Rutherford College - 14/03/2014

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Rutherford College provides coeducational secondary education to an increasingly multicultural school population in the Te Atatu Peninsula, West Auckland. Just over 20% of students identify as Māori and 11% as Pacific. Asian student numbers continue to grow.

Since the October 2010 ERO report, a number of key staff changes occurred. This includes two new senior leadership team members and changes in curriculum heads and teaching staff. A new deputy principal started at the beginning of 2013. An acting principal was in place in Term 2, 2013 while the principal was on sabbatical. The board and principal make ongoing property and resourcing decisions that improve the quality of the physical learning environment for students.

The college continues to focus on providing a broad-based curriculum that encourages more students to take part in sports and cultural activities. Positive relationships between students and staff provide a foundation for learning. Students have a variety of opportunities to take on leadership roles.

The school continues to work towards improving the quality of education for all students including Māori, Pacific and learners requiring extra support to achieve well. Developing sustainable and strategic community engagement with whānau of Māori learners and Pacific families is a key priority.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Senior leaders and teachers are improving their use of achievement information to support student progress in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs). The formal introduction of the ‘ATOM’ (Achieving To Our Maximum) goal setting process by tutor teachers with students and their parents has increased the focus on learning outcomes. More active monitoring of student achievement by senior leaders and staff helped most students to achieve numeracy and literacy requirements for NCEA Level 1 in 2012.

Historically, the college’s NCEA results have been below national comparisons and for similar coeducational schools. Overall data shows the gap is closing and more students are leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2. NCEA results between 2010 and 2012 continue to show variable trends and patterns. Some positive gains were evident in the 2012 NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 results. Merit and excellence endorsements levels have also improved.

There is some notable progress for Māori and Pacific students’ results. However, these results continue to be below their peers at the college, particularly in endorsements. NCEA Level 3 and University Entry are below expected levels for all students, including Māori and Pacific, in relation to national comparisons and for similar schools. Indications are that results for Māori and Pacific students in 2013 are improving.

Students with high educational needs are well monitored and encouraged to reach personal goals. The college has a well functioning special needs unit that provides personalised learning opportunities for 28 ORS funded students.

Preliminary Term 3 2013 NCEA school monitoring shows more students are on track to obtain NCEA qualifications. Senior retention of Māori and Pacific learners has noticeably improved over time. The school continues to consider strategies for raising the achievement of students who leave school without a minimum qualification of NCEA Level 2.

Students with high educational needs are well-monitored through individual learning goals in their individual education plans. They are encouraged to achieve these goals and regularly participate in activities in the wider community.

Year 9 entry achievement information is used by senior leaders and the dean to place students in tutor classes. A 2010 school review of streaming resulted in broader and more flexible ability groupings. Some teachers are increasing their use of assessment information to better meet students’ needs and interests. The school has identified that teachers should further develop Year 9 and 10 assessment practices by improving their use of assessment data in literacy, mathematics and in relation to curriculum area levels.

Collated and reported standardised assessment information provides an unclear picture about Year 9 and 10 students' progress and achievement as a group. While, for example, Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (asTTle) data in reading indicates significant numbers of students did not make the expected progress over 2012, other school assessment information indicates a more positive picture.

ERO supports the school's current plans to strengthen and improve:

  • school expectations for the progress and achievement of Years 9 and 10 students using more robust analysis and monitoring of progress, particularly for Māori, Pacific and students requiring extra support
  • the monitoring of senior students’ progress, achievement and retention in programmes leading to NCEA Level 2 or its equivalent in order to increase students’ success, including for Māori and Pacific students, in NCEA Levels 1 to 3 and University Entrance
  • the collation and reporting of senior students’ destination data for further school and curriculum area strategic review.

These steps should continue to improve the effectiveness of the school's strategic plan in generating positive improved student outcomes.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

A broad-based curriculum with a focus on academic, sporting and cultural activities continues to be a feature of the school. The school runs an extension programme for Year 9 and 10 students. New senior courses, including health and sports science, contribute to increased educational pathways. The Gateway programme enables 50 students from Year 12 onwards to be involved in workplace based learning. A 2010 school review led to changes in the school day and curriculum area time allocations. The impact of these changes on learning is to be evaluated in 2014.

Teachers focus on improving their understanding and use of goal setting with tutor groups. Parents are involved in developing goals at initial parent-teacher conferences. The school reports that ATOM contributes to more awareness of the importance of monitoring progress towards goals.

