2. Compulsory Education

What We Have Found

Overall, across the schooling system in recent years, Pasifika students have exhibited an improvement in achievement and engagement results in comparison to previous years.

In 2016, 66.0% of Pasifika students in Years 1-8 were at or above the National Standard for reading, 62.7% were at or above the standard for mathematics, and 60.5% were at or above the standard for writing.   

School leavers also displayed an increase in achievement. In 2016, 89.6% of Pasifika school leavers had met NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements and 43.4% had achieved an NCEA Level 3 qualification or above. This was a 1.4 and 1.9 percentage point increase in comparison with 2015 results.

From 2015 to 2016, Pasifika saw a 1.1 percentage point increase in the proportion of 18-year-olds who attained the equivalent of NCEA Level 2 or above. This resulted in a jump in the attainment rate from 77.6% in 2015 to 78.7% in 2016.

In 2016, data revealed a rise in suspension and expulsion rates for Pasifika students. These rose to 4.3 and 3.6 per 1,000 students respectively. Despite these rises, the overall trends in these rates are downward. Pasifika exclusion rates were unchanged from 2015, at 1.6 per 1,000 students.

What we are trying to achieve

Accelerating literacy and numeracy achievement and gaining qualifications as a stepping stone to further education and/or employment. To achieve this, the following three goals have been set:

  1. Pasifika learners excel in literacy and numeracy and make effective study choices that lead to worthwhile qualifications.
  2. Pasifika school leavers are academically and socially equipped to achieve their goals for further education, training and/or employment.
  3. Pasifika parents, families and communities engage with schools in supporting their children's learning.


As a means of measuring progress against the aforementioned goals, the following targets have been set:

  • Eighty-five percent of Years 1-10 Pasifika learners will meet literacy and numeracy expectations, including achieving at or above in National Standards across Years 1-8, in 2017.
  • Reduce the rate of Pasifika suspensions to 3.6/1,000 in 2017, expulsions to 1.5/1,000 in 2017 and exclusions to 1.3/1,000 in 2017.
  • Increase the proportion of Pasifika leaving school with NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy qualifications to 95% in 2017.
  • Eighty-five percent of Pasifika 18-year-olds will achieve NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualifications in 2017.
  • Increase the number of Pasifika school leavers with a Level 3 or above qualification to achieve at least parity with non-Pasifika school leavers in 2017.
  • Eighty percent of schools will demonstrate fully inclusive practices for all students with special education needs by 2014 and the remaining 20% of schools demonstrate some inclusive practices by 2014.

Why this is important

All students need strong literacy and numeracy skills to be able to learn in all subjects. The literacy and numeracy skills gained at primary school during Years 1-8 are essential life skills upon which all other learning is based. By students achieving the National Standards in literacy and numeracy they have the ability to gain the necessary prerequisites to move on with more challenging areas of education.

The success of an education system is manifested in, among other things, the success of individuals in finding sustainable employment, as well as in the level of wages that employers are willing to pay for their skills and knowledge. A formal senior school qualification is a measure of the extent to which young adults have completed a basic prerequisite for higher education and training or for many entry-level jobs.

For student to achieve, they need to be engaged. A student's engagement, their 'opportunity to learn', is an essential part of helping students to reach their educational potential and obtain the prerequisites for higher education and training or for many entry-level jobs.

Engagement encompasses attendance, a sense of belonging and wellbeing and enjoyment. Student disengagement leads to higher risks of negative youth behaviour.

How We Are Going

National Standards

The National Standards are descriptions of what students should know and be able to do in reading, mathematics and writing at different points in their schooling. They set clear, consistent expectations for learning and are designed to support students in developing key competencies and strong foundations for achievement in all learning areas. They are designed so that students who achieve the standards will be on track to achieve at least NCEA Level 2 in secondary school.

In 2016, this marked the sixth year in which National Standards achievement data was collected. Since its inception, Pasifika students' progress against National Standards has improved each year.

Current achievement levels show 66.0% are at or above the expected level in reading, 62.7% are at or above the expected level in mathematics and 60.5% are at or above the expected level in writing.

Between 2015 and 2016, achievement information collected from schools indicate that Pasifika students achievement has decreased slightly against the three National Standards, reading (0.1 percentage points), mathematics (0.6 percentage points) and writing (0.1 percentage points). The target for 2017 is to have 85% of all Pasifika Years 1-8 students achieving at or above in National Standards. Despite displaying positive increases to date, significant action needs to be taken to ensure Pasifika students meet this target in 2017. Information on some initiatives to lift achievement in National Standards can be found in  section.

