Onehunga High School

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School Context

Onehunga High School is a well-established school with strong links to its community. The school roll reflects the cultural diversity of the community, with 53 percent of learners of Pacific heritage, and 20 percent Māori.

The school’s vision is ‘Te Haerenga - The Journey’. This is underpinned by a commitment to holistic education, high standards and achievement, partnerships with whānau and the wider community, and values of loyalty and courage. The key principles that guide school direction are diversity and inclusiveness, innovation and creativity, critical thinking, and a commitment to Te Ao Māori.

The school is served by a long-standing principal and senior leadership. Two new appointments have been made to the leadership team since the 2015 ERO review.

Onehunga High School continues to provide adult and community education and an English language school for adults on site. The school hosts satellite classes of Central Auckland Specialist School and manages the local Alternative Education cluster.

The school is part of the Te Iti Kahurangi Community of Learning (CoL) |Kāhui Ako. It is committed to working with the CoL to meet collaboratively developed achievement challenges.

The 2015 ERO report identified areas of development to support further improvement of outcomes for students. Progress has been made, including the development of an effective teacher profile and development of processes to review the progress and achievement at Years 9 and 10.

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

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework

  • progress of Years 9 and 10 achievement in relation to The New Zealand Curriculum

  • school leaver qualifications and destinations

  • student success and achievements in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities

  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets.

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?

The school is working towards achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all students.

Overall school National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) data show high levels of achievement in numeracy and literacy for all groups of students. Achievement data from 2015 to 2017 show that this level of achievement has been sustained over time and is higher than similar type schools.

The majority of students achieve NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3. However, there is disparity in achievement for Māori, particularly at NCEA Level 1. The school is working towards parity for Māori students by NCEA Levels 2 and 3. Pacific students achieve at similar levels to overall school achievement in Levels 1 and 2. The school is working towards parity for this group at Level 3.

Girls achieve at higher levels than boys at all levels of NCEA and University Entrance (UE). Since 2015 boys’ achievement has improved. There is disparity between Māori and Pacific achievement and the achievement of other students in UE data.

There has been ongoing improvement in the number of learners achieving NCEA with merit and excellence endorsements. This demonstrates some groups of students are making accelerated progress.

The school has good systems and processes to track and monitor progress and achievement in Years 9 and 10. School data show that most students in Years 9 and 10 are making expected progress.

Students achieve very well in relation to other school valued outcomes. Most students:

  • follow meaningful pathways for the future and increasingly access tertiary level courses

  • are engaged and active participants in learning

  • have respectful and positive relationships with staff and each other

  • are proud of themselves, their peers, their school and their community

  • engage in the wider educational, cultural and sporting opportunities offered by the school.

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

The school is working towards achieving parity in outcomes for Māori, Pacific and other students whose learning needs accelerating. School-wide targets have been established to promote acceleration of learning and achievement of equitable outcomes for all students. The school is implementing programmes that support increased opportunities for Māori students to be successful and achieve equitable and excellent outcomes. One example is the introduction of Māori Performing Arts programmes at Levels 2 and 3.

Senior leaders and teachers effectively track and monitor student achievement and progress. Collective responsibility for this process ensures early identification of those students whose learning needs accelerating and additional support.

The school’s inclusive learning culture helps students to participate fully in a broad range of learning experiences. Learning support for students with additional needs is well coordinated. There is effective liaison between classroom and kaitiaki teachers, deans and external agencies.

Students are very well supported to transition into Onehunga High School. The school seeks out and responds well to information about individual students. Positive learning partnerships are developed with learners, their families and whānau.

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?

Students benefit from the school’s positive culture that values them and their hauora (wellbeing). Respectful and affirming relationships between teachers and students are evident. Extensive pastoral care systems provide students with high levels of support to reduce barriers and increase engagement in learning. This promotes a welcoming, caring environment in which adults and students have a strong sense of place and belonging.

Students access a broad curriculum that continues to provide good opportunities for individualised pathways. Teachers are increasingly focused on promoting key competencies for learning and transferable skills. They place value on developing students’ strengths, talents and interests, as key drivers of student success and ability to access meaningful pathways.

Teachers in most curriculum areas are developing relevant and contextualised curriculum programmes. There are growing opportunities in the curriculum for te reo and tikanga Māori. Students are provided with a range of sporting, cultural, leadership, co-curricular and extra-curricular learning opportunities to cater for their diverse interests and capabilities.

Strong community partnerships promote educational opportunities for students. These are regarded by the school as essential to support meaningful learning for students. The school proactively draws on community resources to enhance student learning, achievement and wellbeing. Relationships with business, community leaders, organisations and school alumni support student pathway development.

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

The school is responding to achievement data with the development of several initiatives that have the potential to accelerate learning and achieve equitable outcomes for all students. This includes the development of an effective learner profile. The priority for senior leaders and teachers is to continue to refine and embed these initiatives.

