Ngaruawahia High School

Ngaruawahia High School

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within 5 months of the Education Review Office and Ngaruawahia High School working in Te Ara Huarau, an improvement evaluation approach used in most English Medium State and State Integrated Schools. For more information about Te Ara Huarau see ERO’s website.


Ngaruawahia High School is located in the Tainui rohe, providing co-education for Years 9 to 13. The school promotes the values of manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, kotahitanga and rangatiratanga. In 2023, a new principal was appointed.

Ngaruawahia High School’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are to:

  • build responsive connections

  • ensure excellent outcomes and opportunities for all students

  • build responsive systems and processed.

You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on Ngaruawahia High School’s website.

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate to what extent the school builds teacher and leaders' capability to achieve equitable outcomes for students schoolwide.

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:

  • ensure a positive learning experience for all students

  • support teachers to base teaching and learning programmes on individual strengths and needs of students.

The school expects to see the use of relevant data to inform planning to support student needs, consistent and responsive monitoring and tracking of improving student achievement outcomes are used throughout the school.


The school can draw from the following strengths to support the school in its goal to improve student outcomes:

  • positive and supportive teacher and student relationships

  • targeted professional development that supports building of teacher and leader capability

  • senior leadership team that is student centred.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise:

  • implementing a strategic approach to developing the pedagogical knowledge and practice of middle leaders and teachers

  • teachers and leaders using achievement information to inform planning for a responsive curriculum

  • gathering of student voice to evaluate the impact of the localised curriculum for them as learners, including what is working, for whom and where to next.

ERO’s role will be to support the school in its evaluation for improvement cycle to improve outcomes for all learners. ERO will support the school in reporting their progress to the community. The next public report on ERO’s website will be a Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report and is due within three years.

Shelley Booysen
Director of Schools

20 September 2023 

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Ngaruawahia High School

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2023 to 2026

As of August 2023, the Ngaruawahia High School Board has attested to the following regulatory and legislative requirements:

Board Administration




Management of Health, Safety and Welfare


Personnel Management






Actions for Compliance

ERO has identified the following areas of non-compliance during the board assurance process: 

  • Keep accurate records about each aspect of the safety checking process

[Children’s (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015]

The board has since taken steps to address the areas of non-compliance identified.

Further Information

For further information please contact Ngaruawahia High School , School Board.

The next School Board assurance that it is meeting regulatory and legislative requirements will be reported, along with the Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report, within three years.

Information on ERO’s role and process in this review can be found on the Education Review Office website.

Shelley Booysen
Director of Schools

20 September 2023 

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Ngaruawahia High School


On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO ‘s overall evaluation judgement of Ngaruawahia High School’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?

Ngaruawahia High School is a small secondary school in the Waikato, catering for students in Years 9 to 13. The school’s vision is to be the school of choice in the community, providing future-focused and global education that empowers all. Key school values include whanaungatanga, manaakitanga and kotahitanga.

Over time, the roll has increased to 349, including 251 students of Māori heritage, 51% of whom whakapapa to Tainui. Tūrangawaewae Marae, located nearby, has representation on the school board and the school connects to the Kingitanga community presence through engagement in key events.

Following the 2013 ERO external evaluation, the current principal, a long-serving staff member, was appointed as a first-time principal. At that time, a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) supported the board. In 2018, the LSM was revoked and a new evaluation process was initiated with ERO in 2019.

Since 2019, ERO and the Ministry of Education (MoE) have worked with the school in an ongoing evaluation partnership. This has included termly visits, interviews, meetings and observations working with the school leaders, staff, trustees, students and external providers.

In 2019, a MoE appointed special advisor assisted trustees to develop governance skills in policy review, scrutiny of data and to help decision making. The special advisor has also worked closely with senior leaders to strengthen school operational structures, processes and systems, and supported school leadership with coaching and mentoring.

Two MoE student achievement function (SAF) practionners have worked closely with the school. They have supported a more data-driven approach to decision making and curriculum review. They are also working alongside leaders of learning to help improve teaching practices.

Since 2019, appointments to the senior leadership team include two deputy principals and an assistant principal. An external appraiser works with the principal and new senior leadership team. A recently revised middle leadership structure is now in place with some new curriculum leaders. A special education coordinator (SENCO), a learning support coordinator (LSC) and several new teachers have also joined the staff. A new guidance counsellor was appointed for 2021.