Figure 2.1: Proportion of Years 1-8 learners achieving at or above in National Standards (2011-2016)

Note: Prioritised ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.

NCEA literacy and numeracy requirements

A good level of literacy and numeracy obtained from schooling is vital for establishing foundations needed for lifelong learning.

The percentage of Pasifika school leavers in 2016 who achieved NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy was 89.6%, an increase from 78.3% in 2009. Pasifika school leavers had an increase of 11.3 percentage points from 2009 to 2016, compared to 6.6 percentage points for non-Pasifika.

As a result the gap between the proportion of Pasifika and non-Pasifika school leavers with NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements has decreased; the difference being within two percentage points in 2016 compared to within seven percentage points in 2009.The target for 2017 is to have 95% of all Pasifika school leavers achieving NCEA Level one literacy and numeracy requirements. Even with the positive increases to date, action still needs to be taken so that Pasifika students meet this target in 2017. For information on initiatives to improve Pasifika performance in NCEA, see the section beginning on  section.

Figure 2.2: Proportion of school leavers with NCEA Level 1 literacy and numeracy requirements, by ethnic group (2009-2016)

Note: Total response ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.

School leavers with a Level 3 or above qualification

This indicator is a measure of those students who successfully achieve a full senior secondary school education. Success is measured by the attainment of NCEA Level 3 or above (this includes university entrance, which is not a qualification per se but still a useful measure of success and future opportunity.)

From 2009 to 2016, the proportion of Pasifika school leavers achieving a Level 3 qualification or above has increased from 23.2% in 2009 to 43.4% in 2016, an increase of 20.2 percentage points. During this same period, the proportion for non-Pasifika school leavers has increased from 44.0% to 55.2%, only a 11.2 percentage point increase.

In 2016, 43.4% of Pasifika school leavers achieved a Level 3 qualification or above. This was a 1.9 percentage point increase on the 2015 attainment rate.

We must note that between 2013 and 2014 the requirements for gaining university entrance were strengthened, resulting in fewer people gaining university entrance and a more modest growth in those with Level 3 or above between these years.We have begun to see a decrease in the gap between the proportion of Pasifika and the proportion of non-Pasifika students leaving school achieving Level 3 or above; however, without intervention the disparity will remain large across the years to come. For information on initiatives to improve Pasifika performance in NCEA, see the section on

Figure 2.3: Proportion of school leavers gaining NCEA university entrance award or a Level 3 qualification, by ethnic group (2009-2016)


  1. Total response ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.
  2. The requirements for a university entrance award changed between 2013 and 2014, making it more challenging to gain university entrance and therefore decreasing the number of students who were able to attain it. See notes in appendix 3 for more details.
  3. University entrance is counted as a NCEA Level 3 or above qualification.

18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 or above

A Level 2 qualification gives people opportunities in terms of further education and employment, contributing to better health outcomes and a better quality of life. To boost skills and employment, the government has set a Better Public Services target that 85% of 18-year-olds will have achieved a NCEA Level 2 or above qualification in 2017.

Since 2011, there has been a 13.2 percentage point increase in Pasifika 18-year-olds with NCEA level 2 or above. In 2016, over three quarters of all Pasifika 18-year-olds (78.7%) were achieving this level of attainment.

As can be seen in Figure 2.4, the gap between the proportion of Pasifika and the proportion of non-Pasifika 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2 has decreased since 2011.With the positive increases to date, Pasifika students are expected to be close to the target in 2017 of 85% of Pasifika 18-year-olds with an NCEA Level 2 qualification or equivalent.

Figure 2.4:  Proportion of 18-year-olds with Level 2 qualification or above, by ethnic group (2011-2016)


  1. Total response ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.
  2. "NCEA Level 2 or above" includes students who achieved an equivalent non-NCEA equivalent such as Accelerated Christian Education, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International exams at Year 12 or above.

Effectiveness for Pasifika students with special education needs

As set out in the Education Act 1989, children with special education needs have the same rights to enrol and receive education at state schools as children who do not. Success for All – Every School, Every Child, is the Government's vision and work programme to achieve a fully inclusive education system by 2014.

The PEP target is for 80 percent of schools to demonstrate fully inclusive practises and 20 percent of schools to demonstrate some inclusive practices by 2014.

