Ōtorohanga College - 25/10/2018


In the last two years, Ōtorohanga College has made progress in developing processes for staff performance management, and the collation, analysis and use of student achievement information to support and accelerate the progress of at-risk learners.  These systems are in the early stages of implementation and now require embedding and ongoing review. There is a need to ensure that expectations for Māori student achievement, student wellbeing, behaviour management and effective teaching practices are consistently understood and implemented.

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

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Ōtorohanga College is situated in the South Waikato town of Ōtorohanga and caters for students in Years 9 to 13. Of the 342 students enrolled in the school, 57% identify as Māori. Previous ERO reports note that commitment to te ao Māori and bicultural practice has been a positive feature of the school.

At the time of ERO’s 2016 Education Review, a new principal had recently been appointed. A recently elected board of trustees brought governance experience from previous service on school boards. The 2016 ERO report found that students were receiving holistic support from the pastoral care team and that the school’s curriculum was well designed to support many aspects of student learning. Classrooms were settled and high levels of student engagement were observed.

However, the 2016 ERO review also found that a significant number of students, particularly Māori, were not achieving year-level expectations, and there was a need to increase the rate of academic progress for students who were at risk of underachieving. In addition, it was identified that teachers needed to make more effective use of assessment information for teaching and learning, and to focus on empowering students and whānau to be effective partners in the learning process. Attendance, particularly for senior students, was a concern and there was no coherent approach to managing student achievement information at Years 9 and 10.

In addition, the 2016 ERO review also found that the college’s appraisal and attestation processes were not meeting Education Council requirements, and financial management was a continuing challenge following successive annual deficits. The college’s hostel was in urgent need of redevelopment. The school’s strategic planning and review documentation was not effective in supporting ongoing review and improvement.

Since the 2016 ERO review, the principal, and most senior leaders have remained in their positions, and there have been some changes to the make-up of the board of trustees. A new deputy principal was appointed in mid-2017. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has provided a student achievement function practitioner (SAF) to support the college in developing effective assessment practices and accelerating student achievement. External advisers have provided staff professional development to increase literacy learning across the curriculum and facilitate the development of a positive staff culture. The school’s financial management continues to be monitored by the MoE. The board has agreed to rebuild the hostel and has begun a feasibility study to guide this development. The board is also engaged in community-based decision making about the future of another college building.

In 2017 the board organised and hosted a series of well attended community forums to discuss perceptions about the college’s current position along with possibilities for the future. Topics included student achievement, community collaboration, school culture and cultural responsiveness. In response to matters raised at the forums, the board initiated a review of the school’s provision for vocational guidance. This has resulted in a revised and expanded careers education framework which will be implemented in 2019.

In 2018, the board organised the facilitation of a staff survey, which gathered teachers’ views on many aspects of student conduct and the school’s behaviour management processes and practices. In response to the results of this survey, the board requested that ERO include a particular emphasis on behaviour management and pastoral care as an additional focus for this review.

The college is a member of the Ōtorohanga Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

  • student achievement
  • teaching practice, including the effective use of assessment information to accelerate progress for at-risk learners
  • appraisal and attestation processes
  • strategic planning and self review
  • financial management and budgeting
  • the school hostel
  • behaviour management and pastoral care.


Student achievement

With the assistance of the MoE appointed SAF, the student achievement team has developed a detailed plan to accelerate literacy progress for identified groups of students who are at risk of underachieving. Progress in relation to the goals and objectives of this plan has been well monitored at regular meetings between the SAF and student achievement team. Positive aspects of this plan include:

  • professional learning and development for all staff in teaching literacy across the curriculum
  • participation by two teachers in the accelerated literacy learning (ALL) programme
  • specific identification of groups of students who require accelerated achievement in writing
  • teaching as inquiry focused on improving the teaching of writing.

While many objectives of the student achievement team’s plan are in the early stages of development and monitoring, the following areas of progress are evident:

  • At Year 9 and 10, accelerated progress for target students for the first half of 2018 has been analysed and is being reported to the board. This information shows that between 30% and 50% have made accelerated progress in writing.
  • Parents of at-risk students are regularly contacted by whānau-class teachers.
  • A mentoring programme for at-risk Māori and Pacific students at Years 11 to 13 is in place and includes regular meetings with students and continual monitoring of their progress.
  • The progress of all Year 11 to 13 students is being tracked and monitored in relation to the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA).
  • 2017 cumulative results for NCEA Level 2 demonstrate very good progress in relation to national comparisons – especially for boys. These results are most likely to have been influenced by the success of the senior boys’ skills academy.
Teaching practice

Across the school there are examples of effective and high-quality teaching practices. In these classes, meaningful learning contexts are evident and students increasingly understand how to monitor and improve their personal academic achievement.

