Ministry of Education profile number

144

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll

816

Number of international students

27

Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZEuropean/Pākehā

Other European

Pacific

Other

53%

35%

6%

4%

2%

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

5 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

May 2009