Tawa College - 25/11/2015


The college's curriculum effectively promotes positive outcomes for students. Students demonstrate a strong sense of connection and high levels of engagement in learning. Many achieve well in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement. The college is well placed and continuing to extend its capacity to sustain and improve its performance.

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?

Tawa College roll has grown slightly since the November 2012 ERO report and is now almost 1500 students. In 2015, 17% of students identify as Māori, 13% as Pacific and 14% as Asian.

A significant focus on building relationships and creating a positive environment for learning has led to a calm and purposeful tone in the college. Students report a strong sense of connection and show high levels of engagement in their learning. Restorative practices have had a positive impact on the college culture. Students benefit from effective partnerships by the college with parents and the community.

At the time of this review a deputy principal was the acting principal. The principal was on sabbatical leave for the term, however was available on site during the review.

Tawa College has a good reporting history with ERO and all the areas of improvement identified in the November 2012 report have been addressed.

2 Learning

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

Leaders and teachers have strengthened use of achievement information to effectively promote students’ learning, engagement and progress.

Leaders regularly report achievement information to the board. Trustees use it to inform their decision making, set strategic direction and develop annual targets that focus on improving outcomes for students at risk of underachieving.

Transitioning of students and their families into the college is well considered and effective. A wide range of information about students entering Year 9 is gathered from their feeder schools and the college's own assessments. It is used to identify students' strengths and needs. Suitable support responds to students' learning and social requirements.

A Year 10 priority learner initiative aims to increase the progress of students identified as at risk of underachievement. It involves developing specific strategies to improve the student's learning. Regular meetings with families and whānau discuss student achievement and goal setting, and how they can support learning at home. Progress is closely monitored and tracked. Evidence-based evaluation measures the effectiveness of the intervention. Analysed data from 2014 shows that most of the students involved successfully improved their progress and achievement.

Teachers have a good knowledge of the progress and achievement of individual learners and respond well to their needs. They employ a variety of tools to assess students' learning across all curriculum areas. Assessment data is well used to reflect on teaching practice, clearly identify successes and plan next steps for improvement.

Leaders are investigating using a wider range of data in Years 9 and 10 to track, monitor and inform decisions about teaching and learning. This should provide a clearer picture of progress and achievement in the junior years at the college.

Many students perform well in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs). Results have been consistently above overall national figures over recent years. Data for 2014 shows that the overall percentage of students who left the college with NCEA Level 2 or better exceeded the Ministry of Education's target of 85%. However, the percentages of Māori and Pacific students who left with NCEA Level 2 were lower. This and some other gaps in achievement remain to be successfully addressed.

Students who require additional support with their learning continue to make good progress in senior years. Those at risk of not achieving NCEA are identified and closely monitored through tracking of achievement information. Teachers collaborate across learning areas to effectively support and mentor students to achieve success by the time they leave school.

3 Curriculum

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

The Tawa College curriculum effectively promotes student engagement, learning and achievement.

Students are provided with an extensive range of academic, vocational, performing and visual arts, and sporting opportunities to support them to realise their potential. Many experience considerable success and take leadership roles. There is a high level of participation and high value is placed on the benefits of involvement. Student engagement in purposeful learning is good. Retention of senior students beyond the age of 17 has improved over time.

Restorative practices are well embedded and have had a positive impact. Teachers' and students' shared expectations for respectful conduct effectively promote a positive environment to maximise engagement and learning. Values associated with the motto, ‘Do Justly’, underpin all aspects of the college climate. Teachers build strong connections and relationships with students, families and colleagues. There has been a significant decrease in student stand-downs and suspensions.

In 2014, teachers and leaders identified the need to review and strengthen curriculum pathways to better meet the needs of all learners. The ongoing review will continue in 2016. The planned process is well considered, measured and strategic, and based on current research and consultation with all stakeholders. It should provide opportunities to strengthen how effectively the college curriculum responds to students’ culture, knowledge, language and identity.

Through professional learning and work with external agencies, teachers are well supported to improve their understanding of how digital devices can enhance learning progress and outcomes. ‘Bring Your Own Device’ is to be introduced for all Year 9 students in 2016, and leaders have considered the implications of this for equity.

