Palmerston North Girls' High School - 11/12/2018

School Context

Palmerston North Girls’ High School, in central Palmerston North, provides secondary education for girls in Years 9 to 13. Of the 1240 students, 21% identify as Māori, 6% are of Pacific heritage.

The school’s vision is: Inspiring young women who are successful learners and act with integrity - He manu hiringa, he manu āriki, he manu rere ki te rangi. Its valued outcomes are: Respect – Whakaute, Resilience – Whakamana and Social Responsibility – Whakatangata.

The strategic goals for 2018 are to improve: the quality of teaching and learning strategies to develop independent learners; positive relationships and partnerships throughout the school community; a safe environment where wellbeing and diversity are respected and valued; and the recognition and value of Māori as tangata whenua.

Achievement targets include: continuing to accelerate the literacy and numeracy progress of priority students, especially in Years 9 and 10; and to have the achievement of Māori and Pacific students in national qualifications the same or better that others in the school.

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

  • achievement and progress
  • attendance
  • pastoral care and wellbeing.

The leadership of the school has changed since the May 2015 ERO review, with a new principal and two assistant principals joining the senior team. Staffing across the school has been generally stable.

A student achievement function practitioner, funded by the Ministry of Education (MoE), worked with the school in 2017. In 2018, the school was granted MoE funded professional learning focussed on improving culturally responsive pedagogy and relational practice.

The school is a member of Te Oro Karaka Kāhui Ako.

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 highly effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students. Students experience high levels of success, with nearly all achieving National Certificates in Educational Achievement (NCEAs) Levels 1 and 2.

A general trend of improvement since the previous ERO review is evident, with levels of achievement sustained and increased over recent years. Nearly all girls leave the school having gained NCEA Level 2. Outcomes for Māori and Pacific students have improved at all Levels in recent years. Māori achievement compares well to their peers in the school in NCEA Levels 1 and 2.

Leaders are aware of disparities for Māori and are addressing these, lessening the difference in achievement at Level 3 and attainment of University Entrance.

Retention of students at school is high and has been sustained, with nearly all staying beyond the age of 17.

The school is effective in improving outcomes for students in Years 9 and 10. Data shows that good progress is made over these two years, with most achieving above expected levels in mathematics and literacy by the end of Year 10.

Students with additional needs are identified and well catered for through programmes, interventions and specific resourcing. Responsive guidance and planning in collaboration with parents and whānau supports students’ engagement and learning.

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

The school very effectively accelerates the learning of those students, including Māori, who need it. Those identified as at risk of not achieving expected levels on entry to the school, are provided with specific support in Years 9 and 10. Data shows that the majority of these students show accelerated progress in literacy and mathematics in their first two years at the school, particularly in Year 9.

Information shows that those Māori and other students who were below curriculum expectations on entry to school, are well supported to increase their progress and finish the school having achieved at least NCEA Level 2 and above.

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 achieve highly in a broad and balanced curriculum that provides a wide range of opportunities for success within and beyond the school. A good range of courses caters for the diverse needs of all students. Curriculum pathways support girls to be academically successful and transition to further education and university. Practically-based vocational subjects provide suitable pathways to employment or further training.

The collaborative leadership group is improvement focused and ensures an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. Leaders develop and effectively pursue the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence. Leaders have successfully promoted planning, coordination and review of the curriculum and teaching that has continued to improved outcomes for students.

Good relationships with parents, community and iwi promote and enhance learning. Leaders recognise the importance of stakeholder voice as a key resource to decide priorities for inquiry and improvement. A range of strategies to communicate with parents and whānau are used effectively to share information about their child’s achievement and engagement. Stronger links have been made with Pacific families. Good use is made of community resources to enhance the curriculum and learning opportunities.

The school is welcoming, inclusive and values diversity. Calm and purposeful classroom environments foster learning and promote high engagement. Positive and respectful interactions with students are clearly evident. Teachers know students well and focus on developing purposeful relationships that enhance learning and wellbeing. There is increased recognition and celebration of Pacific cultures across the school. The school’s review of how well its values underpin all aspects of school life and the culturally responsive pedagogy strengthen this provision.

A well-considered and comprehensive approach, undertaken in consultation with Māori learners, whānau and iwi supports the further development of culturally responsive practices across the school. The visibility and integration of te ao Māori and tikanga are increasingly evident and valued. There is a deliberate approach to enhancing Māori students’ wellbeing, sense of identity, belonging and engagement in learning.

Sustaining and improving student wellbeing is a strong collective focus and a strategic priority. Strategies and processes for promoting wellbeing are well considered and continue to be strengthened. A collaborative pastoral support system effectively fosters students to be successful learners. Student voice is increasingly gathered and valued. Girls are encouraged to contribute to decision making. A wide range of leadership opportunities is provided for students, in a variety of contexts that reflect the school values and traditions.

A purposeful approach to analysing data more deeply to identify inequities of achievement for groups of students is evident. Appropriate processes track and monitor achievement. New assessment tools and systems have been recently introduced. The use of these further informs curriculum review and the picture of progress and achievement over time, in particular, accelerated progress for those who need it.

The school has a strategic and coherent approach to build teaching capability. Strengthened performance management processes effectively support teachers to improve their practice. Relevant and beneficial professional learning contributes to the school’s achievement of its strategic goals. A robust procedure provides effective support and guidance for teachers new to the school.

Leaders and teachers are reflective and collaborative. Coherent organisational conditions align to promote effective evaluation and inquiry. Systematic review and knowledge building processes are leading to changes in practice and improvements in outcomes.

Trustees possess a range of useful skills to promote positive governance. Resourcing decisions reflect identified priorities and promote equity, excellence and success for all learners.

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

Leaders and trustees demonstrate a strong strategic focus on improving outcomes and success for all students, in particular Māori and Pacific learners. The recently developed effective teacher profile provides clear guidance and expectations that should inform improved teaching practice. Inquiry processes are beginning to contribute to the growth of this practice.

The school identifies, and ERO’s evaluation confirms, that the next steps for development are:

  • ongoing review and evaluation of the school’s curriculum to further enhance learning and wellbeing
  • to further strengthen culturally responsive and relational practice
  • to continue to build teacher understanding and implementation of practices aligned to the effective teacher profile
  • to strengthen inquiry and evaluation across the school.

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.

Provision for international students

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

At the time of this review there are 31 international students, drawn mostly from Asia.

Processes for induction and orientation to the school are well considered. Systems for identifying and responding to individual needs and interests are effective.

Care is taken to provide suitable and relevant courses that reflect the strengths and aspirations of students. Those who set goals for academic achievement experience success in gaining NCEA qualifications that support transition into higher education.

International students’ welfare needs are well supported and they benefit from an inclusive environment. They participate in a range of cultural and sporting activities at the school and in the wider community. Students have opportunities to share their cultures with other students.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a curriculum that leads to high levels of academic achievement for all students

  • strong relationships that value culture, language, identity and diversity

  • effective pastoral systems and promotion of wellbeing

  • strategic and effective leadership of change and improvement.

Next steps

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

  • further enhancing the breadth of curriculum through review and evaluation

  • building teachers’ capability to implement culturally responsive practices

  • further development of evaluation and inquiry.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in four-to-five years.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

11 December 2018

About the school


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 - 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori 21%
Pākehā 47%
Asian 15% Pacific 6%
Other ethnic groups 11%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

October 2018

Date of this report

11 December 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2015
Education Review December 2010
Education Review August 2006