Papakura High School - 10/09/2015


Papakura High School continues a history of poor performance and is not providing a curriculum that adequately promotes student learning. It has a declining roll and experiences challenge in recruiting or retaining effective leaders and staff. Significant further external support is required to provide a positive school culture and improve student achievement.

ERO will determine the timing of the next review following the school and Ministry of Education response to this report.

1 Background and Context

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

Papakura High School, located in South Auckland, serves a diverse community including many Māori and Pacific students. The school caters for students in Years 9 to 13. The school roll has continued to decline. This decline has reduced the range of curriculum opportunities available for students.

The school has a history of poor performance. This is the sixth ERO review in eleven years. After the 2013 review, another two year review was initiated. Ongoing concerns included the effectiveness of school leadership and governance, personnel management, the quality of teaching and learning, student achievement and pastoral care.

Long term issues regarding the condition of school property and facilities continue. The rebuilding plan for the school is now delayed until after 2021. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has recently provided funding to enable the school to upgrade property. Many areas of the school urgently need maintenance or improvement. Other areas require significant investment to ensure modern, well resourced learning environments.

Over several years, the MoE has provided a wide range of ongoing support for the school including a specialist adviser intervention. In 2014, this support increased to a limited statutory manager (LSM) to improve employment relations, personnel and property management. Two different LSMs have now held this position.

The MoE has funded teacher professional development programmes to help middle managers improve their use of student achievement information. It has also resourced additional programmes including Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L), Kia Eke Panuku, introduced to support Māori Success, and a digital enablement contract.

In July 2015, ERO’s 1-2 year review was concluded. Information gathered during the concluding visit and over the past two years has been used to evaluate the school’s progress. This report finds that, for the fourth time in a row, the school has not returned to the regular ERO three year cycle. ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education urgently increases the scope and level of intervention so that students have access to a higher quality of education.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The large majority of the school’s students enter the school with low levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Accelerating the achievement of students is a continuing key priority of the school alongside developing culturally responsive and inclusive teaching practices.

Māori students in particular require significant targeted support to help them succeed. Teachers require high quality curriculum leadership and ongoing professional development to help them meet student learning requirements and work constructively with students and their whānau.

Key development priorities were agreed between ERO and the school in 2013. To achieve these priorities, the school required more effective governance and leadership. The priorities included the need to:

  • develop a culture of self review and improvement
  • increase student engagement and accelerate student achievement
  • improve the consistency of teaching practices to promote more effective student learning
  • improve the management of student behaviour
  • implement robust performance management processes.


The school has made limited progress with most of the identified areas for review and development. While trustees, some senior leaders and other staff report a willingness to improve outcomes for students, deep seated issues impede progress at all levels of the school. These include:

  • poor professional working relationships between some staff and school leaders
  • ineffective working relationships between the board and school leaders
  • the absence of effective school decision making to benefit students
  • some negative staff perspectives towards students and the community
  • inconsistent school management systems resulting in ineffectual management of challenging student behaviour.

Developing a culture of self review and improvement

School development is hampered by inadequate critical reflection and established processes for conducting and using robust self review for improvement. There is limited evaluation capability. While there is a new system for department reviews and action plans, this system is not well linked to actions and strategies that improve student engagement, and teaching and learning.

The evaluation of student achievement information in Years 9 to 13 is limited. School reviews into the reasons for the progress or lack of progress for groups of students and cohorts over time is poor. The responsibility is currently placed on departments and departments are not well connected making it very difficult to share, agree on and implement consistent effective teaching practices. Stronger leadership is required.

Accelerating achievement to improve outcomes for students and improving teaching practices

School governance, leadership and teaching practices are not effective in accelerating student learning and achievement. In 2014 student achievement at Level 1 of the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) did begin to improve overall, however it still remained low. At NCEA Level 2, student achievement continues to decline overall. NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance overall levels of student achievement continue to remain low with low numbers of students progressing to Level 3. Current school achievement information suggests that student achievement in 2015 is tracking below the levels of 2014. ERO also has concerns about the validity and robustness of student achievement information.

Between 2013 and 2015, overall outcomes and achievement for Māori students remain very poor. While student achievement outcomes for Pacific students are generally higher, accelerated progress is still required. Currently, it is unclear how well students in the Special Needs unit or students on other support programmes are progressing and achieving. These are further areas requiring significant attention.

Senior leaders and middle managers have received considerable MoE professional development to help them manage and use achievement information. Work with MoE personnel did help the school improve the collation and tracking of student achievement. However, it has not been sustained to significantly impact on the quality of teaching and learning. High middle leadership staff turnover has hampered any consolidation of professional development.

