Tarawera High School - 24/06/2016


Staff at Tarawera High School are supporting rangatahi to reach their potential by using innovative approaches to improve outcomes for students. School leaders, students and the community are proud of the inclusive culture they are developing that supports student wellbeing and challenges each learner to achieve across the breadth of the curriculum. 

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?

Tarawera High School opened in 2013 and caters for students from Years 7 to 15. This is the school's first ERO Education Review. The majority of the students are Māori. Modern, purpose-built facilities and digital technologies support the school’s vision for 21st century learning.

The board of trustees are committed to serving the community and promoting student learning opportunities in an inclusive environment that includes provision for high needs learners. The principal has been strategic in building a team of staff to work collaboratively to provide a different model of education for this community. She is well supported by a capable senior leadership team.

The school values, manaakitanga, ako, ngākau pono and āwhina, (MANA) are very visible throughout the school.

2 Learning

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

School trustees, leaders and staff have high expectations for all students to achieve and succeed. The board’s first charter goal is to improve academic achievement. Student attendance, engagement, retention and achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement have all improved significantly over the last 18 months. Current trends indicate these rates are likely to continue to rise.

Student achievement information is used very well. Carefully analysed achievement information is used to set targets and priorities, review the effectiveness of learning programmes and to develop meaningful pathways for learners. Achievement information helps to identify focus areas for the board to resource to progress student achievement and improve outcomes for students.

Teachers provide equitable opportunities for students. They work collaboratively, sharing knowledge and teaching strategies and reflecting on their own teaching practice. Leaders have high expectations of them. Teachers readily respond and adapt their practices to students in class. Teachers track each student’s achievement and standards for courses are regularly reviewed. Students are able to make well-informed decisions about course selections and qualification pathways. They see a clear way forward.

Many students at Year 7 and 8 achieve below National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Targeted professional development is helping teachers to use data more effectively to respond to students’ learning needs, in order to accelerate the achievement of students in Years 7 to 10. Teachers and leaders are targeting senior students to increase the number of endorsements gained at NCEA.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is very effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is well aligned to the vision, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum. The student-centred school culture and responsive curriculum benefits learners and their families.

Inclusive, culturally responsive relationships and relational trust are a feature amongst students and adults. A sound Māori foundation to school practices promotes strong cultural perspectives. Students have a healthy sense of their own identity in the school.

The school has developed a curriculum that motivates students to learn and achieve. Some of these developments include:

  • developing a cohesive and seamless curriculum that serves the needs of the students as they progress through the school
  • collaborative and integrated approaches to teaching in Years 7 to 11
  • career education that supports the engagement of parents in student learning.

Good quality teaching supports student achievement. Teachers' model good learning habits and student input is strongly encouraged. Teachers facilitate learning in the classroom, prompting students to think strategically. Programmes build on students’ prior knowledge and problem solving capability. Students have decision making and leadership opportunities.

Students enjoy learning in their new classroom environments. There is a positive tone in the learning spaces and rooms are well resourced. There is an effective focus on improving student achievement through integration of the curriculum in Years 7 to 11. Teachers provide a range of innovative strategies to cater for students’ abilities and interests. Continuing to support students to lead their own learning would help students to see themselves as confident, capable lifelong learners.

Curriculum leadership and teacher expertise are strengths of the school. Comprehensive appraisal of teachers promotes effective teaching and learning practices. Innovative teaching approaches are promoted through well-structured professional learning.

The innovative model of teaching and learning is continually evaluated and adapted to ensure that it is meeting students’ needs. School leaders are extending the use of high quality digital technologies to support student learning. Teachers integrate ICT into lessons and the pace of learning is appropriate to students’ needs. Digital technologies enable students to continue their learning at home with their families.

School leaders provide a positive learning environment for students, based on well embedded restorative practices and values that promote inclusion, respect and an appreciation of diversity. They work well with external agencies who provide wraparound services to support students’ wellbeing. Resources are made available for students who need extra learning support. Students with high and very high special learning needs are well catered for in a fully refurbished area that has been adapted to allow them better access to aspects of the curriculum and to develop independence. They have good access to programmes to meet their educational needs in a supportive and caring environment.

Important links with schools in the wider community are being re-established. The school is part of a local schools initiative with a focus on raising student achievement. A second initiative will allow students and teachers to have extended access to the internet, particularly outside school hours. The principal is an effective advocate for the school in important community decisions.

Parents and whānau talk with pride about their school. They are welcomed into the school and willingly share their aspirations and moemoea with teachers and school leaders. Teachers work in partnership with students and their parents to understand achievement data and identify ways to support students’ learning.

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

The whare tāpere is the heart of the school. Other symbolic representations throughout the school record the rich history of the region. The role of the river as the lifeblood of Kawerau is depicted in the footpath that brings everyone in and out of the school on a daily basis.

Manuhiri are welcomed by the entire school at powhiri. Kaumātua, kuikuia, whānau and hapu support the learning of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga. Students are proud of their heritage and teachers are adept at including local content in lesson planning. Leaders use students’ inherent knowledge of the school motto MANA to support students to be the best they can be. Te Raukura provides senior students with authentic learning in te reo me ona tikanga.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The board of trustees, the senior leadership team and the staff have worked well together to establish a new school that is supporting rangatahi to fulfil their potential and aspirations through meaningful partnerships with whānau and community. The wellbeing of students and staff underpins decision making at governance and management levels. The school tone is vibrant and supportive of all students and their families, who are very proud of their school.

The board has been very effective in establishing this new school to better meet the needs of the wider community. The school is well placed to sustain its current good practices and continue to enhance its performance.

  • The school’s vision is highly visible and shared by the school community.
  • There is strong professional leadership in the school. The principal and cohesive senior leadership team are influential in building school-wide capacity.
  • Board decision making is strategic, based on data, and aimed at promoting innovative practices across the school and sustaining good practice.
  • Self review as a school-wide mechanism for ongoing improvement is well understood and used to promote and sustain development. Internal and external reviews and the perspectives of external agencies are valued.
  • Relationships with parents, whānau and the wider school community are constructive and positive. The school continues to strengthen these relationships, benefiting students in their learning and future pathways.

The principal’s high expectations have been a key factor in the building of this new school. The senior management team are well respected and operate strategically. They provide cohesion and consistency across the school. School leaders have identified important next steps that include:

  • growing multiple layers of leadership capability within the school to support the effective work of the senior leadership team
  • becoming increasingly evaluative as they build their capacity to inquire into teaching practice and its impact on learners
  • developing vital links with other educational providers in the region, particularly the local contributing schools, to focus on effective use of student achievement data to inform teaching that will benefit all learners.

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.


Staff at Tarawera High School are supporting rangatahi to reach their potential by using innovative approaches to improve outcomes for students. School leaders, students and the community are proud of the inclusive culture they are developing that supports student wellbeing and challenges each learner to achieve across the breadth of the curriculum.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

24 June 2016

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition







Special Features

Teen Parents Centre Alternative Education Programme

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

24 June 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

New School Assurance

November 2014