Ōtorohanga College - 14/11/2016


Trustees and school leaders are working hard to build on the college’s existing strengths, especially in the sporting and cultural areas. An unrelenting focus on raising the achievement and progress of all students is now required to enhance academic success.

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

1 Context

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

Ōtorohanga College is a co-educational secondary school located in Northern King Country. The college’s 387 students are drawn from the township of Ōtorohanga and surrounding rural and coastal regions. A majority of the students are Māori, and a high proportion whakapapa to Ngāti Maniapoto.

A feature of the college is the long standing partnership with its community. Many families and staff have inter-generational links with the area, and community support extends over the cultural, sporting and academic aspects of college life. There is a strong commitment to te ao Māori which is highly evident in the culture and practices of the college. In 2014 students at the college initiated the petition for a national day to commemorate the Land Wars in Aotearoa, and this has recently been acknowledged and accepted.

The college motto is ‘Honour Before Honours - Ko te mana mō mua i te whakamana’. The learner profile emphasises honouring:

  • others by demonstrating manaaki and aroha
  • the environment by active care of the natural and learning environments
  • yourself, by remembering where you come from in your pursuit of excellence, with determination and resilience.

A new principal was appointed in Term 2 this year. A new deputy principal took up his responsibilities at the start of 2016. While a high proportion of trustees elected to the board this year are new to the college, they bring considerable governance experience from previous school boards.

The 2012 ERO report included a recommendation to the board and senior management to fully address financial matters identified in that year’s audit letter. This has not happened, and the new board now faces considerable financial challenges. In addition, recommendations to develop a school-wide approach to improving use of student achievement data, and in particular, students' writing skills have not been responded to effectively.

2 Learning

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

The school-wide use of achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement remains an area for further development.

Students entering the college at Year 9 are initially placed in whānau classes to support their transition. Achievement information from standardised tests early in Term 1 is used in conjunction with information from contributing schools to place students in teaching classes. In 2016, two junior skills academy classes were formed at Year 9 in response to the significant proportion of students requiring additional support for reading and mathematical skills. These classes have dedicated teachers and small roll numbers. One junior skills academy class is operating this year at Year 10. The school reports that students in the skills academies are making expected progress, or better, in their literacy and mathematical achievement.

Senior managers and curriculum leaders do not have an agreed or coherent approach to managing student achievement information at Years 9 and 10. Data at these levels is not effectively used to establish a base line for individual, group or cohort achievement at the start of each year. As a consequence, staff are not able to evaluate or report rates of student progress through Years 9 and 10. While students’ written language skills have been identified as an area of priority, there is minimal evidence of achievement or progress data in this area.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data is well used across the college to monitor student progress towards formal qualifications. Each department has defined goals and targets linked to NCEA which are analysed in annual department reports. Trustees receive these department reports and set numerous achievement targets. College and board leaders agree that there is a need to limit the number of targets, identify a few key priority areas, and establish an action plan to support these targets that involves all levels of school operations.

NCEA data for 2015 shows that the proportion of students achieving the Levels 1 and 2 qualifications has decreased over the past three years, and is below similar schools. A similar trend is apparent in the proportion of students gaining the compulsory Level 1 literacy and numeracy credits. The proportion of students gaining Level 3 NCEA has been consistent over the three years, but remains below similar schools. Māori students represent the majority of the roll, and their achievement levels in 2015 were below other students in the college.

The pastoral care team provides holistic support for students, and especially those at risk of not achieving their potential. Attendance rates are a strategic priority with annual targets. Rates are carefully monitored with timely follow-up as appropriate. While attendance at Years 9 and 10 is sustained at a satisfactory level, attendance rates in the senior years remain an area of concern. The team liaises effectively with careers and guidance staff, and health and other external agencies to ensure students and their families/whānau experience manaaki and aroha.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is well designed to promote and support many aspects of student learning.  Culturally responsive practice is evident in programme and department planning, school events and the holistic support for students who need additional help. Students have the opportunity to participate, with considerable degrees of success, in a wide range of sporting, education outside the classroom, cultural and social events. Many staff, whānau and community supporters give generously of their time and energy to make events happen for students.