A 2010 ERO report, Including Students with High Needs1, found that 50% of schools were mostly inclusive, 30% had some inclusive practices and 20% had few inclusive practices. Students with high needs make up the top 3% of students with a need for learning support. This data provided the baseline, though the targets include all students with a need for extra learning support and this is roughly 15% of the student population.

In 2013 a similar report was released, Including Students with High Needs: Primary Schools2. This report is based upon 81 primary schools reviewed in term four of 2012 and builds upon the finding in the 2010 report. Of the 81 schools reviewed, it was found that 77% of schools were mostly inclusive, 16% had some inclusive practices and the remaining 7% had few inclusive practices.

In 2015, another similar report was released, Inclusive practices for students with special needs in schools3  , this report was based on 152 schools reviewed in term two of 2014. It was found that 78% of schools were mostly inclusive, 21% of schools had some inclusive practices, and 1% of schools had few inclusive practises.

Based on these results from ERO, although significant progress has been made since 2010 in increasing inclusive practises, the PEP target has not been met. For information on what we are doing to improve inclusiveness, see the section on .

Figure 2.5: Comparison of School inclusiveness practises (2010-2014)

Suspension rates

The majority of suspensions occur for students aged 13 to 15. In any given year the schooling population will have a different age distribution, so the suspension rates are age-standardised to allow a fair comparison between years.

In 2016, the age-standardised suspension rate for Pasifika was 4.3 per 1,000 students. This is 0.7 percentage points higher than the non-Pasifika age-standardised suspension rate of 3.5 per 1,000 students.

Since a peak of 9.6 suspensions per 1,000 Pasifika students in 2006, the overall trend of suspension rates has been decreasing.  There have been small increases in Pasifika suspension rates in 2015 and 2016.

Figure 2.6: Age-standardised rate of suspensions per 1,000 students (2006 to 2016)


  1. International fee-paying students, The Correspondence School students, adult students (age > 19) and private students are excluded.
  2. Prioritised ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.

Exclusion rates

If a student is under the age of 16, the board of trustees may decide to exclude the student from the school, with the requirement that the student enrols elsewhere. As set out in the PEP, a target has been set to reduce the Pasifika age-standardised exclusion rate to no more than 1.3 per 1,000 students in 2017.

In 2016, the age-standardised exclusion rate for Pasifika students was 1.6 per 1,000 students, unchanged since 2015.  Since 2006, the Pasifika age-standardised exclusion rate has fallen overall and since 2011 the gap between Pasifika and non-Pasifika students has been minimal.

Figure 2.7: Age-standardised rate of exclusions per 1,000 students (2006 to 2016)


  1. International fee-paying students, The Correspondence School students, adult students (age > 19) and private students are excluded.
  2. Prioritised ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.

Expulsion rates

In 2016, the age-standardised expulsion rate for Pasifika students was 3.6 per 1,000 students. This is compared to the non-Pasifika age-standardised expulsion rate of 0.8 per 1,000 students.

Between 2015 and 2016 the age-standardised expulsion rate for Pasifika students has increased from 3.1 to 3.6 per 1,000 students.  The non-Pasifika rate fell from 1.4 to 0.8 per 1,000 students.  Despite the rise in 2016, the age standardised expulsion rate for Pasifika students is half the 7.4 expulsions per 1000 students experienced in 2002.  This has resulted in the gap between Pasifika and non-Pasifika students narrowing, with difference of 5.9 per 1,000 students in 2002 shrinking to a difference of 2.7 per 1,000 students in 2016.

The trend in these results is promising, however it must be noted that due to relatively low numbers of students being expelled, the rates can be variable from year to year.

Figure 2.8: Age standardised rate of expulsions per 1,000 students (2006-2016)


  1. International fee-paying students, The Correspondence School students, adult students (age > 19) and private students are excluded.
  2. Prioritised ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes.

What Are We Doing?

Pasifika new entrants pilot using dual language books

The purpose of this project is to promote academic success for this Pasifika student group from the beginning of their schooling by building on all their language, knowledge and experiences to support English language literacy.

Evidence shows that drawing on all of children's cultural capital, especially in relation to literacy and language, can support literacy learning.

This project was designed to provide language and learning intervention to support a smooth transition to school for learners coming from Pasifika immersion early childhood centres, or who have not participated in ECE.

