Mt Albert Grammar has received a powerful endorsement of the education it offers, with the Education Review Office deciding it will not revisit the school for four or five years.
A team from the office was at MAGS in February and its full report, just revealed, notes: “The high expectations for student achievement and attainment noted in previous ERO reports continue to be evident.”
The school was last reviewed in 2013 and inspectors will not now be back until 2022 or 2023.
The gap between reviews is the best indicator of how schools and early childhood centres are tracking and on that basis MAGS has received a high rating.
Headmaster Patrick Drumm says the report reaffirms the high quality of learning the school is providing and the four or five year gap before the next review confirms the confidence the ERO has in all areas at Mt Albert Grammar.
Noting the key strengths of the school, the ERO pointed to:
- Leadership and stewardship capability to embed the school’s new strategic direction;
- Teachers with the professional capability to provide personalised student learning;
- Students gaining self-belief and confidence through the school’s positive learning culture.
To keep improving and bring “future learner success”, the office drew attention to:
- Systems review at junior level, to gather meaningful achievement information in each learning area and accelerate learning for those who need it;
- Leadership inquiry into NCEA Level 3 achievement for Māori and Pacific students.
The report is typically heavy with education-speak jargon and could do with some de-coding. But the overall impression is of a school that’s doing well.
How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?
“The school is highly effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students. It has the capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners and is successfully addressing parity issues for some groups of students.
“Scholarship success places Mt Albert Grammar School consistently in the top seven schools in the country.
“Increasing numbers of excellence and merit endorsements for NCEA reflect achievement above national percentages… Achievement across the three levels of NCEA is well above the national average and above percentages for similar schools.
“School achievement information for NCEA Level 1 and 2 shows highly equitable levels of success. Almost all Māori and Pacific learners are included in approximately 90% of students who are leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above.
“Some ethnic and gender disparities are evident in NCEA Level 3 and in University Entrance data. These outcomes are affected to some extent by senior students’ pathways decisions. School leaders are implementing systems that are now trialled and proven to attain greater parity for all Year 13 students.
“For Year 9 and 10 students… comparative data shows that after two years most junior students reach the curriculum levels required to access NCEA Level 1 and succeed.
“Other valued outcomes for students are the development of resilience and a strong sense of self belief through the pursuit of personal excellence. Students are learning how to be reflective and self-directing and to feel optimistic about their future. The school has a developing culture where young people celebrate all kinds of diversity.”
How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?
“The school responds very effectively to Māori, Pacific students and other young people whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.
“Year 9 achievement information indicates that a substantial group of Māori and Pacific students enters the school below expected curriculum levels in literacy. By the end of Year 10, this information shows that accelerated learning in literacy has occurred for most of these students. Almost all of these learners who have accelerated over a two-year period go on to achieve senior qualifications. ”
What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?
“School leadership and stewardship, teacher capability and the improvement-focused learning culture are highly effective school conditions that enable students’ achievement of equity and excellence.
“Leaders deliberately promote equity and excellence through personalised approaches to learning. The opportunity for individualised programmes is a key driver in the school’s new strategic plan. Leaders at all levels of the school are successfully promoting a collaborative and reflective teaching culture that encourages and supports students to achieve their personal best.
“Teachers continue to grow their capability and trial ways to support students who need to make accelerated shifts in their learning…
“The school has a learning culture that promotes and fosters student well-being for learning. A wraparound approach to pastoral care and the use of restorative practices support student management.
“There is a school-wide curriculum focus on building student-directed learning behaviour. Digital platforms extend time for students, groups of students and teachers to have more personalised learning contact. This helps to extend the scope of self-managed learning.
“Stewardship of the school is sound. The board has made strategic appointments to senior leadership to guide the school’s development in offering students 21st century educational opportunities. Trustees value the school’s ethnic diversity, and the broadening of pathway choices for students.”
What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?
“Developments that could be considered for further improvement include:
- “A review of Year 9 and 10 systems and processes for assessment and the use of achievement data, including transition information. This could offer further opportunity for leaders and teachers to create a meaningful learning profile for junior students. It could also assist teachers to inquire into acceleration strategies that may be effective for junior students across other learning areas in the curriculum, as well as the current literacy focus.
- “Leadership inquiry into how the school’s systems can strengthen parity for Māori and Pacific students at NCEA Level 3. This would ensure the acceleration gains made at NCEA Level 1 to Level 2 are maintained to advantage.”
In the report, the ERO noted it had checked areas like the emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment), the physical safety of students, teacher registration and certification, the suspension and expulsion of students and attendance.
It also found the school hostel management provided a supportive living and learning environment, saying “the culture and climate of the hostel reflects the school’s positive values”.
Turning to international students, the office confirmed the school’s internal evaluation processes are of high quality.
The 180 students at the time of the review were provided with “pastoral care processes of a high standard. The school provides good quality English language support for its international students. They integrate well into the school’s educational programmes and are immersed in all aspects of school and community life”