Papakura High School - 13/06/2013

1 Background and Context

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

ERO’s 2011 review of Papakura High School identified ongoing concerns about student progress, achievement and engagement. Other issues regarding physical and emotional safety, attendance and classroom management had been identified by ERO in 2008 and 2009 as factors impacting on student learning outcomes. Evidence of the unsettled environment was reflected in discipline incidents and the high levels of student stand-downs and suspensions.

To address these matters, ERO recommended that the Ministry of Education maintain support for the board and the newly appointed principal. A Ministry of Education appointed Special Adviser has had an active role in the school since 2011. The principal and adviser have reduced many of the financial expenditure and overstaffing difficulties, although the declining school roll continues to put pressure on personnel and resourcing decisions.

Several new initiatives have been put in place to support school leadership and management and to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Some initiatives are very recent, others have been discontinued or not sustained. Building effective leadership at senior and middle management levels continues to be a priority for school development.

A significant context in this school concerns the poor state of the buildings and facilities. The outdated physical environment does not support the delivery of the new curriculum pathway model. The board of trustees has recently been informed by the Ministry of Education about progress towards a programme of rebuilding.

Over the last two years, ERO has been kept informed of school developments and initiatives through the process of the Arotake Paetawhiti.

2 Review and Development

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

ERO’s 2011 review report identified the need to improve school performance, including:

  • improving outcomes for students
  • strengthening school leadership and management
  • increasing the quality of self review for school improvement
  • reviewing pastoral care and behaviour management.

The school has made some progress towards improving outcomes for students. The school has evidence that demonstrates improved student attendance and an increase in the number of students gaining Levels 2 and 3 qualifications in the National Certification of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Students and teachers report that the school has a more settled and positive tone.

The principal and the board are working more collaboratively and more strategically. They are prioritising the needs of students in decisions about curriculum design and resourcing. Teachers are being consulted about school developments, particularly in the implementation of the new curriculum model. External consultants are involved in strengthening management capability, and in developing student mentoring approaches.

ERO agrees that progress is most evident in the following areas:

  • Charter development and school values - consultation with staff and community has contributed to the development of a comprehensive school charter. A vision for learning is set out and plans for managing school goals are aligned to the strategic framework.
  • Strategic planning and reporting systems - the principal reports regularly to the board of trustees about the implementation of the plans and strategic directions. Middle managers have newly developed department action plans and reporting systems that incorporate school goals.
  • Curriculum pathways in the senior school - considerable planning has been undertaken to restructure the senior school curriculum. A variety of different pathways are being trailed in 2013 to broaden employment and future training opportunities for school leavers.
  • Leadership of curriculum and assessment - new appointments in senior and middle management are strengthening curriculum leadership. External and internal support has been implemented to support these roles. There is also increased potential to review teaching and learning expectations.
  • Student data management - the school’s student data base can now provide better information about students’ achievement and progress. Teachers can access information to assist their planning. Academic mentoring programmes are more likely to succeed when teacher, students and parents share reliable achievement information.
  • Success as Māori - new leadership in the Māori department is encouraging participation and engagement with whānau. Pride in kapa haka is evident, and is enabling Māori students to develop confidence in their language, culture and identity.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Areas where further review and development are needed include:

Management of student behaviour. The school's discipline system should be reviewed. Greater emphasis on pastoral and restorative approaches is needed to support the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) initiative. The deans’ roles, house structure and student support networks should be clarified and coordinated.

Consistent approaches to teaching and learning. Opportunities to develop and implement shared understandings of teaching and learning are needed. Leaders of teaching and learning should coordinate school-wide, student-centred teacher development based on assessment for learning and teacher inquiry approaches.

Accelerating student achievement. An increasing number of Years 9 and 10 students achieving well below curriculum expectations have been identified by the school. Programmes designed to lift the achievement of these students, many of whom are Māori, must be prioritised. Newly implemented systems for grouping students based on ability will need to be continually reviewed and evaluated.

Performance management. The continued underperformance of a number of staff, both classroom teachers and school managers must be addressed. Staff appraisal is being reviewed but is not yet having an impact on improving performance. The allocation of management units should be reviewed to reflect capability and to ensure equitable workloads and responsibilities.

Developing a culture of self review and improvement. Expectations for self review and improvement should be strengthened. Teachers and managers should be encouraged to develop reflective approaches to self review based on evidence and inquiry. These approaches are critical to sustain and evaluate significant changes planned for;

  • careers education and services
  • education for student with special learning needs
  • learning pathways in the senior curriculum
  • significant property development.

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 improve current practice the board of trustees should complete the cycle of principal appraisal and develop an annual performance agreement to support the relationship between the principal and the board.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that Secretary for Education consider increasing the level of intervention at Papakura High School in order to support ongoing developments and further improvements in school performance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

13 June 2013

About the School


Papakura, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 51%

Girls 49%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Other Pacific












Special Features

Activity Centre, Alternative Education, Special Needs Unit

Review team on site

March 2013

Date of this report

13 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2011

July 2009

June 2008