Putaruru College - 26/10/2016


Putaruru College has made steady progress over the course of four years towards building a positive school culture for all. Students now participate in an holistic curriculum that responds to their interests, learning needs and vocational aspirations. Teachers are more effectively responding to the needs of Māori learners and their whānau.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Background and Context

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

Putaruru College caters for students in Years 7 to 13 who come from the local township of Putaruru and surrounding rural areas. Of the 357 students on the roll, 35% identify as Māori. The school has worked with ERO and other external providers over the past four years in response to areas for review and development identified in the 2012 and 2014 ERO reports. During this time, the principal and board chair have remained the same. There have been changes to staff, leadership and membership of the board of trustees.

Since the 2014 ERO review, the school has continued to seek support and guidance from external sources including Ministry of Education (MoE), Schools Trustees Association (STA) and other advisors. In addition, teachers have engaged in professional learning and development focused on the teaching of literacy, strategies to raise student achievement, and building culturally responsive relationships through involvement in the MoE funded Kia Eke Panuku programme.

The 2014 ERO report acknowledged progress in the collation and use of school-wide student achievement information, improved curriculum and assessment systems, increased student engagement and achievement levels, and improved leadership capability of middle managers.

Remaining challenges include:

  • growing the effectiveness of the senior leadership team
  • analysis and evaluation of student achievement and school initiatives
  • developing shared understandings around teaching and learning
  • consistency in the implementation of the pastoral care systems
  • the implementation of a robust appraisal system
  • review of the school curriculum.

The school, under the leadership of the board and principal, has made significant progress in responding to these challenges.

Trustees bring a good range of expertise and experience to the board and represent the community well. A new board of trustees was elected in May 2016 and at the time of this ERO review was about to embark on the review of the charter and strategic plan.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

Following the 2014 ERO review in 2014, the following priorities were identified. These included:

  • the effectiveness of the senior leadership team to provide cohesive professional leadership and shared school-wide expectations for teaching and learning
  • the analysis and use of school-wide student achievement information
  • a consistent approach to the implementation of behaviour management and improved pastoral care systems
  • the implementation of a robust appraisal system for all staff
  • the review and evaluation of school-wide initiatives
  • reviewing the Putaruru College curriculum linked to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) in consultation with staff, students and parents.


The effectiveness of senior leadership

The board has sought external advice and guidance to address the leadership challenges and build capability. There have been positive changes in the senior leadership team and new appointments to middle management in the school. Leaders have clear roles and responsibilities and work in the best interests of students and teachers. The principal is promoting a caring and collaborative culture that encourages innovation and improvement, builds relational trust, and grows leadership across the school.

Under the guidance of middle leaders, staff have engaged in ongoing professional learning and development to clarify and deepen their understanding about effective teaching and learning. This professional learning has focused on raising engagement and achievement for all, with a particular focus on improved outcomes for Māori students. It is being reinforced by the school’s commitment to Kia Eke Panuku - building culturally responsive relationships and pedagogies across the school. This initiative, along with restorative practices, has improved student engagement, relationships with teachers, and school culture. In addition there has been an ongoing emphasis placed on building teacher capability and strategies in literacy across all curriculum areas.

The next step for the senior leadership team is to continue to work collaboratively with middle leaders and staff to continue the review and improvement of teaching programmes and further raise student achievement.

Analysis and use of school-wide student achievement information

Leaders are more effectively using self review to analyse student achievement information in order to inform decision making, target setting and reporting. They are now able to identify students at risk of underachieving and plan for their progress and success. Student achievement in Years 11 to 13 is being tracked and monitored and this is having a positive effect on results.

The numbers of Māori students leaving school with Level 2 in the National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA) has improved and the gap between Māori and non-Māori has been reduced.

At Level 1 NCEA, the disparity between Māori and non-Māori achievement is still evident. Leaders are aware that there is an urgent need to accelerate Māori student progress. In addition, levels of literacy and numeracy have improved but are still not comparable with the national levels.

Students in Years 7 and 8 benefit from high quality programmes and improved levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Achievement results in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics have improved over the past few years especially for students in Year 8.

The next step is to focus on tracking and accelerating student achievement in Years 9 and 10

A consistent approach to behaviour management and pastoral care

There is now a more structured and systematic approach to pastoral care provisions for students and greater consistency in behaviour management approaches across all classrooms. Students learn in inclusive and collaborative classroom environments where they are being encouraged to contribute to decisions about the way they learn and make choices about learning contexts.

The implementation of a robust appraisal system

An appropriate appraisal system has been introduced that is aligned to the requirements of the Education Council. This has included the appraisal of the principal and senior leadership team by an external consultant.

Teaching as Inquiry is promoting teacher critical reflection focused on trialling strategies to accelerate the progress of students at risk of underachieving. Student voice is being increasingly gathered and used to reflect on the effectiveness of teaching and learning programmes.

The next step is to embed the appraisal process and monitor teacher performance especially in relation to the expectations of Kia Eke Panuku for culturally responsive relationships and pedagogy.

Reviewing the Putaruru College curriculum linked to The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)

Middle leaders are leading curriculum innovation and implementation by including new ways to better interest and engage students and raise their achievement. Programmes in English, mathematics, science, social sciences and the arts and the implementation of specialised courses such as film making and digital technology, are able to show successful outcome for students. An increased responsiveness to the needs of Māori learners is well supported by a planned programme of teacher professional learning and development and the appraisal process.

Students are also experiencing considerable success through vocational courses provided by the trades academies, work placements, and partnerships with tertiary institutions. Participation in a wide variety of sporting and outdoor educational opportunities has increased with pleasing results.

The school receives good levels of support for the curriculum by the local community. Students are able to access learning in and through the community. This is resulting in improved perceptions of the school within the local area and increased pride in the school. The school has extended the ways that it communicates and engages with parents and whānau.

There has been a major focus on the teaching of numeracy and literacy across the curriculum, and an authentic, cross-curricular learning opportunities.

At the time of this ERO review, the board and leadership had begun consultation with the school community to develop a new charter and strategic plan to better reflect the current and future priorities of the school. This should be closely followed by a review of the school curriculum to reflect the school’s own vision, values and future direction and requirements of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

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 well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. This is because:

  • there is a high degree of capability and expertise within the board of trustees to continue to bring about school improvement
  • the senior leadership team has been strengthened and leaders have a strong focus on raising student achievement
  • middle leaders are very effective in implementing innovative practices to better engage and support students
  • there is a positive and collegial professional culture amongst staff
  • the school is able to show improved educational outcomes for students.

Key next steps

In order to increase equitable outcomes for all and further raise student achievement, school leaders should review curriculum and assessment practices in Years 9 and 10 in order to:

  • better align with levels and progressions of the NZC
  • systematically embed greater Māori content in the curriculum
  • achieve greater alignment with the teaching and assessment practices of Years 7 and 8
  • provide students and teachers with more explicit feedback about learning needs and next learning steps.

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.

4 Recommendations

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

The board should continue to seek advice from external agencies as the need arises.


Putaruru College has made steady progress over the course of four years towards building a positive school culture for all. Students now participate in an holistic curriculum that responds to their interests, learning needs and vocational aspirations. Teachers are more effectively responding to the needs of Māori learners and their whānau.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years. 

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato/Bay of Plenty

26 October 2016

About the School


Putaruru, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition











Review team on site

August 2016

Date of this report

26 October 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

July 2014

October 2012

November 2009