It is timely for leaders and teachers to focus on building coherence and alignment across school systems and processes. This includes continuing to strengthen current evaluation practices through a more formalised approach. Leaders and staff can further develop the school’s quality assurance practices to support the sharing and building of knowledge. Increased monitoring of alignment in practices should sustain improvements and help achieve consistently equitable outcomes for students.

Leaders, teachers and trustees recognise the positive impact tikanga and te reo Māori has on Māori student success. They are committed to weaving bicultural experiences and te reo Māori throughout the curriculum and school environment. The school should seek out ways to continue to develop school-wide bicultural practices. This includes growing connections and partnerships with whānau Māori and continuing to empower Māori students in their decision making about their learning.

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 school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (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 26 international students attending the school.

ERO confirms that the school’s internal evaluation process for international students is thorough. The school has highly effective systems and practices to ensure quality education and pastoral care of international students. Students’ progress and achievement is well monitored and their course selections are personalised. Students integrate well into the school’s education 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 positive school culture that responds to students’ needs, promotes their wellbeing and supports their learning success

  • a broad and increasingly responsive and relevant curriculum that allows for students to access meaningful pathways

  • strong community connections and partnerships that work to enhance student engagement and achievement.

Next steps

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

  • continuing to implement and embed key initiatives to accelerate learning and achieve equitable outcomes for all students

  • continuing to develop a systematic and formalised approach to internal evaluation to better identify what is working well for students’ learning and where improvements are needed

  • seeking out ways to further develop school-wide bicultural practices including further developing connections and partnerships with whānau Māori.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Director Review and Improvement Services

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

8 November 2018

About the school


Onehunga, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 50% Boys 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 20%
Pākehā 13%
Tongan 22%
Samoan 15%
Niuean 7%
Cook Island Māori 7%
Indian 6%
Southeast Asian 4%
other ethnic groups 6%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

September 2018

Date of this report

8 November 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

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

1 Context

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

Onehunga High School is a large culturally diverse school catering for students in Years 9 to 13. Many families have well established connections with the school. The school also continues to serve students, many of whom are bilingual, from a wide geographic area.

Students demonstrate a strong sense of belonging and pride in their school. They confidently talk about the school’s values of loyalty and courage. Positive relationships between students, teachers and school leaders highlight a respectful, caring school culture. Students’ aspirations and input are valued.

Trustees and school leaders have responded well to the 2012 ERO report. They model integrity, professionalism and empathy. There is a student-focused, collaborative culture. Well chosen professional development has helped staff to have relevant and current information to better support individual students with their learning and future educational pathways.

The school’s inclusive philosophy extends to involvement in the wider educational community. Onehunga High School continues to host a satellite class of Sunnydene Special School, manage the local Alternative Education cluster, and provide an English language school for adults on site.

2 Learning

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

The school is using achievement information very well to improve student outcomes. The school has significantly improved its use of achievement information through its partnership with the University of Auckland and the STARPATH project. School leaders and teachers have developed very good systems and processes to monitor and review student progress and achievement. Rigorous and consistent monitoring systems ensure students' needs and strengths are well known and supported.

The school’s achievement information for 2014 shows significant improvement in overall student achievement for National Certificates of Education Achievement (NCEA) at Levels 1, 2 and 3. Carefully considered course design is helping students to make appropriate choices that contribute to increased success. Some groups of students are clearly excelling.

Many students are well engaged in learning and school life. There is a strong school focus on developing positive and affirming relationships with students to help them achieve academic success. Students have access to a wide range of opportunities that enhance their learning and provide a platform for demonstrating their talents and interests.

The school is well placed to promote more equitable outcomes for students over time. Māori and Pacific students are now achieving better outcomes at all NCEA levels. The school has clearly identified the need for further work to accelerate achievement for these students. A comprehensive evaluation of Māori and Pacific students’ engagement, progress and overall achievement from Years 9 to 13 should continue to help raise their achievement levels.

School leaders have significantly advanced the design and use of assessment and review systems in the junior school. The board has set its initial achievement targets for reading and numeracy. The school is better able to review the progress and achievement of Year 9 and 10 students.

Over time, the board has become well placed to set more specific achievement targets for specific groups of students. Targeted students may benefit further from more focussed reporting to the board on how well particular interventions and resourcing accelerate their learning outcomes.

Teachers are using achievement information more effectively to inform their teaching practice and to have learning conversations with students. Students have more knowledge about their success, progress and next learning steps. The school is well placed to encourage students to evaluate and to take further ownership of decision making about their learning.

Whānau have good access to useful achievement information. Significant improvements to reporting in the junior school are helping to show how well students progress and achieve against the curriculum. Regular conferences and communication between teachers, students and whānau are promoting learning partnerships that better connect the school with home.

3 Curriculum

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

The school has developed a very effective and diverse curriculum to promote and support student learning. It is well aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The curriculum is broad, flexible and holistic. It is well informed by a wide range of contributing networks and relationships.

Strategic community and business partnerships enrich the school curriculum. The school’s philosophy remains student centred and all pathways for future success are equally valued and prioritised. Curriculum structures change and adapt well for the students they serve. Students have very good support to transition to further training, tertiary courses and employment.

