International education is socially and economically important to New Zealand. The education of international students in New Zealand schools increases the cultural diversity of New Zealand schools and provides a source of revenue.

In 2012, there were 9,460 international students enrolled in 521 New Zealand schools, with 89 percent enrolled in secondary schools. The largest numbers of school students came from China, South Korea, Germany, Japan and Thailand.

The International Education Agenda, A Strategy for 2007-2012[1]sets out the Government’s vision and strategy to support the continued development of sustainable, high quality, innovative international education in New Zealand. Its second goal states the Government’s expectation that international students will be welcomed and receive orientation, guidance, pastoral care and learning support so that they succeed academically and are well-integrated into schools and communities.

To enrol international students, education providers must be signatories to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students[2]. The Code provides a framework of regulatory guidance and requires that signatories review their own performance, at least annually, and record the outcomes of the review in a form that can be made available if requested. The Ministry of Education reviewed the Code in 2010.

This evaluation of the provision for international students is based on 95 schools that were reviewed during 2012. ERO evaluated five aspects of international education. More than half the schools (56 percent) were judged to be highly or mostly effective on all five aspects, and a further 19 percent were highly effective on four aspects.

Eighty-seven of the 95 schools complied with the Code. As in ERO’s previous evaluations of provision for international students, self review was the least effective aspect. In 90 percent of schools, reviewers had to seek further evidence to make a judgement about its quality.

Schools judged as highly effective in providing effective education programmes found out about the students’ aspirations and interests, accurately assessed students on entry, placed them in appropriate classes, designed responsive programmes, provided English language programmes, regularly monitored their progress, provided staff with relevant professional development, and supported students in mainstream classes.

Students in most schools were making progress and achieving well, particularly in English. In one-quarter of schools, students were progressing to some or a limited extent, but schools lacked information to show progress for all their international students.

In the two-thirds of schools where self review was generally effective, it was ongoing, comprehensive and based on a range of information. Both the provision made and the outcomes for students were reviewed, and changes were made where appropriate.

In the remaining schools, self review was partially effective or of limited effectiveness. These schools gathered information informally, and/or did not collate or analyse information, document or report their findings, or take any action as a result. ERO identified concerns in some schools about the limited self review undertaken which has implications for the validity and reliability of the school’s annual attestation to the Ministry of Education.