Marlborough Boys' College - 30/05/2016


The college promotes a culture of care and inclusion for all. Boys have meaningful opportunities to develop the skills, qualities and attributes needed for success in and beyond school. Their level of engagement, learning and achievement is well tracked and supported. Teachers are placing an increased emphasis on ensuring excellent outcomes. School leaders are improvement focused and respond well to change.

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?

Marlborough Boys’ College, one of only two secondary schools in Blenheim, has a long history and tradition of providing education for boys in this town. Students attend the college from a wide area.

The college curriculum provides boys with a range of meaningful opportunities to develop the skills and qualities to equip them for success within and beyond school.

There continues to be a strong focus on developing boys as well-rounded citizens through academic, sports, arts and cultural opportunities. The increasing diversity of the school’s roll is generally linked to the local viticulture economy.

Since the 2013 ERO review, a number of changes in school leadership and general staffing have occurred. A range of initiatives aimed at further supporting boys’ learning and wellbeing have been introduced. School leaders have improved how self review is used across the school, particularly to show what has been of benefit to students and their learning. This report identifies the need to extend the ways in which the achievement and progress of students in Years 9 and 10 is identified and reported.

The college is well supported by the wider community. This support significantly extends opportunities and resources for boys’ learning.

The college is actively involved in the Blenheim Community of Learning, a group of 21 schools that are focused on improving learning and wellbeing outcomes for students.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education advised that Marlborough Boys’ College would co-locate with Marlborough Girls’ College onto a new site in 2021.

2 Learning

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

The school effectively uses a range of learning information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

The school trustees, leaders and teachers have created a school in which all boys can feel accepted, respected and involved, particularly those boys who are at risk of not achieving or engaging in their learning.

Achievement in NCEA at each year level has been steadily improving during the past six years. Roll-based information over the last three years shows some fluctuations. In 2015, a reduced proportion of students achieved certificates in NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3. At the same time, a higher proportion of students gained merit or excellence endorsements in Levels 1 and 2. In addition, students in Year 13 achieved a higher number of scholarships in 2014 and 2015 than in previous years.

Improvements for Māori students’ engagement and achievement are evident. Information at the school shows an increasing number of Māori students are positively engaged in their learning. They are staying on to Years 12 and 13 in greater numbers. Māori students are responding well to the school’s efforts to help each boy ‘be the best he can be’ by time he leaves school.

School information shows more students at the beginning of Year 9 are arriving with lower levels of achievement, particularly in literacy. In addition, more students are joining the school at each year level from non-English-speaking backgrounds. School leaders are aware of these challenges. They have implemented strategies that support these students to accelerate their progress and be successful by the time they leave school.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have improved their use of learning information. Teachers have ensured they know more about the boys as learners so that teaching approaches can be more responsive to learners’ needs. Leaders and teachers have strengthened the learning support provided for the increasing number of students with extra learning needs. Purposeful strategies are in place to support students’ transitions into the school, through the school and as they leave to employment or further learning.

Each student’s attitude to and engagement in learning through Years 9 and 10 is well tracked and monitored. The school communicates well with parents about what this monitoring shows and works with parents to help improve students’ attitudes to learning. Plans are in place to provide more information to parents about each student’s progress, achievement and wellbeing.

Senior leaders have introduced a new assessment to better understand whether or not groups of students are making enough progress as they move through the school. Leaders work with teachers to know where teaching programmes are effectively meeting the boys’ needs. They then plan changes to bring about improvements.

Trustees and senior leaders use learning information strategically to set targets for improvement in achievement and to inform key decisions about resourcing in response to priorities.

Next Steps

School leaders should:

  • consider ways to collate curriculum-level progress of cohorts of students and share the outcomes with trustees so that they know more about what is working and what needs to be improved
  • require teachers to link engagement and achievement information about Māori students more directly to the way teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching and gather evidence for appraisal
  • document plans to achieve well-considered targets to increase success for Māori students.

3 Curriculum

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

The college curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. It provides boys with a variety of opportunities to develop the skills and qualities they need to equip them for success within and beyond school.

Strengths of the curriculum include:

  • a wide range of choices and ways of approaching learning that promote active engagement in areas of academic, sporting, cultural and arts interest
  • well-coordinated pastoral support, using expertise within and beyond the school, to support engagement with learning
  • commonly understood values and approaches, placing a positive focus on learning
  • providing the boys with increased opportunities for leadership and the development of friendships and mutual support
  • a valuing of students’ ideas and opinions to bring about positive change.

The curriculum is in the early stages of significant development in a number of areas. Teachers and school leaders are seeking improvement of:

  • academic excellence, through programmes to support gifted and talented students
  • learning support for the increasing numbers of boys arriving with lower levels of literacy and for those choosing vocational rather than academic pathways when leaving school
  • meaningful approaches to teaching and learning, such as through digital technologies and considering boys’ cultures in their learning.

Next Steps

School leaders should:

  • strengthen the quality of the overall statements/outlines of what the curriculum intends to do for boys at this school
  • continue to build teacher capability to provide differentiated approaches to teaching, learning and assessment.

