Whangārei Boys' High School

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Education institution number:
15
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Boys School)
Definition:
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:
1233
Telephone:
Address:

10 Kent Road, Whangarei

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Findings

The principal, senior leaders, teachers and trustees have worked together to significantly improve practices that promote student engagement and successful learning. They are developing a school that is student-centred, and focused on developing young men from a holistic perspective through the curriculum and support of wellbeing for learning.

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

1 Background and Context

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

Whangarei Boys’ High School is the only secondary boys’ school north of Auckland. The roll has increased over the past two years, and has a majority of Pākehā and Māori students. The school provides students with boarding facilities at Carruth House on the school site.

The 2015 ERO report identified concerns about several aspects of the school’s performance. These included the quality of leadership, the effectiveness of the curriculum and teaching practice and the continuing disparity between Māori and non-Māori achievement. For this reason ERO decided to continue to monitor the school’s progress through a longitudinal evaluation process over two years.

In 2015 the long-serving principal retired at the end of the first term. The new principal began her tenure in July 2015. Staffing changes have enabled the appointment of teachers who are well qualified and bring fresh perspectives to the professional learning culture of the school.

Since January 2015, ERO and the school have collected evidence to evaluate progress made in addressing ERO’s identified concerns. This report summarises ERO’s findings.

2 Review and Development

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

Priorities identified for review and development

In August 2015, the new principal and the board agreed on five broad improvement priorities to address during ERO’s two year longitudinal evaluation of the school. These priorities were based on areas for improvement identified in ERO’s 2015 report:

  • strengthening leadership, curriculum design, teaching practice
  • accelerating Māori student progress
  • developing the school culture and learning environment
  • strengthening self review (internal evaluation)
  • progressing school property development.
Progress

The previous and current boards, together with the new principal and senior leaders, have made good progress in relation to all the improvement priorities identified in the 2015 ERO report.

Developing an inclusive and positive school culture has been a key part of the work to improve students' wellbeing and educational outcomes. There has been a significant culture shift resulting in higher relational trust among students, teachers and leaders.

School values have been developed in consultation with whānau. These include Whakawhanaungatanga and Manaakitanga (respectful relationships); Tika and Pono (honesty and integrity); Maia and Aroha (courage and compassion); and Mahi tahi (work hard together). These values are increasingly guiding relationships between students, teachers and leaders across the school.

Significant changes in the school’s leadership and teaching culture have contributed to greater student wellbeing and motivation to engage and achieve. There is now a more open, transparent leadership and teaching culture. This is enabling greater critical reflection on the effectiveness of practices. It includes an increased focus on learners and in particular, those groups who have not been well served in the past.

Good progress is being made in developing the quality of teaching practice and the curriculum. There has been a significant shift in teachers’ pedagogical practice and thinking. This progress is guided by cyclic evaluation that includes the perspectives of teachers, faculties and students.

A greater restorative ethos is developing across the school. Senior leaders show a deep understanding of the inter-relationship between student wellbeing and student achievement and success. The board has funded expanded social services, a second counsellor and second dean for each year level. There is now a decreasing trend in the numbers of students being stood down, suspended or excluded from the school.

Students now have more leadership opportunities. They appreciate the way their views and opinions can be shared and influence school practices. Of particular note is the programme, introduced in 2016, where senior boys mentor Year 9 boys. This tuakana/teina approach helps the younger students to transition more positively to their secondary education.

Over the past three years, there have been deliberate, strategic approaches to promoting academic success for Māori students. Māori achievement has been trending positively in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA), in particular at Level 3. Data show increasing parity between Māori and non-Māori achievement in NCEA.

Te ao Māori is becoming more evident in curriculum learning areas. This year a full year’s programme has been provided for Year 9 students who wish to extend their learning in te reo Māori. A Māori Arts course is now offered to senior students. This is the third year that the school has been working with the professional learning initiative Kia Eke Panuku. Senior leaders have plans for all teachers to have completed their training by the end of this year. 

At the beginning of each year, staff spend a day at one of the local marae where they learn more about the local community and its history. This learning helps staff to make connections with students and their whānau.

Good efforts are being made to provide a more responsive curriculum and align systems with students’ learning needs and aspirations. These efforts include cross-curricular collaboration and strategising to support students’ choices, in particular in the Year 9 and 10 curriculum. This is also providing students with greater connectedness in their learning. 

Good progress has been made in the school’s tracking and monitoring of student progress, and in leaders’ and teachers’ use of achievement data. Senior leaders are considering ways to develop common approaches to assessing, analysing, tracking and accelerating progress in Years 9 to 10.

