Freyberg High School - 10/08/2016


A wide range of programmes meets diverse student interests and needs. Respectful and supportive relationships contribute to a positive and inclusive school tone. Significant improvement in NCEA and leaver outcomes is evident since 2013. More effective use of Year 9 and 10 assessment data should assist provision of higher quality outcomes for all students.

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

1 Context

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

Freyberg High School is a large co-educational secondary school in Palmerston North. Twenty seven per cent of its 1253 students identify as Māori. Ensuring curriculum and pastoral practices are responsive to the very diverse student population is a priority.

The vision of Freyberg being ‘the best school for each student’ is reflected in the success gained in a wide range of activities. Academies in languages, performing arts and sport provide additional opportunities to excel in areas of interest and strength. Students are expected and supported to show leadership. The school values of innovation, caring and excellence are regularly celebrated.

Being part of the a Community of Learning provides the opportunity for teachers to work collaboratively with those from other schools to respond to the achievement challenges of students, many of whom will eventually transition to Freyberg High School.

Recent developments include the creation of a specialist performing arts facility and introduction of ‘bring your own device’ in Year 9. The installation of a multi-purpose turf facility is the first stage of a proposed sports park development that also involves the wider community.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Teachers and leaders are beginning to consider how to make better use in Years 9 and 10 of achievement information to make positive changes to student learning. In the senior school achievement information is used effectively to support students’ progress towards relevant qualifications. 

Standardised assessment information is used to assist the placement of students in junior classes and increasingly to influence the focus of teaching. There is limited collection and reporting of data within curriculum areas to indicate the progress individual students make during Year 9 and during Year 10. Little progress has been made since the June 2013 ERO review in extending the use of assessment information in the junior school.

To raise the quality of student outcomes there should be increased use of data in Years 9 and 10 to:

  • identify the needs of individuals and inform more responsive teaching
  • monitor progress, particularly for those underachievers whose learning needs to be accelerated in literacy and mathematics
  • assist in evaluating the effectiveness of programmes
  • report to leaders and trustees.

Ongoing review and development of the curriculum in Years 11 to 13 since the previous ERO review have contributed to better outcomes for senior students. School leaver data and National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results have continued to improve. The improvement has been especially significant for Māori at all Levels and for boys at NCEA Level 1 and 2. NCEA Level 1 achievement and the proportion of leavers with at least NCEA Level 2 are now similar to national comparisons.

Tracking and monitoring systems have successfully supported improved achievement in the senior school. There has been a successful drive to increase the proportion of students leaving with at least NCEA Level 2. The 2016 board targets identify this as a continued focus. NCEA Level 3 and certificate endorsement outcomes continue to require improvement.

NCEA data is analysed and reported by departments and also school wide. Use of data to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of programme delivery is variable. Inquiry in some departments usefully contributes to decision making for the following year, including how teaching needs to be modified. Heads of department should continue to be supported to inquire into the effectiveness of practices and programmes in order to inform future decision making.

3 Curriculum

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

A broad curriculum in Years 9 to 13 provides a wide range of options that support student needs, interests and strengths. In the junior school students are able to experience many learning areas to assist decisions about future course choices. Guidelines and expectations for teaching and learning reflect the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum, requirements of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and school values.

Curriculum options for students continue to be increased in Years 9 to 13 as a result of school leaders’ and departmental inquiry. More subject choice for students less likely to gain NCEA Level 2 has been successful in improving qualification outcomes. As a next step, leaders have appropriately identified the need to make greater use of Vocational Pathways to assist students to prepare more effectively for relevant pathways within and after school.  

Respectful and supportive relationships contribute to the positive tone evident in classrooms. Students are usually actively engaged in their learning. Individual conferencing with students regularly occurs. There is variability, particularly in Years 9 and 10, in the use of deliberate teaching strategies to promote and support individual student needs.

Teachers are involved in a range of professional learning and development to assist them to better respond to a range of student knowledge and skill levels. They regularly share strategies to improve practice. Teachers in Years 9 and 10 should continue to build the effectiveness of their support for students whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated.

Teachers and students identify the introduction of a junior diploma as a significant contributor to improved achievement in Year 11. Better learning behaviours and increased familiarity with the NCEA assessment process have occurred. The nature of the award continues to evolve as a result of review.

There is a planned approach to building opportunities for e-learning across the school. Regular use is made of information and communications technologies to enhance learning. Increased digital capability is enabling classroom learning to be continued on an anytime/anywhere basis. Ongoing reporting of progress in implementing the plan should support trustees’ awareness of the impact of e-learning provision.

A school wide academic coaching programme introduced in 2016 brings together and builds on recent initiatives. It extends student goal setting and the tracking of their achievement and progress. Learning partnerships with students, parents and whānau have been strengthened. The programme should contribute to improved outcomes for all students and especially those likely to otherwise underachieve. Formalising indicators of success for the implementation of the programme should assist ongoing evaluation of its effectiveness.

