Papakura High School - 03/02/2020


On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO‘s overall evaluation judgement of Papakura High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

The school has made significant improvement. The quality of teaching and curriculum design requires further development to improve student outcomes. ERO will continue communication with the Ministry, the LSM, the board, and school leadership. ERO will provide evaluation services to continue to support school improvement and to inform sustainability.

1 Background and Context

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

Papakura High School caters for 636 students in Years 9 to 13. Students who identify as Māori make up 59 percent of the roll. Samoan, Tongan, and Cook Island Māori students make up 29 percent of the roll. The school has connections with Ngāti Tamaoho and Tainui-Waikato Kiingitanga and the local Papakura marae. A kaumatua provides active, ongoing support and guidance to the school.

The 2015 ERO report identified significant concerns regarding student outcomes, student access to effective teaching and learning opportunities, school leadership, personnel management, and governance. Pastoral care and student wellbeing required improvement. The school property was in poor condition and the proposed rebuild was set aside by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry).

In response to the 2015 ERO report, the Ministry appointed a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) with board powers for employment and personnel, governance and curriculum. Three different LSMs have worked with the school over five years.

Since 2015, significant staffing changes have occurred. In 2016 an experienced principal was appointed with the Ministry of Education principal recruitment allowance (PRA). The Ministry supported the school with additional staffing, including seconding an experienced school leader to help redevelop the school curriculum. Many new staff have been appointed including provisionally certificated teachers.

The recently elected board of trustees experienced significant change. The board retained two experienced members. The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) has provided ongoing governance support alongside the LSM.

The school is a member of the Papakura Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako which includes a focus on raising student literacy and mathematics learning. The school is also a member of the Kootuitui Trust for digital citizenship which is part of the Manaaiakalani Education Trust.

ERO has closely monitored and evaluated school progress over the past two years to support school improvement. ERO has met regularly with school leaders, trustees, students, teachers, staff, community representatives and representatives from the Ministry.

2 Review and Development

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

Papakura High School is increasing its effectiveness to address the key areas for review and development identified by ERO in 2015. The range and depth of the required improvements were substantial and serious.

Leaders and staff are steadily improving outcomes for learners. Leaders have worked with determination to better serve students and their school community. Students, whānau, trustees and staff are expressing an increased optimism and pride in their school.

School conditions and the climate for student learning have improved substantially. There is an inclusive school climate and sense of community that celebrates students’ diversity, heritage, language and culture.

While student learning and achievement outcomes have improved, in some key areas, substantial improvement is still required. Crucial to achieving longer term improvement is a more engaging, relevant and responsive curriculum, with more effective teaching practices.

Higher levels of accountability for performance and effectiveness are beginning to develop. Further strengthening leadership, and a sustained focus on monitoring, evaluating and reporting student progress and achievement are required.

Priorities identified for review and development

ERO identified four priority areas to monitor and evaluate school progress and performance to improve student outcomes. These were:

  • the provision of a positive and safe school culture and student wellbeing services

  • learner outcomes: attendance, learning opportunities, progress and achievement

  • teaching effectiveness and impact for students

  • leadership effectiveness and impact for students.

The provision of a positive and safe school culture and student wellbeing services

Significant progress is evident in the development of a more positive school learning environment that values students’ culture, language and identity. Underpinning the school’s overall progress is the provision of a supportive, whānau-based pastoral care structure and broad student wellbeing provision. The school has much to celebrate as this has had a noticeable impact on the overall school climate. Key highlights include:

  • genuine and reciprocal consultation with the school’s Māori community and the promotion of te ao Māori and te reo Māori

  • new whānau structures for pastoral care and valued whānau events that promote students’ strong sense of belonging and connection to the school

  • school celebrations that reinforce the school expectations and celebrate students’ success in learning and achievement, sporting and cultural excellence, and attendance

  • the restoration of the school’s wharenui, Te Kahurangi, to celebrate its 40th anniversary and to reset its place as the heart of the school

  • the completion of the new school fale to celebrate, affirm and honour students’ Pacific heritage

  • other physical property improvements to promote learning and school pride alongside higher expectations for positive classroom learning behaviours.

The school proactively builds whānau and wider educational networks to enhance services to promote student health and wellbeing. Results from the April 2019 Years 9 and 10 student wellbeing survey show good progress and positive areas compared with other schools nationally. Leaders are beginning to formally report on student wellbeing to the board to inform further improvement.

Learner outcomes: attendance, learning opportunities, progress and achievement

Good progress is evident in establishing the conditions for learning and improving valued student outcomes. Key areas of progress are evident and these include:

  • an explicit, schoolwide focus on lifting student attendance, as attendance levels remain a significant concern, with more targeted actions planned for in 2020 to increase the number of students attending 90 percent of the time

  • the use of restorative practices contributing to a notable reduction in the number of student stand-downs, suspensions and exclusions from the peak in 2015

  • the significant growth in student leadership opportunities, particularly for seniors, to enable students to learn new skills, lead activities and become positive role models

  • more students regularly participating in co-curricular activities

  • students accessing a broader range of educational opportunities and pathways to employment

  • involvement in the Kootuitui Trust to increase student access to digital learning opportunities and technologies.

