Thursday, 22 August 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

A school the community can be proud of

A school the community can be proud of

The Education Review Office (ERO) visited Mercury Bay Area School during August this year and their report has now been confirmed. The report paints an overall picture of a school the community can be proud of.

At the time of the ERO’s visit, MBAS had 884 enrolled students, of which 22 are international students. Girls make up 52 per cent of the student body, 70 per of the students are New Zealand European/Pakeha, 22 per cent are Maori, three per cent are Asian and five per cent are from other ethnicities.

According to the ERO, when they report on a school, they always answer the question, "How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?" In order to determine the answer, they look at a variety of things, including the school’s management of health, staff, assets and finances and the emotional and physical safety of students.

Under the overarching question, five key issues are considered.

The first is the important features of the school that have an impact on student learning.

The ERO said MBAS is a focal point of the local community and, "Students enjoy a safe and inclusive environment for learning in well-maintained and highly functional facilities. The school’s KAURI expectations (Kindness, Achievement, Unity, Respect, Identity) underpin the school's culture. Student achievements and successes are recognised and celebrated. Relationships among students and teachers are positive and mutually respectful.

"The experienced and long standing principal continues to effectively lead the school and its community. He continues to promote a vision for teaching and learning that is based on current research for education in the 21st century. The deputy and assistant principals provide leadership and are respectively assigned to primary, middle and senior areas of the school. They work closely with the principal to provide school-wide professional leadership for staff."

The second issue is the school’s use of "achievement information" to make positive changes to students’ engagement and progress.

According to the ERO, MBAS students have a good understanding of their achievements. As a result, they are learning with greater independence and confidence and that contribute to the school’s academic success and sporting and cultural achievements.

Most students in Years 1 to 8 achieve above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Good information on Year 9 and 10 students’ progress is available and the NCEA achievements of Years 11 to 13 students are above national comparisons. The school is tracking well towards the Ministry of Education goal of 85 per cent of students achieving at least NCEA Level 2 by 2017.

"The number of students staying at school to gain appropriate qualifications that are aligned to their career pathways has increased," said the ERO. "The school has a robust attendance monitoring system and overall student attendance has significantly improved."

The third issue is how effectively the school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning.

"[MBAS] provides a broad and flexible curriculum to promote and support student learning," the ERO said. "A range of effective teaching strategies engage students in purposeful learning. Teachers talk with students about their learning and use their prior knowledge of students to guide their next learning steps. Classroom environments are settled, well organised and supportive of students learning.

"A strong pastoral care network supports students learning and wellbeing. Designated teachers in Years 7 to 13 mentor and guide students to reflect on their progress and achieve success.

"Many innovative vocational opportunities such as marine and industry-based programmes, support student retention, interests and career planning."

The fourth issue is the school’s success in promoting educational success for Maori, as Maori.

MBAS data showed that Maori boys are not achieving at the same level as non-Maori boys in Years 1 to 8 and the proportion of Maori students achieving NCEA qualifications in Years 11 to 13 is lower than other students.

The school is nevertheless making good progress in the implementation of a plan to strengthen te reo and tikanga Maori for Maori students. Recent initiatives include a closer partnership with Ngati Hei, relocation of the whare to make it more visible and the appointment of a suitably qualified and experienced teacher to teach te reo in Years 7 to 12 and to teach a Years 7 to 9 Roopu class. Te reo and tikanga Maori are also being promoted in a Years 4 to 6 bilingual class.

"Te iwi o Ngati Hei is able to influence and support a clear definition for Maori to succeed as Maori. It also encourages Maori students to be confident to celebrate their culture, identity and learning across all school subjects," said the ERO.

The last issue is how well placed the school is to sustain and improve its performance.

The ERO found MBAS is a school built on positive relationships and is well positioned to sustain and improve its performance. They also said, "A learning culture that supports teachers to reflect on their practice, and which provides them with leadership opportunities is developing.

"[Members of the Board of Trustees] bring a useful range of skills and knowledge to their roles and have a clear understanding about school governance. They have well-established systems in place to sustain good governance practices."

The ERO concluded their report with the following, "Mercury Bay Area School… offers students a wide range of learning opportunities. Students enjoy a safe and inclusive environment for learning in well-maintained and highly functional facilities. Student achievements are recognised and celebrated. Relationships among students and teachers are positive and mutually respectful."

When The informer asked school principal, John Wright what would be a good photo to accompany this feature on the school’s ERO report, he didn’t hesitate to say, "A photo of the students. They are the ones who make us what we are."

We agreed. It is therefore our privilege to publish the first group photo of the 2015 MBAS student leaders with this feature.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.