Wairarapa College - 23/08/2019


The school has made good progress in responding to the areas identified in the previous ERO report. More students are gaining academic success. Curriculum development is underway. Professional learning is assisting teachers to have a more student-centred approach. Inquiry and evaluation processes continue to be strengthened to promote further improvement.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO‘s overall evaluation judgement of Wairarapa College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

1 Background and Context

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

Wairarapa College is a Years 9 to 13 secondary school located in Masterton. At the time of this ERO review the roll was 1084, with 25% of students identifying as Māori and 4% of Pacific heritage. Local iwi are Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Wairarapa.

The vision and valued outcomes as defined by the school is for it to be: ‘A thriving, student centred, future focused learning environment – Te puāwaitanga o te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga.’ LEAD values promote the outcomes and are stated as: ‘Learn with Purpose; Engage with Pride; Act with Respect; Dare to Succeed’.

In the 2019 annual plan the board goals to promote student learning are: development of a more modern curriculum; promoting Māori success as Māori; and providing meaningful pathways through and beyond school for all students. A range of actions support these priorities for improving student outcomes.

At the time of the June 2017 ERO report a Ministry of Education (MoE) appointed Commissioner had replaced the board of trustees. Since April 2018, an elected board has been in place. Two iwi representatives have also been appointed to the board. A Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) is supporting trustees to build understanding of their role, particularly in financial and employment areas. All trustees have continued in their role after the recent elections.

Senior leadership personnel have remained the same since the previous ERO review. Roles have been restructured to enable an increased focus on learning and teaching priorities. The principal continues to drive improvement. A professional learning programme supports teachers and leaders to extend student-centred practices.

A declining number of boarders and significant property issues have provided challenge to the financial sustainability of the hostel, Pōto-College House. The board of trustees has recently decided to close the hostel at the end of 2019.

The school is part of the newly formed Whakaoriori Kāhui Ako. It is a community-wide initiative involving schools and early childhood centres in the area.

Since the previous ERO report in 2017, the school has worked alongside ERO to respond to the areas for improvement that were identified. The focus has been on establishing an effective board and ensuring teaching is more responsive to the learning and wellbeing needs of students and that these are sustainable. At the time of this ERO review governance, management and school practices are focused on ensuring processes more effectively support positive outcomes for all students.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The areas identified in the previous ERO report as requiring improvement included:

  • establishing a board of trustees

  • improving achievement overall and reducing ethnicity and gender disparities in outcomes

  • greater learning partnerships with parents and whānau

  • a curriculum more responsive to learners, particularly for Māori and boys

  • promoting Māori language, culture and identity more effectively

  • building curriculum leadership capability

  • ensuring the appraisal process more effectively supports teacher and leader improvement

  • better financial reporting and establishing a more sustainable financial position

  • development of hostel property, facilities and documented procedures.


The school has made good progress in responding to the areas identified in the previous ERO report. More students are gaining academic success. Curriculum development is underway. Inquiry and evaluation processes continue to be strengthened to promote further improvement.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at all levels have improved since the previous review. Achievement at all three levels is now above national comparisons. There is a greater focus on ensuring leavers are able to move to worthwhile pathways beyond school.

Māori and male NCEA outcomes has improved, significantly at Levels 1 and 2. The reduction in disparity between ethnic and gender groups reflects the increased focus on equity of outcomes. There has been improvement in NCEA merit endorsements at Levels 1 and 3. Improving the number of endorsements gained is a continuing priority.

School data indicates most students in Years 9 and 10 are at or above curriculum expectation for their year level. Standardised literacy and mathematics assessments show cohort progress over a year. Senior leaders have identified the need for an increased focus on accelerating progress for those students in the junior school whose achievement is below expectation.

A greater focus on targeting students at risk of unsuccessful outcomes has been a key factor in improving achievement. Action plans are established for priority students at each year level. Regular monitoring, more effective mentoring, closer links with parents and specific teacher strategies support increased success for some students.

Trustees effectively carry out their roles and responsibilities. They are well informed through reports received from the LSM, principal and curriculum leaders. Trustees:

  • scrutinise the effectiveness of the school in achieving valued student outcomes

  • review how effectively they are carrying out the stewardship role

  • are building their capacity to meet statutory responsibilities.

The revised charter goals provide a clear direction for the college to promote a ‘thriving, student centred, future-focused curriculum’ to support student success. Department and teacher goals align with school priorities. Principal reporting to the board includes progress with annual goals. Financial systems have improved. Previous property and resourcing issues are being addressed. A revised governance and policy framework continues to be developed.

