Kamo High School - 28/11/2016


A new leadership team is leading ongoing improvements at Kamo High School. They are prioritising the provision of a positive learning environment for all students that supports improved levels of progress and achievement. Teachers are increasingly focused on improving student outcomes through inquiry into best practice. Students will benefit from a strengthened focus on academic guidance within the curriculum that leads to better achievement and pathways opportunities.

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?

Kamo High School is a co-educational secondary college situated in Whangarei and caters for students from Years 9 to 13. The school roll is largely bicultural.

In recent years the school has experienced some significant challenges and changes in senior leadership. It has had a varied ERO reporting history. ERO’s 2013 review followed soon after the appointment of a new principal in 2012, the third in six years. The report noted that confidence in the school had been renewed and the school looked forward to a positive future. School self review was identifying relevant areas for improvement.

While much needed stability in management developed over the last three years, outcomes for many students did not improve. Student numbers continued to decline. The roll in 2010 was 1461 compared with 723 in July 2015. Suspension and exclusion rates remained high and attendance and retention figures did not increase. Results in NCEA fluctuated and the disparity between the achievement of Māori students and other students became greater.

The principal left to take up an overseas position in April 2015 and a new principal was appointed in Term 4, 2015 through the government’s principal recruitment allowance (PRA) initiative. Two new deputy principals have since joined the senior leadership team.

The new senior leadership team is working in a collaborative and constructive way. Senior leaders are responding rapidly to the school’s challenges and are firmly prioritising teacher effectiveness in the classroom, relationships-based teaching and a drive to promote equity for Māori learners. Most teaching staff are committed to the changes that are required to strengthen Kamo High School.

This current ERO report evaluates the school’s progress over the last twelve months. A major challenge for the board of trustees is to work with the new principal to restore community confidence in the school, see an upward trend in NCEA success and reduce disparity for Māori students when compared with others in the school. At the time of this review the school roll was 50 percent Māori and 45 percent Pākehā. The number of students enrolling continues to rise.

2 Learning

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

Senior leaders and teachers are using achievement information increasingly well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The school is now generating a range of data that is collated and analysed more regularly. This information is evaluated by senior leaders, faculties and departments, and by teachers at class level. It is used for a variety of actions designed to improve learning outcomes for students. Close scrutiny of data trends and patterns will continue to be important in improving student progress at Years 9 and 10 and their future success in NCEA qualifications.

School data shows that many students entering Kamo High School at Year 9 are significantly below the expected curriculum levels for literacy and numeracy. Those most at risk of not achieving are being identified and specifically targeted to try and accelerate their learning progress. Better rates of progress are now evident in these small groups. Recent data tracking shows shifts in these students’ literacy levels and more focus from teachers on the learning strategies that can make a difference. Kia Eke Panuku (Ministry of Education initiative) focuses on developing culturally relevant practice and teaching as inquiry. This is helping to embed and sustain teaching approaches in the school that may reduce disparity for Māori learners over time.

Student achievement in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is showing a substantial lift at Level 2 providing further evidence that targeted strategies to support students’ learning are gaining successful outcomes. Attainment at NCEA Level 2 increased from 69 percent in 2014 to 83 percent in 2015 overall. Some academic counselling and monitoring is occurring at senior levels but these processes could be more systematically developed to assist all students to understand their learning strengths and challenges.

The NCEA achievement of Māori students is lower than that of other students. Inequitable outcomes are evident at Levels 1, 2 and 3 of NCEA. Leaders and teachers are continuing to address this issue with robust thinking and actions. They are implementing effective initiatives and strategies that should reduce this disparity, particularly through early intervention at Years 9 and 10. Further initiatives like PB4L, the development of an effective teacher matrix and the adoption of the ‘Kamo Kaupapa’ are examples of ways that teachers are reflecting on their teaching and making changes for learners.

Leaders are continuing to embed links and networks with external educational services such as Ngāti Wai mentoring, to support learners with additional learning requirements.

Key competencies and school values are essential aspects of the learning culture school-wide. Student wellbeing is supported through a highly effective team in Student Support Services who are very proactive in addressing the considerable pastoral needs of young people in the area.

Students are also learning how to make informed decisions in relation to future pathways for tertiary training or employment. Deans now work in a more focused way on academic guidance. This means that motivation to pass NCEA credits is becoming more meaningful and purposeful for many learners.

Trustees, school leaders and ERO discussed the school’s next strategic steps for learning development and prioritised:

  • planning to improve student learning, progress and achievement through quality teaching practice that uses data inquiry to address students’ learning needs
  • formulating measurable and accountable charter targets for specific groups and cohorts who are at risk of not achieving
  • using effective evaluation processes regularly, to evaluate shifts throughout the year in students’ learning outcomes
  • using knowledge about incoming learners from contributing schools to continue the development of established learning capabilities in junior students.

3 Curriculum

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

Kamo High School’s curriculum is not yet consistently effective in supporting and enabling students to learn. The curriculum is strategically aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and increasingly to pathways opportunities. In some successful learning areas, but not all, the curriculum is relevant and authentic, in keeping with NZC principles. Heads of Faculty are involved in a mentoring programme with external facilitators, to extend their leadership skills.

A key next step in curriculum development for the school will be the adoption of an over-arching curriculum statement. This should be developed in consultation with the school community and describe the curriculum philosophy and framework that will be a focus for the school in 2017. This should ensure the community is well informed about future-focused learning at Kamo High School.

