Dargaville High School - 14/11/2017


Dargaville High School has a roll of 461 students in Years 9 to 13. Approximately a third of students are of Māori heritage who whakapapa to local hapu and Ngāti Whatua iwi. There is a large group of Pākehā students and small groups of Pacific and Asian students.

At the start of 2016, the previous principal resigned. The board successfully lead the school through the challenges that this change presented. During 2016 the deputy principal took on the acting principal role, and other leaders and teachers took on extra duties. This helped to ensure that students experienced a good level of continuity and that their education was not affected. A new principal was appointed for the beginning of 2017.

The school is a member of the Community of Learning |Kahui Ako (CoL).Northern Wairoa

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners. However, there is some persistent disparity in achievement between Māori and Pākehā, except at National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2, and for boys at all year levels.

The school is developing worthwhile processes that are designed to achieve equitable and excellent outcomes for all learners. These processes are underpinned by increasing responsiveness to Māori and other learners who need to make accelerated progress.

The board, leaders and staff show commitment to improving practices to support equity for all learners. The board and senior leaders agree that next steps include:

  • further developing the school’s capability to support learners to make accelerated progress and sustain positive shifts in achievement

  • extending students’ opportunities for pathways to future employment, training or study.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is becoming more effective at responding to Māori and other students whose progress needs to be accelerated.

Teachers are at different stages in developing their understanding of how to use achievement data to plan learning programmes, and reflect on their practice. Data are becoming more accessible to leaders and teachers. Leaders acknowledge it is necessary to further build capability in data analysis, and to make better use of analysed data to evaluate teaching and learning programmes.

The school’s analysis and use of achievement information is improving. For example, there is increased awareness on the part of leaders and teachers about how learners make progress towards NCEA qualifications. Greater use of formative assessment in Years 9 to 10 would provide teachers with a clearer picture of how well students are making accelerated progress over time.

In the NCEA, the majority of Māori students achieve Level 2 and 3 qualifications. However, only half achieve Level 1 and this low achievement requires strategic action. There is increased retention of Māori students through to Year 12 or 13, and an increase in Māori students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 qualification or above.

In-school disparity persists between Māori and Pākehā, except at NCEA Level 2, where for the past two years Māori achievement has been higher than Pākehā. There is also an evident and ongoing disparity in achievement for boys, across all year levels.

Over the past three years there has been a positive shift in overall NCEA Level 3 attainment, including that of Māori. There has also been an increasing trend in merit endorsements in NCEA Level 3. Māori are not so well represented in the school’s NCEA endorsements.

School leaders use standardised assessment tools to track students’ achievement from the beginning to the end of Years 9 and 10. They are aware of the benefits of using this information more deliberately to differentiate learning programmes to promote accelerated shifts in achievement. Doing this would also help them to identify groups of students who need targeted learning support.

The school’s moderation of NCEA assessment is developing well. School leaders should continue to extend teachers’ understanding of assessing and moderating student work in Years 9 and 10.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

School processes are being developed to enable equitable and excellent outcomes for students.

The new principal is leading school wide improvements for better outcomes for students. He demonstrates a strong learner focus and is setting clear expectations to improve the quality of curriculum pathways and teaching and learning. Senior leaders are being supported by some good leadership capability among the staff, to grow effective teaching practice through the school.

The development of effective teaching practice is now more aligned with the Education Council requirements. Expectations of teachers are more robust, and teachers’ inquiry processes consider the effectiveness of their teaching practice. This increasingly reflective, professional culture will support teachers and leaders as they adapt practice to improve learner outcomes.

Learners are benefitting from the school’s positive and inclusive culture. They have increased awareness of pathway opportunities, and appreciate the many adults who support them in selecting these pathways. The provision of Gateway programmes is a part of the pathways structure. These programmes are responsive to individual students’ interests, learning needs and aspirations.

Students particularly appreciate the broad range of opportunities to visit tertiary and career institutions. Past students and members of the community visit the school to share their work and experiences with students. These opportunities give students real insights into career pathways and encourage them to consider their own potential and the possibilities for their future.

Pastoral care processes are assisting students and their families. Learners with additional educational needs benefit from social and health promoting services and in-school support. Teacher aides assist learners in class. Leaders could develop a framework of the pastoral care provision in the school to show how the systems and approaches are interconnected to ensure maximum benefits for students.

The school’s curriculum is becoming more responsive to individual student aspirations and learning needs. It is also more focused on teaching and learning in authentic contexts. In recent years a junior diploma has been introduced for Years 9 and 10 that is linked to the New Zealand Curriculum levels. This initiative could be extended by focussing more on developing students’ understanding of themselves as learners, and providing activities for them to explore their preferred future directions.

The board is well led, and its operation is supported by sound documentation that is regularly updated to meet legal requirements. Connections between the board and community are now more transparent. As a result, there is greater community involvement in the school’s curriculum to support students’ learning and pathway success.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

The board, leaders and staff show commitment to improving practices to support equitable and excellent outcomes for learners.

Relevant development priorities include:

  • developing students’ agency in determining their learning progress and their individual pathway development

  • closer monitoring of students’ progress in Years 9 and 10, and increasingly responsive teaching to accelerate progress and lift achievement

  • documenting a longitudinal picture of the progress and achievement of identified individuals and groups of students from Years 9 to 13

  • developing a school-wide pathway framework for Years 9 to 13

  • increasing the formative evaluation of initiatives, planning and targets.

ERO also recommends the development of a Māori strategic education plan with a focus on increasing parity in achievement for Māori students. Whānau involvement in this planning will be a critical contributing factor in its potential for success.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

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

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students(the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there were no international students attending the school.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners. However, disparity in achievement for Māori and other learners remains.

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the learners whose progress and achievement need to be accelerated

  • need to build teacher capability to accelerate learners’ progress and achievement.

The school agrees to:

  • develop more targeted planning to accelerate progress for learners

  • monitor targeted planning, improved teaching, and learners’ progress

  • discuss the school’s progress with ERO.

The school has requested that ERO provide them with an internal evaluation workshop.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

14 November 2017

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 9 - 15

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

other European
other Pacific


Provision of Māori medium education


Total number of students in Māori language in English medium (MLE)


Number of students in Level 4 MLE


Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

14 November 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2014
May 2012
October 2008