Onslow College - 19/08/2014


Student data is used effectively to identify strategies that will accelerate most students’ achievement. A responsive curriculum values student diversity and is inclusive of those with high needs. Leaders recognise the need to improve outcomes for Māori students. The college is well placed to sustain and improve outcomes for all students.

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?

Onslow College is a co-educational state secondary school with a roll of 1249, including 88 Māori students.

Student success is fostered and celebrated. The college’s values of realising potential, mutual respect and life-long learning are embraced by the school community.

There are a wide range of opportunities for students to undertake leadership roles and participate in local, national and international, sporting, arts and subject related activities within and outside the classroom. An online portal has been introduced to enable students, families and whānau to access to assessment information and monitor progress.

Since the May 2011 ERO report, there has been an increase in the number of students with high needs enrolling at the college.

Trustees, leaders and teachers have responded positively to the areas identified for further development in the previous ERO report. The school continues to have a positive reporting history with ERO.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is effectively used to make positive changes to most learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Data is used to track and monitor students, including Māori and Pacific, and adapt teaching programmes. At Years 9 and 10, there has been some progress, since the previous ERO report, in the collection and use of student assessment data, particularly literacy information.

School-wide Year 9 and 10 data for reading and writing is shared with teachers and the board. Transition information shows that the majority of Year 9 students enter the college at and above in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. In 2013, data indicates that expected progress is made by students moving from Year 9 to Year 10.

The percentage of students leaving the school with at least National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 has continued to increase since 2011. Since then, increasing NCEA merit and excellence endorsements has been a focus for the college. This has resulted in more students gaining merit and excellence at all NCEA Levels. Twenty four New Zealand Scholarships, including two outstanding, were achieved by 15 students in 2013.

Achievement data is analysed and used to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and learning in each subject area. Closer monitoring and feedback to Learning Area Leaders, by the Executive, should help to increase consistency of analysis and reporting, particularly about Years 9 and 10 student achievement.

A literacy project is providing effective school-wide teacher professional learning (TPL) about the use of student assessment data. It is improving teachers’ understanding and use of Year 9 and 10 literacy information. Analysis of junior literacy and numeracy data over time for groups and year levels is yet to be developed and reported to the board.

Learning Area Leaders and teachers regularly use achievement information to identify individual students in Years 10 to 13 at risk of not achieving NCEA. Initiatives are in place to provide guidance and mentoring to increase students’ engagement and accelerate their learning progress.

Students with high needs receive high quality support in an inclusive environment in mainstream classes. Learning support programmes are very well coordinated. Teachers of these students share responsibility for the wellbeing of students with complex and high needs.

Parents receive regular written reports about their children’s progress and achievement. These reports are currently under review as a result of changes to courses and assessment approaches.

The charter identifies broad goals to improve outcomes for students. Trustees need to include specific and measurable achievement targets for student groups whose achievement needs to be accelerated. This is likely to provide the board and Executive with a wide range of information about progress over time.

There are eight Pacific students at the college. They identify as Samoan and Cook Island Māori. Pacific students’ achievement is individually tracked. Data shows that most of these students achieve high levels of success.

3 Curriculum

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

Most students are well supported in their learning through an effective and responsive curriculum that values individuality and celebrates diversity.

Leaders and teachers continuously review aspects of the curriculum to ensure it aligns with the school’s philosophy, The New Zealand Curriculum and students’ changing needs.

Review has prompted changes to junior subject options, introduction of half-year National Qualifications Framework (NQF) courses and the development of a school-wide learning philosophy.

The curriculum offers a diverse range of academic and vocational pathways for students. Strong links to tertiary institutions, local businesses and the wider community help students develop knowledge, skills and plans for the future.

The college is strongly focused on meeting the learning needs of students. Alternative courses have been introduced for students in Years 12 and 13. These are appropriate for students who do not require a full academic course. Students are encouraged to aim for course and certificate endorsements. Year 11 to 13 student assessment data is used to track student progress towards meeting qualification requirements.

Student course handbooks are comprehensive. These provide students, families and whānau with information to make informed decisions about subjects and possible careers. Advice and guidance about possible learning pathways is responsive to students’ interests and strengths.

Teachers effectively use a wide range of strategies that support student engagement in purposeful learning. These include:

  • promoting respectful and reciprocal relationships and interactions
  • challenging and extending students and supporting their development of high levels of thinking and understanding
  • fostering of student independence and self-management
  • developing students’ confidence to seek clarification and share ideas.

Students thrive in a culture of acceptance, focused on learning.

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

The school is committed to improving educational success for Māori students as Māori.

The Executive identify that ongoing changes in staffing and leadership in this area have had an impact on the school’s ability to improve Māori student engagement and achievement. Executive and Learning Area Leaders recognise that achievement for a significant number of Māori students is of concern. The proportion of students leaving with at least NCEA Level 2 is significantly lower than for other students in the school.

Meetings are regularly held with whānau. Māori trustees on the board provide a useful link with whānau. Students are involved in kapa haka and take opportunities to be leaders, particularly in peer support with junior students.

Learning area leaders and teachers use Māori student data to inform discussions about student progress and identify strategies to enable success for students. Māori students identified as needing extra support are provided with targeted teaching and learning.

Trustees and the Executive agree with ERO that the following areas for development are needed to improve Māori student achievement and retention:

  • a school-wide strategic approach to success for Māori students, as Māori
  • development of a shared understanding amongst staff of what high expectations, engagement and achievement looks like for Māori students and their whānau
  • using TPL and appraisal to develop shared responsibility across the school for Māori students' success, based on their culture, language and identity.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Onslow College is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

A culture of critical reflection exists across the school. The principal has a clear vision for the school. He is well supported by a cohesive and collaborative executive team.

There is some evidence that Executive, Learning Area Leaders and teachers evaluate what is going well and where improvements can be made. These evaluations could be made more effective by identifying the outcomes expected for students. Outcomes can then be evaluated against school priorities to find out what is working well and contribute to decisions for change.

Teachers’ appraisal provides opportunities for staff to think about their practice and specific teaching strategies to accelerate the progress of targeted learners. Learning Area Leaders' increased involvement in this process should better support teachers’ development.

Trustees are experienced and clearly focused on the governance roles and responsibilities. They seek to ensure the school is well resourced and their decisions are student-centred.

Well-established and highly effective systems support students’ emotional wellbeing and sense of identity. Information from families, whānau, students and the community is gathered, considered and used.

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 47 international students attending the school.

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

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. Effective policies and practices support the pastoral care, social integration and academic learning and programmes of the school’s international students. 

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.


Student data is used effectively to identify strategies that will accelerate most students’ achievement. A responsive curriculum values student diversity and is inclusive of those with high needs. Leaders recognise the need to improve outcomes for Māori students. The college is well placed to sustain and improve outcomes for all students.

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

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services Central Region

19 August 2014

About the School


Johnsonville, Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 62%, Female 38%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā




Other Asian

Other ethnic groups








Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

19 August 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Supplementary Review

May 2011
August 2007
August 2004