Rutherford College - 15/05/2017


Leaders, teachers and trustees are committed to providing students with personalised learning programmes and an environment that is conducive to learning. Students are proud of their school and enjoy diverse curriculum and leadership opportunities. They benefit from consistent values, high expectations for success, and support to navigate meaningful learning qualifications and pathways.

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

1 Context

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

Rutherford College is a well-established Years 9 to 13 school serving families from the
Te Atatu Peninsula and surrounding districts. The college has historically had close connections with nearby primary and intermediate schools. In 2015, the college and nine local schools joined to form the Te Atatu Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako (CoL).

Relationships with Māori whānau are positive. Kāumatua and whānau speak highly of the recent efforts of school leaders to consult and respond to their aspirations relating to tikānga and te reo Māori. There are increased opportunities for Māori students to succeed as Māori.

Students are proud of their school. They seek opportunities for leadership, enjoy positive and supportive relationships with teachers, and benefit from the inclusive, and culturally responsive relational educational practices. Eighty percent of students leave school with the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) at Level 2.

The college has a strong commitment to equity and inclusion. The school-based Turangawaewae unit enables a group of students with very high learning needs to participate in mainstream programmes and experience success. Programmes for students with moderate learning needs and special abilities are also well coordinated and resourced.

College leaders have taken a constructive and purposeful role in promoting community engagement. There is clear alignment with management goals and targets and the school’s strategic vision and direction. Effective leadership of the college and of the board of trustees has enabled the school to make ongoing progress and improve outcomes for learners.

2 Learning

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

College leaders use student achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Well-analysed achievement data for Years 9 and 10 and Level 1 to 3 NCEA are reported to the board. Trends over time, and comparisons with local and national achievement inform school goals and targets, management decisions and long-term planning.

Students are achieving well overall, including those with high learning needs. The percentage of school leavers attaining Level 2 NCEA has been around 80% in recent years. While this percentage is below the Government target of 85%, many more students, including Māori students, are achieving NCEA endorsed qualifications at Level 2.

Despite these positive trends, Level 1 NCEA, and the achievement of Pacific learners, are challenges recognised by school leaders. Targets for priority learners are incorporated in annual planning and in the school’s Māori and Pacific Achievement Plans. New initiatives, including the recent appointment of a Pacific Development Officer aim to strengthen community engagement. These plans could be further progressed with a more clearly identified senior leadership role for Pacific students and their families.

The school has a strong commitment to all students reaching their potential. ATOM: “achieving to our maximum” is the combined focus of tutor teachers, support staff, deans and careers services across each year level. The strategies, well known to students, involve personalised goal setting and mentoring. Teachers know the range of abilities in their classrooms and identify priority learners, those most at risk of not achieving.

School leaders anticipate that long-term involvement through the CoL offers possibilities for a deeper focus on supporting individual learners, particularly priority learners. The possibilities for sharing data, trusting teacher judgements, and developing a common language of learning across Years 8 to 10, will benefit learners, and ensure a more seamless transition.

The college has expectations for learning that include academic, sporting, cultural and social outcomes. These valued outcomes, together with the competencies and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC), could be explored more fully in constructing a Rutherford learner profile. School leaders agree that such a profile could become part of the school’s vision for excellence.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is increasingly responsive to parent and student aspirations. Traditional academic programmes are complemented by a wider range of curriculum pathways, including performing arts, carpentry, electronics, and hospitality that are taught to a high standard. The school endeavours to ensure that every student attains meaningful qualifications and has a pathway to further education, training or employment.

The restructure of Year 9 and 10 classes has been pivotal to shifting the delivery of the curriculum towards more differentiated, student-centred teaching approach. Curriculum levels inform department planning, assessment and reporting practices. Teachers know their learners well, and with the introduction of a new student management system in 2017, are now better able to track their progress and achievement.

The curriculum provides a wide variety of leadership opportunities that are eagerly sought by students. They contribute in areas of sports, health and wellbeing, peer support, and community engagement. The student council, student trustee, and the well-managed International Student programme are valued for their contribution to the curriculum. Senior students are role models for junior students and actively promote the school’s vision and values of diversity and respect.