Greater home-school partnership supports student learning. A revised reporting process assists timely sharing of achievement and progress information. Ako Whānau meetings provide the opportunity for learning centred conversations associated with the Kaiarahi Akoranga (AKO) mentoring initiative. Te Roopu Mātua o Te Kareti o Wairarapa enables sharing of issues relevant to whānau and direct involvement in promoting kaupapa Māori and success for Māori students.

Developing a ‘thriving, student centred, future-focused learning environment’ is requiring a shift in some teaching practices and broadening of the curriculum. Professional learning is focused on teaching being more student centred. It includes extending culturally responsive and relational practices, promoting greater student agency and increasing digital learning fluency. Access to relevant expertise builds capability for teaching improvement. There is a greater readiness among teachers to look for opportunities for students to lead their own learning.

Progress has been made in extending the learning choices available to students to better support successful outcomes. The Whātonga group class supports Māori success as Māori based on manaakitanga and whanaungatanga. Digital learning, Waicol on Stage, Year 11 Pathways to Work and Sports Academy classes are examples of recent initiatives responding to the specific needs and interests of particular groups. Development of a more locally based curriculum has begun. The school has identified increased access to digital technology and increased student agency as key elements supporting a more student-centred and future focused curriculum.

Comprehensive collection of student voice in relation to engagement in learning, teaching responsiveness and support for wellbeing provides a useful measure of the effectiveness of teaching practices and impact on learning of improvement initiatives. Some feedback is not showing the desired progress in improving learning for some students. Strategies have been developed to further respond to the areas needing improvement. Trustees, leaders and teachers should continue to use student feedback to monitor how effectively teaching is contributing to the valued outcomes reflected in the vision.

The principal and senior leadership team successfully develop and promote the school’s vision for improved outcomes for students and effectively contribute to change. Leadership capability and accountability across the school to support improvement is being built.

The revised appraisal process aligns to board achievement priorities and complies with Teaching Council expectations. School leaders have identified the need for further capability building to promote consistency and quality of practice within the various components of the process. Developing quality indicators linked to best practice, future-focused teaching and current professional learning, should assist more robust appraisal discussion and support teacher improvement.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Trustees and leaders are focused on carrying out their respective roles effectively and committed to improvement.

The school has:

  • strengthened its capacity to reflect, plan and act using evidence that includes student achievement information
  • continued to build a sustainable cycle of planning, improvement and self review

  • developed processes and practices that have built the capability to sustain and continue to improve student achievement

  • increased its capacity to manage change and improvement.

To further support school improvement:

  • teachers should embed culturally responsive practices that enable positive outcomes for a diverse range of students

  • leaders should continue to build collective capacity for effective evaluation and inquiry to assist consideration of the impact of practices and what is needed to continue to support student success.

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
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.

In order to improve current practice the board of trustees should ensure clear procedures are in place for:

  • responding to non-custodial parents

  • carrying out police vetting

  • anti-bullying that include documenting current practices and ensuring a whole school approach.

4 Other Matters

Provision for students in the school hostel

Pōto-College House is situated within the school campus and currently caters for 63 students, 6% of the school roll. The hostel has capacity for over 100 students. Most students are weekly boarders, with some fulltime. Nearly all are drawn from the wider Wairarapa region.

The Hostel is owned by the Wairarapa College Board of Trustees. The principal and the hostel director are responsible for the day-to-day operation. The operation of the hostel reflects the philosophy of the school, and upholds its traditions and values. Pōto-College House was re-licensed by the Ministry of Education in 2018.

Positive relationships and systems promote an environment that supports students' care and wellbeing. Hostel practices effectively foster pastoral care and complement school processes. Support for students is being provided and regularly monitored following the announcement of the imminent closure of the hostel.

Good provision is made for students to study individually and be supervised, and there is an appropriate focus on academic progress and achievement. Hostel leaders have strengthened connections with the college that promote student learning.

Routines and expectations are well understood. Students participate in a range of school and externally based activities and sports. Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to assume leadership roles and take responsibility. Feedback from boarders about hostel systems and relationships is sought and responded to.


The school has made good progress in responding to the areas identified in the previous ERO report. More students are gaining academic success. Curriculum development is underway. Professional learning is assisting teachers to have a more student-centred approach. Inquiry and evaluation processes continue to be strengthened to promote further improvement.

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO‘s overall evaluation judgement of Wairarapa College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Developing.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

Phil Cowie

Director Review and Improvement Services

Central Region

23 August 2019

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 52%, Female 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā
Other ethnic groups


Special features

Supported Learning Centre Alternative Education Pathways class School farm Hostel - Pōto-College House

Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

23 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2017
January 2014
November 2010