James Cook High School - 26/06/2019


The school is making good progress and a number of key improvement initiatives are underway.

Leadership is reducing the number of critical areas for improvement and taking clear steps towards establishing the conditions for better school performance. To continue to support rapid improvement, ERO and the school agree that specialist external support and intervention is beneficial to help progress the positive changes underway.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of James Cook High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

James Cook High School, located in Manurewa, Auckland, caters for students in Years 9 to 13. The current roll of 1263 students includes 46 percent who identify as Māori and 42 percent who have Pacific heritages. Samoan, Cook Island Māori and Tongan students make up the largest Pacific groups.

The school provides bilingual education in Puutake Te Wāhanga Māori and Samoan language students in O le Tupu’aga. The school also provides and hosts a number of other educational provisions. The school is a member of the South Manurewa Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako.

The May 2017 ERO report identified significant concerns regarding the educational outcomes and opportunities for students. In response, the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) appointed a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) in August 2017 to undertake many of the board’s functions. This included developing an action plan to address recommendations and compliance issues to do with employment, curriculum, finances, and health and safety policies and procedures.

Since the 2017 ERO report, there have been a number of changes in senior and middle leadership staffing. The board’s membership has remained consistent, with the addition of an experienced co-opted trustee recommended by the Ministry of Education, at the end of 2018. The school, working closely with the Ministry and external providers, has also gathered student, teacher and whānau input to inform ongoing developments.

The school is involved in a longitudinal external evaluation process with ERO to support school progress and development. Regular ERO progress evaluations have involved the school leadership team, board of trustees, the Ministry, LSM, teachers, staff, students, and professional development providers.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

At a school systems level, the school is effectively addressing its areas for review and development. Further work is required to improve the curriculum and quality of teaching to promote equitable and excellent learner outcomes.

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO identified four terms of reference to evaluate the progress and performance of the school in relation to supporting and improving student outcomes. These are:

  • the provision of a positive and safe school culture and student wellbeing services

  • learner outcomes: attendance, learning opportunities, achievement

  • teaching effectiveness and impact for students

  • leadership effectiveness and impact for students.

This report identifies progress in these key areas, the impact on students’ learning and wellbeing, and next steps for continuing improvement.

Positive and safe school culture and student wellbeing services

The pastoral care and student wellbeing team continue to respond to a wide range of students’ needs. The team utilises external expertise and support agencies to better cater for the requirements of individuals.

Priority for improvement

Establishing clear evaluative reporting processes should enable the school to evaluate student wellbeing requirements, and the number and nature of students’ involvement in pastoral care and other support services. This will enable school leaders and trustees to:

  • formally review the sufficiency and effectiveness of pastoral and wellbeing provisions for students

  • regularly collect and respond to student and staff feedback to monitor the impact of current school provisions for students.

Learner outcomes

Student achievement has improved in many key areas during 2018.

  • There has been a 15% improvement in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 1, from 2017 to 2018, after a declining trend since 2014. This is a significant improvement in the number of students achieving success at NCEA Level 1. A stronger focus on culturally responsive teaching and more robust tracking and monitoring by school leaders contributed to this positive outcome.

  • The majority of Puutake and O le Tupu’aga students successfully achieved NCEA at their year level. Their overall NCEA results are higher than for other Māori and Samoan students involved in the English medium pathway.
  • Years 9 and 10 reading and mathematics data indicate most students made progress, and some made more than expected progress. Better tracking and monitoring, culturally responsive teaching including a specific targeted literacy programme, are in place to support this.

  • The school continues to positively respond to New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) 2018 Managing National Assessment (MNA). More robust systems and processes enable middle leaders and teachers to meet NZQA requirements.

  • A focus on students’ timeliness to school and attendance has had a positive impact, which became evident at the end of 2018. Better tracking and monitoring systems are developing.

Priorities for improvement
  • Continuing to strengthen schoolwide systems and processes to improve student achievement remains a key priority. Ongoing use of timely and responsive annual targets, with specific strategies, should enable more groups of students to progress and experience greater success. A sustained focus on Years 9 and 10, NCEA and school leaver achievement is still required. These are in place in school plans.

  • Trustees and the LSM should receive more regular reports about how well “targeted” students are progressing and the strategies that are supporting greater success. A stronger focus on Māori student achievement in the English medium is required.

  • Strategies to increase students’ timeliness, attendance and participation in purposeful learning are an ongoing priority for the board, school leaders and staff. Evaluating the impact of these strategies is critical to improving teaching and learning, and student engagement in education.

Teaching effectiveness

The school and leaders are lifting expectations and understanding of effective teaching practice.

  • A profile for effective teaching at James Cook High School is contributing to higher expectations for teaching practice. This includes the use of culturally responsive and relational practices, and more recently, literacy strategies.

  • A thorough, systematic approach to professional learning programmes for teachers and curriculum leaders is helping to build teaching capacity.

  • A comprehensive 2018 external review of the school’s curriculum continues to guide ongoing developments. This work recently included creating a graduate student profile and key curriculum principles to guide implementation.

  • Teacher appraisal systems have significantly strengthened, and meet the Teaching Council of New Zealand|Matatū Aotearoa expectations for endorsing teaching certificates. Teachers’ inquiries into the quality of their practice is underway.

Priorities for improvement
  • Raising the quality of teaching schoolwide through more effective appraisal implementation continues to be a key focus. Ongoing professional support and development of school leaders should further assist teachers to grow their teaching practice, and increase student engagement and progress.