Currently, deans are receiving MoE professional development to help them have more purposeful conversations with students to further engage them in their learning. Unless this is connected to a well-designed curriculum that provides appropriate choices and meaningful pathways, student retention to the senior school is less likely to improve.

Student progress and achievement in Years 9 and 10 is not well monitored and evaluated at a whole school level. While there is now a database of Year 9 and 10 results, there are gaps in the assessment cycle. Currently, the board has no information about the progress of students in Year 10. There is also no documented evaluation commentary to account for any progress or lack of progress. A well developed coherent approach is urgently required across the junior school.

The school has implemented a new Year 9 programme to improve outcomes for students. This programme appears to have limited chance of success. It has significant structural and timetable problems. Teachers are not well supported to implement it well. There is limited evidence of ongoing, documented self review to improve this programme over time.

Improving the management of student behaviour

Pastoral care and student management systems have not been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated, despite ongoing recommendations. Student behaviour is not well managed. The limited capability of senior leaders to work collectively and constructively with staff, and communicate consistent messages has undermined school management systems.

School leaders have not responded effectively to address the increasingly high behavioural needs of some students. The consolidation and embedding of initiatives such as PB4L is poor. New staff receive little guidance and support to implement school behaviour management systems well and report frustration over the lack of clarity, support and leadership.

Implementing robust performance management processes

While performance management systems have been improved, they are not consistently enough implemented to strengthen teaching. Improving accountability for effective school leadership is necessary. Staff require more effective school leadership to promote their growth and development.

A robust review of induction, support for new staff and effective professional development for teachers is necessary. The school should develop a more collaborative and effective working environment with higher levels of relational trust and effective communication.

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 or improve its performance. There has been little progress with addressing the ongoing concerns and issues over the past eleven years.

ERO is not confident that the board of trustees can bring about improvement. The board is not effectively managing complex and challenging issues, even with the support of an LSM. Trustees acknowledge they have not sustained systems and processes to manage their legal responsibilities adequately. The board is continuing to operate a deficit budget.

The board’s documented plans for improvement are not resulting in improving student achievement. The reporting systems that supported slight improvements in student achievement in NCEA Level 1 in 2014 have not been sustained or embedded.

The board has yet to engage in whole board training and development to build its collective capability. It has also not yet planned for the succession of several very long serving trustees. Consultation with the local community is not well managed and is not sufficiently informing plans for school improvement.

There is an absence of experienced and effective school leadership. The current principal has recently resigned. Two new deputy principals have been appointed, both new to senior management responsibilities. Most heads of department are new to their roles and leadership support is absent.

Low levels of staff morale are evident. Poor relationships and a lack of trust between the staff and remaining school leaders are strongly evident. There is a high turnover of staff. The falling roll and reductions in staffing have had a negative impact on staff wellbeing. Staffing vacancies are an urgent concern for the board and LSM. The MoE has contracted a recruitment company to assist the school. However, a more effective recruitment and retention strategy is required to attract high quality teachers and leaders.

Professional development is not well planned and implemented. More deliberate and effective leadership of teaching and learning is required. School leaders have not sustained or embedded professional development. ERO does not have confidence that current MoE programmes are likely to impact positively on the school culture and accelerate student achievement.

Recent school student engagement information suggests students are becoming less engaged in education. In many classrooms the learning climate and student engagement in meaningful, relevant learning is poor. High expectations for student success and achievement are not evident school- wide. The recent rise in stand downs and the reasons for the stand downs alongside the decline in attendance are of concern. The school must take further steps to provide a safe and inclusive environment. Student and staff safety should be urgently addressed.

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.

In order to meet its obligations, the board must:

  1. develop a programme of self review that enables the board to be assured about the effectiveness of its own and school operations and update polices to reflect changes in legislation
  2. provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students and staff
  3. in consultation with the school's Māori community, develop and make known to the school's community policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students
  4. ensure planning and documentation for all school trips, including risk identification and parent permission, consistently meets requirements.

[National Administration Guideline 1(e), 2(b) and 5]


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

ERO recommends that Secretary for Education consider increasing the scope and level of intervention under section 7A of the Education Act 1989 in order to improve school governance and leadership, and provide a learning environment that promotes student engagement and achievement.


Papakura High School continues a history of poor performance and is not providing a curriculum that adequately promotes student learning. It has a declining roll and experiences challenge in recruiting or retaining effective leaders and staff. Significant further external support is required to provide a positive school culture and improve student achievement.

ERO will determine the timing of the next review following the school and Ministry of Education response to this report.

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

School Statistics


Papakura, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys      54%
Girls       46%

Ethnic composition



Special Features

Activity Centre, Alternative Education, Special Needs Unit

Review team on site

July 2015

Date of this report

10 September 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2013
July 2011
July 2009