Awatapu College

Education institution number:
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Not Applicable
Total roll:

434 Botanical Road, West End, Palmerston North

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Awatapu College - 29/11/2018

School Context

Awatapu College is a co-educational secondary school for students from Years 9 to 15. The roll has recently increased to 728 students, and includes 26% who are Māori. Awatapu College states that it ‘challenges students to achieve excellence, develop a sense of self-worth, and become motivated and responsible citizens - whai mana, whai oronga’.

The school charter expresses valued outcomes for students as: achievement and excellence in academic, sporting, cultural and all aspects of school life; close links between school, parents, whānau and community; and a sense of security, respect and belonging.

The school’s strategic goals for 2018 focus on improving:

  • overall achievement outcomes, particularly for Māori, Pacific and boys
  • National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) endorsements
  • student engagement.

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

  • NCEA achievement
  • attendance and wellbeing.
  • student engagement
  • participation in co-curricular activities.

Ministry of Education (MoE) funding has been received to provide additional support to a group of Māori and Pacific students at risk of underachieving.

There is large unit on campus accommodating around 50 40 students with high and complex needs.

Staffing is generally stable and recently a new deputy principal has joined the established senior leadership team.

The college is a member of the Te Ora Karaka Kāhui Ako Tahi.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

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

Movement towards equity and excellence of outcomes for all students is evident and requires increased momentum. Girls’ achievement is higher than that of boys and this disparity is evident at all levels.

Assessment data collected when students enter the college in Year 9, shows about half of all students are below expectations in reading comprehension and about two thirds in mathematics. There is significant disparity for Māori students and boys when compared to their peers. This pattern continues through Year 10. Success for the majority of students in NCEA Level 1 suggests that in literacy and numeracy the school is adding value to students’ achievement and increasing rates of progress over Years 9 and 10.

Data for 2017 shows that the majority of students gained success in NCEA. In 2016, most students finished at the school with at least a Level 2 NCEA qualification.

Additional guidance and mentoring, funded through the MoE has resulted in increased outcomes for Māori and Pacific students at NCEA Level 2. Patterns of Māori and Pacific attainment in NCEA over time are variable, with more consistent achievement noticeable at Level 2. There is disparity of outcomes for these groups of students at finishing the school with Level 3 and for gaining University Entrance.

Students with additional and high needs are well supported and catered for.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

The response to Māori and other children whose learning and achievement need acceleration requires strengthening. Establishing a clearer picture of accelerated progress, who and the rate, should assist the school in measuring the extent of the impact of teaching strategies on accelerating outcomes for students and to make adjustments accordingly.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

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

School tone and climate is inclusive and positive. Good relationships are clearly evident and teachers know students well. Students’ language and culture are valued and celebrated. Classrooms observed by ERO were calm and purposeful with students positively engaged in their learning.

Students are encouraged to make choices about their learning and teachers support them to make the most of opportunities for success. Learning area leaders have regularly adapted practice to better promote and support student engagement, learning and achievement. Leaders have extended the range of courses available to cater for the increasingly diverse needs of all students. They have a range of opportunities to be involved in academic, cultural and sporting activities.

Students who are at risk of not achieving are well identified and appropriate supports are put in place to promote learning, progress and wellbeing. Leaders have extended the range of assessments used in Years 9 and 10 learning areas to more closely track and monitor student achievement and progress. This enables a more immediate response to the emerging learning needs of students.

Pastoral care processes are well considered. Good systems are in place to track and monitor student engagement in learning. The value of building strong relationships with students that support learning is emphasised and promoting their wellbeing is a clear priority. The school has developed good links with external agencies, institutions and support groups that are used appropriately if required.

Students with significant and complex needs are effectively catered for in a range of specialised facilities. Their care and wellbeing are strongly promoted through a holistic approach. Some students are successfully mainstreamed for adapted activities. Older students’ future pathways are well planned to support their smooth transition from the college.

Teachers are collegial and work collaboratively to improve their practice. They are well supported to develop their practice and encouraged to take on leadership opportunities. All participate in an appraisal and performance management system that provides suitable evidence on which to base decisions about the renewal of teachers’ practising certificates. Professional learning responds to the individual needs and goals of teachers and schoolwide priorities. Teachers transitioning into the profession are appropriately supported.

