Waiheke High School - 16/10/2014


Waiheke High School provides good quality education for students from Years 7 to 13 in a unique island setting. Students are friendly and respectful. They make good progress and achieve well. The board, principal and staff are now preparing to collaborate with students, staff and whānau to modernise the learning environment and teaching and learning programmes.

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?

Waiheke High School is situated on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf, a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland’s city centre. It is the island’s only secondary school and offers education for students from Years 7 to 13. The school serves a diverse and close knit community who are proud of the island’s distinct identity. The island setting provides students with locally-based learning opportunities that include sea sports, viticulture and tourism.

The school has highly inclusive practices for students with special educational needs and continues to attract good numbers of international students. Staff and students celebrate the richness that the school’s cultural diversity brings. Nineteen percent of students are Māori. These students and their whānau affiliate to various iwi throughout New Zealand.

Although about a third of the school’s teaching team is new to New Zealand, most live and work on the island, are part of the local community and know students and their families well. Some staff have worked at the school for many years, and have historical and generational connections to the island and current students. These features, combined with the school’s small size (517 students) contribute to students’ sense of belonging and support their learning.

The 2011 ERO report noted the school’s strong focus on raising student achievement. Most students throughout the school were achieving well. However, the report highlighted that the school’s rigid streaming practices were not promoting good learning relationships for students and teachers. It also noted that some teachers were focused on managing student behaviour rather than providing effective learning programmes.

The previous principal left in 2013 and a new principal arrived at the start of 2014. She leads a newly extended leadership team and is supported by a new board of trustees. Together they are planning to redesign the school curriculum and modernise teaching and learning approaches. School leaders are currently awaiting confirmation from the Ministry of Education that the school will be rebuilt as a modern learning environment.

2 Learning

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

The school’s student achievement information is used increasingly well by senior and curriculum leaders and teachers to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Students achieve well at Waiheke High School. Data shows that the very good progress students make from Year 7 to Year 10 supports their success in the senior school. Most students in Years 7 and 8 achieve at and above the National Standards in reading, writing and maths.

Students also achieve well in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at Levels 1, 2 and 3. They are receiving increasing numbers of merit and excellence endorsed certificates. Apart from a decline in Level 2 NCEA results in 2013, the school’s National Standards and NCEA results are similar to, or better than, other schools throughout the country.

A senior leader is responsible for tracking and monitoring the achievement of students throughout the school to measure and support their success. She works in collaboration with the principal, curriculum leaders and teachers to design approaches that meet students’ individual learning needs. One current initiative is focused on accelerating writing achievement across the school. This initiative is having a positive impact on increasing students’ motivation and confidence.

Year 11, 12 and 13 students now have opportunities to work alongside their teachers and parents to reflect on their progress and achievement, to set and evaluate learning goals and to consider their future pathways. A more restorative approach to student behaviour management has significantly reduced the number of students being stood-down, suspended and excluded from the school. The principal plans to introduce and embed these good student-centred practices at all year levels and especially in Years 7 to 10. This next step, in conjunction with the development of a refocused curriculum and improved pastoral care programmes is likely to result in positive outcomes for students.

School leaders identify that key next steps to improve the use of achievement information include:

  • promoting greater use of data as the basis for teachers’ reflection and inquiry into the impact of their practice
  • collecting and analysing destination data to show students’ ongoing success in tertiary study and/or work
  • deepening their evaluation of student engagement and participation data.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is becoming increasingly effective at promoting and supporting student learning. Some teaching and learning programmes throughout the school are based on the local Waiheke Island context. Gradually, more of the curriculum is catering for students’ interests, strengths, needs and future pathways.

Students are friendly and confident, and interact positively with each other and their teachers. They are highly engaged in learning within focused and settled classrooms. There are some good examples of effective teaching practice. In these classrooms students experience interesting learning opportunities which involve high levels of challenge and critical thinking. They are given opportunities to make decisions about what and how they learn. They also receive and provide useful feedback about how to further improve their learning.