Appraisal and attestation

The new deputy principal has implemented comprehensive and potentially effective appraisal processes and procedures that meet the requirement of the Education Council. Components include teaching as inquiry with a focus on raising the achievement of target students, and targeted observations of teaching practice. Each year the board has appointed an external appraiser for the principal.

Strategic planning and self review

The college charter has been reviewed and revised to focus more specifically on accelerating the progress of all students who are at risk of not meeting year-level expectations. Documentation has been simplified to more effectively guide and support the college’s vision, values and operations.

Financial management and budgeting

The college’s financial situation is steadily improving. Finances continue to be regularly monitored by the board.

The school hostel

The board is seeking community assistance in continuing to negotiate plans to rebuild the hostel. The buildings have a current code of compliance which expires in May 2019. The board receives regular, comprehensive reports from the hostel manager.

Behaviour management and pastoral care

In 2011, the college adopted and implemented a systematic school-wide behaviour management system, which focuses on affirming students’ positive behaviour for learning (PB4L). While aspects of this programme remain in place, senior leaders have recently identified the need to review the effectiveness of PB4L. Teachers have begun to engage in weekly revision sessions aimed at re-establishing positive and consistent behaviour management practices across the college.

Pastoral care systems have been revised and further documented. A new school counsellor has been appointed with extended hours.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is not well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance without external intervention and assistance.

Recent improvements in teaching practice must now become consistent throughout the school. Teachers and senior leaders should ensure that:

  • they identify and effectively respond to Māori students who are not achieving as well as non-Māori at Years 9 and 10, and NCEA
  • all students, including targeted at-risk learners in junior classes, are provided with opportunities and strategies to understand and accelerate their personal rates of progress in literacy across the curriculum
  • the school’s expectations for PB4L are consistently understood and implemented by all staff
  • the college’s pastoral care system is agreed and understood by all staff and students.

There is an urgent need to improve internal evaluation systems and processes which focus on continually improving practices and procedures. Priorities for internal evaluation are:

  • students’ wellbeing and emotional safety
  • student voice about curriculum, teaching, behaviour management and other aspects of college life
  • the analysis of attendance trends and patterns to identify reasons for truancy and support the school-wide review of student engagement in learning
  • the analysis and use of PB4L data to gather more information about the use and effectiveness of behaviour management processes and practices
  • further analysis and use of the recent staff survey to improve the consistency of expected practices across the school.

Junior student achievement information should be analysed for gender and ethnicity patterns to ensure that all groups and individuals have equitable opportunities to achieve excellence from the time of entry to the college.

It is too early to evaluate the impact of the improved appraisal system on teaching practice and student progress. There remains a need to ensure that ineffective teaching practices are identified and that teachers receive targeted support for improvement.

It would be beneficial for all members of the senior leadership team to have external appraisals. Their job descriptions also require further collaborative revision and clarification.

The board should continue to ensure that the principal systematically addresses next steps and recommendations, identified through the performance management process.

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.

The board and senior leaders need to ensure that there is regular consultation with the Māori community about policies, plans and targets for improving Māori student achievement.

[National Administration Guidelines 1(v)]

To improve practice the board should ensure that:

  • senior leaders conduct and analyse students’ views about wellbeing and emotional safety at school
  • trustees receive reports on proposed risk assessment and management systems for all overnight trips by students and staff
  • senior leaders consistently implement the college’s processes and procedures for stand downs and suspensions and ensure these are clearly understood by all concerned
  • the college maintains records of all formal complaints along with the process followed and actions taken in response to each complaint
  • the board receives regular reports about student attendance trends and patterns
  • there are documented policies and procedures to guide the surrender and retention of property and searches of students by designated members of staff
  • policies and procedures for physical restraint of students are clearly documented and understood by all concerned
  • compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act is regularly reported to the board.

4 Recommendation

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention under Part 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to bring about improvements in school leadership and management, student achievement, teaching practice, behaviour management and staff culture.


In the last two years, Ōtorohanga College has made progress in developing processes for staff performance management, and the collation, analysis and use of student achievement information to support and accelerate the progress of at-risk learners. These systems are in the early stages of implementation and now require embedding and ongoing review. There is a need to ensure that expectations for Māori student achievement, student wellbeing, behaviour management and effective teaching practices are consistently understood and implemented.

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

Adrienne Fowler

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

25 October 2018

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 53% Girls 47%

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

July 2018

Date of this report

25 October 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2016
December 2013
December 2010