Cohesive pastoral care provision and processes promote and respond to students' holistic wellbeing needs. Students benefit from wrap around support. Leaders are clear role models for students. Reciprocal partnerships with parents and whānau greatly contribute to desired outcomes for students.

The gifted and talented programme is well coordinated and responsive. Regular feedback is sought from teachers, students and families. Shared understanding of effective provision supports teachers to cater effectively for the needs of gifted and talented students. Good evaluation contributes to recommendations for future development.

Pacific students who are at risk of underachieving are identified. Additional support responds to their needs. An active Pacific cultural group is supported by outside tutors. The college hosted the local Pacific festival in 2014. Leaders should continue to use the Pacific Education Plan to review current practice and provision and undertake strategic actions to improve outcomes for Pacific students, through building connections to their cultural identity.

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

Many Māori students achieve well and experience success and leadership in a range of areas. Māori students benefit from programmes and initiatives to raise their engagement and achievement.

Students spoken with by ERO report that they are well supported and feel confident as Māori at the college. They appreciate the broad range of opportunities available to them and enjoy positive relationships with teachers and students. Leaders are committed to the strengthening of kapa haka and Māori performing arts in 2016.

Teachers continue to strengthen their cultural capability, knowledge and responsiveness. They engage in professional learning and are adapting and developing their practices. Teachers are strongly focused on improving success for Māori students.

Leaders agree that it is important to continue to facilitate a process to establish what success for Māori as Māori should look like at Tawa College. This should provide a framework to evaluate what has the greatest impact in promoting successful outcomes for Māori students.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Tawa College is well placed and continuing to extend its capacity to sustain and improve its performance.

Trustees are well informed and work in close partnership with senior leaders. They focus on improved outcomes for students. Trustees bring a range of strengths to their roles and responsibilities.

Effective strategic and pedagogical leadership is evident across the college. Senior leadership practice demonstrates a high level of understanding and capability, and is collaborative and collegial. Diverse strengths and abilities are recognised and used. Leadership roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and distributed.

Teaching as inquiry is well implemented and aligned to college priorities and the appraisal process. Inquiries are useful, evidence based and focused on improving practice to lift student outcomes. Teachers are highly reflective. They report that teaching as inquiry assists them to collaboratively share, critique and improve their practice. A high level of relational trust and support is evident amongst teachers.

Student voice is valued and used to inform teachers' reflection about the effectiveness of their practice. Students are widely consulted about curriculum review and developments.

The performance management process is meaningful and improvement focused. It is systematic, evidence-based and continuous. Teacher appraisal is robust and well monitored. Endorsement of teachers' practising certificates entails a strong process. Professional learning is well resourced and aligned to the college's strategic goals.

Successful initiatives promote stronger partnerships with families to enhance students' learning. Recently introduced three-way conferences were well attended. Positive feedback from teachers and parents indicated that these conferences support better communication and positive relationships. Families of students identified with high needs build strong connections with the college through regular conversations and communication.

On-line digital access for students, parents and whānau enhances communication and allows them to track academic progress and attendance, celebrate successes, and gain useful information about college events.

Trustees, leaders and teachers demonstrate good understanding of, and capability in, internal evaluation. This focuses on improving outcomes for all students based on best practice. A well-led, systematic and strategic approach gathers evidence from multiple sources including relevant research. It successfully identifies what developments and changes are making the biggest difference to students’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Provision for international students

The college 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. At the time of this review, there were 19 international students attending the college, including 16 fee-paying and three exchange students.

International students’ learning and wellbeing are closely monitored and supported. Processes for orientation to the college are well considered. Systems for identifying and responding to individual needs and interests are effective. English language learners receive appropriate tuition to build their confidence and fluency.

Care is taken to provide suitable, relevant courses that reflect what the students and their families want. There is a growing trend for international students to work towards NCEA qualifications.

International students benefit from an inclusive environment and positive, respectful relationships. They are well integrated socially, and participate in a range of cultural and sporting activities.

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.


The college's curriculum effectively promotes positive outcomes for students. Students demonstrate a strong sense of connection and high levels of engagement in learning. Many achieve well in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement. The college is well placed and continuing to extend its capacity to sustain and improve its performance.

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 14)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 51%, Female 49%

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

September 2015

Date of this report

25 November 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2012
October 2009
September 2006