Heretaunga College - 19/05/2017


Heretaunga College is a positive environment for students. NCEA Levels 1 and 2 results are showing improvement, including for Māori learners. Trustees’ strategic priorities are soundly based on building on improvements to date. Strengthening internal evaluation and inquiry should further improve the ability of school personnel to achieve equity and excellence 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?

Heretaunga College is a co-educational secondary school located in Wallaceville, Upper Hutt. Nineteen percent of the 814 students enrolled are Māori and 5% Pacific. Over recent years student enrolments have continued to grow. The college is currently working with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to consider introducing an enrolment zone. 

The school philosophy is reflected in its crest, the phoenix, which symbolises fresh beginnings, and its motto, Kia Hiwa Ra, be awake, be alert. Promoting the opportunity for students to be awake to the many opportunities that surround them and be ready to be challenged by new things is the priority.

Student leadership contributes to the positive culture and tone of the school. PRIDE values, highlighting participation, respect, integrity, determination, and excellence are expressed and modelled by students.

The college operates a teen parent unit and currently has thirty students enrolled in trade academies. 

Since the May 2014 ERO report, the school has experienced changes to senior leadership and some newly elected trustees. 

2 Learning

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

To build on improving results for the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) Levels 1 and 2, school leaders acknowledge better use of assessment information in Year 9 and 10 is required to strengthen teaching, learning and student engagement.  

Well-considered changes to the senior curriculum are contributing to better NCEA results at Levels 1 and 2 for students, including Māori learners. In 2015, 75% of school leavers gained a Level 2 qualification, 5% below national figures. Māori leavers achieved similar to their non-Māori peers at Level 1 and slightly lower at Levels 2 and 3. The number of students gaining an endorsed qualification of merit or excellence is increasing over time. 

Qualifications gained by students at NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance have declined over recent years. Leaders identify reversing this trend and setting specific targets to address disparity in the achievement for Māori students, especially Māori boys, are priorities for the college.

An extended mentoring programme has been implemented for senior students in 2017, to build on improvements at NCEA Levels 1 and 2 and address achievement priorities. Evaluating the impact of mentoring for students at NCEA Level 3 and the priority group of Māori boys, should provide useful information about its effectiveness in achieving equity and excellence for students.  

Leaders recognise the quality of departmental reporting is variable. Providing feedback in relation to department goals, analysis and reporting should strengthen leaders' evaluation practice. 

Student retention at school to 17 years of age is similar to national figures. Overall retention shows a 10% decline from 2013. Figures for Māori students are 9% below their non-Māori peers, with the disparity for Māori males more significant. Gathering destination information in relation to school leavers is planned as one strategy in strengthening the college's understanding of this trend.

Parents and whānau receive appropriate student achievement information. Three-way conferences at the beginning of the year, written reporting and access to digital information supports shared discussions about students' educational pathways and academic goals.

3 Curriculum

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

Significant redevelopment of the senior curriculum is impacting positively to respond to the needs and interests of students. Courses are accessible and designed to meet the individual aspirations and career pathways of learners. In some subjects, the inclusion of Māori contexts promotes culturally relevant learning. Individuals spoken with by ERO affirmed the structure and content of the senior curriculum and acknowledged an appropriate level of support in making subject choices. Senior leaders are in the early stages of gathering information to redevelop the junior curriculum.   

Students requiring additional assistance or identified with complex needs are well supported and included. Useful information is gathered to assist student transition into the college.  

Staff actively support and provide for the wellbeing of students. Pastoral structures and systems help leaders and teachers to develop a collaborative response to individual students. Restorative practice is emerging as the underpinning philosophy to promote students’ positive inclusion at school. Wellbeing information, currently being gathered from students, should provide the basis for staff and trustees to evaluate the responsiveness of practice.   

Senior leaders are knowledgeable about the effectiveness of teacher practice in the college. They recognise that approaches and capability building to achieve consistently high quality student outcomes require further development.   

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

Trustees' strategic goals seek to strengthen the school's response in promoting Māori success as Māori. To achieve the intended outcomes leaders, trustees and teachers should develop relevant actions to build capability and curriculum practice. Identifying specific actions should increase opportunities to evaluate the impact of initiatives in achieving equity and excellence for Māori learners. 

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The college is well placed to sustain and continue to further improve its performance and achieve equity and excellence for students.

Leaders and trustees intend to review the school vision. This should provide an opportunity to gather information about the valued outcomes of students, parents, Māori whānau and Pacific families. Analysed responses should provide the basis for determining the scope of current practice and inform future development.

Trustees continue to strengthen their operational management to support effective stewardship. Strategic and annual planning aligns to school and achievement priorities. Decision making should be further enhanced by increasing the information provided to trustees in relation to the progress and achievement of targeted learners in Years 9 to 13.

Senior leaders have established relevant priorities to build on the positive changes to senior curriculum and teacher practice. The intent to increase collaborative practice between department leaders is a valuable opportunity to build capability across the college.   

Teachers continue to strengthen their understanding of effective inquiry. Implementation and feedback is assisting staff to build their knowledge and consider the impact of their practice in relation to student outcomes. ERO's evaluation affirms the school goal to strengthen teachers’ focus on identifying target students and evaluating practice linked to evidence of accelerated achievement. 

The college's appraisal system has the potential to appropriately support teacher improvement. Variability in implementation impacts on the effectiveness of this process. Leaders should continue to build a shared understanding of the various elements of the process and more effectively monitor its implementation for school wide consistency.

Regular review and reflection is a valuable part of leaders' and teachers' practice to improve student achievement outcomes. Strengthening evaluation in relation to specific groups should support a greater understanding of how effectively current and future initiatives impact on achieving equity and excellence for targeted 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 all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there were 34 international students attending the school.

The school provides a comprehensive response to the educational and pastoral needs of international students. Increasing evaluative information to trustees should strengthen their knowledge in relation to the quality of provision for international 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.

A Limited Statutory Manager was appointed by the MoE to support aspects of financial reporting. Since being appointed in 2015, financial matters are being proactively addressed.


Heretaunga College is a positive environment for students. NCEA Levels 1 and 2 results are showing improvement, including for Māori learners. Trustees’ strategic priorities are soundly based on building on improvements to date. Strengthening internal evaluation and inquiry should further improve the ability of school personnel to achieve equity and excellence for all students.

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

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

19 May 2017

About the School 


Upper Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female 54%, Male 46%

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Special features

Attached Teen Parent Unit

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

19 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2014
June 2012
December 2008