The board is continuing to work with the Ministry of Education on a project to provide buildings and environments that are more conducive to collaborative teaching and learning. In the interim, the board is managing the maintenance of the school’s aging buildings.

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 now well placed to sustain and build on effective practices and to continue improving outcomes for students. The board, principal, leaders and teachers have successfully worked together to promote relevant, cultural and systemic change. There is now a strong focus on strengthening capability in leadership and teaching, and providing students with relevant learning and pathways to their future career aspirations.

The board is well led. The chairperson’s continuing role has been beneficial over the past two years as he has a strong awareness of the school’s development journey. The school is guided by a meaningful charter, which includes strategic and annual planning that is improvement and student focused. The previous and current boards demonstrate a strong commitment to the school, student wellbeing and academic success.

The principal is providing effective professional leadership. She is strategically prioritising improvements and managing the pace of change well. Together with the senior leadership team she has redefined what leadership looks like across the school. Senior leaders have complementary skills and demonstrate enthusiasm and optimism in being part of the change process in the school.

Senior leaders model collaboration to promote greater shared understandings and more collective decision-making among staff. They provide time and encouragement for staff to share best practice and to focus on enhancing teaching through targeted professional learning. This is resulting in a more cohesive staff culture and optimism about the school’s future direction. Leaders and staff are developing a school that is student-centred. They are focused on developing ‘young men’ from a holistic perspective through the curriculum, teaching practices and support of wellbeing for learning.

Internal evaluation is developing well and is now more evident at board, leadership, faculty and teaching levels. Good links are being made between faculty evaluation and teachers’ inquiries into the impact of teaching practice on student learning. Staff development systems and inquiry cycles are now more aligned, and are based on improving student outcomes through targeted actions. Senior leaders plan to ensure that the quality of faculty reporting to the board is more consistently evaluative. 

Encouraging greater community involvement with the school continues to be one of the board’s strategic goals. Over recent years there has been greater collaboration with Kotuku ki te Rangi, a representative group of Māori whānau. The current board is considering further ways of working together with this group to support ngā tane Māori to succeed both academically and culturally.  

The board and senior leaders plan to continue progressing the development priorities noted in this report. In particular, the principal has identified the key areas of:

  • continuing to raise student achievement, and further increase parity for Māori
  • further developing teacher capability in relational and cultural pedagogy
  • continuing to develop a curriculum that is responsive to students’ interests, aspirations and pathways
  • ensuring that the new buildings provide learning environments that are conducive to collaborative teaching and learning.

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.

4 Recommendations

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

ERO recommends that the school continues to develop good practices in inquiry and evidence-based evaluation to guide curriculum developments that support students as confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.

Conclusion

The principal, senior leaders, teachers and trustees have worked together to significantly improve practices that promote student engagement and successful learning. They are developing a school that is student-centred, and focused on developing young men from a holistic perspective through the curriculum and support of wellbeing for learning.

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

3 May 2017

About the School 

Location

Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

15

School type

Secondary (Years 11 to 13)

School roll

1186

Number of international students

14

Gender composition

Boys 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Pacific
other

37%
53%
  4%
  3%
  3%

Special Features

Student boarding hostel, Carruth House

Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

3 May 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

January 2015
September 2011
August 2008

1 Context

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

Whangarei Boys’ High School provides a good standard of secondary education for young men. The school prides itself on being the only Year 9 to 13 boys’ school north of Auckland and it continues to offer boarding options for boys at Carruth House.

The school is experiencing a time of significant roll growth. Since the 2011 ERO review, the proportion of Māori students in the junior school has increased and fifty-seven percent of Year 9 students now identify as Māori. A new senior manager was appointed in 2012, and several new middle managers and more than twenty new teachers have joined the staff in recent years.

The school has responded positively to the findings of its 2011 ERO review. School leaders have participated in well chosen external professional development, including the Māori Leadership programme, He Kākano, and Auckland University’s Starpath programme.

School initiatives aimed at strengthening relationships with students and whānau to support student learning and achievement are promoting positive changes in school culture. Many other new initiatives have begun. Further time is needed for ERO to be able to evaluate the impact of these initiatives on student achievement.

2 Learning

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

Student learning takes place in a settled school environment. Students have very good opportunities to engage in a wide range of co-curricular activities and the boys are very proud of their high levels of success in arts, sports and cultural activities.

Leadership opportunities for senior students have increased and there are good examples of tuakana-teina relationships where older students guide and support their younger peers. School leaders work closely with contributing schools to strengthen learning transitions for Year 9 students into secondary education. Extending leadership opportunities for boys in Years 10 to 12 could be a worthwhile focus to now progress.

