Highlands Intermediate - 02/07/2015

Findings

Highlands Intermediate is a positive place for students. A wide range of curriculum experiences ensures they are well engaged in the life of the school. Many achieve well in literacy and mathematics. Raising Māori students' achievement in writing is a priority. The board of trustees and principal govern and manage the school effectively.

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?

Highlands Intermediate, in New Plymouth, caters for students in Years 7 and 8 who come from many different contributing schools. Currently, 640 students are enrolled, and 19% identify as Māori and 1% as Pacific. The school has an enrolment scheme.

The school is very welcoming to students and adults. It has a positive atmosphere and student wellbeing is suitably considered. An inclusive culture enhances students' participation in the curriculum. A merit system encompasses academic, cultural, arts and sports participation, and reinforces success and achievement.

Changes have occurred in staffing since the June 2012 ERO report, including the appointment of a new principal at the beginning of 2015.

ERO’s 2012 report noted important strengths that have been sustained. Some areas identified for further development remain to be fully addressed.

2. Learning

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

School personnel continue to strengthen the use of assessment information for teaching, learning and to inform self review.

Reported achievement information at the end of 2014 identified that most students achieved in relation to the National Standard in reading with many achieving the Standard in writing and mathematics. School leaders and trustees recognise that raising the achievement levels of Māori learners, especially boys in writing, is a priority for 2015.

In response to reported data the principal, teachers and trustees have developed an achievement target to accelerate the progress of students in writing. Planned actions are well considered. They seek to strengthen the school’s response to identified learners through the provision of learning support, implementation of a boys’ writing programme, better use of data for teaching, and participation in specific professional learning and development (PLD) for teachers.

Achievement information is gathered and reported separately for the small number of Pacific learners enrolled. Students receive learning support to increase rates of progress, including participation in an English for Speakers of Other Languages programme.

Teachers access a wide range of data to determine students' achievement and monitor their progress. Individuals with similar learning needs are grouped in class and across teams. Teachers continue to develop their abilities to engage students in the learning process by sharing the focus of learning and individual next steps.

Parents receive appropriate information during the year to support their understanding of their child’s progress and achievement. Reports are well referenced to the National Standards. Engagement in school initiated events provides students with opportunities to share the outcome of their learning with parents.

During the review ERO, the principal and leaders identified areas for consideration to further develop the use of assessment information and strengthen learning outcomes. These included:

  • reviewing current assessment tools to ensure they are used to greatest effect in promoting student learning, achievement and review practice
  • continuing to work towards greater consistency in teachers’ use of assessment data in the classroom to match the needs of learners
  • extending the evaluative commentary in reports to trustees, to ensure the reports show the outcomes of actions undertaken to improve achievement
  • strengthening review and reporting for students receiving learning support.

3. Curriculum

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

Highlands Intermediate School’s curriculum suitably supports student learning and engagement.

The curriculum is designed to cater for the emerging needs of adolescents. Students access a wide range of academic, sporting, creative and language experiences. Individuals requiring extension participate in an appropriate range of additional experiences to extend their learning.

Student involvement in wider school activities is strongly encouraged. The spacious and wellappointed environment supports and promotes their learning. Covered spaces, a large swimming pool and multiple sports facilities ensure students are able to participate in wellplanned activities.

Students are given a number of opportunities to take on leadership roles. The school motto 'By our deeds we are known' and the vision statement of 'Leaders and learners for the future' are evident in school practice through the students’ actions.

Students access specialist teaching programmes to promote their design skills and practical learning experiences. Access to a laboratory supports scientific inquiry. The school plans to extend the use of this resource as part of students’ regular curriculum experience.

Transition into and beyond the school is well planned. Data informs placement in classes. Families, whānau and students have opportunities to visit the school prior to entry. This supports their familiarisation with the environment and sharing of school expectations.