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

Māori boys are provided with an environment for learning in which their Māori language, culture and identity are valued. Māori language and culture are increasingly becoming a part of college life and learning. All boys are required to learn about aspects of te ao Māori in their first year of college. A range of popular reo Māori programmes attract about half of the boys who identify as Māori. One of the programmes is partially taught at a local marae and with iwi input.

School leaders effectively promote the college’s value for biculturalism. Teachers with expertise in te reo Māori have been appointed. They provide valued support for staff and students. Senior leaders are actively involved in leading the initiatives developed to raise the lower levels of engagement and achievement of Māori boys.

Trustees set a number of strategic goals to ensure Māori boys have meaningful opportunities and support for learning. They are continuing to build partnerships with whānau and local iwi to inform their decisions for improvement. In 2016 teachers are being supported to further develop their knowledge and expertise in promoting successful learning for Māori boys and for all boys.

A next step for school leaders is to show how well the initiatives and practices are impacting positively on boys’ engagement and achievement.

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

Pasifika boys are positively involved in the life of the college and engage and achieve well in their learning. The college’s plans and initiatives for Pacific students’ success are well monitored and supported.

A teacher with responsibility for Pasifika success helps ensure Pasifika boys are engaged and achieving in all aspects of school life and learning. She has formed productive relationships with the boys, their parents and community.

The college is responding well to the challenges faced for Pasifika boys and their success. The employment of Pasifika parents in the local viticulture industry has resulted in an increased number of Pasifika boys at the college. Boys who arrive with English as a second language are well supported to develop theirEnglish literacy skills. They can also gain credits for their expertise in Tongan and Samoan language, culture and performance.

The next steps for the college are to evaluate:

  • the effectiveness of current approaches for transitioning boys to other classes
  • how boys who are in paid work while at school can continue to be supported in their learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The college is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Strong strategic planning and a high level of community engagement and ongoing consultation are evident. Together, these position the school well to continue to strengthen school systems, practices and processes that promote positive outcomes for all boys.

A number of new board members, including a new board chair, have been appointed since the 2013 ERO review. Board capability is being further increased through co-options and ongoing training.

The board is strategic and focused on improvement. This is particularly evident in the:

  • way the charter clearly aligns the college’s vision and values to priorities and initiatives for raising student achievement
  • strategic appointments that have been made to senior and middle leadership in order to better achieve the college’s vision and goals
  • range of trustee expertise and defined roles and responsibilities
  • active role trustees take in faculty evaluations.

The board recognises the work of the previous board in significantly improving the school’s financial situation. During that time, school leaders continued to ensure that teachers’ professional learning was prioritised through involvement in external projects and through the use of internal expertise.

The principal has led the school well, through a time of challenge, to its improved position regarding achievement, school culture, public perceptions and community involvement and support. Together with his senior leadership team, he models the school’s ethos of actively caring for students and having high aspirations for them.

The strength of the principal and senior leadership team is best expressed in their shared vision and commitment to continuous improvement in the education of all boys. This is also evident in the way:

  • team members communicate and model clear and consistent expectations to support effective teaching and learning
  • support is provided for faculty leaders to use evaluation for improvement
  • increased information is being gathered through internal evaluation of provision for student wellbeing.

Teachers have increased opportunities for collaboration and sharing practice through school-wide professional learning and other initiatives focused on improving outcomes for all students. Boys appreciate and value the extra support teachers and other staff provide for their learning and wellbeing, in and beyond the classroom.

Areas for review

The board, senior leaders and staff should continue to develop the way internal evaluation is used to build knowledge about what works for boys ‘to be the best they can be’. This includes ensuring that all faculties apply high quality evaluation to identify and respond to next steps for improving outcomes for all boys.

The board and senior leaders should ensure there are regular and robust ways of gathering information about staff wellbeing and that they respond in a timely and appropriate manner.

The board should ensure trustees’ meeting processes clearly record:

  • the outcomes of evaluative discussions about student achievement
  • an evaluative summary of the impact on improved student outcomes
  • regular assurance reports about key aspects of school operations (such as personnel and health and safety)
  • appropriate detail about public-excluded meetings.

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 five international students and three exchange students attending the school. The school hosts a number of short-stay international students at times during the year in association with an overseas sister school.

Marlborough Boys’ College provides high quality care and education for its international students. The boys are well integrated into the school and community, in particular for sports activities. They are provided well-planned English lessons designed for speakers of other languages and a range of other meaningful learning experiences. The principal and International staff collaborate well to ensure the international programme is effective.

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.

The system used for the issue and renewal of teachers’ practising certificates needs to more clearly and consistently show links to the supporting evidence. This includes improved documenting of evidence against each of the practising teacher criteria for staff such as relievers, the counsellor and principal.

5.1 Ensure the appraisal process meets the requirements of the Ministry of Education and the Education Council [s77C State Sector Act 1988].


The college promotes a culture of care and inclusion for all. Boys have meaningful opportunities to develop the skills, qualities and attributes needed for success in and beyond school. Their level of engagement, learning and achievement is well tracked and supported. Teachers are placing an increased emphasis on ensuring excellent outcomes. School leaders are improvement focused and respond well to change.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

30 May 2016

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys: 100%

Ethnic composition









Review team on site

April 2016

Date of this report

30 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Supplementary Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

July 2010

June 2007