Northern Southland College - 11/06/2014

1 Context

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

Northern Southland College is a small, rural college that provides education for Years 7-13 students. Most students travel to and from school by bus so the school finds ways to ensure sporting and cultural activities are included within school hours. Education-outside-the-classroom opportunities are offered at each year level.

The students are well supported in their learning by the school and by parents/whānau. Class sizes are small, especially at the senior level of the school. Students benefit from the individualised attention they receive in many of the learning areas. Students learn in settled classroom environments where they are able to get on with the learning.

Since the last ERO review in 2010, the school has had four principals. One retired, one resigned, one was acting principal and the fourth was appointed at the start of 2014. This had a significant impact on staff and the relationships between school leaders and the board. During this time student achievement remained at high levels. Student learning information shows that by the end of Year 8 most students were achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. A high percentage of students stay on at school until the end of Year 13. The school already exceeds the government’s 2017 target for at least 85% of school leavers to achieve a minimum of NCEA Level 2.

Māori students achieve very well across the school. They take an active part in many of the school’s events, activities and leadership roles. They take pride in the culturally appropriate way they help welcome guests to the school.

Students have a positive attitude towards their learning. They show high levels of respect towards adults and other students. Younger students benefit from the support and care they receive from senior students. The school maintains a strong focus on inclusiveness and student wellbeing.

2 Learning

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

Across the school there are some good examples of the use of student learning information.

Effective use of learning information in the school is evident where:

  • students use information about their learning to identify their next learning steps with the help of the teacher
  • teachers monitor the progress and achievement of senior students and identify students who need further support or extension
  • senior leaders analyse National Standards information and NCEA achievement to set targets and plans for those students most at risk of not making sufficient progress
  • trustees' are informed about how well students are progressing so the board can make appropriate decisions about resourcing and strategic planning.

The next steps are to develop and implement a shared understanding of:

  • what needs to be known about student learning and how this information is to be used
  • ways for teachers to use learning information to involve students more in their learning
  • how teachers can more consistently use learning information to inquire into their teaching to know what is working and what needs to be improved
  • improved ways to report summary information to trustees and document what is working well and what needs to be improved.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes student learning.

Features of the curriculum that positively support students’ learning include the way teachers:

  • focus on the value of respect which students are well able to discuss and demonstrate
  • ensure students make good use of the time spent in class on learning
  • support senior students to plan and follow purposeful pathways as school leavers
  • ensure learners who have high or moderate needs are well integrated into the school and supported.

Next steps to strengthen the curriculum at the school include:

  • developing a shared and documented understanding of how the school’s curriculum as a whole guides teachers to build on students’ experiences, interests and abilities in ways that are particular to Northern Southland College
  • ensuring the guidelines for each learning area clearly indicate expected good teaching practices in this school, and how these will be monitored and supported
  • considering how students could be better supported to become more independent, self-directed learners
  • monitoring and evaluating the school’s curriculum guidelines to show how well they are working and identifying what needs to be improved.

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

The school is beginning to effectively promote educational success for Māori, as Māori.

Māori students make up 12% of the school’s roll. These students are achieving well at all levels of the school. Teachers have high expectations that all Māori students will achieve success in their learning. The 2014 target is for 80% of Year 12 Māori students to achieve NCEA Level 2 and 70% of Year 13 Māori students to achieve University Entrance.

All students benefit from the knowledge and skills of an enthusiastic teacher who teaches te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. She has developed programmes to engage students in learning about the culture and heritage of Māori.

The next step for the principal, board, teachers and students is to develop a shared understanding of what Māori success looks like in the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

At the time of the review, trustees felt better placed than in previous years to focus on sustaining and improving the school’s performance.

The board of trustees:

  • is committed to the smooth running of the school
  • recently appointed a very experienced principal
  • plans to work with the principal to ensure the school moves forward positively with continuous improvement and students as their focus.

The board, staff and students told ERO they appreciate the stability and positivity brought by the new principal since he began at the start of 2014. At the time of this review, a decision about how to fill a vacancy in the senior leadership team was yet to be made. In the meantime, the tasks of this role were being shared among several experienced, senior staff members.

The principal has responded to issues arising over recent years by:

  • getting to know the school, the students, staff and community
  • being aware of the need to gather board, staff and community views about the direction the school should take and then lead a process to implement the resulting plans.

The next steps for school leadership include to:

  • review the roles and responsibilities of the senior professional leaders of the school
  • provide leadership of the school-wide curriculum, including assessment practices
  • improve consistency in the ways the leaders of learning areas guide professional practice
  • establish expectations for teachers to evaluate the impact their teaching has on learning
  • ensure the appraisal system rigorously supports continuous improvement.

The next steps to strengthen the governance of the school include to:

  • ensure trustees monitor the implementation of strategic goals and document progress clearly
  • strengthen self-review practices so that the board knows what is going well, what needs to be improved, and how this can contribute to strategic planning for the following year.

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 no international students attending the school.

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

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

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.

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

11 June 2014

About the School


Lumsden, Northern Southland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Male: 52% Female: 42%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Review team on site

April 2014

Date of this report

11 June 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2010

February 2007

June 2003