In addition to the more traditional subject options and pathways to tertiary and university education, the school offers a business school, a construction school and a services academy. Over time, leaders have developed hospitality, health sciences and sports pathways. These pathways are highly relevant and meaningful for students.

The school makes very good use of Gateway programme placements to help tailor specific programmes for students. Careers education and professional development to broaden teachers’ understanding of this area is a key part of school’s STARPATH approach.

School leaders and teachers have continued to thoughtfully expand the curriculum, offering new subjects such as Tongan and Samoan language. These subjects have enabled students to bring their cultural strengths to their learning. They offer good opportunities for students to use their home languages and bilingual strengths.

The school is beginning to support students to bring their own device as they promote digital literacy. Leaders and trustees are very aware that this will require ongoing review to ensure equity of opportunity for all students.

Students shared with ERO some very good examples where highly relevant, cultural contexts helped them understand new learning. School leaders agree it would be useful to document and implement a shared school understanding of effective teaching for all students.

Leaders are continuing to strengthen staff understanding of a culturally responsive learning environment. This includes expanding the depth of kaupapa Māori and Pacific contexts more consistently across the curriculum.

Effective pastoral care and a wide variety of support structures successfully promote student wellbeing. Students appreciate the empathy and compassion of staff. Additional reviews of student wellbeing may provide useful quality assurance for the board.

The new Loyalty and Courage incentive programme, developed with Year 9 and 10 students, is supporting positive learning attitudes. It would be worthwhile for leaders to evaluate its impact on student engagement as the programme is implemented throughout the school.

Curriculum review systems are effective and have improved over time. Performance management is clearly documented, well developed and supported with very good professional learning. Teachers have frequent opportunities to meet together to discuss students and teaching and learning. They use data and other evidence well to inform their decision making.

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

The school is committed to building its capability to promote and support success for and as Māori. The school successfully retains more Māori students to Year 13 than national Māori retention levels. A higher percentage of Māori students leave with Level 2 and 3 NCEA than national Māori levels. Leaders and teachers continue to further improve Māori students' achievement levels.

The school marae, Te Haerenga, is prominent at the front of the school. Trustees and leaders are reestablishing links with local iwi. School leaders are supporting the new te reo Māori staff and their ongoing professional development. Teachers are implementing Ministry of Education (MoE) tools for promoting Māori Success in appraisal. This is a time of renewal and development.

Through the STARPATH approach, significant individual support and mentoring is available for individual Māori students. Māori students appreciate the personal and positive support teachers are providing. There are some very good examples of staff promoting Māori students’ pride in their culture, language and identity.

Some Māori students identified they would like further opportunities to connect together and celebrate being Māori and to enhance their engagement and success in education. School leaders, together with students, staff and whānau, are considering how best to facilitate this in meaningful ways.

The board and school leaders agree it is the right time to refresh the Charter, including its vision, values and bicultural perspectives.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The school has developed an evidence based self-review culture and good systems for self-review. School leaders are continuing to strengthen student and whānau perspectives within self-review.

The school is well led. The principal is very experienced and well respected. Working effectively with the senior leadership team, the principal promotes and supports opportunities for staff to engage in further education and new leadership opportunities.

The senior leadership team is cohesive and complementary. Leaders respect each other and demonstrate a deep knowledge of the community and wider school context. The regular rotation of roles and responsibilities ensures their ongoing development and involvement in decision making.

Leaders are focused on developing the collective capability of staff to improve outcomes for students. Change management is effective and inclusive. Leaders throughout the school are thoughtful about managing the pace of change. There are high levels of relational trust and accountability in the school.

The board is experienced and represents the diversity of the community. It enjoys robust discussions and positive working relationship with school leaders. Policies and procedures have been reviewed using NZSTA advice.

The board has recently undertaken significant development work to upgrade school facilities and continues to manage ongoing property challenges. Trustees have carefully managed the school roll size and prepared a master plan for future redevelopment. As this is now delayed, the board and senior leadership team are planning to move forward with further upgrading of facilities until the master plan can be implemented.

The board has removed some of the fees and charges to families for 2016. They should now review the appropriateness of remaining workbook charges, which appear to be compulsory to families.

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 22 international students attending the school. They are well cared for and experience high quality programmes that promote their learning and wellbeing. International students are well integrated into the school community. They participate and feature in school cultural and sporting activities.

The school’s monitoring system for international students is well administered. To refine the school’s good quality processes, reports to the board should include information on the quality of education provided for international students and on how well they are progressing and achieving.

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.


Onehunga High School serves a diverse community and provides a rich curriculum for its students. Students benefit from very good support systems and positive, respectful relationships with their teachers. Effective leadership and thoughtful reviews are improving outcomes for learners.

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

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

30 October 2015

About the School


Onehunga, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition






Cook Island Māori




South east Asian

other Asian














Special Features

Alternative Education managing school

Sunnydene Satellite Class

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

30 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

October 2009

November 2006