Project delivery includes:

  • Dual language early readers
  • Teacher support to teach second language acquisition pedagogy drawing on the linguistic and cultural strengths of Pasifika children was also provided in the form of teaching resources and PLD
  • Parent support provided by culturally appropriate facilitators via fono using parent support material to understand how to build English on the strengths of the Pasifika language.

The project was piloted in seven schools in Mangere at the end of 2014 with 152 children:

  • It made a positive difference for Samoan students' language and literacy learning as they transitioned into English medium schooling
  • Teachers built capability in second language acquisition and had started to change their practice
  • Parents/aiga learnt ways of supporting their child's language and literacy practices at home, and contributed to teachers' knowledge and cultural understanding.

Dual language early readers were developed in Samoan and English from the Tupu and Ready to Read series to pilot in new entrant classrooms with Samoan children.

Teacher support to teach second language acquisition pedagogy drawing on the linguistic and cultural strengths of Pasifika children was also provided.

Parent support was provided by Samaon facilitators via 3 fono per school, using parent support material to understand how to build English on the strengths of the Samoan language, these were seen as highly culturally appropriate.

Phase 2 has seen Samoan, Tongan and Tokelauan resource materials for students, teachers and parents printed, and have been prepared digitally for the dual language website along with MP3 audio files of the dual language books.

Phase 3 has begun with development of text and online resources in the Cook Islands and Niuean languages.

An Implementation Plan and Communications strategy for the release of the suite of dual language txt resources is being developed.  We expect to be able to release the full set of resources and associated PLD material mid-year.

Programmes for Students (PfS)

Programmes for Students (PfS) are a suite of supplementary supports for primary students: Accelerating Learning in Literacy (ALL), Accelerating Learning in Mathematics (ALiM) and Mathematics Support Teacher (MST).

ALL, ALiM and MST are designed to address underachievement in literacy or mathematics, and to ensure that every student in New Zealand has access to a quality education.

ALL, ALiM and MST are school inquiry and knowledge building interventions that accelerate progress for groups of students who are below or well below National Standards in mathematics or literacy, and sustain cycles of inquiry for systematic spread across classrooms, schools and the system.

These interventions are led and driven by the school using their existing literacy or mathematics expertise.Schools' annual plans and targets are used to identify groups of students who are below or well below National Standards in mathematics or literacy, and would benefit from additional support to accelerate their achievement.

Teachers provide short, intensive support for students in addition to, and connected with, their existing classroom programmes to accelerate their progress. It is expected that schools will engage with family and whānau to have greater impact on the outcomes of the students.

ALL, ALiM and MST are based on a Theory of Action which ensures design and delivery consistency and coherence.


ALL, ALiM and MST are designed to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Acceleration for targeted students who are below or well below National Standards in literacy or mathematics
  • Improved student achievement of learners, with a focus on priority learners, enabling greater percentages of students to reach curriculum expectation
  • The development over time, of a school Curriculum and Achievement Plan (CaAP)
  • System improvement and capability building across each participating school.

The ALL, ALiM and MST interventions work at the individual student level to provide intensive learning opportunities for students who are achieving below or well below National Standard levels of expectation and require instruction beyond normal classroom teaching.  ALiM and ALL teachers work three to five times a week with 6- 8 identified students over a 15 week period.  MST teachers work with small groups of students for 10 – 20 weeks throughout the year

Overall, students participating in these interventions in 2013 made accelerated progress that met or exceeded that expected from a student over two terms. ALiM and ALL students generally reached expected achievement levels for their year level. However, MST students, on average, did not reach achievement norms expected for their year levels. Generally, in all three programmes (ALiM, MST and ALL), similar levels of progress were made by both male and female students, and students from all ethnic groups.

Analysis of student achievement shows that, overall, students in these programmes made accelerated progress. Generally, in all three programmes, similar levels of progress were made by both male and female students, and by students from all ethnic groups.Future goals of these programmes are that these practises can spread throughout participating schools, and to see that this accelerated progress can be maintained on a longer time scale.

Achievement Through Pasifika Cultures and Languages (ATPCL)

These programmes are designed to improve Pasifika students' achievement. Samoan, Tongan, Cook Islands Māori, Vagahau Niuean and Tuvaluan church and community groups run 15 centres outside of school hours. They encourage parents and their children to use both English and Pasifika languages as they work together on students' literacy and numeracy learning goals.