National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA)

The overall quality and level of student achievement in NCEA still requires significant development through even more systematic school processes and targeted actions.

Increased numbers of students are leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2. Between 2015 and 2018, the percentage of school leavers attaining NCEA Level 2 rose from 34 percent to 54 percent. The number of students remaining at school until 17 years of age increased by 10 percent between 2016 and 2018. Both areas require further improvement to ensure a positive trend over time.

Internal systems for tracking and monitoring students’ NCEA progress and achievement have improved. The current LSM has helped develop useful reporting on student achievement to the board. Further work is required to improve the quality of evaluation in reporting to inform decision making and continue to raise the overall levels of student achievement.

Recent 2019 reports to the board show an increase in individual student NCEA credit attainment over the past nine months, particularly in NCEA Level 1. Reporting on merit and excellent endorsements in NCEA subjects and certificates has just started.

Overall, school expectations are lifting. Most senior students are enrolled in external NCEA standards, to offer them more diverse pathways. Some teachers require ongoing classroom support to teach to the required curriculum level, and help students experience more success.

The school is implementing targeted programmes to raise Māori achievement. The achievement of Māori boys is of concern to school leaders.

The board received useful curriculum area reports with some middle leaders showing a considered response to data to inform how they will improve teaching and student learning. The recently introduced mid-year curriculum reports include a presentation to the board. These practices are increasing middle leadership accountability for student outcomes.

Years 9 and 10 Achievement

The Kootuitui Trust reports on Years 9 and 10 progress and achievement show evidence of accelerated progress in literacy and mathematics by Year 10 students. Evaluative school reporting is required to identify successful teaching strategies and any other factors behind this success to improve overall outcomes for students in the junior school.

The new Year 10 Te Tohu Rangatira achievement strategy has seen 80 percent of students reaching the school target by mid-2019. This is raising students’ expectations of themselves, and helping students to set goals and reach completion targets. Developing a suitable Year 9 programme is now a priority. Ensuring regular reporting to the board on student progress in Years 9 and 10 is required.

Teaching effectiveness and impact for students

Leaders have increased expectations for teaching effectiveness and formalised the expected school-wide teaching practices. There are some good teaching practices in the school, however teaching effectiveness remains highly variable. A next step is to regularly evaluate the impact of teaching on student outcomes. The school appraisal process meets Teaching Council New Zealand|Matatū Aotearoa guidelines.

The Ministry seconded school leader coordinated a comprehensive curriculum stocktake that resulted in schoolwide teaching expectations. School-led consultation with the community has resulted in values which meaningfully connect to culturally responsive teaching practices. Year 9 teachers now use a common planning approach that also connects teaching and the school values.

Leaders and teachers are developing their responsiveness to student data trends and patterns. Students are increasingly being identified for in-class support and more targeted teaching. The learning support area of the school has recently increased the number of students it assists through specific programmes and referrals to external agencies. These programmes require robust evaluation to determine their impact on student learning outcomes.

Staff are more regularly participating in and leading internal professional learning and development. A collaborative teaching environment is developing. Increasing the overall capability and capacity of staff, to meet the diverse and wide range of learning requirements of students, remains a priority for leaders. This requires additional external professional support and mentoring, with rigorous internal evaluation.

Leadership and trustee effectiveness and impact for students

Strong professional leadership has led to ongoing school improvement. Leaders have reset a positive, more orderly climate for learning, and developed positive relationships with the community and students. They show resilience, empathy, care and compassion for students and their whānau. The principal has clearly promoted a student-centred and future-focused school improvement approach.

School leaders are growing their capacity to lead and manage change, including curriculum redevelopment. Continuing to grow leaders’ capabilities and staff performance remains a critical priority. Several curriculum leaders require ongoing support to raise the quality of their leadership to improve outcomes for students in their curriculum areas. External appraisal of the senior leadership team is in place to help support the growth of professional leadership and manage accountability.

The previous board led a comprehensive review of its governance policy and procedure framework. This has been an in-depth and evidence-based process to establish the foundation for effective governance as the new board implements the framework.

The board’s recently documented discussions around student attendance, progress and achievement show progress. This requires consolidation into board practice as the board embeds regular student progress and achievement reporting. This is essential to enable trustees to scrutinise school effectiveness and consider school performance in relation to other schools.

Community partnerships are becoming reciprocal. In August 2019, the board co-opted three whānau representatives to strengthen this important connection to the school’s Māori community. This is significant progress in the school. A core group of between 30 to 50 Māori whānau regularly meet strengthening learning partnerships with the school and informing the strategic direction.