Students with significant additional needs are very well catered for in a range of specialised facilities. Their care and wellbeing are effectively promoted through a holistic approach. Transition into school and onto further pathways is carefully considered. Teachers are focused on extending individualised approaches and increasing relationships with parents and whānau to support improved outcomes for these students.

Programmes that promote wellbeing, often student led, have developed shared understandings that contribute to well-established conditions supporting positive relationships, inclusiveness, social and emotional competence. Comprehensive provision is in place to support the pastoral and wellbeing needs of students. Whānau teachers, deans and a range of specialists are readily available to respond to their academic, social and emotional needs. There is a collaborative approach both within the school and with parents. 

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school’s curriculum includes a rumaki for Years 9 and 10 students who choose to learn through Māori medium education. This provision supports continuity for learners from their previous schooling and, for Māori learners, the opportunity to engage in an environment highly supportive of their culture, language and identities. Whānau have ongoing opportunities to come together and discuss their children’s learning. 

All learners have opportunities to participate in experiences that incorporate te ao Māori. Some are based in authentic Māori contexts such as marae, pōwhiri and kapa haka. For Māori learners this enables them to practice, demonstrate and celebrate their unique attributes and skills and provide leadership.

Development of the school’s curriculum, since ERO’s previous review, has included the introduction of Ngā Toi and Māori Performing Arts. These enable students to learn through and enjoy success in activities and experiences of high interest to them.

The policy for responding to the Treaty of Waitangi is due to be reviewed in 2016. As part of this review leaders should partner with Māori whanau within the school, and in consultation with the Māori community, formalise a strategic approach for ongoing development of this aspect of the curriculum.

The plan should include specific achievement targets and outcomes for Year 9 and 10 Māori students, especially those identified as requiring accelerated progress. Regular reporting to leaders and trustees should support trustees to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of programmes and initiatives set up to continue to improve rates of success for all Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Leaders are focused on providing an environment supportive of student learning and wellbeing. The experienced senior leadership team effectively plans and coordinates the curriculum and other school operations.

The strategic plan promotes the school values and identifies future priorities. Achievement targets are based on leaver and NCEA outcomes. Including plans for Years 9 and Year 10 who require improved literacy and mathematics achievement outcomes would enhance these targets.

Trustees are experienced and knowledgeable about their roles, responsibilities and board effectiveness. They are well informed about many aspects of school operation. Their decision making should be better supported through the addition of reporting focused on the progress of Years 9 to 13 learners at risk of underachievement.

Professional learning and development is informed by department needs and school wide priorities. A collegial approach effectively assists programme development and reflection. Their involvement in the wider educational community builds knowledge and contributes to inquiry and improvement. The structured programme for newly graduated teachers is well considered and appropriately supportive.

Since the previous ERO review, the teacher appraisal process has been improved to better support knowledge building and inquiry. The various elements of the process are well-considered and include clear guidelines that assist effective implementation. Leaders should continue to build its robustness, particularly in relation to building the capability of teachers to respond effectively to learners at risk of underachievement. The principal’s appraisal is comprehensive.  

Regular review is an integral part of school practices and processes. Leaders should continue to build internal evaluative capability, particularly in relation to improving outcomes for all learners.

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

At the time of this review there were 55 international students. Processes for their orientation into the school are well considered. Systems for identifying and responding to individual needs and interests are effective. English language learners receive appropriate tuition to build their confidence and fluency. Additional classroom support is provided were necessary.

Care is taken to provide suitable courses that reflect the interests, needs and aspirations of students and their families. Many students who set goals for academic achievement experience strong success in NCEA qualifications that support successful transition to higher education.

International students receive high quality pastoral care. The promotion of their wellbeing is a strong focus. Homestay accommodation is well supported and closely monitored.

International students benefit from positive, respectful relationships. They are encouraged to participate in a range of cultural and sporting activities, and in the wider community. They have opportunities to share their cultures with other students and show leadership in the school.

Reliable information is gathered to evaluate the quality of provision for international students. As a result the school continues to make positive changes that further benefit students.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees 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:

  • 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 student achievement:

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

During the course of the review ERO identified an area of non-compliance. A small number of teachers did not have current practising certificates. Subsequent to the onsite phase of the review, all teachers now have current certificates.

  • In order to improve practice the board of trustees must ensure that processes within the school are sufficiently robust to ensure all those in teaching positions hold a current practising certificate.
    [Education Act 1989, Part 10]


A wide range of programmes meets diverse student interests and needs. Respectful and supportive relationships contribute to a positive and inclusive school tone. Significant improvement in NCEA and leaver outcomes is evident since 2013. More effective use of Year 9 and 10 assessment data should assist provision of higher quality outcomes for all students.

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

10 August 2016

About the School 


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female 55%, Male 45%

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Special features

Māori Rumaki Immersion Class
Craig Centre Special Needs Facility
Resource Teacher:  Learning and Behaviour Lead School
Teen Parent Unit

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

10 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2013
May 2010
November 2005