Awatapu College - 29/11/2018

School Context

Awatapu College is a co-educational secondary school for students from Years 9 to 15. The roll has recently increased to 728 students, and includes 26% who are Māori. Awatapu College states that it ‘challenges students to achieve excellence, develop a sense of self-worth, and become motivated and responsible citizens - whai mana, whai oronga’.

The school charter expresses valued outcomes for students as: achievement and excellence in academic, sporting, cultural and all aspects of school life; close links between school, parents, whānau and community; and a sense of security, respect and belonging.

The school’s strategic goals for 2018 focus on improving:

  • overall achievement outcomes, particularly for Māori, Pacific and boys
  • National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) endorsements
  • student engagement.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • NCEA achievement
  • attendance and wellbeing.
  • student engagement
  • participation in co-curricular activities.

Ministry of Education (MoE) funding has been received to provide additional support to a group of Māori and Pacific students at risk of underachieving.

There is large unit on campus accommodating around 50 40 students with high and complex needs.

Staffing is generally stable and recently a new deputy principal has joined the established senior leadership team.

The college is a member of the Te Ora Karaka Kāhui Ako Tahi.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Movement towards equity and excellence of outcomes for all students is evident and requires increased momentum. Girls’ achievement is higher than that of boys and this disparity is evident at all levels.

Assessment data collected when students enter the college in Year 9, shows about half of all students are below expectations in reading comprehension and about two thirds in mathematics. There is significant disparity for Māori students and boys when compared to their peers. This pattern continues through Year 10. Success for the majority of students in NCEA Level 1 suggests that in literacy and numeracy the school is adding value to students’ achievement and increasing rates of progress over Years 9 and 10.

Data for 2017 shows that the majority of students gained success in NCEA. In 2016, most students finished at the school with at least a Level 2 NCEA qualification.

Additional guidance and mentoring, funded through the MoE has resulted in increased outcomes for Māori and Pacific students at NCEA Level 2. Patterns of Māori and Pacific attainment in NCEA over time are variable, with more consistent achievement noticeable at Level 2. There is disparity of outcomes for these groups of students at finishing the school with Level 3 and for gaining University Entrance.

Students with additional and high needs are well supported and catered for.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The response to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration requires strengthening. Establishing a clearer picture of accelerated progress, who and the rate, should assist the school in measuring the extent of the impact of teaching strategies on accelerating outcomes for students and to make adjustments accordingly.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

School tone and climate is inclusive and positive. Good relationships are clearly evident and teachers know students well. Students’ language and culture are valued and celebrated. Classrooms observed by ERO were calm and purposeful with students positively engaged in their learning.

Students are encouraged to make choices about their learning and teachers support them to make the most of opportunities for success. Learning area leaders have regularly adapted practice to better promote and support student engagement, learning and achievement. Leaders have extended the range of courses available to cater for the increasingly diverse needs of all students. They have a range of opportunities to be involved in academic, cultural and sporting activities.

Students who are at risk of not achieving are well identified and appropriate supports are put in place to promote learning, progress and wellbeing. Leaders have extended the range of assessments used in Years 9 and 10 learning areas to more closely track and monitor student achievement and progress. This enables a more immediate response to the emerging learning needs of students.

Pastoral care processes are well considered. Good systems are in place to track and monitor student engagement in learning. The value of building strong relationships with students that support learning is emphasised and promoting their wellbeing is a clear priority. The school has developed good links with external agencies, institutions and support groups that are used appropriately if required.

Students with significant and complex needs are effectively catered for in a range of specialised facilities. Their care and wellbeing are strongly promoted through a holistic approach. Some students are successfully mainstreamed for adapted activities. Older students’ future pathways are well planned to support their smooth transition from the college.

Teachers are collegial and work collaboratively to improve their practice. They are well supported to develop their practice and encouraged to take on leadership opportunities. All participate in an appraisal and performance management system that provides suitable evidence on which to base decisions about the renewal of teachers’ practising certificates. Professional learning responds to the individual needs and goals of teachers and schoolwide priorities. Teachers transitioning into the profession are appropriately supported.

Increased communication has improved the sharing of learning information with parents and the community. The college is continuing to build relationships with contributing schools as part of the community of learning.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Leaders and teachers are becoming more reflective. A range of data and information about student engagement, learning and achievement is gathered and collated. Review of aspects of the curriculum has taken place and changes made, some of which have led to improvement in student outcomes.

The college should continue to strengthen the use of achievement information, particularly in Years 9 and 10, to show the impact of practices and initiatives designed and implemented to improve achievement. This is likely to provide a clearer and more coherent approach to measuring achievement and rates of progress, and support identification of next steps for improvement.

Most students gain success through the provision of a broad curriculum. Leaders have identified they intend to continue to review and strengthen the school curriculum. ERO’s evaluation confirms this as a next step and the review should include how well the curriculum:

  • enacts the school’s vision and values
  • reflects the principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • promotes equity and excellence for all.

Further strengthening the appraisal and inquiry processes is an expressed priority of the college and developments are underway. Review and development seeks to establish clear alignment across the many components that contribute to better supporting teachers to build their capability and effectiveness to improve outcomes for learners.

Annual targets focus on improving overall levels of achievement across the school. A next step is reframing annual targets to be more explicit about the extent of progress required to accelerate the learning of at risk students. This should promote more effective evaluation of specific, planned actions for improvement and provide clearer information to the board of trustees about what has impact on raising achievement and what needs to change.

Extending capability to use evidence-based evaluation to determine the success and limitations of programmes, teaching and learning should strengthen teachers’ and leaders’ responses to students’ needs.

3 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
  • finance
  • 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 college is a signatory to the Code 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 and meets all aspects of the code. At the time of this review there were 47 international students attend the college, drawn largely from Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Processes for orientation to the school are well considered. Systems for identifying and responding to individual interests and needs are effective. Care is taken to provide courses that reflect the aspirations and interests of students and their families. Students’ pastoral and wellbeing needs are well supported within an inclusive environment. Students who set goals for academic achievement experience success in NCEA qualifications and are well supported to transition into further education.

Students are actively involved in the life of the college and participate in a range of sporting, cultural and social activities in the school and the wider community. They share and celebrate their cultures with other students.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • strong relationships that support learning
  • inclusive and positive learning environments that value students’ culture and language
  • collegial and collaborative approaches of teachers and leaders that focus on promoting and supporting student wellbeing.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • reviewing the curriculum to improve how it promotes equity and excellence

  • strengthening appraisal and inquiry to further support teachers to improve their practice

  • developing internal evaluation to determine what has significant impact on realising the school’s vision, priorities and targets.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

29 November 2018

About the school


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 51%, Male 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 26%
Pākehā 59%
Asian 9%
Pacific 4%
Other ethnic groups 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

29 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2015
Education Review November 2012
Education Review November 2009