Aurora College - 17/10/2017


Of the 368 Years 7 to 13 learners at Aurora College, 168 identify as Māori and 19 as of Pacific heritage. The school has a large group of students with additional needs and it has a Services Academy.

Since the 2014 ERO review, the school has established a parent-elected board of trustees. Two of the three senior leaders are new to their role. The school has been involved in several initiatives to improve teaching, learning and student engagement. These include Accelerating Learning in Mathematics, Accelerating Literacy Learning, Positive Behaviour for Learning and Kia Eke Panuku. Aurora College is part of the Kāhui Ako.Invercargill| Community of Learning

Reading achievement against the National Standards has improved steadily over the last four years. There has been little change in writing and mathematics achievement, and levels of achievement in these areas continue to be low.

Since the 2014 ERO review, NCEA Levels 1 and 2 achievement has significantly improved. ERO is unable to evaluate sufficiency of learning progress and achievement for Years 9 and 10 students as useful information was not available during the review.

In reading and mathematics in 2016, achievement for the Year 8 cohort improved. There has also been a marked improvement in the achievement of Māori students in NCEA Levels Over time there has been disparity between boys’ and girls’ achievement in reading and writing against the National Standards. Māori achievement against the National Standards reflects this trend.1 and 2.

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

The school is doing very well regarding children’s wellbeing and ensuring equitable and inclusive access to the curriculum. Disparities in achievement between different groups have lessened, but some disparity remains.

Māori and other groups of students are very well supported emotionally, socially and physically in order to be ready to learn. The school provides additional resources, including financial help, so that all students have equitable opportunities to learn and take part in school activities and experiences. The school has a very caring culture and a strong pastoral focus.

Some school systems and processes need a greater focus on accelerating the learning of students in order to lift student achievement. Areas needing strengthening include aspects of internal evaluation, charter targets to lift student achievement, and monitoring and reporting on rates of progress of some groups and year levels. ERO has requested an action plan that outlines how school leaders will make these improvements.

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?

Leaders and teachers work hard to ensure that all students are supported emotionally, socially and physically in order to be ready to learn. Teaching practices are culturally and relationally responsive. Some school systems and processes need a greater focus on accelerating the learning and achievement of students.

The school’s vision for its learners is to develop resilience. School values of perseverance, whanaungatanga and citizenship are intentionally aligned with initiatives, such as the Kia Eke Panuku programme, that support equity, success and belonging. The vision and values underpin systems and practices to improve students’ attendance, engagement and achievement and have had a positive impact for students.

For reading, writing and mathematics, the school has varied levels of success against the National Standards. In 2016, 73% of Year 7 and 8 students achieved at or above expected levels in reading. Māori, Pacific and Pākehā achievement was similar. Writing and mathematics achievement was lower with 43-45% achieving at the National Standards. Boys’ achievement in writing was lower, and girls’ and Māori achievement in mathematics was also lower.

At the classroom level teachers have, and use well, sound assessment information for Years 7-10 students. At the school-wide level, ERO is unable to evaluate rates of progress and achievement for Years 9 and 10 students due to insufficient useful school information about this.

NCEA Level 1 results for 2016 show that literacy and numeracy results have improved. Some students take 18 months to gain these qualifications. NCEA Level 2 results have steadily improved over the last three years. Māori students in 2016 achieved wellat NCEA Levels 1 and 2. This reflects a decrease in disparity for this group of students.

There has been an increase in the number of students gaining NCEA endorsements. A small number of students remain at school for Year 13. Fewer students achieve at Level 3.

The school has some information about the impact of its targets and interventions. Outcomes from charter targets have been variable. In 2016, greater success was evident with the progress towards some Year 8 targets and some NCEA targets.

Students with additional needs are very well supported in their learning. They are valued members of the school community.

From Years 7 to 10, teachers at each year level moderate their assessment judgements in reading, writing and mathematics. The next step is to improve moderation between year levels and to moderate across schools.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

The school has some very effective practices to support equity for its students. It has an increasing focus on supporting excellence.

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

The positive and inclusive school culture strongly supports its learners to feel a sense of belonging, develop resilience and be strong in their identity. Core Māori concepts and values, such as whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, ako, and tuakana-teina relationships are very evident.

The school’s curriculum is very responsive to students’ needs, interests and wellbeing. Leaders and teachers make ongoing and well-considered adaptations and improvements to school programmes, initiatives and unit plans. There is an increasing Māori dimension, localisation and use of authentic contexts for learning. Students are carefully supported in their transition into, through and beyond school. Their successes and achievements are celebrated, and their views valued and acted on.

Teachers know their students well as individuals and as learners. In part, this is a result of the sustained professional learning focused on culturally and relationally responsive teaching practices. At a pastoral level, students are very well supported.

Leaders continue to adapt school structures, including the timetable, to better meet student needs. For example, homerooms for Years 7 to 10 students and home-based teachers for Years 11 to 13 students have had a positive impact. For Years 7 to 10 students, it has resulted in .a more integrated curriculum

Senior students are well supported. Courses are designed around what works best for the individual. Teachers closely monitor student progress towards NCEA or other pathways. Senior students have a good understanding of their progress and achievement.

Leaders and teachers have built positive relationships with parents and the wider community in order to better support students’ wellbeing and learning. Leaders and teachers work closely and respectfully with parents and/or caregivers. The school has strong links with external agencies, experts, workplaces and other educational providers.

Teachers are well supported to grow professionally. Professional learning is directly linked to better meeting students’ needs. Staff work closely with each other in order to best support their students.

Leaders and trustees have identified appropriate strategic priorities. There is clear alignment from these priorities through to the annual plan, professional learning, appraisal focus and curriculum initiatives.

Trustees have a good understanding of their stewardship role and a strong commitment to ongoing professional learning. They ensure that resourcing decisions are consistent with strategic priorities.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

Some school systems need to be improved to further lift student achievement.

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

At the senior leadership level there needs to be better monitoring and reporting on rates of progress and achievement for Years 7 to 10 students. Charter targets for Years 7 to 8 need to be extended to include any group of concern, and targets need to be set at the Years 9 and 10 levels.

Progress towards meeting the charter target and progress towards the National Standards need to be regularly reported to the board of trustees. Years 7 and 8 reports to parents should clearly show achievement in relation to the National Standards.

To more effectively accelerate students’ progress and achievement, aspects of internal evaluation need to be strengthened. This includes intensive inquiry at class and across year levels into areas of low achievement and/or disparities in achievement, and the development of specific plans and strategies to address concerns. Leaders and teachers should ensure that there is careful monitoring and reporting on rates of students’ progress.

Next steps also include:

  • specific reporting to the board about the outcomes of interventions

  • extending reporting to the board to cover such areas as learning support and the Services Academy.

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.

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/or other learners remains.

Leaders and teachers:

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

  • need to further develop and implement approaches that effectively meet the needs of each learner

  • need to improve some school systems and practices that support the acceleration of 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.

ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop to support the school to develop effective planning and monitoring processes to support equity and excellence for all children.

ERO requests that the school provides an action plan that outlines how it will address the next steps in the Sustainability section of this report.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

17 October 2017

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Year 7-13 Secondary

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 41% Boys: 59%

Ethnic composition

Māori: 47%
Pākehā: 48%
Pacific: 5%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2017

Date of this report

17 October 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review: May 2014

Education Review: September 2010