East Otago High School - 19/09/2019

School Context

East Otago High School provides education for students from Years 7 to 13 in the small rural town of Palmerston. It has a roll of 149 students.

The school’s mission statement is ‘East Otago High School develops resilient learners and recognises the needs of our diverse community to create successful citizens.’

Its vision is that students are responsible, respectful and motivated citizens who contribute positively to society.

‘Strength through Learning’ - Kia kaha ma roto matauranga - is its motto.

The school’s current strategic goals are:

  • improving student achievement
  • development of school culture
  • development of staff and student wellbeing.

The annual objectives for 2019 to achieve these goals are:

  • 70% of students will be at or above their expected curriculum level in literacy, Years 7-10
  • 25 % of students will achieve Merit or Excellence endorsements
  • improvement in boys’ achievement in NCEA
  • development of a culturally responsive local curriculum
  • caregivers will be actively involved in their children’s educational journey
  • survey staff and students about personal wellbeing to identify areas that need improvement.

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

  • pastoral care
  • achievement for Years 7 to 10 in reading, writing and mathematics
  • achievement in other curriculum areas
  • achievements against the New Zealand qualifications framework
  • annual charter targets
  • attendance.

Since the last ERO review in 2016, a major external evaluation of the school’s functions has been undertaken. It has led to improvements in school policies and practices. A new principal was appointed in 2018 and began at the start of the 2019 school year. Progress has been made in most of the areas identified in ERO’s 2016 report.

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 is working towards achieving equity and excellence for its students. The school’s data shows that over the past three years, most Year 7 and 8 students have achieved at or above expected levels in reading. The majority are achieving at or above the expected levels in mathematics.

In Year 9, there has been mixed results for literacy over time. Most students have achieved at the expected levels in mathematics. Almost all girls achieved at or above expectations in mathematics. In Year 10, most students achieved the expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

In 2018, most students achieved NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications. Almost all girls achieved the Level 1 qualification, and all Year 12 boys achieved Level 2 NCEA. There is some disparity at Level 1 for boys and Māori and at Level 3 for boys.

Approximately half of the Year 13 students achieved a Level 3 qualification and/or university entrance. For the years 2014 to 2017, most students left school with NCEA Level 2 or above.

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

The school’s achievement information shows good acceleration in 2019 for Year 7 and 8 literacy, for those students who need it. Leaders and teachers have established baseline data in 2019 to enable accelerated learning at other year levels to be measured and reported at the end of 2019.

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?

Leadership ensures an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. Teachers are implementing practices to promote positive behaviour. There is a strong focus on improved attendance and achievement. Leaders and teachers know the students well and take a strong interest in their wellbeing. Targeted learning support is provided for students at risk of not achieving. The appointment this year of a Māori dean is enabling additional support for those Māori students who need it.

The school is effectively responding to the interests and needs of students. It has provided additional opportunities for students to take part in activities beyond the classroom and established a new course as a result of student feedback. An inquiry learning approach has enabled students to build on their experiences and learn in ways that interest them. Teachers are developing culturally responsive practices to meet the needs and interests of their students.

School leaders and trustees are building relational trust and collaboration with the school community. Links have been re-established with the local marae. Stronger links have been made with local primary schools. A project to help students learn more about, and participate in, their local community has successfully contributed to positive community relationships. The school receives positive publicity and feedback from the community.

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

Trustees and school leaders now need to plan how to evaluate the impact of the significant initiatives for improvement that have been recently implemented. They need to consider how they will measure the success of the key changes made to determine which initiatives have made the most difference for students.

The board should continue to take advantage of training opportunities for trustees on their roles and responsibilities, especially when new trustees are elected or co-opted.

3 Other Matters

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, there were no international students attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s processes for reviewing compliance against the Code are robust and well documented.

4 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 Children’s Act 2014.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of East Otago High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership and governance that is focused on the learning and wellbeing of students
  • collaboration with and participation in the local community
  • a curriculum that is designed to meet the needs and interests of its students.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to access professional learning and development opportunities for staff and trustees
  • evaluating recent initiatives to understand what is having the most impact on improving outcomes for students.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Te Tai Tini

Southern Region

19 September 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 7-15)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls: 63%

Boys: 37%

Ethnic composition

Māori 24%

NZ European/ Pākehā 72%

Pacific 4%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

July 2019

Date of this report

19 September 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2016

Education Review May 2013

Education Review February 2010