Appendix 4: Recent ERO reports

In the last few years, ERO has published a report on careers education and guidance and other evaluations about senior schooling that also inform the current evaluation. These reports refer to the importance of careers education and guidance and its links to pathways, student achievement and student preparation for further education, training and work.

Careers Information, Advice, Guidance and Education in Secondary Schools (2012)

This evaluation examined the extent to which secondary school careers education and guidance supported all students to achieve successful outcomes at this stage of their education. It also looked at the contribution of careers education and guidance to ensuring that every young person has the skills and qualifications to contribute to their own and New Zealand’s future.

ERO investigated 44 secondary school career programmes and identified four as having whole-school high-quality programmes, 17 with conventional established programmes, 19 with conventional developing programmes and four with low quality programmes. High-quality careers education programmes were associated with support from school leaders, a whole-school approach, careers advisers with specific career expertise and training gained from formal qualifications in career or extensive professional development, links with the curriculum and pastoral care, targeted provision for at-risk students, good relationships with the community, and periodic review of their provision.

Most of the schools in the top two groups had participated in either Creating Pathways and Building Lives or Designing Careers.

Achievement 2013-2017: Success for students in 2013 (2014)

This evaluation of 30 schools focused on strategies schools had used to raise student achievement at Level 2 NCEA. These schools were part of an initiative to investigate what could be achieved by identifying and supporting a target group of Year 12 students who were unlikely to gain NCEA Level 2 without additional help. Schools recognised the importance of students having someone who knew the student well and monitored their progress and well-being. This person could be the form teacher, dean or a mentor. They discussed progress with the student and talked about what the student still needed to complete. 

ERO made various recommendations about how schools could support students to lift their NCEA achievement to actively build and sustain a long-term focus. These included:

  • reviewing achievement data, pathways and destinations
  • relationships with families and whanau
  • pastoral care
  • careers education.

Raising achievement in secondary schools (2014)

This evaluation examined how 40 secondary schools reviewed their achievement information and developed activities, innovations or approaches to improve achievement. The 10 schools with effective approaches to inquiry and improvement used career planning and student mentoring to improve student achievement. These schools had coordinated pastoral care and careers systems to effectively identify and respond to the needs of students, including developing support structures for student learning and Vocational Pathways tool. In many cases, staff were trained as mentors (academic counsellors) so they could give one-on-one advice and guidance to students and their families and whanau about their progress at school. Together they discussed each student’s academic goals and career pathways.

Making connections for Pacific learners' success (2013)

Schools that had high levels of achievement for their Pacific learners had strong partnerships with parents. High quality three-way conferencing (students, parents and teachers) resulted in students developing a clear learning pathway, a sense of purpose and being motivated to learn. A particular success involved strong links with the Pacific Health Community. Students involved in the Health Science Academy, operating in three schools, were provided with effective mentoring through the Pasifika Medical Association which supported students in their career pathways.

Increasing educational achievement in secondary schools (2013) 

In 2013 ERO published a report evaluating the work of schools aiming to lift the achievement of targeted groups of Year 12 students who were identified as at risk of not completing NCEA Level 2 qualifications. The report discussed the need for schools to build a sustainable, whole-school focus on supporting students - through their pastoral, curriculum and careers systems. Initiatives included:

  • effective tracking and monitoring of progress
  • profiling students to generate institution-wide knowledge of who is being supported and how
  • tailored interventions to support students when they fall behind, study support, mentoring and other strategies to re-engage students
  • access to career guidance to better align learning to desired post-school outcomes
  • tailored access to external providers (eg through STAR and Gateway)ongoing learning and assessment opportunities through to the end of the academic school year (through the period that is sometimes referred to as ‘exam leave’)
  • holiday programmes
  • engagement with parents and whanau to gain commitment to support students.

Secondary schools: Pathways for future education, training and employment (2013)

ERO investigated how well 74 secondary schools were preparing students for future opportunities in education, training and employment. In the 10 most effective schools:

  • pastoral, careers and school curriculum initiatives supported the interests and goals of individual students, so that their individual pathways were typically linked to their aspirations
  • having a school curriculum that was effective for a large majority of the students enrolled at the school
  • the focus on individual student pathways was complemented by the cohesive way in which curriculum, pastoral care and careers systems supported individual students.
  • an extensive range of vocational and academic options
  • some effective initiatives for Maori and Pacific students
  • some effective self-review systems.

ERO found that most New Zealand schools were not showing the levels of innovation required to ensure that all learners have suitable pathways to future education, training and employment. ERO recommended that schools use robust self review to determine the extent to which their curriculum, careers and pastoral care processes assist students to develop career management competencies and successful pathways from school.

Other relevant reports include those on alternative education, service academies and trades academies. These reports identify the importance of careers education and guidance and its link with pathways, and how these enhance student achievement. These and all the reports described above can be found at