  • The programme is delivered to approximately 400 Pasifika bilingual learners in years 1 to 8 in 15 centres at least once a week. The majority of students attend 6-8 sessions and these amount to 18–24 hours per term.
  • As a result of participating in this ATPL provision, there is an increase in participation and empowerment of parents as learning partners, providing an opportunity for them to assist their children's progress at school. In addition, the learners' identity, language and culture are enhanced with cultural learning experiences in the centres. Funding agreement for current ATPCL expires in March 2016.
  • Pasifika Unit and CTL are combining funding sources to provide a comprehensive solution targeting Pasifika learners, parents, families and communities. This will start in April 2016.
At Risk of Not Achieving (ARONA)

ARONA is actively working towards engaging Māori and Pasifika students in education. It is specifically focused on individuals who are at risk of not achieving in education. ARONA has identified every Māori and Pasifika learner born in 1999 who will be on their way to achieving NCEA Level 2 at age 18, in 2017. This will enable the Ministry to see which students may need extra support to achieve this goal. Once it is known which students need extra support the Ministry will look at the students' individual needs and make sure that the correct available support gets to them directly so that they might remain engaged in education and be successful.

Pasifika Success Professional Learning Development (PLD) Project

This initiative aims to strengthen the capability of the teaching workforce and improve engagement with Pasifika students across four work streams

Through the Pasifika Success Vaka o Manū, a facilitator works in depth in five Auckland Secondary Schools, working alongside a nominated Pasifika Education Team comprised of leaders and teachers.

Each team uses an evidence-based approach to develop action plans to address the achievement of Pasifika students within their school. An example of a target is to have 75% of Pasifika students achieve NCEA level 2, working towards raising this to achieve the BPS targets in 2017.

The Pasifika Success Talanoa project supports communities of schools in a cluster approach, to examine Pasifika achievement within 55 Secondary and Primary schools spread nationally.  A relevant target is to have 85% of Pasifika year 1-8 students achieving at or above expectation against National Standards.

In 2015, the provider reported the following data: 

  • reading improved, with 58.16% students achieving at or above expectation up to 61.5%
  • maths improved, with 49.82% students at or above expectation up to 58.15%
  • writing did not improve, with 59.65% students achieving at or above expectation down to 55.07%

The Pasifika Success Bilingual Teaching and Learning Classroom Communities provides Professional Learning and Development to ten primary schools.  Approximately 48 teachers and over 2,700 Pasifika students were reached through this initiative.  Using the STAR results, students have shifted one and two stanines from 2014 to 2015. Also students who were 'below' had moved to 'at' and students who were 'at' had moved to 'above' at the end of 2015.

Making Schools More Inclusive

We have produced 13 sets of new resources to support inclusive practices in schools. These include the Inclusive Education website, the Inclusive Practice and the School Curriculum website, educator booklets, infosheets, videos, student voice exercises and resources. In 2015 we delivered workshops to 1,520 RTLB, SENCO, principals, deputy principals and Ministry special education staff. These workshops introduced inclusive education concepts and introduced the new resources. The workshops have been extremely well received. Participants report that the workshops focus them on effective, flexible teaching practices for all students. Participants report that they are thinking about inclusive practices in a different way and that they are seeing the opportunities for planning for all students. They say the workshop approach is informative, relevant and engaging and have called for more workshops. We plan to complete coverage of the country this year. We have trained some RTLB and Ministry service managers to deliver the workshop more widely to schools. We are examining how we can use these workshops as the basis for more in depth work with teachers and school leaders.

The Inclusive Education website has been live for 12 months. Through the above workshops we have familiarised RTLB and Ministry special education staff with the site and the concepts within it. Through word of mouth we have around 4,500 users, half of whom are returning. We plan to boost this usage with mass publicity of the site this year. Feedback on the site is that it is "engrossing", "dynamic" and "enriching". Education representatives from Victoria, Australia believe it is the best of anything they have seen in the world. International researcher, Kristine Black-Hawkins has praised the inclusive education resources as, "a fantastic set of resources - with such clear and affirmative and thoughtful ideas... I think the work you and your colleagues are doing is brilliant."  The site was developed in response to calls from school leaders to make things easier for teachers and show them how to meet the needs of diverse learners in their classrooms. We plan to carry out an evaluation of the site early 2016.

Schooling Case Studies

Wellington East Girls' College

Sally Haughton was drawn to the diversity of Wellington East Girls' College when she began as Principal nine years ago. The school includes a strong mix of students from a number of cultural backgrounds and socio economic groups. In 2008 the education achievement results for their Pasifika students was very poor. "Our Level 3 results were 14% - those results were not good enough" recalls Haughton. 

