Education Review Office Report 2011
The following extracts are from the confirmed Education Review Office (ERO) report concluded in April 2011. The report is very pleasing and provides professional validation of the great things happening at our school.
What are the important features of this school's context that have an impact on student learning?
King's High School is a boys' school serving students from Dunedin and the surrounding area. A new Rector (Principal) has been appointed since the last ERO review. He leads an efficient and effective team of senior managers. As a result, the culture of the school strongly reflects the vision and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum. The Rector sets and models high expectation of himself, staff and students.
Important in the context of the school is the emphasis on programmes and strategies that educational research indicates are likely to be particularly successful for boys. The school's vision and values are clearly expressed. Expectations for learning, behaviour and standards are very clearly stated and rigorously implemented. The recent roll growth, especially in the junior school, has allowed the school to expand the range of courses for junior students.
Most classroom teachers make good use of a range of techniques and a variety of activities to make learning as interesting as possible for the students. Teachers' professional development is focused on strategies to engage boys in learning. Sport and cultural participation rates are high for both staff and students. The good relationships built in these areas flow through to the settled, well-managed classrooms. Competition is used as an effective motivator within classrooms and between classes at the same year level.
The expectation that students can achieve better is borne out by the improved NCEA (National Certificates of Educational Achievement) results at the end of 2010, especially for Level 1 and 2 and for Maori students. National test results in literacy and mathematics at Years 9 and 10 are also better than students of a similar age. Student achievement is promoted at every opportunity and successes are suitably celebrated.
How well are students learning, engaging, progressing and achieving?
The generally high level of student engagement in learning is a strength of the school. Teachers have very clear expectations for students' learning and behaviour, resulting in high levels of student on-task behaviour in classrooms. Teachers deliberately use strategies that are most likely to improve boys' learning. Practice is well monitored by student engagement surveys and student input into the annual review of each teacher's performance.
Teachers have good strategies for monitoring student progress. Junior literacy and mathematics programmes use asTTle and other testing to show good overall levels of student progress in these areas. NCEA results are especially good at Level 1 and 2 and there has been an increase in merit and excellence and in individual Level 3 scholarships. NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy achievement is comparable to similar schools. Students know that there is a strong focus on their progress and achievement.
A rigorous process for monitoring the learning and engagement of individual students helps ensure that students who are at risk of not achieving are quickly identified and supported. There are multiple systems in place to support learning, including action plans for specific purpose, internet referrals and communication with parents. The structure and hierarchy of responses and action plans is responsive to the diversity of student needs. Particular examples include strategies to support Maori and Pacific Island students, tutorial and homework classes, and class liaison meetings to share information about specific students with their teachers.
The school's international students are well supported in terms of their pastoral care and academic progress. The students are well integrated into school activities and students ERO spoke to indicated that they enjoy their time at the school.
How well are Maori students learning, engaging, progressing and achieving?
Maori students generally achieve well at school. Their overall level of achievement is comparable to non-Maori students in the school. An increase in the NCEA Level 1 pass rate for Maori students was specifically targeted in 2010 and resulted in a shift from well below the national average for Maori, to well above. Results for that year in NCEA Level 2 were similarly high. The school has developed a useful resource to further raise Maori achievement and engagement, with a focus on developing teacher capability.
How effectively does this school's curriculum promote and support student learning?
The school's curriculum has been effectively designed to meet the needs, abilities and interests of boys. The curriculum:
- is widely defined with the school's values being actively promoted and evident throughout the school;
- has a strong literacy and mathematics focus with new courses or increased time allowances being allocated where priorities have been identified;
- has recently included an elite sports academy for some students in Years 9 and 10.
There is a strong focus on developing teaching and learning programmes to cater for students' abilities and interests. This has been implemented through ongoing whole-staff professional development and useful planning formats. Students are placed in flexible ability groups in Years 9 and 10 and for English and mathematics in Year 11. Teaching practice is generally good to very good with teachers using humour, competitions and a variety of activities to help engage boys in their learning.
How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?
The school is well placed to sustain and further improve its performance. The school's vision, values and culture are well understood by the school community and provide the foundation for student engagement and learning. There are effective self-review practices that identify strengths and areas for further development. Strong school-community links and regular surveys help keep managers and trustees well informed about how the school is operating.
Senior leadership roles are clearly defined and complementary. The Rector is an effective change manager. He is highly visible throughout the school and models the high standards he expects of teachers and students. The school is efficiently managed on a day-to-day basis. Organisational structures and routines are tightly defined and well implemented.
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