Spotswood College - 17/10/2014


How effectively is this school’s curriculum promoting student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

A strong focus on responding to the individual needs and aspirations of students is evident. Senior achievement has improved significantly since the 2011 ERO review. The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The main priority is to continue to embed and expand initiatives to improve outcomes for students.

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?

Spotswood College (Te Kura Tuarua O Ngamotu) is a co-educational secondary school in New Plymouth. At the time of the ERO review there were 728 students and 28% are Māori. The school values its links with the local iwi, Te Ātiawa. Increasing community involvement in the school is a strength.

The school prides itself on being diverse, inclusive and caring. Creating a supportive environment for learning that identifies and responds to the needs of individual students is a focus. The E TŪ programme teaches critical skills that help students to become competent and responsible young people. A feature of the school is the large special education faculty that includes approximately 10% of the roll.

An improved financial situation provides the board with greater flexibility in resourcing to support teaching and learning. The five year property plan has been recently signed off and tendering is under way for a major renovation of one of the main teaching blocks.

The September 2011 ERO report identified the need to raise student achievement, particularly for Māori. This report indicates a range of initiatives have contributed to significant improvement in outcomes for learners.

2 Learning

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

Increased use of achievement information to track and respond to individual student needs has been a key contributor to raising levels of achievement. Strategies are in place to ensure students are monitored and better catered for. Sharing information more explicitly with students and parents is a priority.

Individual learning plans are collaboratively developed. They focus on identifying challenges and appropriate next steps to support engagement, learning and achievement. The process is working well for some students and making a genuine difference. Continuing to build consistent application of the strategy and increasing the effectiveness of whānau groups should further improve outcomes.

Year 9 and 10 student achievement information is collected and collated within learning areas. Analysis is becoming more focused on considering progress and the impact of teaching on learning.

There is an appropriate emphasis in Year 9 and 10 programmes on building the literacy and numeracy capability of students. Numeracy data is collated to show progress. Literacy development is a schoolwide focus and is supported by teacher professional development. Specific interventions are in place for those most at risk. Literacy skills are an integral part of many lessons. However, a number of students do not make the expected progress in literacy in the junior school.

Building teacher knowledge and practice to support improved student literacy should remain a schoolwide priority. The focus on reading, writing and oral language in Year 9 and 10 should continue to be extended in order to better support achievement in both the junior and the senior school.

Literacy data should also be more effectively used across the junior school to inform deliberate acts of teaching and to consider the impact of literacy initiatives, particularly for students at risk of under-achievement. The board should have specific literacy targets for Years 9 and 10 to support acceleration for those most at risk.

Since the previous ERO review, improved senior achievement has resulted from:

  • ensuring courses are more appropriate for the strengths and future goals of individuals
  • improved systems for identifying students at risk of not achieving and support then put in place
  • parents of at risk students being better informed of their child’s progress towards National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs).

Retention of students into the senior school has improved in the past three years to similar to national levels. Continuing to develop a curriculum that is responsive to individuals to improve leaver qualifications is a school priority already identified.

The percentage of students gaining NCEAs Level 1 and 2 has improved significantly. The results for Māori students are similar to their non-Māori peers. The results at both levels are above national comparisons. Seven New Zealand Scholarships were gained in 2013. However, overall NCEA Level 3 results continue to be significantly below national levels. In 2014, tracking and monitoring has been extended for Year 13 students in order to improve performance. Increasing NCEA merit and excellence endorsements has also been targeted.

A significant number of seniors are special education students who are not involved in a full NCEA programme. Most of these students make significant progress over time in their individualised programmes.

Appropriate systems are in place to monitor attendance and follow up on issues that are identified. Data should be used more to consider the impact of attendance processes and to respond more effectively to at-risk individuals or groups of students.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum effectively promotes and supports the learning of most students. There is ongoing commitment to providing a curriculum that successfully caters for a range of student needs and interests. The New Zealand Curriculum key competencies and values are highly evident within programmes.

E TŪ principles support the teaching of skills and values that underpin a safe and caring learning environment and develop behaviours for learning. The school is continuing to build consistency in implementing schoolwide expectations linked to the E TŪ framework.

A flexible and sometimes innovative approach to establishing programmes for individual students ensures most interests and strengths are supported. Links to other institutions, businesses and the wider community help students develop self awareness and explore opportunities that may be relevant to their future aspirations. Effective processes support learners to transition to education, training or employment.

