Cambridge High School - 05/08/2011

1 Context

What are the important features of this school’s context that have an impact on student learning?

Cambridge High School is a co-educational school serving the local town and rural area. There is a growing senior school roll, a significant number of Māori students and a long-established international student programme. The school has focused on being an inclusive, community school with the ability to meet the needs of all students.

Strong school leadership, effective governance, committed teaching, and extensive community support have contributed to significant progress in establishing a shared vision and positive school culture for students.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The majority of students make significant progress over their time at school. School leaders have clearly articulated the importance of evidence-based decision making and programme planning. Data is gathered from a wide range of nationally referenced and locally developed assessment tools. Staff and management are highly effective in using this information to closely monitor the progress and achievement of individuals and groups of students. Data is well used school-wide to inform strategic and annual planning, establish and monitor targets, assist resource allocation, and at department and classroom level, promote student success in their learning.

Student achievement in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is above the national average and comparable to other schools of similar decile. Levels of achievement have improved steadily over the last three years. The school has developed targets aimed at increasing students’ aspirations for the achievement of merit and excellence endorsements.

Students in Years 9 and 10 are closely monitored, and achievement data gathered in aspects of literacy and mathematics indicates that they are making expected progress.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The presence and engagement of Māori students has significantly improved. School data shows that while in Years 9 and 10 Māori students are not achieving as well as their non-Māori peers this gap is reducing. Achievement data shows that while Māori students’ achievement in NCEA is improving, it is still significantly below that of non Māori students in the school. The school is responding to this identified disparity by carefully monitoring progress of students and setting specific goals to improve learning outcomes.

The school places increasing value on reflecting the language, culture and identity of Māori students and their whānau. A dedicated and knowledgeable support group, Nga Poutiaki, have worked in partnership with trustees, school leaders and teachers to establish meaningful learning contexts for students. It is important for the school to continue to strengthen teachers’ understanding and implementation of the principles of Ka Hikitia through ongoing professional learning and development.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The well-designed curriculum is responsive to the identified and emerging needs and interests of students. The focus for curriculum development and review is on students experiencing success through the provision of a wide range of opportunities and learning pathways. Department documentation includes clear, specific expectations for ongoing, rigorous curriculum review and delivery. Extensive student support networks provide highly effective programmes to support the identified needs of individuals and groups of students.

ERO observed many examples of high quality teaching where a wide range of effective strategies are being used including:

  • positive and respectful relationships amongst students and teachers
  • using student achievement information to differentiate programmes
  • interesting and relevant contexts for learning
  • regular verbal feedback and identification of next learning steps
  • high expectations for student success and engagement
  • the consistent use of learning intentions.

Staff have developed a collegial and collaborative culture that values professional reflection and discussion focused on improving student engagement, progress and achievement.

The school has identified, and ERO agrees that the focus for ongoing development is to consolidate and embed formative practices in order to enable students to take increasing responsibility as self-managing learners.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

Robust, high quality self review is an established part of school culture. Trustees and school leaders make good use of extensive review data to make evidence-based decisions, and identify priorities for improvement and development, that focus on better outcomes for students.

Highly effective leadership by the principal and senior management team is enriching the learning environment and raising student engagement, progress and achievement. They encourage teachers to develop and exercise leadership in their respective areas. The principal is a highly effective relationship and change manager. He models an inclusive and collaborative approach to discussion and decision making.

Regular, detailed communication keeps the community well informed and involved in school activities and student success. There are many opportunities for parents, whānau and wider community to be included in school review and development. The positive, affirming school culture reflects the shared vision and values, and the consistently high expectations for students, staff and community.

Provision for international students

The school 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. At the time of this review there were 61 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Effective policies and practices support the social integration and academic learning programmes of the school’s international students.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Cambridge High School does not have a school hostel.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Recommendations to other agencies

Not applicable.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Richard Thornton,

National Manager Review Services Northern Region,

5 August 2011

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā

New Zealand Māori

Other Ethnic Groups

Other European





Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

5 August 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

August 2008

November 2005

October 2004