Manawatu College - 14/01/2014

1 Context

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

Manawatu College is a small, rural, co-educational school. It serves a diverse student population from Foxton and nearby settlements in Horowhenua. Over 40% of students identify as Māori. A significant number of international exchange students attend annually.

The school motto: Haere i tou kaha – Personal Best, is reinforced by a positive guidance programme, pastoral care and mentoring systems arranged for Years 9 to 13 groupings, and learning conferences with whānau, staff and students. Increasing flexibility in curriculum pathways and provision, a two semester course structure and targeted programmes for boys, seek to increase engagement in learning and opportunities for success.

College initiated and Ministry of Education promoted professional learning and development (PLD) programmes are designed to increase community partnerships and improve leadership, and teaching and learning practices.

Class sizes are small and positive interactions between teachers and students evident. Students appreciate the inclusive culture, family atmosphere and positive relationships in the college.

2 Learning

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

Since the November 2010 ERO report, some planned strategies have led to improvements in student retention and increased rates of engagement. However, school leaders and trustees accept that rates of progress and achievement overall, especially up to Year 11, need further improvement. They recognise the need to rationalise student achievement goals and targets in annual plans. This should better focus efforts to accelerate students' progress and raise achievement, overall and for priority learners.

School leaders analyse and report senior student achievement information, using National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) participation data, rather than roll-based data. This information shows variable rates of achievement. NCEA Level 1 achievement in 2012 was well below national rates and those at similar types of schools. There are improvements in success at Year 12 and for rates of merit and excellence endorsements at some levels.

However, some students on the roll leave without qualifications and are not reported on. Consequently, there is a need for extended analysis and reporting, using the roll-based data, to give a more accurate and complete picture of student progress and achievement.

Leaders and teachers are developing their understanding and use of targeted strategies for addressing the needs of priority learners. A recently developed register identifies a significant number of students with learning, behaviour and social needs. Several learning support classes and interventions provide targeted support for some students. The next step is to further develop and integrate schoolwide plans, goals and strategies for all priority learners. This should assist leaders to better evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies.

Teachers are at varying stages of investigating the use of student achievement data to plan and evaluate their teaching practices and increase rates of progress. Mentor group teachers work closely with small groups of students to support and discuss their goals and progress. Deans are increasing the regularity of monitoring. They meet with senior students to track their progress and results and promote higher levels of qualifications.

Improving the use of assessment information in Years 9 and 10 is a key next step. This includes developing better understanding of student achievement information, and deepening its analysis and use by teachers at classroom level. Further professional support and targeted resourcing are required across the school to ensure learners make greater progress, especially in literacy and mathematics in Years 9 to 11.

Rates of achievement for Maori students in NCEA have improved over the past three years. However, school leaders recognise that a high proportion of these learners, especially boys, are not achieving at expected levels. Student engagement information is increasingly used to guide and inform interventions and programmes to improve achievement for this group.

Recent Ministry of Education initiatives, such as the Learning and Change Network, support all local schools to improve students' engagement, achievement and transition to the college. Increased sharing of student achievement information between the schools is likely to better inform the college's planning and strategies to cater for the needs of these students.

3 Curriculum

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

Within the context of the school vision and expectations, departments provide explicit frameworks, guidelines and expectations for learning programmes in each curriculum area.

Recent developments in departmental reviews have led to responses and initiatives to better cater for students’ needs. An increased range of learning pathways, more flexible timetabling and courses within two semesters have improved engagement and learning opportunities.

Staff professional learning groups have evolved through self review, to be closely aligned to faculty areas and their priorities for raising student engagement, achievement and retention. Groups of teachers meet regularly to share learning from research and in-class investigations, and to share teaching strategies and resources to address underachievement. Teachers report improved levels of student engagement and learning as a result of their targeted PLD.

A mentoring system provides good support, monitoring and encouragement for students. A wide range of leadership opportunities in and beyond the school extend students’ confidence and skills.

Established routines and expectations in classrooms are conducive to learning. Positive and respectful relationships promote a settled environment and students engage in learning. Increased opportunities for student voice and individual accountability strengthen learner and teacher partnerships.

These structures and processes also underpin practices to support students' career goals and aspirations.

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

Trustees and senior leaders have identified the need to significantly improve success for Māori across the school. They have introduced measures and initiatives to strengthen partnerships, community engagement and teachers’ knowledge and skills in relation to tikanga Māori. These include the introduction of He Kākano and Aku Pānuku PLD programmes.

The formation of an advisory group, appointment of a youth coordinator and three-way learning conferences with whānau focus on promoting engagement and supporting students to achieve in a range of learning pathways and programmes.

The recently introduced Te Wero (Challenge) programme, especially designed for boys, has expanded to include both junior and senior course options. Initial feedback and information identifies improved levels of engagement and achievement. Students demonstrate greater pride in their identity and connection with the school.

The next step is for trustees and school leaders, in association with whānau, to review, evaluate and report on the effectiveness of strategies to promote increased success for Māori as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Trustees are representative of the diverse community and bring complementary skills, backgrounds and experiences to their roles. They work productively with school leaders to respond to issues and priorities for improving outcomes for students.

The school is developing a culture of reflective practices and processes to evaluate the impact of programmes and strategies on student engagement, learning and achievement. Departments report annually to the board, but do not always evaluate the impact of strategies decided on in the previous year’s review and goal setting.

A recently designed appraisal system and process should be reviewed to ensure consistency of practice. All teachers and managers should have annual goals that more explicitly link to individuals’ identified needs and show closer alignment to school priorities and targets for raising student achievement.

ERO and school leaders agree on the need to review the strategic plan to:

  • provide clearer direction, strategies and action plans for ongoing improvement in performance
  • rationalise and prioritise goals and targets and more closely align these with strategies for raising achievement, especially for priority learners
  • set more relevant, and specific indicators for measuring progress against goals and targets.

Leadership is delegated widely in the school. The principal recognises that the next step to improve and sustain schoolwide performance is to lead consistent and regular evaluation of programmes, resourcing and initiatives to support better decision making towards raising student achievement.

Some policies and guidelines are not up to date, or enacted and reported against to the board. Trustees and senior leaders should establish a documented process for regular policy review.

More regular monitoring and reporting of progress against annual goals and targets should ensure trustees are better informed to review progress and make governance decisions.

Provision for international students

Manawatu College 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.

The two international students currently enrolled were previously members of a group of exchange students and returned in 2013 as long term fee-paying students. A new coordinator for international students has been recently appointed.

ERO’s investigations identify the need to develop an annual strategic plan for international students, and ensure more robust annual self review that covers all aspects of the 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.

During the course of the review ERO identified areas of non-compliance.

The board has not consulted with its school community about the delivery of the health curriculum within the last two years.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

At least once every two years and after consultation with the school community, adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum.[s60B Education Act 1989]

In order to improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • strengthen the principal’s appraisal process to include the required signed performance agreement with performance goals related to school and personal priorities for improvement
  • strengthen systems for ensuring all policies and guidelines are reviewed systematically and aligned with current school operations and practices
  • review personnel policies and procedures to ensure all processes are up to date and documented, particularly the records pertaining to vetting of non registered employees every three years.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider continued support for the board, leaders and staff to build capability in working with information to improve student learning, engagement and success.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.index-html-m2a7690f7.gif

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

14 January 2014

About the School



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


NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnic groups






Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

14 January 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2010

December 2007

August 2004