The board and school leaders are strengthening the connections and relationships with Pacific communities and families to promote learning partnerships and further consultation. This will increase Pacific communities input in the development of the curriculum, and the school’s strategic direction and decision making.

Key Priorities

  1. Improve the quality of teaching. Continue to redevelop the school curriculum and fully integrate school values.

  • Continue to implement the new school-wide teaching expectations and practices. Ensure effective literacy and mathematics teaching strategies underpin classroom teaching practices. Provide sufficient literacy and mathematics leadership to support effective teaching so that students can access the curriculum.

  • Develop more personalised, curriculum-based strategies to engage students and increase the number of students attending school 90 percent of the time. Set an annual student attendance target.

  • Access external curriculum leadership expertise to increase middle leaders’ capacity to develop a responsive and meaningful curriculum.

  • Ensure all students are involved in and can access careers education, advice and guidance from Year 9. Enable students to access a wider range of meaningful curriculum pathways.

  • Increase students’ ability to confidently self-manage and lead their learning and expand students’ opportunities to make choices and decisions about their learning.

  • Provide targeted support and implement programmes to engage more Māori boys in education including effective teaching strategies.

  1. Build school-wide data literacy, increase target setting, monitoring and evaluation processes.

  • Use Years 9 and 10 literacy and mathematics data to set targets, strengthen teaching and learning programmes, and accelerate student learning. Use evaluation to document strategies and practices that accelerate student learning.

  • Strengthen board reporting, more closely monitor improvement targets to increase student outcomes.

    • Set a school leavers’ annual target based on gaining at least NCEA Level 2 and closely monitor and report on school progress and in relation to other schools.

    • Set targets for NCEA endorsements, receive regular reports to monitor progress and take further action to increase the current endorsement levels.

  • Building on the current good practices, formalise a schoolwide student wellbeing strategy and report on the outcomes of the strategy.
  • Develop the analysis and reporting of the impact of the pastoral care, whānau system and student support services to determine their sufficiency and effectiveness.
  1. Continue to improve the quality of stewardship in all areas of governance.

  • Operationalise, the new policy and procedure framework and work plan.

  • Work productively with external providers, and strengthen their role and responsibilities in curriculum and employment responsibilities, and as Crown representatives.

  • Regularly receive, and then scrutinise, evaluative reports to make effective strategic decisions that accelerate student learning and increase student outcomes.

  1. Further develop and then sustain school leadership.

  • Develop a sustainable leadership approach, manage staff wellbeing, and manage the pace of change.

  • Use external support, mentoring, coaching and appraisal to help school leaders refresh, enhance, balance and extend their professional leadership capabilities.

  • Consolidate school leadership roles and responsibilities.

  • Personalise leadership development to meet leaders’ individual needs.

  • Increase leaders’ involvement in external leadership networks.

  • Expand opportunities to visit other schools and engage in leadership exchanges.

  • Increase accountability for effective professional leadership to improve student outcomes.

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 increasing its capacity to improve its performance. School leaders, staff and trustees have made key improvements and several staffing appointments to begin to transform the school. The roll has increased, and community confidence is improving. Student management strategies are increasingly more effective. The board and leaders are thinking strategically and refreshing the strategic plan.

Leaders and staff continue to implement new initiatives designed to improve student outcomes. Sustained, improved student outcomes are not yet substantial enough. The school is still facing serious recruitment and ongoing staffing challenges. This is a key area to progress, using external Ministry support, to increase the internal curriculum expertise and accelerate student learning.

The next 12 months are a critical time for the board to become self-managing, for the quality of teaching to improve and a stable positive trajectory of improvement in attendance, NCEA and Years 9 and 10 learning outcomes to become more evident.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that the Ministry continues to provide a high-level of external support to the school to address:

  • employment and personnel matters, including a staffing strategy for a hard to staff school

  • curriculum implementation, including increased evaluation of the impact of teaching and more regular evaluation and reporting to the board.

The targeted support should remain in place until students achieve more equitable and excellent learner outcomes with a sustained positive trajectory of learning and student achievement, including higher levels of regular student attendance.


On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO‘s overall evaluation judgement of Papakura High School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

The school has made significant improvement. The quality of teaching and curriculum design requires further development to improve student outcomes. ERO will continue communication with the Ministry, the LSM, the board, and school leadership. ERO will provide evaluation services to continue to support school improvement and to inform sustainability.

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

3 February 2020

About the School


Papakura, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary Years 9 to 15

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 52% Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Cook Island Māori
other ethnic groups


Special Features

Papakura Activity Centre Te Aoatea Alternative Education

Review team on site

September 2019

Date of this report

3 February 2020

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2015
June 2013
July 2011