Classrooms are settled learning environments and high levels of student engagement were observed by the ERO review team. Course and programme planning showed differentiation to meet the different learning needs of students. Additional in-class support from teacher aides was benefitting learning and engagement. The effective use of digital technologies to enhance learning and teaching is steadily increasing.

The recently appointed principal is well supported by a team of senior managers who bring an appropriate range of experience and capabilities to their roles. Professional development programmes and performance management processes are being reviewed and strengthened. Senior managers and curriculum leaders recognise that the need to give priority to teaching practices that empower students and their whānau as effective partners in the learning process. Combined with a clear focus on accelerating the progress of priority students, these actions are likely to raise student achievements levels.

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

Māori staff and community members support opportunities for students to learn te reo Māori at all year levels, and involvement in tikanga Māori opportunities e.g. kapa haka, pōwhiri, koroneihana and poukai celebrations, Manu Kōrero contests, and local Cultural Festivals.

Māori staff also provide regular professional development for all teachers on culturally responsive practice in curriculum planning and implementation. Each subject department is required to have one of its annual goals related to Māori students and their learning. The kaiarahi maintains close support for Māori students within the pastoral care network. The hostel director brings culturally responsive practices to the operation of the college hostel.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Positive aspects that support the college’s capacity to sustain and improve its performance include:

  • trustees who are committed to fostering success for all students, and who bring strong links with the college and wider community
  • the principal and senior team of managers who are open to positive developments and the necessary changes to enhance teaching and learning
  • curriculum leaders and teachers who incorporate te ao Māori and authentic contexts in programmes
  • a school culture that embraces and values the dual cultural heritage of Aotearoa
  • ongoing support of the wider community that includes Ngāti Maniapoto and businesses, and past students.

However, significant challenges remain in the following important areas of college operations:

  • financial management and budgeting, following successive annual deficits
  • appraisal and attestation processes that do not currently meet Education Council requirements
  • the proportion of students gaining NCEA Level 1 and 2 that remains below similar schools
  • assessing, reporting, and responding to, student progress in Years 9 and 10
  • college documentation that often hinders, rather than informs, effective self review.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Falloon House is the school hostel (Kāinga Rua) which accommodates 60 students, comprising 17% of the school roll. It is owned by the Ōtorohanga College Board of Trustees and operates from Monday to Friday. The hostel director has extensive whānau connections in the main catchment area for the boarders, which includes the coastal region to the west of Ōtorohanga.

Students benefit from the culturally responsive culture of the hostel which emphasises shared responsibilities and mutual support, underpinned by respectful relationships. The hostel director oversees a committed team of staff who ensure effective pastoral and academic support for the boarders.  Regular and close communications between the hostel and school staff assist students in their academic studies.

The school hostel is in urgent need of a comprehensive property review and significant upgrade.  Current facilities are restricting the quality of the boarding experience able to be offered.

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. 

During the course of the review, ERO identified areas of non-compliance.  The board of trustees must ensure that:

  1. accounting records are kept that enable trustees to better manage the school's finances by
    • correctly recording and explaining the transactions of the college
    • enabling the financial position of the college to be determined with reasonable accuracy
    • enabling the trustees to ensure that the financial statements of the college comply with generally accepted good practice
    • enabling the financial statements of the college to be readily and properly audited.
      [s168 Crown Entities Act 2004]
  1. the appraisal of teaching staff is based on Practicing Teaching Criteria established by the Education Council for the issue and renewal of practicing certificates.
    [Part 31 of the Education Act 1989].


ERO recommends that the MoE consider intervention and/or support for the board of trustees in order to bring about improvements in the following:

  • aspects of financial management and organisation
  • property review and redevelopment of the school hostel
  • teacher appraisal and attestation processes
  • use of student achievement information particularly at Years 9 and 10.


Trustees and school leaders are working hard to build on the college’s existing strengths, especially in the sporting and cultural areas. An unrelenting focus on raising the achievement and progress of all students is now required to enhance academic success.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

14 November 2016

About the School 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50%
Girls 50%

Ethnic composition



Special Features

School five day Hostel

Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

14 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Supplementary Review

December 2013
December 2010
April 2009