Students participate in rich co-curricular programmes that include cultural performance, competitive sport and outdoor education. They are capable learners and Review Officers spoke with many who expressed pride in the school. School leaders plan to carry out a school-wide student survey in 2017. They see the value in seeking a broad range of student opinion to inform school development and ongoing internal evaluation.

Clearly stated expectations, shared by students and teachers, contribute to the settled and purposeful learning environment. There are high levels of classroom engagement and a wide range of pastoral care systems. The well-embedded Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) programme underpins this positive climate for learning. Student management approaches are becoming more restorative, with a declining need for disciplinary interventions.

Teachers share learning expectations with students, assisting them to develop strategies for managing their learning. They provide regular feedback to students about their progress and success. There is potential through the Devices for Learning Plan (D4L) to further increase learner engagement through the increased use of digital learning strategies.

There is also potential through the CoL, for the development of cross-school approaches to learning. This coordinated initiative will contribute to students having greater agency and ownership of their learning.

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

Te Kōtuku whare and roopu are well established in the college and are becoming more integral components of the school culture. Kaumatua and kuia are respected leaders who provide advice to guide appropriate whole-school kawa and tikanga. Kapa haka performances and the Year 12 and 13 Mahi a Toi Academy provide opportunities for Māori students to achieve success as Māori.

The college is taking a planned approach to strengthening outcomes for Māori as Māori, including recent consultation through whānau hui about aspirations, targets and goal setting. The resurgence of the school haka and the introduction of tikanga in the Year 9 curriculum provides opportunities for all students to learn about and contribute to the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The board and principal are leading these strategic developments with support from key members of staff and the leadership team. Māori students involved in recent whole-school developments have responded positively. School leaders have recognised the needs of the many Māori students who are not actively involved in marae-based programmes, to experience tikanga Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain positive changes and continue to improve its performance. The energised school leadership team works collaboratively with clearly delegated school-wide roles and responsibilities. School developments are strategically aligned, well managed and regularly reported through the principal to the board.

Internal evaluation has been strengthened in recent years. New initiatives are implemented thoughtfully and systematically evaluated. Senior and middle school leaders use evidence to support their analysis and self-review processes, with well-documented department reports identifying successes and challenges.

The focus of internal evaluation is increasingly concerned with improving equitable outcomes. One particular example is the restructuring of Year 9 and 10 programmes from streamed classes to mixed ability bands, while another relates to the refocusing of support for students with special needs and those with special abilities. These examples of school-wide change are thoughtfully researched.

Performance management is becoming another area of strength. Teachers are inquiring into the effectiveness of their practice using student achievement as the focus of their inquiry. Teacher appraisal is more evidence based and connected to professional learning. Teachers support the direction of the school and engage constructively in school improvement.

The board of trustees has also evaluated its role in supporting the school. Trustees represent their diverse community effectively. Capable leadership of the board enables trustees to work efficiently, prioritising meeting time for in-depth discussion of progress relating to strategic goals and targets.

Trustees seek assurance, based on a documented annual work-plan, of how the school vision is enacted. They are very supportive of community engagement initiatives and the school’s role in developing the CoL. The board has contributed to resolving long-standing property matters, and has supported the principal through leadership and staffing changes.

The board has recently revised its policy framework. Its broad overarching policies now require senior leaders to keep school procedures updated and ensure these are well communicated. It is important that school procedures reflect current regulations, particularly where legislation has changed such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. At the time of this review there were 58 international students attending the school, including two exchange students.

International students are very well cared for and experience high quality programmes that are suited to their learning and wellbeing. They are well integrated into the school community and participate in school cultural and sporting activities. The school provides opportunities for international students to take on leadership roles. 

The school’s monitoring system for international students is effectively administered and ensures that they receive high quality pastoral support. The board receives regular reports about the quality of education provided for international students, their care and how well they are progressing and achieving.

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.


Leaders, teachers and trustees are committed to providing students with personalised learning programmes and an environment that is conducive to learning. Students are proud of their school and enjoy diverse curriculum and leadership opportunities. They benefit from consistent values, high expectations for success, and support to navigate meaningful learning qualifications and pathways.

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

Steffan Brough
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

15 May 2017

About the School 


Te Atatu, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys      50%
Girls       50%

Ethnic composition

other Pacific


Special Features

Turangawaewae-Special Learning Needs Unit
Adult and Community Education Programme

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

15 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

March 2014
October 2010
September 2007