Heads of Faculty produce annual reports that are now more closely linked to the school’s strategic goals. The senior leaders are aware they need to further improve evaluation practices and leadership of effective curriculum delivery.

Positive and respectful relationships between teachers and students underpin learning. Students are well-behaved and on task. In some Year 9 and 10 classrooms, ERO observed effective teaching practices. These include high expectations for learning with a variety of well-paced activities. Students make choices about their learning and teachers know learners well. Further work is needed to ensure all students are actively engaged in their learning.

Senior leaders and the board identify and ERO agrees that it is now timely to review the effectiveness of the school’s curriculum. This will focus on:

  • provision for students in Years 9 and 10 and priority learners in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum principles, values and key competencies
  • establishing consistently high expectations for high quality teaching and learning in all curriculum areas
  • continuing to develop a culturally responsive curriculum, particularly for Māori and Pacific learners
  • teachers formally inquiring into the effectiveness of their practice through the use of reflection, assessment information and research.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The school continues to provide te reo Māori and supports a well established kapa haka group which has its own strong whānau support group. Other opportunities for promoting success, such as through waka ama, information sharing and mentoring from outside agencies and tertiary providers, are available.

A deputy principal has been working to consolidate and enhance the progress achieved in building sustainable relationships with the wider whānau through an expanded Māori Parent Group to further develop support for all whānau with children at the college. Recently the board has co-opted two Māori representatives who have longstanding connections with the school's Māori community. This should contribute to a stronger strategic voice in board decision making.

The school continues to develop and use strategies to support success for Māori learners, as Māori. The school plans to:

  • engage and consult with the parents and whānau of Māori learners to determine strategies that support increased educational success
  • develop a response to Ministry of Education strategies such as Ka Hikitia –Accelerating Success 2013 - 2017and Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learnersand strategies to support whānau engagement in their learners’ education.

How effectively does the school support success for Pacific, as Pacific?

The school provides opportunities for students to participate in cultural activities and to perform in competitions. These performances contribute towards NCEA qualifications. Staff who identify as Pacific, and senior managers provide support for Pacific learners. Students highly value information sharing and mentoring opportunities provided by external organisations and tertiary education providers.

The Pacific Parent Group has been in operation for three years. This provides a place for parents to find out more about qualifications and career pathways. A deputy principal provides support to the group. The board, senior leaders and teachers will continue to strengthen engagement and consultation with the families of Pacific learners. This should lead to improving opportunities provided to achieve educational success that values Pacific language, culture and identity.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is developing its capacity to sustain and improve its performance. The senior leadership team increased from four members to five in 2013. Team members are developing shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities as school leaders. The senior leadership team has identified clear priorities focused on student-centred learning. Some curriculum leaders are new to their roles and require support to ensure students receive responsive, high quality 21st Century learning opportunities including alignment with the pastoral and guidance network.

Senior leaders recognise that a new approach is needed to improve the impact of schoolwide professional learning and development for teachers. The appraisal process requires further work to increase its rigour and the clarity of steps necessary to improve teaching and professional practices. The board and senior leaders are aware that these two key areas are priorities for 2014.

Schoolwide understandings about the role and purpose of self review require further development. Regular monitoring is supporting recent improvement in NCEA results and progress in relation to ‘ATOM’ goal setting.

The board provides stable governance with the majority of members being experienced trustees. Processes for policy review require further development to ensure they are kept up to date.

Trustees seek to increase community consultation and involvement. The development of the 2013 to 2015 strategic plan included some parent survey input. Attendance was higher at a recent parent-teacher consultation evening. The Māori and Pacific parent groups seek to build learning partnerships and to inform strategic decision making.

The following areas require strengthening:

  • understanding and use of self review and evaluation to by trustees, teachers, curriculum leaders and senior leaders to improve student progress and achievement
  • appraisal, and professional learning and development, to ensure it is consistent, robust and responsive to the needs of students, individual teachers and leaders.

Provision for international students

The school 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. At the time of this review there were 37 international students attending the school from a wide range of countries, including Japan, China, Korea and Germany.

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

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review processes for international students meet requirements. There are clear expectations for the induction of students onto the international programme and the monitoring of their wellbeing and learning. Processes for verifying home stay police vetting have been recently revised.

It is timely to review the international programme to ensure that it meets its intended outcomes.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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


Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

14 March 2014

About the School


Te Atatu

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 52%

Female 48%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Other ethnic groups








Special Features

Special Education Unit for ORS funded students

Adult and Community Education provider

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

14 March 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2010

September 2007

August 2004