Next year, in 2017, school leaders are planning a review of the curriculum to enable all learners to experience the breadth and depth of NZC. The curriculum policy should be updated accordingly through consultation with the community, with whānau and with iwi. Developing a more culturally relevant curriculum should engage students more meaningfully and help to reduce disparity for Māori with better connections to learning that is valued.

Some teachers create and modify a variety of teaching contexts, approaches and strategies to engage students in their curriculum programmes. Students are appreciative of these efforts to encourage and stimulate them. Broadening the curriculum in innovative ways will help all students to select a learning pathway to suit their strengths, interests, abilities or needs.

Very good data is kept by Student Support Services which could be used to contribute relevant and significant learning for adolescents into curriculum programmes. Students with special needs are being catered for well and more focus has been placed on communication channels between support and teaching staff.

Good quality relationships are acknowledged by school leaders as the basis for effective learning. However students who spoke to ERO felt that some teachers were not committed to this expectation. The principal is addressing this issue.

During 2016 senior leaders have implemented a wellmanaged professional learning programme for staff and an updated, effective appraisal system.

Teachers are encouraged to be reflective and search out best evidence to improve their practice and their learning relationships with students. This is in keeping with the requirements of the Education Council, that the principal issue and renew practising teaching certificates on the basis that teachers are responsive to their students and foster appropriate relationships to enrich learning experiences for all.

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

The school is becoming more deliberate and strategic in promoting educational success for Māori learners. The Māori community within Kamo High School has strong links with Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi. The new principal is working hard to rectify and reduce Māori disparity levels in school achievement. Relevant policies and strategic action plans at board level would provide useful frameworks to guide these developments.

A new teacher has been appointed as head of te reo Māori. Her skills are increasing the confidence of Māori learners and te reo is available through to Year 13. Māori students are feeling a sense of belonging with the new Whare Awhina facility, supported by a kaiawhina. The kapa haka group has recently performed successfully at the Tai Tokerau Festival.

In order to promote success for Maori learners more effectively, school leaders agree that the following steps are necessary:

  • setting charter targets for groups of identified Māori students at risk of not achieving
  • improving systems, evaluation and the effective reporting of Māori student progress and achievement
  • increasing levels of consultation with, and reporting back to, the wider Māori community
  • increasing Māori student agency and efficacy as learners with increased opportunities to make decisions and choices about their learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to improve its performance through the appointment of the new senior leadership team. Within a short time, strategic priorities have been reset, with relevant, detailed and accountable planning. Examples of effective changes so far have included:

  • the options selection process for seniors
  • deans having more release time for academic mentoring and providing pathways advice
  • the appointment of an attendance officer and modification of twice-yearly reports to parents giving timely data information.

Effective self-review processes are being established by senior staff to evaluate the impact of ongoing improvements and change.

The principal informs the board about progress being made in relation to charter targets. Improving relational trust between the board and the senior leadership team is recommended so that the school’s strategic direction can be shared and effectively led.

The board should seek more information about teaching and learning priorities in the school in order to make the best resourcing decisions. Trustees could access external training to build their knowledge of how to use student achievement information effectively to set strategic directions.

Policy review is needed in many areas to reflect changes in legislation and to ensure that the board’s governance responsibilities are appropriately undertaken. The board must make the relevant changes to and include the requirements of The Vulnerable Children’s Act as part of its own policy and accountability review.

Trustees should also seek to be more familiar with requirements such as those outlined by the Education Council, including good practice in relation to personnel management. The board must also plan for wider, more meaningful consultation as part of its next phase of strategic planning.

School tone and culture is improving, the roll is rising and is predicted to expand further with the next Year 9 intake. Students report better levels of connection and engagement with their learning and their teachers through information from wellbeing surveys and more emphasis on student voice and perspective.

Agreed next steps to improve the stewardship of Kamo High School and lift performance include:

  • urgent strategic thinking, consultation and planning for curriculum development and achievement across the school
  • setting specific charter targets focusing on identified groups of students who need accelerated progress
  • continuing to strengthen evaluation capability across all levels of the school.

Provision for international students

The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) was introduced on July 1st 2016. The school is aware of the need to update its policies and procedures to meet the new code requirements by December 1st 2016.

At the time of this review there were 13 international students attending the school, including four exchange students.

The school has begun to align its policies and procedures to meet requirements for the 2016 Code.

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.

In order to improve practice the board of trustees should review their governance processes against the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists in order to meet all legislative obligations and responsibilities.

To improve current practice with some urgency, the board of trustees should:

  • update the staff appointments policy to reflect recent change
  • update the appraisal policy for all staff to align with Education Council requirements
  • review and update the EOTC policy

Actions: ERO identified two areas on non compliance. The board of trustees must

  • ensure that an annual performance agreement and appraisal are in place for the school’s principal State Sector Act 1988 s77
  • ensure that the requirements of the Vulnerable Children’s Act are reflected in policy documents and school procedures Vulnerable Children’s Act, 2015.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the board access NZSTA support to assist with the following improvements:

  • board administration and governance including a rationalised, updated policy framework
  • human resources management.


A new leadership team is leading ongoing improvements at Kamo High School. They are prioritising the provision of a positive learning environment for all students that supports improved levels of progress and achievement. Teachers are increasingly focused on improving student outcomes through inquiry into best practice. Students will benefit from a strengthened focus on academic guidance within the curriculum that leads to better achievement and pathways opportunities.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

28 November 2016

About the School


Kamo, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition











Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

28 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2013

January 2011

July 2007