Wanganui High School - 21/09/2011

1 Context

What are the important features of this school’s context that have an impact on student learning?

Wanganui High School has an established history of aiming for and achieving success in academic, cultural and sporting fields. Trustees, school leaders, teachers and students expect high levels of engagement, achievement and progress in all endeavours. Students are proud of their school and celebrate their successes.

The school is a large co-educational facility with an enrolment scheme. Students have an extensive range of pathways to achievement. A culture of review supports ongoing improvement.

Mutually respectful relationships underpin an inclusive environment where all reasonable steps are taken to provide for students' safety. Classrooms are well resourced.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. Since the October 2008 ERO report a new principal and deputy principal have been appointed.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students successfully and positively participate in, and take responsibility for, learning. Trustees, teachers and students believe that all, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or ability can achieve. These expectations are matched by high levels of success.

Students make marked progress in Years 9 and 10. The gaining of National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1 to 3 is well above national comparisons and with schools of similar decile. Students achieve well in comparison to similar and all schools nationally, in gaining: internal and external credits; merit, excellence and endorsements; and literacy and numeracy credits. Good numbers of New Zealand Scholarship awards across the curriculum are evident over time.

Students are actively engaged, motivated and strive to achieve. Those spoken to by ERO talked about their learning and understand their next steps. They know how current lessons fit with prior and future learning. They are well informed about their achievement and confidently use assessment processes to improve their work.

Students have inclusive learning environments that reflect their studies. Resources are appropriate, and relevant. Information and communication technologies are well used to engage and inform. Interactions between students and teachers are relaxed and respectful. Students are cooperative and lessons are focused on learning

Teachers collect a wide range of useful student achievement data, including information from contributing schools, to:

  • inform decisions about students’ placement in classes and courses
  • understand students’ needs, adapt programmes and provide appropriate resources
  • monitor, identify and support students not reaching predicted potential
  • inform students of progress and include them in decisions about their learning
  • review and evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum
  • report to the board to assist trustees’ decision making.

Teachers participate in professional development that assists them to understand, interpret and use data to maximise students’ learning. The school’s self review identifies plans to further develop these practices.

Learning support programmes effectively cater for students with specific needs. Teachers in Te Atawhai classroom comprehensively respond to students with complex needs. Individually designed programmes emphasize essential skills to support students’ transition to independent living. The programmes feature close partnerships with families and involvement of students in school and community events.

Teachers use a clear process to refer and monitor the progress of students identified as needing learning support. Their needs are met within tailored programmes or through focused classroom teaching.

A range of purposeful pastoral care initiatives and practices support the inclusion, presence and achievement of students. Deliberate, regularly reviewed strategies contribute to a supportive learning environment.

The achievement of Pacific students is monitored individually. Their achievement reflects that of other students. Student leadership is recognised, Pacific cultures are valued and students’ successes are celebrated. Community links are established.

How well are Māori students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

The school successfully promotes high levels of Māori students’ engagement and achievement. In 2010 Level 1 NCEA, Māori students achieved at rates 10% above that of all students nationally and 30% above other Māori students. Many aspects of achievement in Levels 2 and 3 NCEA are positive. For gains to be commensurate with other students in the school at these levels, staff should continue to focus on raising Māori student achievement.

The school’s charter, strategic planning and curriculum documentation provide explicit direction to value, reflect, affirm and celebrate the culture of Māori students and to support their success. Strategic decisions and implemented initiatives are well considered and founded by in depth evidence-based knowledge of issues and the effectiveness of practices. Cultural expertise, community, teacher and student leadership and strong organisational structures support ongoing improvements.

Teachers develop their understanding and use of teaching practices that support Māori students’ success. Expectations for high achievement are evident across the school. Senior leaders and teachers promote and support a strong culture of inclusion and connectedness for Māori students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning. The curriculum is regularly reviewed and flexibly responds to the changing needs and aspirations of learners through:

  • an extensive range of courses that enable students to sample in Years 9 and 10, and then to either specialise or undertake a broad range of courses in their senior years
  • multiple pathways to achievement with classes and courses matched to the learning ability of students
  • a comprehensive Gateway programme supporting students to achieve vocational/industry experience and qualifications
  • encouragement for all students to pursue academic, cultural and sporting interests.

Transitions to Year 9, Year 11 and into further education or work are well managed and supportive of individual students. Wide-ranging information and counselling guides students to make well-informed option, course and career decisions.

The school’s self review shows that teaching is highly effective in making a difference to student achievement overall. Well articulated and documented expectations for successful teaching are evident in teachers’ practice. Teaching approaches are well-matched to the learning styles and needs of students. High expectations and active teaching empower students to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Performance management, professional development, faculty leadership and sharing of practice successfully contribute to improving teacher capability and developing pedagogy. Considerable planned professional learning and development in numeracy and literacy extends across faculties and results in a cohesive approach across the school.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Ongoing reflection and review contribute to continuous improvement. The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Charter, strategic and annual plans explicitly and comprehensively guide school operations and focus strongly on improving teaching, learning and outcomes for students.

A culture of robust self review assists trustees, senior leaders and teachers to identify priorities for improvement, develop and implement plans, monitor progress and evaluate effectiveness. Strongly based on a wide range of evidence, including the views of students, decisions are focused on efficient and effective practices to improve attendance, retention, engagement and achievement of students.

Effective leadership supports actions to achieve the school’s mission. Leaders focus on review for improvement and consider and manage change well. Clear roles and systems promote successful management. Leadership at all levels is encouraged and enthusiastically undertaken by teachers. A collaborative, supportive culture among staff enables change and improvement to be positively embraced.

Trustees appropriately give priority to practices that improve student achievement and evidence-based decisions reflect the school’s strategic goals. They support school leaders and are actively involved in school activities.

The community is closely connected with the school through consultation, advice, support for students’ activities and celebrations of students’ success.

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. At the time of this review there were 66 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Comprehensive systems and practices are in place to support international students’ pastoral and academic needs. The school gathers reliable information from all stakeholders and uses it to regularly evaluate the quality of provision for international students.

Students’ welfare needs are met. Orientation, learning and accommodation support is provided and monitored to ensure effectiveness.

International students receive high quality education in language support and other classes. There is evidence that most students achieve their academic goals.

Students are included in school activities and are well integrated into the school community.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • 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 four-to-five years.

Kathleen Atkins National Manager Review Services Central Region

21 September 2011

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)



School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 53%, Female 47%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā


Other ethnic groups








Special Features

Te Atawhai Special Needs Facility

Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

21 September 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2008

October 2005

August 2002