Tokoroa High School - 16/05/2014

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

Tokoroa High School caters for students in Years 9 to 15 from the town of Tokoroa and the surrounding rural and forestry areas. The current student roll is 543, and this represents an increase since the previous ERO review. The majority of students are identified as Māori, and the largest affiliations are to Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Maniapoto. Approximately 20% of the roll is identified as Pacific, with Cook Island Māori being the most prevalent. A feature of the school is its inclusive culture, where the language and identity of all students are recognised, valued and affirmed. Te Marae a Noa is the on-site marae that respects both Māori and Pacific traditions.

The principal, senior management and curriculum leaders have continued in their positions of responsibility since the previous ERO report in 2012, which identified areas of compliance to be addressed by the board and school management. In addition, the 2012 ERO report recommended the review and development of several significant areas linked to the management of assessment, and the leadership of teaching and learning in the school.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) have coordinated a sustained programme of advice and support for trustees, school leaders and staff, who have responded very positively. The focus for teacher professional development has been literacy teaching and learning, with a priority on written language. The use of assessment data at all levels of the school has also been a priority for professional learning.

This report acknowledges the progress made by the school in addressing the issues identified in the previous ERO report, and identifies areas for continued development.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development


The board of trustees has worked successfully with school leaders and external support to address the matters of non-compliance identified in the 2012 ERO review. Areas of progress include governance procedures to ensure that:

  • the principal is appraised annually, and that he has a current performance management agreement
  • delegations of authority are recorded and supported by a management reporting schedule
  • all non-teaching staff are police vetted within the previous three years
  • parents of students in Years 9 and 10 are reported to on their child’s achievement and progress
  • a complaints file is maintained, which includes school and board responses
  • conflicts of interest are identified and responded to, prior to decision making
  • teaching staff salary increments, as a result of positive attestation against requirement criteria, are reported to and approved by trustees.

The chairperson has sustained his effective leadership of the board through challenging times of change. Trustees demonstrate strong support for the principal and staff, and actively promote student academic success through an awards and incentive scheme. The board has continued to strengthen its community links, especially with Māori whānau and Pacific fono.

Self-review and reporting processes have been strengthened. Trustees now receive annual reports from curriculum leaders, and the term-by-term review folder includes evidence of the monitoring of school-wide planning and appropriate student information data.

Next steps

ERO and the board recognise that an excessive, and potentially unsustainable degree of responsibility for school leadership is currently being carried by the principal. The chairperson supports the need for an urgent review to rebalance management responsibilities.

School-wide approaches to teaching and learning

Senior and curriculum leaders and teachers have undertaken sustained professional development since the last ERO review, which has strengthened several areas of practice. During 2013, staff have met each Wednesday afternoon for workshops to enhance literacy teaching strategies, with an emphasis on writing. Departments have developed subject specific guidelines to further support a more consistent approach to student learning through literacy.

Agreed expectations for teaching and classroom practice have been shared, with an increased emphasis on high expectations for student engagement and success.

Next steps

In order to sustain improvements to teaching practice, school leaders and ERO agree that leaders and teachers’ performance management goals should be aligned with current strategic priorities.

Management of Assessment

Significant progress has been made in the school-wide management of assessment.

The school works collaboratively with contributing schools to gather considerable achievement information on students entering Year 9. This data is effectively used to place students in classes, and to establish support interventions for those students most at risk of not achieving their potential. Achievement information is shared with staff and there are now shared expectations about how this information is to be used to:

  • plan curriculum classroom programmes that respond to the interests and learning needs of students
  • group students in classes to assist differentiation in learning.

The Junior Diploma Certificate has provided a greater sense of purpose and structure to programmes at Years 9 and 10. All those interviewed by ERO confirmed that student engagement in and motivation toward their learning has been improved. These groups maintained that the culture for learning and high expectations for progress and success are raising educational outcomes for students. Department assessment systems are now more closely aligned with school and diploma expectations. Students now receive consistent advice and guidance about course selections in the senior school.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data from 2013 shows significant progress in student achievement in national qualifications. Of particular note is the substantial increase in the number of subject and certificate endorsements gained, and the high proportion of students gaining NCEA Level 2 before they leave the school. Overall student achievement is now comparable to national averages, and above that of schools of similar decile.

Next steps

Senior and curriculum leaders and ERO agree that the next priority for assessment practice is to align the grades in the Junior Diploma Certificate with The New Zealand Curriculum levels. This development would strengthen reporting to parents and allow more specific monitoring of student achievement levels and progress at Years 9 and 10.

Success for Māori and Pacific Students

Māori and Pacific students make up a considerable majority of the roll. The improved academic performance of the school is based on these students achieving success as Māori and Pacific. These students have responded very positively to the sustained efforts of the school to value and respect the culture, language and identity of both Māori and Pacific students. The school has employed a significant number of staff with Māori and Pacific connections, many of whom support students through the culturally responsive pastoral care systems. Cultural performance groups are inclusive, active and successful. Whānau and fono groups maintain positive connections with the school.

NCEA data for 2013 indicates that Māori students achieved on average above Māori students nationally, and at comparable levels to non-Māori in the school. In addition, Māori students achieved at similar levels to non-Māori in the Year 9 and 10 Junior Diploma Certificate.

The same data indicates that in 2013 Pacific students achieved at levels significantly above Pacific students nationally, and comparable to non-Pacific students in the school. A similar pattern of academic success for Pacific students is reflected in the Junior Diploma Certificate information.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

The school is well placed to sustain and continue to improve and review its performance. Support factors include the:

  • board of trustees which is now more effective in its governance roles, and confident it is meeting its legislative requirements
  • principal and senior leadership team who have been successful is providing a sense of positive direction and progress within the school and wider community
  • curriculum leaders and staff who have set and modelled high expectations for students success
  • inclusive school culture which supports students wellbeing and promotes increased engagement in learning
  • robust assessment and other student achievement information which is supporting more evidence-based self review at different levels of the school.

Area for review

To sustain the significant positive progress in educational outcomes for students, the board, senior leaders and ERO agree that a strategic review of the balance of responsibilities currently carried by members of the senior leadership team should now be undertaken. This review would have input from principal, senior leaders and be externally facilitated.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

16 May 2014

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 52%

Girls 48%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā

Cook Island Māori



Other Pacific Islands

Other Asian

Other European











Special Features

Teen Parent Unit and Te Kahui Whetu Unit and Services Academy Unit

Lead cluster school for Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour

Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

16 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

November 2012

December 2009

October 2007