Ngaruawahia High School
Ngaruawahia High School: Staff in this school discuss frankly how students’ NCEA results improved dramatically through a process of careful consideration of the evidence, acceptance of shared responsibility and implementation of teacher and student goals. Students’ voices affirm how the difference in teachers’ practices impacted on their achievement.
Comments are provided from students, teachers, the principal, senior leaders and Te Kotahitanga facilitators regarding the rationale for, the planning, goal setting and the strategies that resulted in huge gains for Māori students within NCEA in 2009. These include comments about:
- using evidence to underpin practice
- taking a proactive and planned approach with assessments and exams such as NCEA
- building positive relationships across the school
- establishing high and clear expectations
- challenging departments and teachers to take responsibility for Māori students academic achievement
- developing a shared vision and taking responsibility across the school
- working interdependently from the SMT to teachers and Māori students.
"If she thinks i can do it, I can do it." (Student)
"...success breeds success." (Principal)
"...it's all about [teachers] re-positioning and checking our agency and rejecting deficit theorising because I guess there were walls there in our own heads that were stopping us from achieving." (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator)
"We actually need to look at ourselves as teachers." (Principal)
Things to think about:
Questions Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- What did you find of particular interest to you and why was this interesting?
- Which aspects of work, undertaken by this school, do you think were most responsible for the high increase in NCEA success that was experienced by these students?
- What evidence of Māori student academic achievement do you gather? How is this analysed and shared to inform your planning and classroom practice?
Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- Māori students at Ngaruawahia High School are able to articulate their experiences about what has been happening for them in this school. Students' schooling experiences are an important part of school reform. What would Māori students at your school be saying about their experiences in school? How would you hope they would articulate the changes in classrooms that have happened so far?
- Throughout the DVD we see and hear aspects of the Effective Teaching Profile (ETP). What are the specific aspects within the ETP and how do they link with a Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations?
- This Te Kotahitanga Facilitation team include the SMT, HODs and other leaders in the school in the setting of school wide goals for Māori student achievement. Bringing evidence to all co-construction meetings is an integral part of this work. How is the focus on evidence played out in ensuring goals are planned for, set, achieved and reviewed in your school?
Question Focus - In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:
- Māori students at Ngaruawahia High School were able to articulate their experiences and the changes that were happening for them. How do we spread the reform to include their whānau and iwi?
- Ngaruawahia High School set a school wide goal, based on the evidence of previous year's data. What evidence of Māori student academic achievement is gathered over time in your school? How is this shared and analysed to align with GPILSEO?
- The DVD talked about using evidence at a leadership level to inform leadership practice. What professional development does your school provide for leadership at all levels? How effective is this professional development? Where is your evidence of this?
Narrator: “In 2009 Ngaruawahia High School achieved its best ever results in NCEA.”
Students: “It was nerve wracking because we didn’t know what to expect, we’d been through mock exams but once you got over the initial shock of getting in there, like the first exam is always the hardest. Um, after that it was pretty good, got easier as we went along, um, but throughout the year kind of having the teachers track us it lifted the pressure off our shoulders at least.”
“They take a lot of time, a lot of their time, a lot of our time as well, during the intervals and lunch times we go in the library and just catch up on a bit of work. It’s pretty good.”
“Because last year when I was getting my level ones I was in the target group, which meant that I wasn’t going to pass if I didn’t do certain stuff. So they like help me get onto course to get some more credits. They took like tutorials to help me get more credits, my maths teacher did, so did my Māori teacher. I passed literacy through her Māori class so they like to push their students forward, they don’t want to see us go on the dole.”
“Even though I slacked off during the year, they still, they still were willing to help me, they still got faith in me, so yea. Kind of makes you, ‘Oh yea sweet if she thinks I can do it, I can do it.’”
“They always like offering tutorials, um, willing to help me out where it’s needed. Um, they push me in class, if I sit there and do nothing it’s always slamming a book in front of my face to get it done. So, um, I have, they, I have a lot to thank from them because they’ve helped me, they’ve really helped me, which is a good thing.”
Teacher: “I’ll be going back to those staff members and saying, or back to Heads of Departments and saying, why, what’s happening around this?”
Robyn Roa (Principal): “My general gratitude to Te Kotahitanga is that it facilitated a person or people and particular skills that dug deep into some of the issues that we wanted to address.”
Kimai Huirama (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “We wanted to target NCEA Level 1 Māori achievement and aim for a goal of 80% of our, our Māori students would pass at that level. We then looked and we decided to time frame that goal over three years. Last year we set the goal at 60% of our Māori students would achieve at NCEA Level 1. We‘d never previously achieved that at our school wide before.”
Robyn: “We looked at how could we affect the achievement rates for Māori students across the board. It was quite a difficult task given all three year groups, ah, Year 11, 12 and 13 so we focused on the 11s. And the rationale behind that was if you can get success, initial success, then that’s the probably one of the biggest boosts to students self esteem morale, and they can go onto, to feel successful and then success breeds success.”
Iti Joyce (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “First of all we had to figure it out ourselves, come up with the strategy so that we could support our pedagogical leaders so that they could start supporting their departmental teachers.”
Robyn: “And I think too in all honesty most of our models had looked at changing the kids, this model said we actually need to look at ourselves as teachers.”
Kimai: “Because of the targets we’d set we, we had to actually start generating our own data and soon we were getting progress reports through the year and not only sharing with our staff and our teachers, but also starting to filter that down to our students. And through our students, um, through to their whanau so quite quickly within the space of a year or a year and a half, students were knowing where they were at. Even their parents were knowing where they were at with their NCEA achievement and it was great.”
Robyn: “And we support them by making them aware this is where you guys are at, this is what you need to get in order to succeed.”
Kimai: “Sometimes they don’t know and if you don’t give them opportunities to be successful and to celebrate success then how sad would that be for our students.”
Barney Wharakura (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “It means our kids know what they need to do to achieve, it means that they have a target to achieve as well as the teachers. Um, the whole school are involved on that focus, um, and achieving those targets. It means that some have to work a little bit harder than others.”
Robyn: “Te Kotahitanga is a good thing, it challenges you, they challenge you, they challenge you all the time.”
Kimai: “Part of owning the goal is that you bring that data out, the good, the bad and the ugly, and pat yourself on the back on what’s going well, but certainly look at what’s not going so well and then what do we have to do to change that. So, there were conversations going on at department levels around that. Ah, I also think that prior to Te Kotahitanga we’d had a lot of meetings going on in the schools, but it seemed to be mainly around behaviour of our kids and so that’s been a bit of a mind set change. If you don’t actually link that back to changing classroom practice, you’re not going to be able to meet those targets, there’s got to be changes in classroom pedagogy for us to see those changes in our, in our data.”
Robyn: “The initial results came in, um, and we were sitting on, in the 70s for the Year 11 cohort, um, it was just mind blowing. You know we, we, we knew we could get our 60, we felt confident about that, but to actually achieve and ultimately achieve a whole group of 77 and Māori students 73, was really, really mind blowing for the staff.”
Iti: “But it’s not only the students success, teachers have got to taste it too, because when they taste it and they can see it, it gathers momentum.”
Robyn: “When we unpack it in such a way that it shares the responsibility then you can actually make some changes. It wasn’t like, ‘I did it all’ or one person did it all, everybody had to do their bit for it to count collectively.”
Kimai: “I guess it’s maybe made believers out of some of us who didn’t believe it could happen. Shows up in the language that staff use, it’s all about the, um, repositioning and checking your agency and, um, you know rejecting deficit theorizing, because I guess there were walls there in our own heads that were stopping us from achieving.”