Ashburton College - 06/08/2013


Achievement in Levels 1 and 2 of NCEA has improved in recent years. The school knows which groups of students are at risk of not achieving well, and some initiatives are helping students make faster progress. Trustees and leaders should plan effectively to bring about the improvements required to maintain the momentum of positive change.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s Arotake Paetawhiti review?

The January 2011 ERO report identified some significant areas that the college needed to strengthen in order to improve its performance. These included developing:

  • better systems for the monitoring, analysis and reporting of student achievement information
  • more effective ways to improve the presence, engagement and achievement of Māori and Pacific students
  • strategic and annual plans with appropriate targets for raising student achievement and processes for monitoring and reporting on the outcomes of these
  • a school-wide process for self review.

Student achievement needed to be improved to more closely match national levels and those of similar schools.

Some areas of non-compliance were also found. Not all teachers had been appraised against the relevant professional standards, and the school’s charter did not have annual achievement targets.

The board developed a plan showing how it intended to bring about the improvements outlined above. Since that time the board and principal have provided ERO with evidence of the progress being made through documentation and meetings at the school.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The school has made some good progress in addressing the priority areas for review and development outlined in section 1.


A number of improvements to the way achievement information is gathered and used include:

  • clearer expectations and more consistent use across the school
  • better processes for identifying students at risk of not achieving and possible interventions
  • a wider range of assessments being used at Years 9 and 10.

A range of useful initiatives has been put in place to improve outcomes for Māori and Pacific students. The leadership of Māori and Pacific education in the school is having a positive influence on these initiatives. Teachers value the support they receive from the Māori and Pacific leaders.

A project, run with support from the University of Canterbury, has contributed to better engagement and achievement of Pacific students. Pacific student achievement improved in 2012 with students achieving well in NCEA Level 1, particularly in the Samoan language.

Some effective practices have been successful in increasing student attendance and engagement in learning. Behaviour management has been strengthened to include an approach that helps students take responsibility for the impact of their actions on others.

The introduction of professional learning groups gives teachers more opportunities to share ideas and support each other in extending the use of effective teaching practices.

The board has improved its governance of the college. Trustees are now strongly focused on raising student achievement. The board receives better information about student progress and achievement from faculty leaders. The principal’s appraisal has been strengthened.

Priorities for further review and development

Achievement in the National Certificates for Educational Achievement (NCEA) is still below national and the college’s expectations.

The board and school leaders acknowledge that a school-wide commitment is needed to increase the rate of students’ progress and continue to lift achievement. The quality and usefulness of the school’s annual achievement targets and faculty targets could be improved by giving a greater focus to the school’s priority learners, particularly Māori and Pacific students and other students currently underachieving. The school leaders and teachers need to continue to promote student achievement in literacy in all areas of the curriculum.

There is still a considerable gap between the achievement of Māori and non-Māori students in this school. The school’s plans for lifting achievement of Māori and Pacific students need to be more extensive, collaboratively developed with staff and whānau, and used. The plans should include the actions that will be taken to achieve the expected goals. Teachers with additional cultural and pastoral responsibilities should be supported more consistently by school leaders.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

How well placed is the school to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance?

Significant relationship issues between the teaching staff and the school leadership are limiting the effectiveness of the school in continuing to improve outcomes for all learners.

Priorities for further review and development

There needs to be a greater understanding and ownership of the school’s Charter and long-term plans by the staff. Planning for future improvement is not adequately supported by action plans that show how the school’s priorities will be achieved.

The board, school leaders and staff have yet to develop a school-wide framework and well-defined processes for the ongoing review of all aspects of the school’s operation. An evaluation of the impact of initiatives and other changes should include a broader range of views including those of students, staff and parents. The board has identified, and ERO agrees, that it could evaluate its own performance regularly to ensure that it continues to provide effective governance.

The school has been through a period of considerable change since the appointment of the current principal in 2009. Some staff have found the pace of change difficult. Many teachers do not consider consultation and communication between the board, school leaders and staff to be always transparent or timely. A lack of trust, respect and confidence in the school’s leadership has affected the morale of teaching staff.

Some employment and relationship issues remain a challenge to the board and need to be addressed. The board has taken some steps to address some of these matters.

ERO is not confident that the college can successfully create a positive staff culture between teaching staff and the school leadership without external support.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

4 Recommendation

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education works with the school to identify the key issues affecting the ability of school leaders and teachers to work together successfully for the benefit of students, and helps to resolve them.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out the next review in Term 1, 2015.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

6 August 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 51%, Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




Other ethnicities






Review team on site

April 2013

Date of this report

6 August 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

January 2011

December 2007

September 2004