Teachers know students well and have high expectations for their successful participation in class and the wider school. Classroom environments are well organised. Teaching is appropriately focused on the school priorities of literacy and mathematics. Contexts for learning are motivating. Many teachers build on students’ prior knowledge and prepare them well for new learning.

Involvement in writing PLD is planned in 2015, to promote a shared understanding of effective practice. Teachers set groups to target the learning needs of individuals. Teaching teams reflect on students’ progress. This assists teachers to consider strategies that work in accelerating the progress of individual learners.

Learning statements provide broad expectations for agreed teaching practice in the priority areas of literacy and mathematics. It is timely to review these statements so that all staff have a clear understanding of best practice and a basis to inquire into the success of their teaching.

Trustees provide significant resourcing to promote the inclusion, engagement and achievement of students identified with special and complex needs. Teacher aides assist learning in the classroom. Specific intervention supports individuals develop foundation literacy skills. External agencies and specialist services are accessed when required.

ERO, the principal and trustees agree that as they continue to develop the curriculum they should consider:

  • strengthening curriculum review to evaluate its impact on student achievement
  • reviewing the provision and effectiveness of learning support to ensure outcomes are maximised to the needs of individual students, parents and whānau
  • developing teachers’ ability to effectively inquire into their practice.

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

Māori students’ views are sought to affirm their participation in the curriculum. Students develop positive relationships with teachers and their peers. However, the curriculum requires further development to meaningfully include the cultural aspirations of Māori learners and their whānau. To strengthen practice, leaders and teachers should:

  • empower and resource leadership to plan, monitor and facilitate curriculum development
  • build reciprocal partnership with Māori whānau to include their cultural aspirations as part of the curriculum.
  • review and build teachers' capability to confidently respond to Māori students' culture, language and identity as part of their curriculum experience.

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.

The board governs capably. Trustees have clear roles and responsibilities and a range of skills that complement their school governance. They receive information through the principal and school leaders to inform their resourcing decisions. The board formally and informally gathers information from parents to reflect on their satisfaction with the school.

The principal demonstrates purposeful intent to build further on the existing solid foundation for students' learning and engagement. Planning is focused on improving the achievement of students historically underserved by the curriculum and strengthening curriculum review practice.

Team leaders are reflective and collaborative. They work well with teachers to share and discuss school expectations and facilitate purposeful reflection to improve outcomes for students. Teachers are highly collaborative. They take responsibility for curriculum leadership and suitably support school direction.

Appraisal of teachers has been strengthened recently. Goal setting is linked to changes in practice based on the needs of students whose progress requires acceleration. Teachers reflect and receive feedback aligned to indicators in the Registered Teacher Criteria.

Self review is purposeful and focused on improving student engagement, progress and achievement. Aspects of review consider student progress and achievement to inform recommendations for developing the curriculum.

To sustain current effective practice and continue to strengthen curriculum outcomes for students, parents and whānau, the principal, leaders and the board should:

  • develop expectations for leaders and align feedback related to their performance based on student achievement goals
  • strengthen self review and evaluation to promote sustainable practice and guide ongoing improvement.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. There are two international students enrolled at the time of the review.

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 appropriate.

The school provides high levels of care to meet the pastoral needs of international students. Progress and achievement is well monitored and access to learning support is provided when required. The students are well integrated into 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.

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • in consultation with the school's Māori community, develop and make known to the school's community policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students.

[National Administration Guidelines – Section 1 (5)]

Conclusion

Highlands Intermediate is a positive place for students. A wide range of curriculum experiences ensures they are well engaged in the life of the school. Many achieve well in literacy and mathematics. Raising Māori students' achievement in writing is a priority. The board of trustees and principal govern and manage the school effectively.

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

Joyce Gebbie Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

2 July 2015

About the School

Location

New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number

2172

School type

Intermediate (Years 7 to 8)

School roll

640

Number of international students

2

Gender composition

Male 52%, Female 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

Other ethnic groups

19%

67%

1%

13%

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

2 July 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review Education Review Education Review

June 2012 January 2009 August 2005