A designated kaiako guides students and staff in using and valuing te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. A roopu has been established comprising staff, students and kaumatua, to act as a cultural advisory team for the kura.

The 2019 board election saw an almost completely new board established. As a result, an experienced chairperson was co-opted in 2020. Over the last several years the board and leaders have been managing the start of a major property development to provide modern learning environments. A recent upgrade to the whare has been completed.

2 Review and Development

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

The school is working purposefully to address and make progress in the priority areas. The board and leaders are responsive to MoE guidance and support, and to ERO’s evaluation insights.

Priorities identified for review and development

The priorities for school improvement include:

  • school culture
  • student outcomes and plans for improvement
  • teaching and learning
  • leadership.
School culture

Over time, school leaders have addressed a range of challenges to improve the school culture and learning climate. Students are proud of their school and value their teachers. Supports for student wellbeing are increasingly in place and well monitored.

Pastoral and learning support teams are focused on student wellbeing and building positive relationships for learning to reflect the school values. New enrolment practices and mentors for students have been introduced to strengthen hauora and promote a sense of belonging. Teachers demonstrate care for students and form positive relationships to support student learning.

Attendance remains a high priority. Working more closely with whānau, the school has had some success in its attendance strategy during 2020. The school recognises that improvements are still required to raise attendance, and lower stand-down and suspension rates. A whānau liaison officer has been appointed for 2021.

Action plans for 2021 have been redesigned to improve student engagement, with close monitoring in place. Regular reporting of trends and patterns is also required to evaluate the impact of plans and align resourcing.

Student outcomes, plans for improvement and teaching and learning

Leaders have worked at pace during 2020 to improve school conditions for increased student success. Students have more choice and challenge in their learning pathways. Changes include improved timetabling approaches, more subject availability and variety of individual supports for students to gain National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA).

Students now have greater access to achievement standards, and merit and excellence endorsement learning opportunities. These changes enable students to experience a wider range of academic success and to progress to university, tertiary study and employment. The school has useful tracking systems to monitor and respond to student progress over time.

While some students achieve very well in NCEA qualifications, retention through to the senior school and the range and quality of leaver qualifications remain areas for further improvement. The school has recently initiated a schoolwide career guidance programme to ensure students receive enough specialised guidance to select school courses that will serve them well beyond secondary education.

ERO remains concerned about how well Year 11 learners access quality learning pathways. While considered and worthwhile changes have been made, these require thorough evaluation, including learner and whānau input, to identify the effectiveness and suitability of this approach.

Years 9 and 10 school achievement information shows most students still require more targeted teaching to access higher levels of success. The school has useful assessment information and is working with the SAFs to make better use of the information for teaching and learning decision making. Some learners in the junior school achieve well and the focus is to enhance teaching and learning practice so that all students experience similar success in their learning.

Students are being better supported through a deliberate and explicit focus on literacy strategies, including writing structure. The focus is increasingly woven through the curriculum and a key part of professional learning and development planning for 2021. Evaluating the impact of specific literacy strategies on student learning is important to inform departmental literacy strategy and teaching.

Teachers have started to implement comprehensive school guidelines and expectations for effective teaching practices. The graduate profile was developed through thoughtful consultation with the school community to inform teaching and learning. This is in place for 2021 to serve as shared schoolwide expectations for student success.

Curriculum design and redevelopment is underway. The focus on moving towards a more innovative curriculum design is also timely to respond to the needs and interests of learners and meet the graduate profile descriptors over time. Ensuring sufficient learning time, minimising internal transitions and increasing opportunities for students to self-manage are key considerations.

The learning support team is designing a range of learning pathways for priority students. They have collated data to identify students’ learning needs and have developed targeted responses. The team is reviewing individual education and behaviour plans in order to foster greater whānau, student, staff and external expert input. Training for all staff in this area is a planned priority for 2021.


The tumuaki, working with a range of external agencies and providers, has demonstrated a strong commitment to school improvement and supporting positive changes. The formation of a new senior leadership team, with clear roles and responsibilities, has helped provide a better school leadership foundation.