Increased communication has improved the sharing of learning information with parents and the community. The college is continuing to build relationships with contributing schools as part of the community of learning.

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

Leaders and teachers are becoming more reflective. A range of data and information about student engagement, learning and achievement is gathered and collated. Review of aspects of the curriculum has taken place and changes made, some of which have led to improvement in student outcomes.

The college should continue to strengthen the use of achievement information, particularly in Years 9 and 10, to show the impact of practices and initiatives designed and implemented to improve achievement. This is likely to provide a clearer and more coherent approach to measuring achievement and rates of progress, and support identification of next steps for improvement.

Most students gain success through the provision of a broad curriculum. Leaders have identified they intend to continue to review and strengthen the school curriculum. ERO’s evaluation confirms this as a next step and the review should include how well the curriculum:

  • enacts the school’s vision and values
  • reflects the principles and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • promotes equity and excellence for all.

Further strengthening the appraisal and inquiry processes is an expressed priority of the college and developments are underway. Review and development seeks to establish clear alignment across the many components that contribute to better supporting teachers to build their capability and effectiveness to improve outcomes for learners.

Annual targets focus on improving overall levels of achievement across the school. A next step is reframing annual targets to be more explicit about the extent of progress required to accelerate the learning of at risk students. This should promote more effective evaluation of specific, planned actions for improvement and provide clearer information to the board of trustees about what has impact on raising achievement and what needs to change.

Extending capability to use evidence-based evaluation to determine the success and limitations of programmes, teaching and learning should strengthen teachers’ and leaders’ responses to students’ needs.

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.

Provision for international students

The college 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 and meets all aspects of the code. At the time of this review there were 47 international students attend the college, drawn largely from Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Processes for orientation to the school are well considered. Systems for identifying and responding to individual interests and needs are effective. Care is taken to provide courses that reflect the aspirations and interests of students and their families. Students’ pastoral and wellbeing needs are well supported within an inclusive environment. Students who set goals for academic achievement experience success in NCEA qualifications and are well supported to transition into further education.

Students are actively involved in the life of the college and participate in a range of sporting, cultural and social activities in the school and the wider community. They share and celebrate their cultures with other students.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • strong relationships that support learning
  • inclusive and positive learning environments that value students’ culture and language
  • collegial and collaborative approaches of teachers and leaders that focus on promoting and supporting student wellbeing.

Next steps

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

  • reviewing the curriculum to improve how it promotes equity and excellence

  • strengthening appraisal and inquiry to further support teachers to improve their practice

  • developing internal evaluation to determine what has significant impact on realising the school’s vision, priorities and targets.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Central

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

29 November 2018

About the school


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 51%, Male 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 26%
Pākehā 59%
Asian 9%
Pacific 4%
Other ethnic groups 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

29 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2015
Education Review November 2012
Education Review November 2009

Awatapu College - 23/10/2015

1 Context

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

Awatapu College is a coeducation secondary school catering for students from Years 9 to 15. The roll of 666 students includes 30% who are Māori.

Success is widely recognised and celebrated in academic, cultural, arts and sporting activities. Emphasis is given to establishing positive relationships across the school. The fostering of a sense of whānau through vertical forms and pastoral care systems enhances the school climate.

The school has strong links with the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Waikato and University College of Learning (UCOL) to support students' career and subject choices.

2 Learning

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

Awatapu College has improved its use of achievement information to track and monitor the progress and achievement of learners, particularly senior students. More extensive inquiry and deeper analysis of progress and achievement for specific groups of students should continue to promote positive outcomes.

There has been a deliberate and successful school-wide focus on raising the achievement rates of National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs). There has been significant improvement in the number of students gaining the NCEAs since 2012. In 2014, the school’s NCEA Level 1 and Level 2 roll-based results were above the national figures.

School leaders have identified, and ERO agrees, a next step is to raise the attainment of merit and excellence endorsements in the NCEAs. Students succeed in a range of other pathways, including employment, apprenticeships and further training opportunities with tertiary education providers.

