Report finds some positives for WBHS

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The Education Review Office’s recent report on Waitaki Boys’ High School has a number of positive aspects, Commissioner Nicola Hornsey says.

ERO’s report, which was completed in August before the board stood down and was replaced by Ms Hornsey, was sent out to staff and parents on Friday.

Ms Hornsey said the report is positive about a number of aspects of the school and the recommendations contained in the report will be incorporated into the Action Plan.

While the report indicated several areas of development, it was noted the school had been excelling in many areas including student achievement, curriculum, personal development, hostel systems and support for students with learning needs.

“Students achieve well across a wide variety of areas including, academic, cultural, sporting activities.

“They experience many opportunities for personal growth and student leadership.”

Student achievement results in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) continued to compare favourably with those of boys in other similar and co-educational schools, the report said.

However, the school had identified that student performance at the merit and excellence levels was not as strong as it should have been and has made it a priority to improve these results.

The school has also identified that more needs to be done to support Māori and Pasifika students.

Teachers needed professional development so that they consistently use practices that support the learning of Māori students, including more use of te reo Māori, ERO’s report said.

WBHS is aware of the need for improvement in their support Pacific students, which is more likely to be addressed with the completion and implementation of the school’s Pacific education plan.

The report stated that senior leaders had been working to improve outcomes for students and were committed to the school but aspects of governance and leadership had impeded the school’s vision for development and change.

Relationships within and beyond the school were not well managed or as positive as the former board believed.

The report stated ERO was not confident the former board of trustees was capable of effectively addressing important issues and recommended that the Secretary for Education considered intervention in order to improve areas of governance, leadership of change, communication and resolving concerns and complaints.

“The school is seeking to update its teaching and management practices, and this process has been limited by resistance and mistrust,” the report stated.

“Without significant external support, the board and senior managers are not capable of leading positive change.”

The commissioner will be implementing recommendations from the ERO report into her Action Plan, which is due to be finalised on November 12.

Some areas for review and development noted in the ERO report:

Leading change – Some important developments are at an early stage and weaknesses in communication have prevented the building of the teamwork that supports successful implementation of agreed developments. Changes in senior personnel have affected the implementation of some initiatives. A change strategy that builds a culture of engagement and commitment would support implementation of new approaches or programmes as well as an effective self-review process.

The board’s employment responsibilities – There are significant weaknesses in the processes the board used to ensure that it is a good employer. A number of teachers indicated that there are important areas affecting teachers and students that, until addressed, negatively impact on the culture of the school. The board’s processes for managing the rector’s performance are not well developed.

Managing issues and concerns – A substantial level of misunderstanding and resistance within the school and in the community has resulted from the lack of effective procedures for resolving concerns and complaints. The board will not be in a position to manage concerns internally until it operates a complaints process that is trusted, used and seen to be effective.

Communication – Communication channels between the board, the staff and the students need to be improved. The board’s communication with parents and wider community should be more timely and clearer about the school’s strategic direction and its responses to present or future developments.