Dannevirke High School - 11/12/2018

School Context

Dannevirke High School has 408 students in Years 9 to 13, from the Tararua District. Māori students make up 35% of those enrolled.

The school’s learning vision is to empower students to become actively involved, self-aware, lifelong learners through experiencing a student-centred curriculum.

Strategic goals include a focus on improving: student attendance; National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1 to 3 merit and excellence endorsements; and Māori and Pacific student achievement. Year 9 and 10 targets are aimed at 80% of students achieving at their expected curriculum level.

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

  • mid-year and end-of-year NCEA for Levels 1 to 3, including credits achieved in curriculum areas and University Entrance rates.

Teachers recently began professional learning and development (PLD) in culturally responsive practices. Over half of the staff are involved in a te reo me ngā tikanga Māori course. Other initiatives include literacy and mathematics strategies as part of the local Kāhui Ako aims. In addition, the Ministry of Education’s Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) PLD has recently re-started. Staff have also participated in bullying prevention training and restorative practices.

Since the October 2015 ERO report, substantial changes in personnel, including school leaders, have occurred. A new principal was appointed in mid-2017 after the deputy principal had undertaken the role for three months. Early in 2018, a new deputy principal began in this role. Some new heads of department and teachers have also been employed. A long serving board chair provides continuity in governance.

The school is a member of the Dannevirke Kāhui Ako.

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?

The school continues to develop systems and processes for achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

The achievement of students in Years 9 and 10, in relation to literacy and mathematics, has not been analysed and reported to the board to inform the baseline for annual improvement targets.

Actions taken in relation to an ongoing schoolwide annual goal in place for NCEA Levels 1 and 2, results in the majority of students obtaining these qualifications before they leave school. A 2017 annual target, to lift the quality of these qualifications, has yet to increase merit and excellence endorsements beyond a lift in merit endorsements in NCEA Level 1. Females generally perform better than males in NCEA results overall.

Many school leavers enter trades courses or workplace training and generally move into employment from school. Attainment of NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance is still to be lifted.

Over time, an increasing number of Māori learners achieve NCEA Level 1 and 2 qualifications before they leave school. Merit and excellence endorsement in certificates and subjects have yet to be increased for these students, whose achievement continues to be below that of their peers. Attention needs to be given to Māori students’ low attainment in NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance.

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

School leaders recognise the need to:

  • implement a clear strategic approach to accelerate the progress of Māori and other students who need targeted support
  • analyse assessment data and to report on the progress of Year 9 and 10 students’ literacy and mathematics achievement over time, including Māori students.

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 leaders focus on strengthening schoolwide conditions for teaching and learning. They proactively access a wide range of external expertise to identify areas that require improvement for students. This includes supporting staff participation in a range of PLD. School leaders encourage students’ participation in a wide range of sporting activities, senior student leadership roles and learning experiences outside the classroom and school. The use of student voice to inform decisions about developments has recently begun.

The learning support area is working to provide more equitable access to positive learning opportunities for students with additional learning needs. Staff work collaboratively with the special education needs coordinator (SENCO) to address a wide range of individual learning requirements. Provision of courses and more personalised senior student pathways is developing well.

The teacher appraisal system surveys students to inform individual teacher’s improvement goals and inquiries into their teaching. This work should assist teachers to begin to critically reflect on how best to respond to students’ needs and interests.

The principal has recently undertaken a review of school policies in conjunction with the board. They have accessed external expertise to review aspects of school operation, including financial management. Regular reporting to monitor the progress of annual school NCEA benchmarks and improvement targets, including for Māori learners, is in place.

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

The principal and senior leaders have identified key areas for improvement needed to move the school forward in 2019. Strategies to address student engagement and equity and excellence outcomes, include: a specific target for those whose achievement needs acceleration and teacher capability development to meet this; adjusting the curriculum and learning pathways to support accelerated progress and achievement; transition arrangements for Year 9 students, to support their wellbeing and to break the pattern of stand-downs, suspensions and exclusions evident during this time.

ERO’s evaluation confirms this direction. Embedding and evaluating the extent and effectiveness of these strategies, needs to be clearly and strategically planned for and progress against expectations for changes to teacher practice and learner outcomes, monitored and reported. Consideration should be given to using the Wellbeing@School resource (The New Zealand Council of Education Research) to gather data to assist the school’s evaluation.

The current Māori achievement plan, focused on NCEA Levels 1 and 2, is insufficient in scope. The school’s key next step is to have a clear strategic intent and planning for Māori student success as Māori. Consideration should be given to:

  • continuing with professional learning in and consolidating culturally responsive practice for all staff
  • ensuring all staff have high expectations for Māori students to progress and achieve
  • redeveloping the school curriculum, particularly for Years 9 and 10, to better reflect the central role of the learner within a culturally responsive framework

  • ensuring Māori learners have equitable access and opportunities to have progressive learning in te reo Māori

  • ensuring meaningful engagement and consultation with whānau Māori, hapū and iwi

  • upholding wellbeing, recognising the strengths and potential that Māori learners bring to their learning.

Accelerating student achievement for Māori and those who needs this, should be supported by:

  • continuing to build the professional capacity of teachers, staff and leadership through strategic and targeted learning and development
  • continuing to develop the teacher appraisal process to include robust goals, a range of evidence linked to teaching and learning, observations, feedback and next development steps

  • increasing staff data literacy, analysis and depth of reporting, teacher inquiries and use of internal evaluation to support improved student outcomes.

Trustees should strengthen their collective understanding of their roles and responsibilities in relation to promoting equitable and excellent student outcomes. The board should:

  • set strategic planning targets for students who need individualised assistance with their learning and pastoral care, and monitoring to support their success
  • continue to improve the quality of reporting to the board to include reference to the achievement and progress Years 9 and 10 students, Māori learners and other key groups
  • ensure that useful evaluative reports are received on the impact of special and learning support programmes, pastoral care provisions, student wellbeing and other intervention strategies
  • seek further training, such as in the use of Hautū: Māori Cultural Responsiveness Self Review Tool for Boards of Trustees (New Zealand School Trustees Association).

The board of trustees and senior leaders have agreed to provide ERO with planning that shows how they are to address the above areas for improvement and against which ERO will monitor progress.

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 school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review, two international exchange students are attending the school for three terms.

The international student coordinator has participated in some PLD to support the recent upgrade of processes and documentation to better reflect good practice. Pastoral care and communication strategies are in place to help students and families enjoy their homestays and learning experiences. English as a second language provision is provided for students who need this.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a school leadership team that is leading improvement across a range of areas

  • growth in collaborative practices in the learning support area that supports students with specific learning needs and requirements

  • an ongoing commitment to improve conditions that provide students with a breadth of experiences in sporting and leadership activities and other education outside the classroom and school.

Next steps

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

  • a strategic focus on Māori success as Māori

  • redeveloping the school curriculum so that all students have responsive teaching approaches, equitable provision and whānau/parent participation and engagement is invited

  • the use of assessment for teaching and learning, teacher appraisal and inquiries and internal evaluation that gauge the impact of school practices on student outcomes

  • strengthening trustees’ understanding of their stewardship role so that equity and excellence is promoted for all students.


ERO recommends that the school seek appropriate advice and support from the Ministry of Education and New Zealand School Trustees Association to bring about improvements outlined in this report.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

11 December 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 50%, Female 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 35%
Pākehā 62%
Asian 2%
Other ethnic groups 1%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

11 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2015
Education Review September 2012
Education Review June 2009