The college reports improvement in the levels of achievement at Year 9 and 10. A range of initiatives have been introduced to assist teachers and leaders to collect and record data. This has strengthened teacher and student awareness of progress and the importance of tracking grades. Analysing and inquiring further into the collated data, by leaders and teachers, should help establish key learning needs of individuals and groups of students. Improved use of assessment tools that measure, inform, and report on student progress should ensure that data is more robust when shared with leaders and trustees.

There is a well-considered, collaborative and responsive approach to supporting students with diverse and specific learning needs. The college celebrates and promotes an inclusive environment. The focus is on building student’s confidence and abilities, and responding to their interests to enable them to access the curriculum successfully.

Opportunities for teachers to explore, innovate and lead initiatives are provided and encouraged. The college is extending the use of student and teacher voice to reflect on and improve these new initiatives. Further building school leaders' and teachers' use of data and response to analysis, including more useful feedback, should help them to evaluate the impacts that these initiatives are having on student progress and achievement.

3 Curriculum

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

The curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning in the senior school. Enhancing the focus for Years 9 and 10 programmes should further build on and sustain the recent success of achievement results at the senior school.

There is a wide range of opportunities and subjects available to the students. A range of vocational and academic pathways provide many options for senior students. This includes traditional academic subjects, Gateway, STAR and Industry Training Organisation programmes.

Senior leaders are reviewing and refining the careers support and guidance programme.  A key goal is to expand this area’s scope and responsiveness to student interests and future directions. A recent careers adviser appointment has been made to support this initiative.

The school has established clear and collaborative links with the community to enrich curriculum experiences. An increasing range of strategies has been introduced to better communicate with students, parents and whānau about learning and school activities.

A positive tone, conducive to learning is evident in classrooms. Students are generally engaged in class. Leaders and teachers care about students’ achievement and wellbeing.

School leaders and ERO recognise it is timely to review the college’s curriculum to ensure it aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). This should support the development of shared schoolwide understandings and expectations in the local context and progress the way the curriculum responds to students' culture, language and identity, especially for Māori and Pacific students.

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

Māori student achievement of NCEA qualifications at Awatapu College has significantly improved since 2012 to be in line with their peers. Enhanced learning relationships and increased school-wide monitoring and tracking contribute to the acceleration of Māori students' achievement in NCEA.

The college is working in collaboration with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and has implemented mentoring programmes that focus on engagement and achievement for a group of Māori students.

To improve educational success for Māori, as Māori, school leaders and teachers, in partnership with Māori whānau should develop and implement a schoolwide approach to developing understandings about delivering a more culturally responsive curriculum and practices.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

There have been significant changes to processes and practices schoolwide, since the 2012 ERO review. It is timely to review and align school policies and procedures to these.

School leaders and ERO agree that further clarity of practice, process and system is required to better inform decision making to sustain recent achievements. This should enable more effective inquiry and evaluation of how well the school promotes respect, excellence and equitable outcomes for students.

A new appraisal system has been developed. The continued promotion of sharing effective strategies and the development of evidence-based portfolios should further strengthen professional discussions and teaching practice. The school leadership team recognise that including cultural competencies should enhance the understanding of the Practising Teacher Criteria and further improve the learning outcomes.

Awatapu College's strategic plan informs and guides school improvement and development. School leaders have recently developed a system for reviewing how departments are meeting the school’s identified goals in the annual plan. Further enhancing the links between these should help to better inform department and school-wide progress towards strategic targets.

Increasing the use of evaluation to determine how well practices improve student outcomes is the next step. This will enable leaders to look beyond what they are doing, to how well they are doing it. Developing concise and measureable targets would support evaluation and identify specific strategies that have the greatest impact on improving student outcomes to inform future directions and new initiatives. Setting school targets for Year 9 and 10 students most at risk of achieving poor educational outcomes should further support student achievement.

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 process for international students is thorough. Effective policies and practices support the social integration and academic learning programmes of the school’s international students. 

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.


Awatapu College has improved its use of information to track and monitor students' progress. The majority of students achieve appropriate NCEA qualifications. Students' success in all areas is rewarded and celebrated. Building evaluation practice schoolwide, to further strengthen curriculum expectations and outcomes for students, should help to further sustain this significant improvement in student achievement.

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

About the School


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female 51%, Male 49%

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Special Features

Special Needs Unit

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

23 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2012
November 2009
August 2006