Thames High School - 23/01/2019

School Context

Thames High School is a co-educational secondary school catering for students from Years 9 to 13. It is located in Thames, in the Coromandel district. It has a roll of 464, including 157 Māori students. At the time of this report, 13 international students attended the school.

Since the previous ERO report, the school has developed a graduate profile which is referred to as the 7 Cs – communicative, courageous, creative, curious, connected, critical, collaborative.

Thames High School’s strategic goals for 2018 to 2020 are:

  • to raise student achievement to rates that are consistently above national comparisons

  • to ensure that the achievement rates for Māori students are consistently above national comparisons

  • that the school builds strong and productive relationships with families and whānau, so that students learn and achieve to their potential

  • that Thames High School is recognised as the school of choice in the community.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, school-wide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • school leaver qualifications and destinations

  • progress in relation to school targets for attendance

  • progress and achievement in the accelerating literacy learning (ALL) programme

  • progress in relation to school targets for writing in years 9 and 10.

Since the previous ERO review in 2015, there has been a new appointment to the role of Tumuaki Tuarua (Deputy Principal) and a new board chair. The board of trustees has made significant improvements to the school environment and this includes the moving of the wharenui to be at the front of the school in a joint initiative with Ngāti Maru.

The school is a member of the Thames Kauaeranga Community of Learning (CoL)|Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is not achieving equity and excellence for all its students. Significant disparity in the achievement between boys and girls, and Māori and Pākehā students is an ongoing challenge.

Overall roll-based achievement information for 2017 shows that most students have achieved well in the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1 and 2 and half of the students in Level 3. Approximately a third achieved University Entrance (UE). Half of the students that attained Level 1 and a third of the students that attained Level 2 and 3 were endorsed with merit or excellence. In 2017, the school gained one scholarship award in English.

Roll-based data over time shows ongoing significant disparity between Māori students and their Pākehā peers at NCEA Levels 1 and 3. Māori students achieved at similar levels for UE in 2017. This 2017 achievement information for NCEA Level 2 also showed Māori outperforming Pākehā students. However, achievement data for students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or above in 2017 indicates a disproportionate amount of Māori students are leaving school without a formal qualification.

Roll-based data over time shows a fluctuating picture of disparity between the achievement of boys and girls. Achievement data for 2017 showed significant disparity with girls outperforming boys at all levels of NCEA and in University Entrance.

For Years 9 and 10 the school uses nationally referenced tools to assess achievement in literacy, mathematics and science. Lifting the achievement in writing at Years 9 and 10 is a COL goal and information on this is regularly reported to the board. Data that tracks the 2017 Year 9 cohort’s progress and achievement into 2018, shows that Pākehā girls make the most significant improvement in writing.

A strategic approach to attendance has shown a significant improvement in 2018 and the school is on track to achieving the 90% achievement goal.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The school is able to show some acceleration for Māori and other students who need this.

Cohort tracking over a four year period shows that for Māori and other students who began school at Year 9 below expected curriculum levels, and stayed to Year 12 and 13, most made accelerated progress to achieve NCEA Level 2 or above.

The school has literacy and numeracy support programmes for students achieving below curriculum levels in Years 9 and 10. Systems have been developed in some curriculum areas to show accelerated progress for students who require this. Leaders are still developing systems to monitor the extent, pace and sufficiency of progress, and determine how many make accelerated progress in other curriculum areas. Some teachers can show acceleration for individual students but this is not inclusive of all students who require it. The school is not yet consistently collating, analysing and reporting acceleration information for Māori and other students who are underachieving.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

The school provides effective technical and vocational education training programmes for students in partnership with tertiary and trade providers. Senior students have access to a large range of vocational courses. The comprehensive careers programme in Years 11 to 13 provides a personalised pathway for students based on their needs, interests and strengths. The school can show that most of the students in these programmes are successful in gaining qualifications. Students can access coherent, meaningful pathways to further education, training and employment.

Leaders and teachers work collaboratively with the wider school community to provide an environment conducive to learning. Initiatives to develop the presence of te reo and tikanga Māori in the school include a memorandum of understanding with Ngāti Maru, the introduction of compulsory te reo Māori in Years 9 and 10, and a revitalisation of the school’s kapa haka which is building a sense of pride, belonging and whanaungatanga. A cohesive approach to establishing community links prioritises student wellbeing, and a range of programmes and services are provided to support the physical and emotional health of students.

Useful links with contributing schools support students’ transitions into Thames High School. Students with additional needs are well integrated into classroom programmes. These students are effectively supported to access the curriculum alongside their peers by the SENCO (Special Education and Needs Coordinator), teachers and teacher aides.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Effective management and use of achievement information for targeted planning is now a priority for the school. This includes:

  • alignment of achievement targets at every level of the school

  • developing a coherent approach to tracking and monitoring of target students

  • regular reporting of progress towards achievement targets throughout year

  • developing a shared understanding of acceleration focused on at-risk learners.

Internal evaluation needs strengthening. This includes:

  • robust evaluation of initiatives and interventions to understand the effectiveness and impact on outcomes for target students

  • a review of course design and the pathways for at-risk students to improve retention, engagement and achievement

  • a review of roles and responsibilities to ensure that systems and processes are cohesive, and there are shared expectations and accountability across all levels of the school

  • continued review and development of teacher capability and collective capacity through targeted professional development.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • finance

  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)

  • physical safety of students

  • teacher registration and certification

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students

  • attendance

  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the 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 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 13 international students attending the school.

The diverse cultures in the school are acknowledged and celebrated.ERO confirmed that the school‘s self-review processes for international students are thorough and well considered. Thames High School provides international students with high-quality pastoral care. Students integrate well into the school’s education programme and are involved in all aspects of school and community life.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • productive partnerships with tertiary and trade providers that enable successful transition into vocational training and employment

  • programmes and initiatives that are responsive to students’ cultures, wellbeing and pastoral needs.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • the management and effective use of achievement data

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning
    [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school.]

  • internal evaluation processes and practices
    [ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.]

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the school in order to bring about improvement in the capability of leaders and teachers in:

  • the management and effective use of achievement information

  • internal evaluation.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO intends to carry out a process of ongoing external evaluation to support development over the course of one-to-two years.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Miringa – Waikato/Bay of Plenty Region

23 January 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori 34%
Pākehā 59%
Asian 4%
Other 3%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

23 January 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2015
Education Review August 2012
Education Review September 2010