Northern Southland College - 01/12/2017


Northern Southland College is a small rural composite school (Years 7 to 13). The school has a roll of 163. The roll has been stable around this number since its last ERO review (2014). About 12% of students on the roll identify as Māori.

The school has a new principal and senior leadership team since the last ERO review. It is part of the Fiordland Northern Southland Kāhui Ako| Community of Learning (CoL), along with seven primary schools and one other secondary school.

Teachers have participated in a three year Ministry of Education professional learning contract focused on lifting student achievement in literacy.

The school has made progress in some of the areas identified for improvement in the 2014 ERO review report. The new leadership team and trustees have reprioritised a number of areas still to be addressed in the school’s strategic and annual planning.

How well is the school achieving equitable outcomes for all children?

This school responds effectively to those learners whose learning and achievement need acceleration. A high proportion of learners achieve NCEA Level 2 before they leave school, and about 50% achieve Level 3 and University Entrance. The school has very high retention of learners to age 17.

Leaders and teachers have high expectations for learners and support their success through targeted teaching and individualised learning programmes.

Key next steps are to:

  • ensure that school achievement targets and monitoring systems are sufficiently focused on all learners who are at risk of poor learning and wellbeing outcomes

  • further development of the school’s positive learning culture.

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners. However, there is disparity in achievement for boys in the junior school in writing. The school has plans in place to respond to this.

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

Equity and excellence

How effectively does this school respond to learners whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

This school responds well to learners whose learning and achievement need acceleration to achieve at expected levels.

School and public achievement information for the last three years show:

  • most Year 7 and 8 learners achieve at or above the National Standards in reading

  • an increasing proportion of Years 7 and 8 learners achieving well in writing over time

  • boys achieve less well against the National Standards (NS) in writing than girls

  • marked improvement in the proportion of Years 7 and 8 learners achieving well in mathematics in 2016

  • about two thirds of Years 9 and 10 learners achieve at expected levels in mathematics and most Year 10 learners achieve at expected levels in reading and writing

  • a high proportion of school leavers gain NCEA Level 2

  • about 50% of school leavers gain NCEA Level 3 and a similar proportion achieve University Entrance

  • learners with additional needs are well supported to make progress against personalised goals.

School information shows that targeted teaching in literacy in recent years has successfully accelerated the progress of a number of learners.

This school effectively engages students in learning. This is evidenced by the very high proportion of learners who stay at school to age 17.

The school has appropriate assessment and moderation processes to support the reliability of teachers’ judgements about achievement of students in Years 7 and 8. It received a positive external review of its assessment and moderation processes for national qualifications.

School conditions supporting equity and excellence

What school processes are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Learners’ progress and achievement are very well supported through the personalisation of teaching and learning programmes. Teachers in this small school get to know learners very well. They use this knowledge and a range of learning information to plan teaching and learning that will engage learners and support their success.

The school provides a broad curriculum that is highly responsive to learners’ interests, needs and aspirations. The curriculum effectively supports learners to develop their pathways to employment and/or further tertiary study. Choice for learners is enhanced through the use of distance learning and multilevel teaching. Teachers have developed good practices to ensure these features of the curriculum are effective in promoting student success. Deliberate use is made of the local environment, employers and the community to provide authentic contexts for learning.

Leaders and teachers have high expectations for all learners. Teachers closely monitor learners’ progress and achievement. There are effective practices for identifying learners at risk with their learning or wellbeing. Leaders and teachers work together to plan and deliver targeted teaching, individualised programmes and learning/wellbeing support to respond to learners’ needs. This includes those learners with high and complex needs.

The school has improved systems for communicating with learners and their families and whānau about students learning, progress and achievement. These are enabling more timely, constructive and collaborative responses to student needs. Teachers are developing assessment practices that encourage learners to play an active role in identifying challenging learning goals and build the skills to assess their own and others’ work.

Regular curriculum reviews identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. Teachers increasingly use student feedback to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching.

The senior leadership team is working collaboratively to enact the vision of the college for positive outcomes for learners. Good progress has been made on implementing initial priorities. These have included:

  • reviewing and improving school information management systems to enable leaders, teachers, parents and learners to make better use of student learning information

  • strengthening appraisal processes to better support the development of teacher capability

  • clarifying leadership roles and responsibilities.

The board of trustees promotes equity and excellence through prioritising resourcing to provide additional learning and wellbeing support. It also ensures that all learners have access to curriculum activities.

Sustainable development for equity and excellence

The school has some effective processes for identifying areas for school improvement, such as regular curriculum review. However, aspects of internal evaluation have not been well sustained in recent years. Trustees and school leaders have identified that this needs to be addressed.

What further developments are needed in school processes to achieve equity and excellence?

Trustees need to:

  • review the school’s charter goals in consultation with the school community and identify the valued outcomes for all learners

  • consult with the school’s Māori community on plans and actions to support the achievement of Māori learners

  • ensure student school achievement targets are focussed on learners at risk of not achieving at expected levels and that the progress of these learners is effectively tracked and reported on

  • maintain a programme of policy review to improve assurance that all reasonable steps are being taken to meet regulatory requirements

  • regularly evaluate progress against the school’s strategic and annual goals.

School leaders need to:

  • continue to develop and embed new systems and processes for identifying, monitoring and responding to the needs of learners at risk of poor learning or wellbeing outcomes

  • develop ways to measure and monitor how effectively the school is supporting learners to achieve desired outcomes, other than achievement against the National Standards and national qualifications

  • review and enact procedures and practices that support the school’s positive learning culture (including through developing shared understandings of the school values and expectations for effective teaching and cultural responsiveness)

  • build teachers’ collective and individual capacity to evaluate and inquire into effective teaching and learning.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Trustees acknowledge that the regular cycle of policy review has not been carried out in recent years. Working with the principal, the board has developed a schedule and is now adhering to it. In preparation for this evaluation the board of trustees evaluated its compliance with legal requirements. It identified a number of areas needing to be addressed and has put in place plans to address these.

Provision for international Students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with most aspects of the Code. It is in the process of redeveloping aspects of its documentation following a change in leadership of this area.

At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school.

The school has effective processes to ensure the wellbeing of the student. The student has experienced good levels of involvement and integration in the school community and made appropriate progress against personalised learning goals.

Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

The school has capacity and capability to accelerate learning for all learners. There is disparity in achievement for boys in the junior school in writing. The school has plans in place to respond to this.

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the learners whose progress and achievement need to be accelerated

  • need to address the areas for sustainable development identified in this report to be better placed to accelerate the achievement of all learners who need it.

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

Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

1 December 2017

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Composite Years 7 - 13

School roll


Gender composition

Female 48%

Male 52%

Ethnic composition

Maori 12%

Pākeha 74%

Asian 11%

Other 2%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2017

Date of this report

1 December 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review June 2014

Education Review August 2010

Education Review February 2007