Effective teachers plan programmes that promote learning from a Māori cultural perspective and that link to wider, global issues. These good practices should now be consistently available to all students. Teachers are being actively supported to move away from more traditional approaches and expectations towards more responsive teaching practices. Changes are underway to raise the quality of teaching throughout the school. Staff, parents and students are supportive of the principal’s vision for redesigning and developing the school’s curriculum.

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

The school promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori effectively.

Māori students transition to Waiheke High School from both bilingual and mainstream classes. Their achievement and progress is monitored and tracked carefully over time. Māori students achieve well with most achieving at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and maths. Senior students also achieve very well with many Māori students achieving better than their non-Māori peers at NCEA Levels 1 and 2.

Piringākau, the school’s Māori department, promotes opportunities for students to have pride in their Māori language, culture and identity. It offers te reo Māori options for students in Years 7, 8 and 9, and tikanga-based programmes for students in Year 10 and in the senior school.

Senior Māori students affirm how strongly Māori tikanga is acknowledged by staff and students throughout the school. They appreciate teachers who are keen to learn te reo Māori me ōna tikanga and about Māori contexts. The school has an increasingly strong partnership with Piritahi Marae. The principal is forging positive connections at marae hui. She is sharing Māori student achievement information and finding out about the aspirations that whānau have for their tamariki.

A key next step for the school is to identify what accelerated success looks like for Māori students at Waiheke High School. The board and school leaders agree that it would be useful to explore this concept from the perspectives of whānau, the board, senior leadership team, students and teachers. This approach would support a school wide understanding of and responsibility for further promotion of Māori student identity and success, especially for the majority of students in mainstream classrooms. It could also support the whānau vision for high quality te reo Māori being available at every year level and for Māori learning contexts and perspectives to be evident in all teaching and learning programmes.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The board of trustees and the principal are committed to promoting sustainable improvement throughout the school. This commitment means the school is well placed to continue improving its performance.

Trustees bring varied professional backgrounds, experiences and skills to the board. They are increasingly confident and knowledgeable about their governance roles. Trustees provide good support for the principal and are committed to promoting ongoing school improvement. The board is highly responsive to tangata whenua. Māori representation on the board is strong with the board committing to representation from trustees who champion the aspirations of Waiheke's Piritahi Marae.

The principal is collaborative and consultative. She is enabling and empowering staff to be innovative, and is promoting an environment where it is safe for students and teachers to take risks in their learning. The use of staff and student voice to inform decision making is a significant and appropriate aspect of the principal’s leadership approach and style.

The board and principal are now planning for widespread community input to promote shared ownership of the school vision and values. In addition, the principal is planning to develop a meaningful and well aligned teacher appraisal system. This system is part of the plan to build a school-wide culture of critical reflection and inquiry and to promote opportunities for teachers’ professional learning, challenge and growth.

In addition, ERO, the board, principal and senior leadership team agree that to promote ongoing sustainability other next steps are required. These next steps should support the principal in managing change and improvement and include:

  • having the senior leadership team work with an external facilitator to promote a shared understanding of effective leadership practice
  • accessing an external appraiser to conduct performance management appraisals for the deputy principals
  • having senior leaders working together to develop the school’s strategic plan and to realise and promote a shared vision for the school
  • further strengthening the way self review throughout the school is conducted, used and documented.

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.

At the time of this review there were 26 international students attending the school, mainly from Germany, other European countries, Japan and South America.

Most international students are in Years 11, 12 and 13 and enjoy the experience of living and learning on an island and in particular the school’s sea-based programmes and activities. They also have good opportunities to visit tourist attractions and have experiences in other parts of New Zealand. International students are well known throughout the school and receive very good pastoral care from the director of international students and classroom teachers. They meet regularly as a group, and individually with the director.

Students receive good quality education, including good opportunities to improve their English language. The director has good processes and systems for administering and managing the international students’ programme, including effective self review to promote ongoing improvements.

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.


Waiheke High School provides good quality education for students from Years 7 to 13 in a unique island setting. Students are friendly and respectful. They make good progress and achieve well. The board, principal and staff are now preparing to collaborate with students, staff and whānau to modernise the learning environment and teaching and learning programmes.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

16 October 2014

About the School


Waiheke Island, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā









Review team on site

September 2014

Date of this report

16 October 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2011

November 2008

September 2005