Dargaville High School - 10/10/2014


Dargaville High School has made good progress since its 2012 ERO report. The board is managing its governance role well. School leaders are targeting the needs of students who need learning assistance. Māori students are being affirmed through their language, culture and identity, with Māori community involvement in this kaupapa.

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 review?

Dargaville High School is a co-educational, Year 9 to 13 school that provides secondary education for young people in the Kaipara district of Northland. The roll comprises 43 per cent Māori students. Students of New Zealand European/Pākehā descent make up the balance of the school roll.

The 2012 ERO report identified concerns about aspects of the school’s performance. These included strategic direction, leadership, communication, curriculum planning, the evaluation of student achievement and the extent to which Māori student success was supported and promoted.

In April 2012, Dargaville High School’s board of trustees accepted ERO’s offer of an Arotake Paetawhiti (longitudinal) review to assist school progress in the agreed areas for development.

ERO has visited the school and evaluated progress over a two-year period, meeting with school leaders, trustees, members of the community, staff and students. ERO has also visited classrooms. A concluding visit to the school was made in June 2014.

This report assures the Dargaville High School community that good progress has been made in the designated priority areas. The school now has a range of positive practices in place that have improved educational outcomes, potentially for all students.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The agreed priorities for review and development between the board of trustees and ERO were:

  • the strategic direction of the school to meet students learning needs in the 21st century
  • the quality of internal and external communications, within the school and with the community
  • the review of curriculum direction and planning
  • the extent to which Māori students achieve success as Māori
  • the school-wide use of student achievement data to improve teaching and learning outcomes.


Dargaville High School has made good progress with each of the priorities listed above.

There is evidence of improvement in the quality of communication practices both within the school and with the local community. Communication systems are more transparent and positive. Members of the community report that they have increased confidence in the school.

The Dargaville High School curriculum is now more effectively aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and is more purposefully focused on student pathways. The school is establishing useful links with tertiary providers, providers of foundation and bridging courses, and local employers. This enables students to gain National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) credits and experience outside of school programmes, adding to their qualifications success. The Dargaville community has provided substantial support for these initiatives.

The NZC vision, values and key competencies are woven through the school’s learning programmes. Teachers are beginning to broadening the focus of traditional school subjects to include contexts for learning that are more authentic and relevant to students' lives.

The school’s collection of achievement information is supported by Auckland University’s Starpath initiative. An academic counselling system is implemented and students share more responsibility for tracking and monitoring their own progress towards achievement. Teachers are asked to adopt a tutoring role that sits alongside their subject teacher role, and this is expected to strengthen successful outcomes for students.

School leaders are reporting to the board more frequently on the achievement of students as a whole, and on identified groups of students. Some evaluation that leads to action plans is improving the educational provisions of particular groups of NCEA students.

School leaders and teaching staff have taken steps to raise Māori achievement. This approach includes targeted strategies to work with Māori students at Level 1 and 2 NCEA who are at risk of not achieving. Māori student achievement has improved markedly since the 2012 ERO report. The most recent NCEA results for Māori students show a 75% pass rate at Level 1, and 64% pass rate at Level 2.

The board, principal and school leaders have consulted with Māori whānau in meaningful ways. Hui have been held within the different Māori communities. Feedback from whānau continues to indicate that they would like to see ongoing development of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school. Whānau Māori also have aspirations for the school to find more opportunities for students to connect to Māori pathway initiatives in the wider Kaipara region.

Middle leaders, teachers and support staff work hard to provide and facilitate learning programmes that reflect the essence of the school curriculum and that focus on potential learning pathways relevant to individual learners. They show commitment and high levels of interest in the students whom they teach and support.

Key next steps

ERO considers the following developments would consolidate and sustain the improvements made by the school:

  • identify Year 9 and 10 groups of students at risk of not achieving in literacy and numeracy and introduce school interventions to accelerate their progress at an earlier stage
  • continue to develop teachers’ inquiry into data in order to improve their professional practice as well as improving student achievement
  • lift the agreed expectations and accountabilities of teachers in regard to their academic counselling role
  • continue to develop the curriculum to open up further pathways and opportunities for Māori learners.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to improve its current performance and is likely to sustain this improvement through self review. Consultation is assisting the board of trustees to purposefully consider the school’s long-term direction and develop a more cohesive strategic plan.

ERO has confidence in the capability of the board of trustees. The board is working diligently to improve its effectiveness. Most trustees have attended training to enhance their governance skills. ERO supports the board's view that the school’s charter is a working document that is regularly revisited and reviewed for progress.

The board has made new appointments at senior leadership level and this team is working collaboratively and productively. Each senior leader brings a different skill set to strengthen and build leadership capability to the team. Priorities for targeted action to support student achievement and wellbeing are now an intrinsic part of the leadership team’s strategic thinking.

The school has a more settled culture and tone. Positive profiles of the school are publicised on the school website and in high quality newsletters, informing the school community of events, successes and celebrations.

School leaders and ERO agree that sustainability of the school’s effectiveness will be strengthened through:

  • continuing to develop evaluative capacity at all levels of the school
  • continuing to develop the quality and effectiveness of self review
  • continuing to develop and extend good communication practices with parents, whānau and the community
  • increasing the rigour of the staff appraisal system through strong links with the Registered Teachers Criteria and with Tātaiako, the Ministry of Education's (MoE) guidelines for the development of teachers’ cultural competencies
  • the ongoing monitoring of student attendance.

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.


Dargaville High School has made good progress since its 2012 ERO report. The board is managing its governance role well. School leaders are targeting the needs of students who need learning assistance. Māori students are being affirmed through their language, culture and identity, with Māori community involvement in this kaupapa.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

10 September 2014

About the School


Dargaville, Kaipara District

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā


South East Asian

other European

other Asian

other Pacific










Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

10 September 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2012

October 2008

February 2006