  • Strengthening students’ equitable access to curriculum opportunities, including schoolwide literacy strategies, continues to require attention. Some early progress is evident in strengthening some students’ access to additional curriculum areas.

  • The place of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa within the overall school curriculum should now be considered in partnership with Puutake Te Wāhanga staff, whānau and students.

  • It is necessary to continue strengthening students’ access to and use of digital technologies to support their learning, andteachers’ methods of curriculum delivery.

Leadership and trustee effectiveness

School leadership and trustee effectiveness is improving.

  • Significant progress has been made in building the capacity and performance of the senior leadership team. This includes better understanding of individual and shared roles and responsibilities. An increasingly collaborative approach is generating a greater sense of shared purpose and more strategic decision-making.

  • The Ministry supported, specialist senior leader, brings clear expertise focused on growing professional leadership and curriculum development. Heads of faculty appreciate the responsive approach to building their leadership capability.

  • The experienced LSM and a recently co-opted board member, recommended by the Ministry, positively contribute to the board’s capacity. An improvement plan continues to provide a platform for improving student outcomes.

  • The financial and staffing situation of the school has improved through careful management and leadership in these areas.

  • Board members’ knowledge and understanding of their roles and responsibilities has improved. A clearer process is in place to assure trustees that they are carrying out their responsibilities. The board has increased its focus on student achievement and their collective capability to scrutinise key areas.
  • A school policy framework is in place. The board is developing processes to ensure it fully meets its legal and statutory responsibilities.

  • Annual improvement targets in the improvement plan include baseline data and indicators of success.

Priorities for improvement
  • The board, working closely with the LSM and principal, should undertake an external, comprehensive review of health and safety provision, procedures and practices to inform school management and prioritise action.

  • The board should continue to regularly monitor the progress of annual targets, and ensure these targets focus on key student groups and specific strategies. This would enable trustees to be more involved in responsive decision-making, including resourcing decisions to improve student outcomes.

  • School leaders should continue to prioritise managing the pace of change to consolidate and sustain leadership.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school has continued to make progress towards sustaining and continually improving its performance and promoting more positive student outcomes. Strengthened school leadership and the targeted, effective use of external expertise are increasing organisational capacity to improve teaching and student outcomes.

A key next step is to continue to embed and strengthen the implementation of ongoing school developments. This includes embedding and strengthening, monitoring and reporting on student achievement and progress, alongside building effective teaching and professional leadership. Leaders should also seek external specialist support to fully update and document school procedures, reflecting the changes in school practices.

Formalising the evaluation and reporting on pastoral, student wellbeing and other support services is needed. This would enable the board to know how well these programmes and services are working for students given the recent increase in the number of student stand downs and suspensions. A stronger focus on promoting a positive school climate is now required.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Actions for compliance

The board and ERO identified key areas of non-compliance in the Board Assurance Statement. At the time of the on-site evaluation, there were no school processes to ensure non-teaching staff held a current police vet. This has since been addressed. Other key areas include student health and safety provisions, and maintaining an ongoing cycle of policy self review.

The board must:

  • provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students
    [National Administrative Guideline 5a]

  • ensure all core workers hold a current safety check and that this is regularly checked
    [Children’s Act 2014]

  • maintain an ongoing programme of self-review in relation to policies, with the principal and teaching staff.
    [National Administrative Guideline 2b]

This should include:

  • child protection procedures, including the police vetting of non-teaching staff

  • regular trial evacuation drills for earthquakes and lock-downs

  • hazard and risk management, analysis and response reporting.

To improve current practice, the board, school leaders and staff should improve the implementation of procedures and practices for:

  • regular trial evacuations for earthquakes and lock-downs

  • anti-bullying

  • ensuring equitable access across the school property, particularly for students and staff with additional requirements.

4 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

The school has made many positive improvements across a range of areas. Processes currently being developed are likely to support further improvement, and these require sufficient documentation.

Continuing intervention is required by the Ministry to support:

  • improved health and safety provision through the development and implementation of robust and sufficient procedures to effectively guide school operations

  • ongoing school curriculum, leadership, teacher and staff development to improve student achievement, wellbeing and other valued outcomes

  • continuity of progress in terms of how well board members enact their roles and responsibilities

  • updated school operational procedures to reflect school management practices and guide consistent implementation.


The school is making good progress and a number of key improvement initiatives are underway.

Leadership is reducing the number of critical areas for improvement and taking clear steps towards establishing the conditions for better school performance. To continue to support rapid improvement, ERO and the school agree that specialist external support and intervention is beneficial to help progress the positive changes underway.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of James Cook High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Needs development.

ERO will maintain an ongoing relationship with the school to continue to monitor, support and evaluate progress.

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

Steve Tanner
Director Review and Improvement Services Northern
Northern Region

28 June 2019

About the School


Manurewa, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9-15)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 51% Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Cook Island Māori
other Pacific
other ethnic groups


Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Māori Language Programme (MLP) Funding:

Number of students in Level 1 Maori Immersion 49

Number of students in Level 2 Maori Immersion 80

Special features

Puutake Te Wāhanga Māori: Māori Immersion O le Tupu’aga: Samoan Language Unit Clendon Teen Parent Unit Services Academy Alternative Education Unit Rosehill School Satellite Unit Blind and Low Vision BLENNZ Satellite Unit

Review team on site

May 2019

Date of this report

26 June 2019

Most recent ERO reports

Progress Evaluation
Education Review
Education Review

December 2018
May 2017
June 2014