Whakatane High School - 26/03/2018

School Context

Whakatane High School is a coeducational secondary school catering for students in Years 9 to 13. At the time of this review there were 800 students enrolled, including 52% who identified as Māori, 37% as Pākehā and 11% from a range of other ethnicities.

The school’s mission statement is ‘challenging all students to achieve’, and is underpinned by the values of achievement, respect and responsibility. Students are encouraged to give their best effort, to be considerate and appreciative of others, to look after the school environment and be accountable for their actions.

The current aims and goals of the school are to provide students with a challenging learning environment that supports and enables all students to develop their potential, and to provide a healthy and caring school culture that focuses on students’ rights and responsibilities.

The 2017 achievement targets focus on increasing the proportion of students leaving school with a National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Level 2 qualification or higher.

The school is part of the Whakatane CoL|Kāhui Ako.

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

  • NCEA
  • attendance data
  • other valued outcomes such as sports participation data. 

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

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

The school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for many students.

NCEA roll-based data from 2016 shows that overall, NCEA achievement was comparable to national averages and schools of a similar profile. In Year 11, 82% of students achieved NCEA Level 1, 80% of Year 12 students achieved Level 2.  In Year 13, 60% of students achieved Level 3 with 38% also gaining University Entrance (UE). The roll-based data shows disparity between the achievement of Māori compared to Pākehā students, and between boys and girls.

The 2016 school leavers’ data shows that the disparity between Māori and Pākehā has reduced considerably since 2013. In 2016 there was a gap of 12% between Māori and Pākehā students leaving school with at least a NCEA Level 2 qualification down from 38% in 2013. The school maintains good destination data and is able to show that many students also went on to access further training and employment.

School assessment information from 2016 shows that a large proportion of Year 9 students begin school below or well below expected levels in literacy and numeracy. The school reports that many of these students make good progress and are at the expected level by the end of Year 10.

Students with additional learning needs are well catered for through a range of targeted programmes and initiatives such as the learning support centre.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is effectively responding to the significant majority of identified target students whose learning and achievement need acceleration. Of the 33 Year 9 Māori students who were identified in 2013 as being significantly at risk, 27 students went on to gain Level 2 in 2016. All other students who were identified as being significantly at risk in 2013 also achieved NCEA Level L2 in 2016.

Senior leaders are working to address the challenge of ensuring all Māori and other students who need acceleration are supported to reach the expected curriculum level by the end of year 10.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

Strong professional leadership supports the implementation of school initiatives to accelerate student achievement. Leaders are highly committed to pursuing equity and excellence for all learners. They have a clear focus on addressing disparities of achievement, and have high expectations for students’ academic, sporting and cultural success. Leadership is focused on achieving equitable outcomes for students.

A special feature of the college is the extensive range of targeted initiatives and approaches to support the needs of at-risk students. Good systems for monitoring and tracking the progress of students are well established. Many at-risk students engaged in these initiatives make good progress in their learning. The curriculum is increasingly responsive to the needs of all students.

There are strong processes for building teacher capability. A coherent programme of professional learning and development focused on relational and culturally responsive pedagogy has lifted teachers’ responsiveness to many Māori students. Professional learning groups offer an effective forum for teachers to reflect on and discuss approaches to teaching. Teachers are well supported to improve their classroom practice.

Good pastoral care processes and a positive school culture support the learning needs and aspirations of students. Leaders and teachers actively work towards maintaining an environment that supports the overall wellbeing of students in all aspects of their learning. This holistic approach encourages students to follow their interests and develop their capabilities.  Students learn in a supportive school environment where the school’s mission statement and values are regularly reinforced and promoted.

Strong governance practices are evident. Trustees bring a wide range of knowledge and appropriate skills to their governance roles. They work closely with school management and are well informed about levels of achievement, school operations and the implementation of policies.  Trustees understand the importance of ensuring equitable outcomes for all students. The board is making sound resourcing decisions to support students especially those whose learning is at risk.

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

To further address in-school disparity, particularly at Years 9 and 10, and support improved teacher effectiveness, leaders and teachers need to ensure:

  • differentiated classroom teaching programmes are consistently implemented to effectively meet the diverse range of student learning needs
  • the teaching as inquiry process clearly aligns with students most at risk in their learning
  • teacher knowledge and understanding of acceleration is strengthened.

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. 

Appraisal audit

In order to improve practice school leaders should ensure teachers are consistently gathering robust evidence in relation to each of the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTCs).

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 27 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 processes for international students are thorough. The school has effective systems and practices for the pastoral care, quality of education provision, and integration of students into the school community.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a leadership team that is focused on achieving parity of achievement for all learners
  • trustees who are committed to resourcing initiatives that address disparities of achievement 
  • initiatives and approaches including a school curriculum that is designed to support and promote equitable outcomes
  • teachers who are strengthening their response to Māori and other learners.

Next steps

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

  • ongoing development of effective teaching and assessment approaches to support at-risk students to make sufficient acceleration in Years 9 and 10
  • embedding processes for tracking and monitoring the progress of at-risk students over time
  • ongoing internal evaluation to measure the effectiveness of programmes and initiatives designed to address levels of disparity and learner success
  • greater alignment of school and department targets, teaching as inquiry and appraisal goals with students who require acceleration.
    [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school] 

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson
Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

26 March 2018

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 8-13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls       55%
Boys      45%

Ethnic composition

Māori      52%
Pākehā   37%
Pacific     1%
Other      10% 

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

26 March 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review 2014
Education Review 2011