Clear goals were needed to raise the achievement levels of their Pasifika students.  We spoke to our Pasifika students and asked them what it meant to be Pasifika, said DP Heather Aked.  They mentioned things like church, family, food, Poly. Not one girl said anything about success or achievement.  It was implied that if you wanted to achieve then you were trying to be palagi.  Straight away we could see we needed to do a lot of work to reshape the thinking about being Pasifika. We wanted our girls to see that they could be Pasifika and achieve and be successful as Pasifika.

Immediately the school made a deliberate decision to engage better with their Pasifika students. Setting goals and being transparent with the girls and their families was key to encouraging aspirations and achievement within their community.

Teachers worked on identifying the needs of students and developing direct strategies to meet individual needs. The biggest change however, has been fostering an understanding amongst students that it is normal to succeed and working with students to grow an enthusiasm for their own and others' successes.

"We share results and information with each of our girls. We put results up and celebrate achievement and highlight the good work of those achieving credits," says Haughton. In 2014 the school also implemented an achievement wānanga identifying students who needed additional support, they formed the group to support and encourage one another.

Rather than wait until the end of the year to see the results in their grades, the group was regularly tracked through each subject. When mid-year exams started, instead of going on study leave, the wānaga group would come together for additional tutoring and support at school.  The initiative was supported by the Pasifika homework club, which paired students and teachers together for four nights a week to offer study and homework assistance. The programme proved so successful the Pasifika girls decided it should be opened up to the entire school.

"There are on average 30 girls a day participating in homework club. It is making 'doing well at school' ordinary," says Haughton. "Recognising these factors and reading out their growing list of achievements throughout their school year not only acknowledges their achievements, but has a flow on effect for their younger siblings, parents and community who are all present at the prizegiving ceremonies."

And connecting to that wider community is key, says Aked. "Our girls come to us from rich, connected Pasifika communities. Our school and staff have altered how we do things to fit better within those communities. Staff have expanded their Pasifika vocabulary and ensure the pronunciation of words and importantly names are correct. We also acknowledge and understand the commitments our Pasifika girls have outside school."

Since implementing these dedicated steps towards Pasifika achievement, the academic levels of Wellington East girls have risen dramatically. In 2014, 92% of students achieved at Level 3, a significant improvement from the poor results in 2008.

"The Ministry of Education noted our girls had the best Pasifika results in New Zealand for Girls' school in 2013" adds Haughton. "We are now at a point where our students believe in themselves and believe they can and will be successful."

Aranui High School

According to the Christchurch City Council, the area surrounding Aranui High School rates 10 out of 10 on the deprivation index. It was a test Principal John Rohs wasn't proud of getting 100 percent in. From a socio economic perspective, the community had a bit of a bad rap. But, the richness in terms of cultural resourcefulness was second to none.

"We may be a low decile school, says Rohs, "but this is a great community to be part of! We don't just work in this community, we are a part of it, and we want to see our children have both academic and cultural success".

At Aranui High School there is a culture of expectation. It is made absolutely clear that Pasifika students will be high achievers. And they are. While Pasifika students in general fall into one of three Ministry of Education priority learners groups, at this school, they are the highest achievers.

"Our Pasifika students are school leaders, they are the most engaged in cultural and extra-curricular activities," says Rohs. "With support from our staff, our after school programmes and our school's policy of celebrating incremental success, our students are also achieving in NCEA".

In 2014 the school had a goal to achieve a 100% pass rate for the Pasifika students sitting NCEA Level 2. They achieved that goal. This year, they want to raise the pass rate for Level 3.

"We have students showing up to the office regularly, wanting to know how many credits they have," says Rohs. "Students who were once shy now see success as a normal thing and have gained more confidence in their own abilities".

Making success 'normal' is in large part a result of the way Aranui celebrates achievements. When a student achieves their first 20 NCEA credits, they are acknowledged in assembly, and then again each quarter after that. This, says Rohs, makes achievement visible to all students and shows all year levels the possibilities of achieving academically.

Along with a high participation rate in PowerUp the school enjoys a strong relationship with two local tertiary providers and works with university staff to support students moving onto career pathways. These external support systems reinforce the values instilled at school.

Through the PowerUp programmes, parents can also have a more hands on approach to their child's learning needs. It is also a way to reconnect Pasifika families outside of school.

