I am tasked to critically analyse issues of socio economic factors, school culture and professional environments in relation to my practice.
My school has a 2017 population of 1043. It is decile 6. It has 136 staff which includes teaching staff of 121. There are 5 senior management leaders, 5 deans and 29 Middle leaders. The school is an integrated co educational special character College, with students from years 7 through 13.
Socio-economics – Our students are enrolled from 3 feeder primary schools. These students, if they are Catholic, have first priority enrolling at year 7. When the school opened in 2004, students travelled outside the ‘zone’ as the school filled the gap needed of a catholic co-ed school in South Auckland. Today, There is a change to that model, with families most unhappy that younger siblings are not able to enrol. Constraints on numbers has impacted on 2018 enrolments. Families have and still do come from South and East Auckland. The immediate area surrounding the college draws in families from the lower socio economic groups of Otara, Flatbush, with Pasifika and Maori families, while on the opposite side we have the new housing developments of Mission Heights and Dannemora. We also have a large percentage of Filipino Families in the area who are Catholic.
While there appears to be a socio economic gap, the special character of the school is able to support those in need, and while this does not fix the issues, like housing, uniform, relationships, finances, even though it is hard for some families, the school charities is able to offer support. The learning for these groups is not overly affected with results from last 3 years showing steady improvements when compared nationally and with similar schools.
The main make up of students in the school to date stands at: NZ European 30.3%; Filipino 22%; Chinese 12.8%; Samoan 5.8%; Indian 5.7; Maori 4%; South East Asian, 3.1%; South African / other African.
School Culture – ‘Faith is our Compass‘. The word culture within the secondary school setting is a way of life that answers the question of ‘Why we do this thing?’ Culture is based on values which thereby enables ‘the way we do things’ to be considered. Culture tells us what we should celebrate, leave along or anticipate. The culture of a school according to Smith and Stolp (1995) believes that Principals must encourage a positive level of contentment so that stakeholders of the school community will be committed to achieving excellence. Leithwood (2001) contends that a school Principal must first understand the school’s culture before implementing change, and this is reiterated by Bulach (1999) who adds, that a leader must identify a schools existing culture before attempting to change it. At my school there is change on the cards. What that change might look like is yet to be realised. It is work in progress.
We are working on cultural responsiveness and combining that with our special character.
Our school has a strong professional environment. We are all well supported, from senior leadership, middle leaders, teachers through to support staff. The school encourages collaboration, participation and sharing of knowledge. Professional learning is open to everyone, and teachers may do as little or as much as they feel they need to support their teaching or their professional knowledge. Teachers may be involved in: Professional learning groups, eLearning, the Eastern Learning network (mentoring and coaching), appraisal – interlead connector, coaching, SCT group, departments, and boys education, to name a few. The school also supports further study and PD applications. The school does have a very positive and supportive approach to the professional environment of its staff.
Bulach, C R (2001) A 4-step process fir identifying and reshaping school culture. Principal leadership, 1 (8), 48-51
Leithwood B A (1991) Cultural Leaders in effective schools: The builders and birders of excellence. NASSP Bulletin
Smith, S C and Stolp, S (1995) Transforming a school’s culture through shared vision. Oregon School Study Council, 35 (3), p1-6