National | Education

Ngāruawāhia receives a boost

Ngāruawāhia High School in Waikato is one of five schools that has been granted approval for a $50,000 Principal Recruitment Allowance.

The boost is an initiative to attract highly effective principals, in most high-need state and state-integrated schools and kura. Other schools that have also received funding are Aranui Community Campus in Canterbury, Kimi Ora Community School in Hawke’s Bay and Northland schools; Opononi School and Mangamuka School.

Acting Principal Chris Jarnet for the last 18 months says there has been growth at the school, "In 2013, we had the highest stand downs, suspensions and exclusions in New Zealand, however in the last 18 months there have been vast improvements."

The last two ERO reports for the school highlights the poor quality levels of school governance; leadership and teaching practices; low levels of student engagement and achievement.

Past history highlighted the bullying culture amongst students, with the 2010 assault on Bronwyn Ormsby-Ward by three girls outside school grounds. Also ex-Principal Robyn Roa's strict policy backfired in 2011  after denying students use of toilets to try and resolve vandalism within school grounds. This particular issue was picked up and thrust into the limelight by the media.

Currently onsite, the Ministry of Education and a Limited Statutory Manager are there to support and address these concerns, with the approved funding primarily to assist with lifting student achievement.

All parties involved have identified and acknowledged the progress of the school over the years, moving forward to improve the overall quality of education for students. Minister of Education Hon. Hekia Parata has said that the allowance is only given to schools who have provided evidence of successful performance.

“We’re supporting schools with significant challenges to do one of the two most important things they can, to lift educational achievement, which is get the right leadership in place. The other major in-school factor is the quality of teaching and we’re supporting that through new teaching roles and the communities of schools that will work together to share best practice to tackle their shared goals.”

80 percent of the co-education school is Māori and predominately affiliate to the tribe Tainui. The board of trustees and Tainui are in discussions working on developing a shared vision and priorities for the future education of students at Ngāruawāhia.