The new leadership team is working together with a stronger focus on the use of data, a more responsive curriculum design and student supports. Over time, the team members have developed trust with each other. Senior leaders would benefit from ongoing team coaching and mentoring as they work through the complexities of change and personnel management.

Working with external support, leaders have improved school systems, structures and guiding documents to provide for more effective school operations. The new systems and processes are beginning to enhance student wellbeing and promote more positive student behaviours and engagement in learning.

Leaders are working towards the consistent implementation of school processes and the coherent links between leadership portfolios. The new leaders in the school have made a significant difference to the school’s overall leadership capability and capacity.

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 better placed to continue to improve and then begin to sustain its performance. After a long period of time, with a number of challenges, the school is addressing its priorities and making very good use of the MoE supports to manage change for improvement.

The board and leaders should now evaluate recent changes and their impact on learner success. Deliberate and broad evaluation opportunities should be planned to inform decision making. Leaders should continue to prioritise decision making strongly linked to the evidence in relation to learners and their wellbeing and learning. Increasing opportunities for staff to collaborate could also help strengthen working relationships and include diverse viewpoints. This would align with the distributed leadership structure that has been established.

Board continuity and capability building is a critical factor required for sustainability. The board is making steady progress. Trustees have benefitted from individual and group training opportunities. They have also appreciated the leadership from the co-opted, experienced chairperson. Succession has been considered by the board to ensure stable stewardship.

The board is more student outcomes focused and is putting in place more specific charter targets, with close monitoring, for 2021. Trustees would benefit from continued external support for the next 12 months to help consolidate stewardship improvements and develop trustees’ board leadership capability.

Appropriate board strategic goals are in place, including one focused on developing productive partnership with whānau, hapū and iwi. The school has begun to work more closely with whānau, hapū and iwi to decide on the ways to enact the partnerships. This could include developing agreed ways to promote greater Māori learner success as Māori, helping the school meet the new Education and Training Act 2020 requirements and Ka Hikitia – Ka Hapaitia/The Māori Education Strategy (2020).

External support is important to continue to grow leadership expertise and enact quality teaching and learning practices across the school. Reviewing the school’s existing appraisal practices should help inform the professional growth cycle for teachers in 2021. Ensuring the use of achievement information to target teaching to respond to students’ learning and wellbeing requirements should remain a key expectation.

Ensuring leaders remain visible around the school and that robust, evidence-based processes are in place for making decisions, are critical to consolidate improvements and to manage change. Maintaining a positive school environment, through a major rebuild, is also a key goal of leaders and trustees after such a long period of preparation time.

Summary of the key next steps

As identified through this report, the board, school leaders and staff should continue to:

  • increase the trajectory of students’ progress and achievement through strategic planning and:
    • set annual improvement targets to improve student attendance and retention with specific strategies for individuals and groups of students
    • set annual improvement targets for Years 9 and 10 in literacy, and for seniors in NCEA so more students leave school with at least NCEA Level 2
    • continue to implement and embed a professional growth cycle for teachers with robust evaluation processes
  • redevelop the school’s localised curriculum to:
    • include digital technologies at all levels
    • ensure effective, sustainable resourcing decisions
    • improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning using data as evidence
  • access professional development to build stewardship capacity and:
    • ensure positive working relationships between board members
    • manage finance and health and safety during the upcoming school rebuild
    • focus on developing purposeful partnerships with whānau and iwi education plans.

4 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 practices, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure that a complaints file shows a clear record of how each complaint is managed and resolved
  • provide detail for in-committee meeting records that documents the board’s decision making for stand-downs, suspensions or exclusions.

5 Recommendations

Recommendations, including any to other agencies for ongoing or additional support

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education provides support for the school in order to:

  • strengthen governance and leadership through ongoing coaching and/or mentoring
  • design a more localised school curriculum and use data to inform decision making
  • address existing property risks and minimise safety hazards as an interim measure before planned new buildings are completed and/or renovated.


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

ERO’s Framework: Overall Findings and Judgement Tool derived from School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success is available on ERO’s website.

Phil Cowie
Director Review and Improvement Services (Central)
Central Region - Te Tai Pūtahi Nui

11 March 2021

About the school

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.