Makoura completes huge turnaround

By nathan.crombie@age.co.nz, Nathan Crombie


The latest ERO report for Makoura College marks a brilliant turnaround since the school almost closed in 2008, says principal Tom Hullena.

The review was completed in December and is the first conducted under the governance of a board of trustees that was established after Tim White stood down as commissioner at the school in 2011.

The school had been forced to the brink of closure three years earlier after dwindling college funds and a declining roll of barely more than 200 pupils stymied its last board of trustees, who resigned en masse.

A groundswell of community support and opposition to closure had led to the appointment of Mr White as commissioner and Mr Hullena as principal.

Successive reports since the near closure had shown a gradual building of capacity, according to the latest review, to improve and sustain the quality of education at the school.

There had been a review of the motto and values at the college - which had a roll in December of 277 pupils - a new uniform was introduced, buildings were refurbished, a new faculty structure was launched and the timetable was revised and successfully trialled, the report said.

"Positive ongoing changes are evident."

Mr Hullena, in the latest school newsletter, said the glowing report was momentous and he thanked "everyone who has played a part in this turn around".

"In my view these shifts would not have been possible without the strong relationships and partnerships that have been developed within and beyond the school," he said.

"I think it is an outstanding report and certainly one I'm very proud of. It acknowledges a number of great practices at the college, the positive nature of its students and the clear shifts the college has made since 2008."

The report found teachers at the school are highly committed to student success and a range of opportunities existed for students to develop and demonstrate leadership.

Career opportunities also were made available through a variety of academies and tertiary providers that included the building of a house on a Year 14 course and Maori performing arts.

"The school tone is positive, with a strong sense of belonging and purpose evident amongst the students.

"They help each other with their learning. Students are beginning to take responsibility for managing their own learning and behaviour."

A range of initiatives had successfully enhanced teaching and NCEA participation data showed that since 2010, the percentages of students obtaining qualifications for Level 1, 2 and 3, had significantly exceeded those of comparable schools.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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