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Manurewa Intermediate – MI Graduate Profile

Manurewa Intermediate School is a decile 1 multicultural school in South Auckland with approximately 800 students, including 50% Pasifika and 37% Māori.

This is our story of how we developed a Graduate Profile and then shaped an approach to enabling students and teachers to collaborate in making progress towards it visible, assessing that progress, and sharing it with parents, whānau, board and community.

This is just one way – there is no innovation without trial and error. We like to innovate. There are holes and things we already know we will change, things we neglected, room for improvement and things we should have acknowledged and included right at the start.

There is a robust dialogue emerging around "knowledge versus skills". Ours is a curriculum approach based on capabilities rather than knowledge acquisition.

The "why" and the "what" of our Graduate Profile

We have long had our school vision statement: "Adventurous risk takers: persistent focussed achievement"; and our definition of achievement: "The value added to the holistic wellbeing of every child, at every opportunity".

What we have not had is a clear, shared picture of how we would want our graduating students to be – their values, dispositions, and competencies. What would we and their parents/whānau want them to know (apart from being at the expected levels in literacy and numeracy), what would we want them to be? Values and culture evolved as the central essence.

Our Graduate Profile has been designed by parents and whānau, the students and us to describe the qualities that we all want to shape in our students in the two years they are with us.

It defines our expectations for the students. It is a set of eight ideas that encompasses the attitudes, values and qualities they have had to exercise and develop over their time with us. We believe, if a student graduates having made good progress in achieving these eight ideas they are well on their way to being successful, happy, well rounded citizens ready for their next step, wherever that may take them.

What we came up with 

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Where it came from

The evolution of the Graduate Profile began with robust discussions within the leadership team. We wanted the front-end of the curriculum to be emphasised. Schools are often "caught up" in the back end. We wanted value added to the holistic wellbeing of every learner. We knew our parents were on board, fully supportive of shaping a picture of our ideal graduate.

As a staff we felt a responsibility to shape our own ideas about how we might work with the community and the students so that we achieved strong buy-in from all.

  • We started by forming a teacher review group and talked through the mechanics. 
  • We then carried out a student survey of four kids from every class - we used students to interview students to keep it authentic.
  • We looked at the responses and there was a lot of talk from students of being Below/At etc, some of values, some of what we call our Keys to Success. But there was no overall sense from the students of the attitudes, values and qualities they wanted from their two years with us.
  • We were left wondering how we could instil the same holistic view of achievement in students that we had.
  • We also wanted students to have a greater sense of control over their achievement. A drive towards student agency will change outcomes. We do not use language of ‘below’ etc with our students. We are trying to change the culture of the place through the Graduate Profile.
  • We spent time as a staff shaping these eight key qualities.
  • We took these ideas back to the students and to the community for discussion and refinement. We then got the go-ahead. From our community and our kids, we had our vision, our words.

The next step was to figure out how to incorporate these big ideas into our teaching so that they came to have a tangible reality, so that each and every student would know who they were striving to be by the end of year 8. Each of them would know what their learning goals were, each of them would know exactly how they were progressing towards their goals, each of them would know how and when to reset their goals to aim higher. Each of them would know that all of their teachers were working with them to help them reach their goals.

We came up with our Graduate Profile illustrated above. After two terms of trialing, we are cautiously optimistic. Some of it has required significant changes to our teaching and how we organise for learning across the school.

How do we integrate this into our teaching?

There are three threads, as below.

The explicit teaching means that every staff member does have to be clear about what the eight big ideas in the Graduate Profile actually look like in practice, to be able to make these visible to the students and to be able to give feedback to students about the extent to which the students are exhibiting them. They need to be able to engineer the learning environment to motivate students to build capability in these concepts.

Goal setting is a collaborative exercise in which student, teacher and family discuss which aspect of each concept will be right for the student to shape over the next period of time, and how they will know they are making progress, and how they might use their family and the school for support for that learning.

Measurable outcomes is fundamental to sound pedagogy. Progress needs to be recognisable, self-identified and evidence based. So many of the goals are idiosyncratic to each student. How progress will be recognized is therefore discussed and agreed as each goal is set. We use a nominal 10-point scale to go alongside the goals to provide a soft reference point for how confident the student is about how well they are progressing. The rating is provided as an outcome of a collaborative, three way conference.

A challenge for the staff is now to be able to better describe the actual dispositional and behavioural qualities that we are looking for in all students by the end of year 8 – what does it look like on a day to day basis if you are an effective communicator, or respectful, or curious? We are getting there, but still have a little way to go.

