Mt Aspiring College - 29/05/2012

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)



School roll


Gender composition

Boys      57%
Girls       43%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Special Features

School Hostel

Review team on site

March 2012

Date of this report

29 May 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Accountability Review

December 2008
June 2005
October 2001

*School deciles range from 1 to 10. Decile 1 schools draw their students from low socio-economic communities and at the other end of the range, decile 10 schools draw their students from high socio-economic communities. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state integrated schools. The lower the school’s decile the more funding it receives. A school’s decile is in no way linked to the quality of education it provides

The Purpose of an ERO Report

The purpose of ERO’s reviews is to give parents and the wider school community assurance about the quality of education that schools provide and their children receive. An ERO school report answers the question “How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?” Under that overarching question ERO reports on the quality of education and learning outcomes for children and for specific groups of children including Māori students, Pacific students and students with special needs. ERO also reports on the quality of the school’s systems for sustaining and continuing improvements.

1. Context

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

Mt Aspiring College provides a whānau-like culture for learning for its staff and students. This can be seen in the respectful ways students, staff and board members relate with one another.

Students’ enjoyment and success in learning is central to planning and decision making by school staff, senior leaders and trustees. Students at all year levels experience a range of opportunities that engage them with their learning.

A significant feature of the school is students’ use of the natural environment for learning. An emphasis is placed on promoting active, healthy well-rounded students. This is evident in the high levels of student participation in sport, education outside the classroom experiences, and the ongoing involvement of senior students in community projects.

Unique to this school is the large number of senior students, particularly at Year 13. The high-performing outdoor pursuits programme provides a range of choices for senior students. International student numbers have increased. Each year the school hostel enrols Year 13 students from around New Zealand.

2. Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are well engaged in their learning and well supported to make good progress while at school.

Overall students achieve well across all curriculum areas. NCEA achievement information shows that students in Years 11-13 achieve as well as, or better than, students in similar schools nationally. At Years 7 and 8 over 80% of students achieve at or above the National Standards in reading and mathematics. In writing two-thirds of students achieve at or above National Standards.

Positive features of the school include:

  • respectful relationships between staff and students that contribute to a safe learning environment
  • students who are generally interested in their learning and enthusiastic about their teachers and their school
  • a school-wide focus on teachers’ better use of student achievement information for targeted teaching
  • well-managed classrooms with a strong focus on learning and a range of teaching strategies
  • pastoral and education support for students at risk.

An efficient data-management system is continually being updated to enable staff to quickly access information about each student’s progress and achievement.

The principal and senior leaders have improved the quality of curriculum reporting to the board. The progress and achievement of students in all subject areas is regularly reported. Teachers and senior leaders have made good progress in implementing National Standards for Years 7 and 8 students, and provide the board with useful information about these students’ achievement. School leaders now need to continue with their plans to extend these practices for Years 9 and 10 students.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

The school has a number of positive initiatives for promoting Māori student success.

Overall Māori students at Mount Aspiring College achieve well. At all levels of the school they generally achieve as well as their non-Māori peers and significantly higher than Māori students nationally.

Māori students ERO spoke to like their school and the support and opportunities provided.

The principal and senior leaders have put in place a number of initiatives for promoting success for Māori. Teachers and students support these developments. The board is keen to further develop the school’s bicultural character, in consultation with Māori whānau.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively supports students’ learning.

Areas of Strength

Curriculum design. Students receive a range of well-planned programmes designed to meet their needs. This occurs at each year level, for identified groups, and in individual subjects. These programmes include:

  • home rooms and a co-constructed curriculum in the junior school
  • pathway and outdoor pursuits courses for senior students
  • learning and extension opportunities for all students.

Literacy initiatives. There is a strong focus on improving students’ literacy across all year levels and curriculum areas. Students with learning needs receive targeted assistance. Teachers receive useful professional development and support to improve their practice. Trustees receive regular assurance of literacy development in all learning areas to meet the school goals.

Ongoing improvement. The school has a focus for continually improving opportunities for students’ learning. Staff regularly participate in a range of professional development. Teachers have opportunities to share ideas and contribute to decisions made about school programmes. Senior leaders and trustees receive regular reviews and reports about how curriculum initiatives, systems and practices have improved.

Education outside the classroom. Students benefit from the well-planned integration of learning outside the classroom experiences. These occur across a wide range of learning areas and include camps and trips. They provide a different range of challenges at each year level. This gives students time and opportunity to make good choices in the range of outdoor pursuit courses offered at Years 11 to 13.

Area for Review and Development

Trustees are supportive of meaningfully integrating te reo and tikanga Māori across the school. ERO agrees with the board’s ongoing work in building staff and student awareness, knowledge and confidence in Te Ao Māori, and making this more visible.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The board and senior leaders have an effective strategic overview, operational practices, and accountability systems. They are well informed about student learning, programmes and initiatives. They use the outcomes of self review to make well-informed decisions.

The senior leaders effectively manage the school and lead by example. There is wide staff ownership and responsibility for implementing school-wide strategic goals.

Area for Review and Development

Curriculum review. The quality of information and evaluation in curriculum reports to the board could be strengthened by:

  • greater questioning about the impact of actions on student achievement
  • including more specific information on student progress and achievement
  • the inclusion of student perspective information, including that of Māori students, to inform self review.

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. At the time of this review there were 29 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

The school’s International Language Centre (ILC) is well set up for international students. ILC staff members provide students with high quality pastoral care and educational support. ESOL classes are effectively targeted to meet the needs of each student. Students are highly involved in the life of the school and are very well integrated with their New Zealand peers.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel is owned by Mount Aspiring College. The hostel houses 30 Year 13 students who make up 4% of the school roll. These students are all new to the school.

The hostel is an integral feature of the school. Students are highly engaged in a hostel programme that focuses on:

  • a challenging outdoor pursuits programme that complements the school’s outdoor pursuits course
  • building independence through the responsibilities they are expected to take for their own care, for example, doing their own menu planning and cooking.

Significant strengths of the hostel programme include:

  • the high levels of student participation in a wide range of outdoor pursuits
  • building individual personal skills and teamwork
  • effective, useful communication with and involvement of students’ families/whānau
  • students’ high degree of success in outdoor pursuits and conventional NCEA subjects.

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
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Graham Randell
National Manager Review Services
Southern Region