Ngaruawahia High School - 12/03/2013

1 Context

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

Ngaruawahia High School caters for students in Years 9 to 13 and is located in the township of Ngaruawahia, north of Hamilton. The roll is 257 most of whom identify as Māori and of Tainui descent.

In the past few years the school has faced difficulties maintaining a high quality of education due to financial issues, a falling roll, and the increasing challenges associated with meeting the diverse social, emotional and academic needs of students. An outcome of the falling roll is that a significant number of classrooms and support buildings are scheduled for removal or demolition. There is a relatively new and inexperienced board of trustees, and a senior leadership team that has a mix of new and experienced personnel. The teaching staff has remained relatively stable since the last ERO review.

Over a period of six years, teachers have been involved in a sustained programme of professional learning and development focused on improving the engagement and achievement of Māori students. More recently teachers have been participating in a behaviour for learning programme to further support student learning.

2 Learning

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

Engaging students in school and lifting student achievements are significant priorities for the school moving forward. Much work is being done to ensure students experience success, pursue their interests and gain meaningful qualifications.

There are examples of achievement information being used effectively to inform self review. However, there is not a coherent and systematic approach to the use and management of achievement at the classroom, department and at management and governance levels.

There are a number of areas that could be developed further to improve the management and use of achievement information. These include:

  • developing clear and explicit expectations for the use of assessment in teacher planning
  • clearly identifying priority groups of learners and setting and establishing targets and plans to meet their specific learning needs
  • improving the quality of analysis and reporting at the departmental level particularly for Years 9 and 10 students
  • using student achievement data to evaluate teaching programmes and to inform decision making.

Many students begin Year 9 well below the expected curriculum level and are not prepared for the demands of secondary school. The school is currently planning to implement strategies to lift achievement and students’ enthusiasm, interest and motivation to learn.

Senior leaders should consider seeking external support from the Student Achievement Function Practitioner (SAF) to assist in these areas.

3 Curriculum

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

Senior leaders and teachers are working towards a curriculum that effectively promotes and supports student learning. Students are provided with a broad range of subjects that cater for their strengths and interests. They also have access to a range of qualification and vocational pathways, tertiary and industry-based courses, as well as a range of sporting and cultural events and activities.

Teachers continue to participate in professional learning and development to strengthen and enhance their teaching practice. There are regular opportunities for teachers to discuss and reflect on their practice and to assume leadership roles.

ERO observed some teachers successfully using a range of strategies to promote student learning. In these instances:

  • high expectations for learning and behaviour were promoted and reinforced
  • assessment data was well used to guide teaching and learning
  • open-ended questions promoted thinking and learning
  • lessons were well paced and purposeful
  • student learning activities and content were relevant, authentic and interesting.

However, some teachers were not sufficiently engaging students, in interesting and stimulating learning, resulting in low levels of student motivation and off-task behaviour. It is necessary for senior managers to revisit expectations for effective teaching and implement more robust systems for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and learning.

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

There are many examples of strategies being used by the school to promote educational success for Māori students. The school has been involved in sustained professional development to raise the achievement of Māori students. Māori students’ culture and language are acknowledged and affirmed through many initiatives and programmes such as kapa haka, Matariki celebrations, manu korero and te reo Māori courses and the Years 9 and 10 high achievers class.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results in 2011 show that Māori students were achieving at levels similar to students in other schools of a similar profile nationally. School data also shows that a high number of Māori students are not participating in Level 1 NCEA. ERO recommends senior leaders take significant steps towards improving student achievement and engagement for groups of Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is not yet well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Senior leaders acknowledge the need to improve levels of student engagement, which have become a significant barrier to sustained learning and achievement. ERO recommends that senior leaders significantly improve the quality and consistency of classroom teaching and implement a more coherent approach to the analysis and use of achievement information. In addition, the board of trustees need to undertake ongoing board training to improve their knowledge and understanding of their roles and responsibilities, self review and use of achievement information.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. No International Students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

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.


ERO recommends that the board of trustees seek ongoing assistance from the Ministry of Education in order to strengthen aspects of governance and professional leadership to address the areas for development identified in this review.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

12 March 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 54%

Girls 46%

Ethnic composition


NZ European

Other European

Cook Island Māori







Special Features

Alternative Education Class

Review team on site

October 2012

Date of this report

12 March 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

July 2009

August 2006