More than 100 schools serving thousands of students have been
found to be in difficulty by inspectors in the past year.
Poor leadership and governance, a need to improve the quality
of teaching or an unsafe environment are some of the problems
that have been identified.
Schools across New Zealand have been flagged by inspectors,
who subsequently call in the Ministry of Education and other
agencies in an effort to turn them around.
Every state and state-integrated school is periodically
visited by the Education Review Office (ERO).
Their findings are outlined in a published report, and a
decision is made on how soon the school will need to be
The best-performing schools are reviewed in another four to
five years, the majority of schools in three years, and those
of most concern in one to two years only.
From April 2012 until May 31 this year, 217 schools (just
over 100 a year) were assessed as needing another review
within one to two years, information compiled for the Herald
That was 12 per cent of the 1773 schools assessed over that
time. The majority -- 76 per cent -- were given three years
until next assessment, while 12 per cent were deemed good
enough for the inspectors to return in four to five years.
Dale Bailey, a national manager of review services for ERO,
said the purpose of a one- to two-year review was to help
move the school from a state of difficulty.
The school needed to make changes so it could be
self-managing, and in the meantime the Ministry of Education
and other agencies were often called in to give extra
support. "They have got some sort of challenge that they are
needing to address ... our main focus is, are the kids
learning there, is it a safe place, does the school have good
"The school may not have good governance and management
processes, or they might need to improve the quality of
Such schools can be rapidly improving. An example is
Tongariro School, which remains on a short review cycle
despite a May report highlighting significant changes at the
decile 2 school.
The report praised new principal Steven Allen and the board
for carrying out a robust plan to deal with the school's
considerable historical financial difficulty.
The Turangi school, which is 84 per cent Maori and is Year 1
to 14, has made progress on steps to lift student
achievement, including school-wide curriculum development and
using data across all school levels.
Mr Allen told the Herald that student achievement had
increased significantly in the past two years, which
Education Minister Hekia Parata recognised in a March letter
Mr Bailey said schools in the one- to two-year review cycle
had certain challenges, but parents should not view them as
failing. "We want to get [improvement] before it is a failing
school ... to support them to get them into a good performing
- Nicholas Jones of the New Zealand Herald