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Process for Graduate Profile goal setting and tracking

We use an eight step plan, as below, which is pretty self-explanatory. Students are integral to every step of the way.

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Measurable outcomes

This rating scale is a simple form, and that is its strength. It provides a basis for personal reflection by each student and collaborative discussions with their teachers, parents and peers. How they then circle where they are at becomes a marker of where they thought they were at a point in time, it allows them to set a direction for further growth, it allows them to discover much more about each quality and then to rate themselves lower on the next reflection time because ‘they now know what they didn’t know’ on the last reflection and realise they have much more to learn. And they see this as a good thing. As do their parents and their teachers. Progress is described in terms of how much more they know about these qualities, as well as how much more they exhibit them.

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How we share information with students and whānau 

We value ways we can report across whole communities. Dispositions and attitudes are very important to this. We still do, of course, provide information on the core of literacy and numeracy, but we want to increase the value and important of our graduate qualities so that these are valued as much as the core.  

Our major process is through our Student Involved Conferences (SICs), but this is only successful if we can get whānau to them. We monitor our success carefully as the table below shows and are reasonably happy with the levels of whānau engagement even if we seem to have plateaued over the last five years. We visit homes when we have no success with our invites and do our best to engage with every family.

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At the SICs, a goal is based on the qualities from the Graduate Profile, and the self-assessment by student. Through discussion, an action plan of next steps is decided and is typed up on the spot so that the student, teacher and parent are all clear about what happens next.

We also survey and interview both parents and students to ensure that we stay close to their thinking. We frequently invite parents for celebrations and put a strong emphasis on building relationships and building dispositions together.

Student reports share information on progress on the Graduate Profile and the traditional areas of reading, writing and mathematics.  

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       Select the image to view at full size.

Sharing Information sharing with the Board and community

While the graduate profile is the pivot around which the teaching and learning revolves, the school does use a good range of standardised assessment tools for literacy and numeracy to be able to inform students as to where their learning is at and to set goals, and for the staff and Board to reflect on changes over the year and set targets for the new year.

Extensive information about student achievement is shared with the Board. At the beginning of each year a comprehensive analysis of all achievement data is carried out and it is all provided for the Board, along with commentary on the conclusions from the analysis for school resourcing and learning enhancement.

Cohort tracking: 2017, year 7 to 2018, year 8

Stanine one two three four five six seven eight nine
Term 1 2017 7 47 107 121 52 22 8 3 1
Percentages 2 12.7 29 32.8 14 5.9 2 0.8 0.2
Term 4 2017 64 72 85 76 35 24 7 3 1
Percentages 17.4 19.6 23.1 20.7 9.5 6.5 1.9 0.8 0.2
Term 1 2018 8 54 99 108 57 22 12 2 0
Percentages 2.2 14.7 27.3 29.8 15.7 6 3.3 0.5 0
Clean Cohort 5 45 84 92 51 19 9 2 0
Percentages 1.6 14.6 27.3 29.9 16.6 6.1 2.9 0.6 0

*Note the difference in totals is due to the transient nature of a number of our students.

  • While significant gains were noted in the year 8 students who had attended Manurewa Intermediate for the full two years 2017–2018, cohort tracking of current year 8's demonstrates the need to consolidate practices to ensure accelerated achievement for all students. The table above indicates the "two steps forward, one step backwards" nature of beginning and end of year PAT assessment.
  • The number of students sitting at stanine 3-5 is an indication our students start with us approximately one year behind where they should be according to the PATC scale score table.
  • It is important to consider this table from the percentage point of view because the total of students varies from term to term – the "clean cohort" eliminates all students who started after term 1, 2017.

How the school is using assessment flexibility wisely – post National Standards

  • Use student and parent voice.
  • Goal setting against Graduate Profile.
  • Measurable outcomes – success recognisable and evidenced.
  • Explicit teaching.
  • Use outside experts to work with staff.
  • Staff collaborate for modules and to teach explicitly.
  • Students self-assess against the Graduate Profile, based on attributes from the essence statement.

The assessment issues the school is currently grappling with:

  • measuring success and progress in competencies
  • developing student attributes to learning
  • building ability to self-assess and then know what they need to do to progress
  • getting parents to conference/report nights – teachers will go to homes
  • reporting  conference – goal based on disposition from essence document, self-assessment by student, action plan of next steps typed on the spot with input from student, teacher and parent
  • next steps are how do we measure perceived progress?

With thanks to Iain Taylor, Principal, and Ben Hutchings, Deputy Principal, for sharing their story.