Since the previous ERO review, the school has significantly improved its collation and review of achievement information. High quality information is reported to the board on student attendance, retention, engagement in learning and achievement in Years 9 to 13. New student tracking systems are in place and a new data management system has been introduced.

Student achievement in the National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) has improved over the past three years. More students are gaining merit and excellence endorsements and are achieving at higher standards. Pacific students mostly achieve very well. Students with additional learning requirements are well supported through very good school processes.

Some Māori students achieve well. School information shows, however, that overall Māori student achievement at NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 continues to sit significantly below school-wide levels of success in NCEA. The school's analysis of NCEA data identifies the growing gap between Māori and NZ European students. School leaders are working to strengthen academic counselling and other support processes for students, including Māori.

The board has set specific targets to strengthen the school's focus on supporting students at risk of not achieving and implementation of this plan is a next step. It is also clear that there is still a significant need to accelerate Māori student achievement to meet government achievement targets by 2017. The implementation of a specific plan to accelerate Māori success that is developed in consultation with whānau should now be prioritised.

New initiatives in Years 9 and 10, including the foundation literacy and numeracy support classes (FLaNs), are beginning to show improvements in student learning. Teachers are targeting students who require additional support in literacy and who could be at risk of not achieving qualifications. To further progress this work school leaders should continue to focus on:

  • identifying successful strategies for accelerating student learning and achievement
  • sharing effective teaching practices school wide
  • evaluating the success of interventions to improve learning
  • allocating further resourcing in areas that are likely to make a positive difference in accelerating Māori student achievement.

The school has made significant progress in its reporting to families/whānau. Reporting is well aligned to the curriculum, and students are now more involved in talking about their aspirations and learning with their teachers and families. The school is effectively promoting better relationships with families.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum is becoming more effective in promoting and supporting student learning. School leaders are appropriately planning for further curriculum review. A clear focus on student learning requirements and a willingness to design a more student-centred approach is a key part of school thinking.

School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, that it would now be useful to consider:

  • the principles and values of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) as review tools
  • flexible timetabling approaches to better meet student interests and learning preferences.

School leaders, working closely with staff, have made well considered changes to help ensure that programmes for Year 9 and 10 students are more responsive to different groups of learners. Changes in student groupings are showing early signs of successful outcomes, affirming school decision making in this area.

The senior curriculum has been thoughtfully expanded to provide greater variety of subjects and learning pathways for all students. This includes trades academy options, and vocational and university pathways. It is now important to ensure that all teachers have high expectations that Māori students will achieve their learning and career goals and gain meaningful qualifications.

Physical activity and health promotion activities are well supported in the curriculum. Health services are well used by the boys. The board is aware of the need to increase the resources for counselling and supporting wellbeing to meet student needs. Outside agencies are being accessed to support school-based provisions. Ongoing review is necessary to evaluate the success of resourcing in this area.

Changes to school behaviour management systems that include removal of the traditional detention system, is a positive step. Some staff are using restorative approaches very well to support student management. More widespread and consistent use of these approaches should further support student learning. The school's use of the Ministry of Education’s Inclusive Practices and Wellbeing at School guidelines should also be helpful to enhance restorative practices.

Professional development has been well used by senior managers to stimulate change. Time has been made available for heads of departments and teachers to inquire into the success of teaching approaches. This deliberate focus on evaluating the effectiveness of teaching practice is well chosen, and there are some very good examples of student-centred teaching and good curriculum leadership in the school to build on. Managing the pace of change is now a key challenge for school leaders. To improve outcomes for students, school leaders and teachers should continue to:

  • increase te ao Māori perspectives within subject areas
  • personalise learning and promote students’ decision making and self management skills
  • further integrate meaningful use of information and communication technologies (ICT) within teaching programmes
  • promote learning experiences that foster higher level thinking skills and increase student engagement in learning
  • find ways for students to better use their own achievement information to guide their learning.

Priority should also be given to ensuring all students have equitable access to the curriculum. In particular, the school should revisit requirements for parents to pay fees for class-based resources and align school practices with Ministry of Education guidelines. It should ensure students are not withdrawn from education for matters related to the collection of fees and examine ways to reduce course pre-requisites that impact negatively on students' learning aspirations and choice of senior subjects.

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

The school is promoting success for Māori and working towards strengthening success as Māori. Changes in leadership thinking and the valuing of tikanga Māori has resulted in a more positive school culture. The school has:

  • a successful kapa haka group and haka as a well embedded features of school culture
  • engaged in many leadership hui through the He Kākano professional development project
  • promoted te reo Māori learning opportunities for staff and staff wānanga at local marae
  • developed a useful and relevant staff handbook to guide cultural responsiveness
  • identified and appointed key staff to promote Māori success
  • promoted better communication with whānau and links with local iwi.

