Opihi College - 20/06/2018

School Context

Opihi College is a co-educational Year 7 to 13 college in the South Canterbury township of Temuka. At the time of this review it had 271 students.

The school’s vision is for the best for all learners through passion, self awareness and community. The school’s C.A.R.E. values are about community, acceptance, respect and excellence.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for Years 7 to 10

  • achievement in social science, science and agriculture, physical education and health in Years 7 to 10

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • achievement in relation to school targets for NCEA and leaver qualifications.

A new principal was appointed in 2016, and a new deputy principal in 2017. Two new heads of faculty have been appointed in the past year.

The school is part of the North Timaru Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students.

School achievement information for the last three years shows:

  • most students (more than 75%) achieve NCEA Level 2
  • a significant number of school leavers making successful, planned transitions to work
  • students with additional needs being well supported to make appropriate progress and achieve personalised goals
  • a declining proportion of students achieving at expected levels and progressing at expected rates in literacy from Year 7 to 10
  • fewer boys than girls achieving NCEA Level 2 and 3 and gaining endorsements on their certificates
  • a smaller proportion of Māori learners than other groups of learners achieving Level 2
  • lower rates of retention for boys and Māori students to age 17.

The school has set goals to improve junior boys’ achievement in literacy and to raise the retention and achievement of boys and Māori students in NCEA Level 2 and 3. Māori students have increasing opportunities for their language, culture and identity to be recognised and celebrated.

The school now needs to clarify expectations for achievement and progress in the junior school for literacy and other curriculum areas.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is developing school-wide systems for monitoring and evaluating how well students at risk with their learning have been supported to make accelerated progress. This includes monitoring of students participating in targeted learning support programmes.

School reporting for 2017 shows few of those Year 7 and 8 students targeted for acceleration made progress. However, the school has successfully supported a proportion of students at risk with their learning to achieve success in national qualifications.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Students participate and learn in an inclusive environment where acceptance and respect are expected and rewarded. The strong pastoral system is providing high quality care and support for students who need it. The Positive Behaviour for Learning programme is well embedded within school procedures. It is well understood by staff and students. The C.A.R.E. values are highly evident in the environment. Students know and understand the values, and take pride in wearing badges that identify their level of success in demonstrating each value.

The school, local businesses and community services work well together to provide positive outcomes for students and smooth transitions to work and further learning. Many social agencies have strong links with the school. Local industries have been involved in consultation to develop the new school charter. There has been an increase in the number of opportunities for students to engage in structured workplace learning integrated with school-based learning. Students have appropriate opportunities for second chance learning.

Teachers are flexible and adaptable in their approach to providing equitable and authentic opportunities to learn. A committee of interested teachers and researchers leads the implementation of new strategies to address identified issues about teaching and learning. Professional learning groups provide opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively on an area of interest in order to improve outcomes for students. Teachers have been creative in the way that they have continued to deliver the curriculum in spite of restrictions by the lack of suitable teaching spaces at the time of this review. Students have suitable opportunities for learning outside of regular classes that give them access to a broad curriculum.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Trustees and leaders need to build stronger foundations for the governance and leadership of the school. At the time of the review, the board was seeking to co-opt parent trustees to ensure that the board had the full complement of trustees and skills.

The senior leadership team has a relatively new mix of people. Two heads of faculties have recently been appointed. The board, school leaders and middle managers need training and support to develop a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. There needs to be better alignment from key strategic and annual goals, through to faculty goals, professional learning and development (PLD), teacher appraisal and inquiry. Trustees and leaders need to prioritise goals and take targeted action that will make the most difference to improve outcomes for students.

Systems for building professional capability and collective capacity need strengthening. The charter statement of effective teaching needs to be further integrated to make it clear to all teachers the College’s expectations of what high quality teaching looks like. School-wide PLD needs to prioritise building capability and consistency of teaching and learning across the school. The appraisal process, including teachers inquiring into their own practice, needs to be strengthened to better support teachers to continue to improve their teaching strategies.

Leaders and teachers need to build their evaluation and inquiry capability so that they and the board have a better understanding of what is working and what needs to change to improve outcomes for students. The board receives a number of reports on curriculum and achievement. While some of these provide some useful information, there is a need for a more systematic and evaluative approach to reporting. School leaders should provide reports to the board that make sense of the data, prioritise and implement actions needed for improvement, and monitor and evaluate the impact of their actions.

3 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

  • finance

  • 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.

Appraisal audit

The appraisal process has not consistently followed the school’s policy in terms of setting performance expectations, observations of teaching, discussion of performance with an appraiser, and the development of a performance report. The policy needs to state the requirement for teachers to be appraised against the professional standards for teachers. The principal is aware that the previous appraisal process did not meet legal requirements. She has taken initial steps to remedy this for the 2018 process.

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 all aspects of the Code.

At the time of this review there was one international student attending the school. The director of international students was newly appointed and in the process of building her knowledge of the Code, the role and associated processes.

The school has effective practices for monitoring and responding to the pastoral needs of students. Students are actively supported to participate in the life of the school and the local community. They are helped to make progress with their English language learning by specialist staff.

ERO’s audit of the school’s implementation of its adherence to the Code identified that the school can improve on its current provision by strengthening self review through:

  • regularly collecting student, host-family and teacher feedback to support evaluation of provision
  • better documenting monitoring and support activities.
  • regular reporting on students’ educational progress and achievement, and
  • the provision of professional development for teaching staff about how to support the learning of international students.

Actions for compliance

ERO identified non-compliance in relation to teachers’ performance appraisal.

In order to address this, the board of trustees must:

  • develop and implement personnel and industrial policies which promote high levels of staff performance, use education resources effectively and recognise the needs of the students.
    [National Administration Guideline 3]

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • prioritise the policies that need to be updated to minimise its risk of not meeting legal requirements and to ensure it is providing a safe environment for students and staff.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • providing an inclusive, respectful learning environment

  • promoting school-community links to support student learning

  • teachers’ willingness to research and adapt approaches to teaching and learning to meet the needs and interests of students.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • building governance and leadership capability and capacity

  • improving consistency of high quality teaching and learning practices

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school.]

  • internal evaluation processes and practices across all school operations.
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the New Zealand School Trustees Association consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in:

  • governance roles and responsibilities of trustees.

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in:

  • the quality and availability of appropriate teaching spaces.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Waipounamu - Southern Region

20 June 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 7-15)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 52% : Girls 48%

Ethnic composition

Māori 24%

Pākehā 69%

Other ethnicities 7%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

May 2018

Date of this report

20 June 2018

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review January 2015

Arotake Paetawhiti February 2013

Education Review January 2012