ERO’s classroom observations indicated positive, respectful and affirming relationships between teachers and students. Variable engagement and involvement in learning were also apparent. Increased teacher inquiry and embedding of E TŪ have contributed to a greater emphasis on effective teaching practice. This has included deliberately building the extent to which classroom programmes consistently engage students in interesting and well-planned learning experiences. Elearning strategies are part of a planned approach to improve engagement and achievement.

A schoolwide caring culture effectively enables students with special needs to be integrated into a positive social environment and achieve personal success. Individual strengths and needs are highly evident in programmes. A good level of communication and collaboration between the school, families and external professionals supports students’ progress.

Wellbeing is a shared responsibility across the school. Respect and concern for those of diverse backgrounds and beliefs are apparent. Students generally feel well supported and positive about their relationships with others. Student voice should continue to be considered as part of ongoing evaluation of school effectiveness.

The whānau class structure is a key component in supporting students’ pastoral care, curriculum choices and academic progress. The school has identified that it should continue to strengthen the effectiveness of whānau teachers in carrying out the expectations associated with their role.

Procedures to support student safety are comprehensive, carefully considered and well monitored. E TŪ values and a restorative approach are an integral part of relationships.

Students and families are well supported as they become part of the school community. Parents are well informed about their children’s academic and social learning. Continuing to build genuine twoway partnerships should further promote student outcomes.

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

Initiatives that support Māori students to be successful are strongly linked to whānau, hapū and iwi. A wide range of deliberate strategies successfully engages whānau and the community to benefit students, including:

  • ongoing contact with local hapū, Ngāti Te Whiti
  • Komiti Māori providing the opportunity for whānau to provide feedback on school direction and priorities
  • liaison with local iwi through kaumatua and kuia
  • developing a working relationship with Tu Tama Wahine O Taranaki to deliver vocational pathways programmes
  • Ngāti Te Whiti and Komiti Māori representation on the board of trustees.

Māori students' identity is valued. Staff professional learning includes building understanding of te ao Māori concepts.

Māori student achievement in the senior school has improved significantly. Continuing to highlight and embed the strategies already identified should build further success for Māori, as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Purposeful and systematic self review contributes effectively to improving outcomes for students. Review is:

  • focused on improving student learning and wellbeing
  • based on valid information and increasingly data driven
  • linked to the values, goals and culture of the school community
  • responsive to external evaluation and best practice research.

Well-considered initiatives are in place to improve outcomes for learners. A continuing priority identified by the school and agreed by ERO is to apply these initiatives consistently and embed them schoolwide.

Appraisal increasingly supports teacher improvement. It encourages teachers to reflect on their practice. A teacher inquiry focus, currently in place, is linked to school priorities and should strengthen the consistent use of effective teaching practice across the school. It makes a significant contribution to increased professional discussions amongst the adults.

The principal has a clear vision for continual development of the school that focuses on ensuring there are high quality individual student outcomes. Senior leaders are a collaborative and cohesive team. Their commitment to Māori success is highly evident. They are focused on continuing to improve teaching and learning.

The charter provides clear strategic direction through its identified objectives and education priorities. The framework for sustainability and improvement is in place. Trustees are committed to the vision and values of the school and to ongoing improvement. They are appropriately involved in a range of decision-making groups and well informed about curriculum and student achievement.

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. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. The international department regularly reviews and improves practices in response to feedback from students and homestay parents. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

At the time of this review there were 21 international students, including one exchange student. The students come from eight countries, with half from Germany and Japan.

The international student department is managed by an experienced director who has sound processes to monitor the education and wellbeing of students. Teachers and homestay families build positive and productive relationships with students.

International students achieve well throughout their time at the school. They are provided with an appropriate educational programme and are well supported by a suitable number of specialist staff. Students integrate well into school life and participate in a range of sporting and cultural events.

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.


A strong focus on responding to the individual needs and aspirations of students is evident. Senior achievement has improved significantly since the 2011 ERO review. The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The main priority is to continue to embed and expand initiatives to improve outcomes for students.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.index-html-m2a7690f7.gif

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

17 October 2014

About the School


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 54%

Female 46%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā



Other ethnic groups






Review team on site

August 2014

Date of this report

17 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2011

September 2008

June 2004