It is critical that the school continues to focus on successful ways to help realise the potential of, and accelerate the success of, Māori students. The school plans to engage in the upcoming Ministry of Education's professional development programme Building on Success to consolidate school progress.

ERO recommends that the school also:

  • develops an effective teacher profile for teaching Māori learners that has explicit links to performance management
  • ensures key staff have the opportunity to work together to improve cultural responsiveness across classroom practice
  • expands the provision of te reo Māori for bilingual and immersion learners and further develops culturally relevant courses.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school has several strengths to support its continuing improvement, as noted in this report. The development of a new strategic plan is another step towards planning for the school's future sustainability, as is work by the board to significantly improve the school’s financial position. The hostel is now viable and financial resourcing is better monitored.

The school is also moving into a time of significant change and development, while continuing to seek improvements in several areas of performance. The board acknowledges the services of the school's retiring headmaster over the last 15 years and is now looking to appoint a new leader. A new headmaster is likely to take over management of the school in term 3, 2015.

Discussions with the Ministry of Education about major property development work have also commenced and should result in considerable upgrades and modernisation of school facilities over the next several years.

It is important that these property upgrades are accompanied by well informed curriculum development planning that reflects current educational research about the needs of 21st century learners. This would help ensure that opportunities to create new learning environments are closely linked to future focused teaching and learning approaches that promote successful life-long learning. ERO advises that school leaders and the board seek external advice and guidance from the Ministry of Education to support school development in these areas.

The board also acknowledges benefits to be gained by continuing to improve other areas of school performance. It recognises the need to develop more evaluative thinking throughout the school and to strengthen the quality of self review. Ongoing work is needed to promote more equitable outcomes for Māori students. This includes work to develop a more bicultural school vision and culture to accelerate Māori success and to promote strategic plan goals relating to putting students' educational success first.

To further improve school governance and management, ERO also recommends that the board:

  • receives regular and timely information about school systems and processes for meeting legal responsibilities, including those relating to student and staff wellbeing
  • develops succession planning and promotes trusteeship that represents the school community
  • continues to work with the MoE on managing school property
  • continues work to reduce the high number of stand-downs that interrupt student learning.

Given the changes, opportunities and planned improvement work that lie ahead, the board has requested that ERO continue to work alongside it over the next two years to monitor and provide regular evaluative feedback on school developments. ERO has agreed to this request.

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 15 international students attending the school.

EROs investigation found that the school has complied with the Code and continues to provide high quality pastoral care for international students. These students are well integrated into school life and make good use of school facilities and personnel to support them. Regular reports to the board could now be enhanced by inclusion of information about educational and other outcomes for international students.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school’s hostel, Carruth House, accommodates 80 students, or seven percent of the school roll. The school board, as hostel owner, has attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are being met.

EROs investigation found that the hostel meets requirements. Students receive very good quality care and support from considerate staff. Effective hostel leadership and good self-review processes have enhanced hostel life for the boys.

Students report they value their experiences at the hostel and ways in which hostel living has helped develop their social skills and independence. International students living in the hostel report they have very good opportunities to make friends and share in the ethos of brotherhood.

Hostel procedures continue to promote a safe emotional environment. Students have good opportunities to communicate with home. Families are warmly welcomed. Hostel staff are aware that the facilities have several access points and are considering how best to manage visitors to the site.

To enhance student wellbeing in the hostel trustees could continue to strategically plan to:

  • provide more quiet study spaces and extend the lounge area for junior students
  • develop physical recreation spaces adjacent to the hostel
  • improve heating in the dining area and refit existing dormitory furniture.

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.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should now:

  • align charges to parents with Ministry of Education guidelines
  • ensure appropriate information is reported regarding student stand-downs
  • improve school record keeping about complaints and actions taken
  • ensure education outside the classroom policies and practices align
  • improve the storage of in-committee minutes.

Recommendations to other agencies

ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education consider providing support for the board in order to bring about improvements in student learning outcomes, particularly for Māori students; to strengthen self review; and to further support school property development.

Conclusion

The school provides good quality education. Students experience a curriculum that is becoming increasingly aligned to their interests. Key developments include those to promote cultural responsiveness and success for Māori students. Further work is now needed to ensure the school is able to sustain and improve on existing good performance.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years. 

Dale Bailey

Deputy Chief Review Officer - Northern Northern Region

16 January 2015

About the School

Location

Whangarei, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

15

School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll

1145

Number of international students

15

Gender composition

Boys 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European

Asian

Pacific

other European

other

37%

46%

5%

2%

7%

3%

Special Features

Student boarding hostel, Carruth House

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

16 January 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2011

August 2008

August 2006