"The Christchurch earthquake had a devastating impact on the fabric of our community," says Rohs. "We had generations of Pasifika families, once living in close proximity to each other in Aranui, dispersed to other areas of the city and re-homed because of damage and destruction.

"These effects are things we as teachers need to recognise and take into consideration when looking at our students. Some of our students need to travel more than 10km to get to school. Others still don't have homes of their own to live in. To understand and help our students, we need to understand their situation in the community".

Although only 20% of Aranui High student population identify as Pasifika, the number of students in leadership roles within the school means the overall enrolment number is often mistaken to be much higher. Rohs puts it down to the notion that success, breeds success.

"Our senior Pasifika students are head prefects, prefects and sports captains. Our younger Pasifika students see that and aspire to follow in their footsteps."

"Our students have a real ownership of this school. It has been a steady rate of progress over the past 10 years, but there is a strong sense of loyalty to this school and a strong sense of pride."

St Patrick's College, Silverstream

In their final year at school, twins, Nanumea and Te Pine Foua are St Patrick's College students fast on their way to success.

They have been achieving tertiary level credits while still at secondary school. And Te Pine has already secured a plumbing apprenticeship for next year.

The brothers, of Tokelauan descent, are Year 13 graduates having achieved NCEA Level 3, thanks to hard work, interesting subject choices and time spent 'on the job'.

"I wanted a solid plan for after school. I was worried about the future," says Te Pine. "I went to the Careers New Zealand website and looked at the labour market and skill shortages. I identified construction and plumbing as a good starting point."

As a result, Te Pine, with the help of his career advisors adjusted his subject choices to fit this sector and he interviewed and got applicable work placements. He did a combination of domestic plumbing as well as two weeks on a large, commercial construction site. All which earned him credits.

"It's what I expected and it's confirmed I'd like to do plumbing in the future. It's not like being at school – there is no one chasing you. It's up to you to make your placement a success. It made me want to come to school. I wouldn't have tried as hard otherwise," Te Pine says.

Te Pine could choose subjects related to plumbing through the school's partnership with the Plumbing Industry Training Organisation. All of this means that he is set up to earn a Vocational Pathways Award in Construction & Infrastructure. This shows that he has linked his school work with the industry he is interested in and where he wants to work in the future.

Nanumea started with his work placement in Year 12 and with support from the school, he followed his interest in muscle cars. He secured a spot at G & H, a private training provider in Petone, doing an automotive course, all the while earning NCEA credits. He had a go at panel beating and mechanics and as a result of what he learnt, Nanumea plans to do an automotive course at Weltec next year. He wants to secure an apprenticeship too.

Rector Gerard Tully says that work placement offerings and tailored curricula which include a wide and more relevant choice with better links to industry is helping keep students at school longer. "And research shows the longer students stay in education, the more success they will have in life."

"When students study subjects in areas which are relevant and interesting to them, then they are much more likely to stay at school and remain engaged with their learning", says Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education's Group Manager for Youth Guarantee. "Having NCEA Level 2 also means students are well-prepared to undertake further training, study or work, as they have a solid foundation to build on."

Gerard also says that these 'non-traditional' choices make no difference to the students' experience of school in the pastoral sense: "Camaraderie is an important part of this school. Students are proud to be 'Streamers'. The guys that do the Trades Academy or work placements are still part of the school. They can play rugby for the school team and go to the Year 13 Ball."

There are not many New Zealand schools more steeped in tradition than Silverstream's St Patrick's College but to stay relevant, Gerard says the way boys are educated must change, especially when targeting better results for Pasifika students."As a school we've identified the need to raise Pasifika student achievement and we are working hard to address this through curriculum offerings.

"We are supporting Pasifika families to see how the system can work for their children because we know parental involvement is key." Gerard believes another key to success is relationships.  "You need to treat people differently to get the same result. Research shows us strong relationships between teachers and students improves learning outcomes.

Gerard believes this is particularly important for Pasifika students. "What I have found, is if students get on with their teacher, respect that teacher and know that that teacher cares and wants the best for the student, we will get better results. It's about knowing your learner, creating a respectful relationship, and understanding motivations," he says.


  1. Education Review Office. (2010). Including Students with High Needs. Wellington: Education Review Office.
  2. Education Review Office. (2013). Including Students with High Needs, Primary Schools. Wellington: Education Review Office.
  3. Education Review Office. (2015). Inclusive practices for students with special needs in school. Wellington: Education Review Office.