Accelerating Manurewa Intermediate.

By Manurewa Intermediate | Posted: Sunday July 23, 2017

From ERO recommendation of "Ministerial Intervention," to the Supreme winner in the Prime Minister's awards for excellence, in less than 9 years. Quite a journey!

Manurewa Intermediate has been on a journey of change since Term Four 2008 when Iain Taylor was appointed to the role of Principal. He and his evolving leadership team took hold of the reigns to transform the school into a place of high engagement, fun, rich learning experiences, developing students into adventurous risk-takers; persistent focussed achievers!

Prior to this, ERO visited in October 2007 and made the following observations:

Students are not regularly engaged in productive learning at their level of ability.

The school culture emphasises controlling student behaviour rather than focussing on learning.

The principal and BOT should urgently consider and implement further steps to improveāoMri student achievement.

ERO recommends that the Secretary for Education consider intervention…

ERO intends to return to the school within 12 months…


Iain and his leadership worked hard, fast and effectively to begin the steps of turning this around. One of these vital steps was the physical environment, both interior and exterior. Iain knowing the utter importance of the environment of a school (based on the – The Third Teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform Teaching and Learning research and personal experience), set out a plan to upgrade EVERY aspect of Manurewa Intermediate to give the community a school it deserved, serving as a strong pillar in the community. 

(Please see attached photo gallery which provides a before and after comparative of two spaces as examples of property upgrades)

Along with the environment, the whanau/house competition ramped up to be applied into every facet of the school. This gave kids an authentic sense of belonging to their school, classroom and how they conducted themselves in and around the school. Students now wanted to be in school! Prior to 2009, the attendance rate was extremely low, not exceeding 80% in recent years leading up to 2008. The more recent attendance rates are as follows:


Overall Yearly Attendance Rate

2013 90%

2014 91%

2015 92.7%

2016 92%

A new leadership structure had been formed, where the individual portfolios enabled and empowered a distributive leadership team to have a strong, school-wide focus using individual’s specific skills and strengths, but within a team context. This challenged leaders and helped them grow their capacity to become a strong individual leader as well. In 2010 Iain saw the first of his leadership team depart Manurewa Intermediate for their own leadership direction. Since then eight others have taken up Principal roles in their own schools!

The focus grew to the academic teaching and learning within Manurewa Intermediate, with a rich, culturally relevant curriculum now being applied into classrooms. Programmes have now become of real interest to the learner, delivered in an inquiry style that is motivating and exciting for each and every learner. It has allowed them to discover, to take risks and to have fun. Students are always wondering, imagining and excited about the journey they are on. Programmes ensure their kids are adventurous and persistent and engaged in such a way that students are achieving at higher academic levels.

Ensuring strong and effective student engagement in all areas of the school was vital! Leadership needed to (and did) focus on holistic educational achievement in all facets of teaching and learning, which resulted in improved, and in many cases, accelerated academic success. High levels of engagement and attendance have been prevalent throughout the school for the past six years.

By implementing MacFarlane’s Edu-Cultural Wheel they were able to apply these key concepts across the school and community: Whanaungatanga (Building relationships), Kotahitanga (Ethic of Bonding), Manaakitanga (Ethic of care), Rangatiratanga (Teacher effectiveness), and Pumanawatanga (General classroom morale, pulse, tone). They learnt relationships are vital for the learners, community and whanau. They learnt that this needed to be demonstrated by all leaders which then ensured all staff were empowered and then able to apply in their own classes and practice. This has been ongoing and strengthened in all aspects of the school over the last eight years.

They learnt that culture counts!

They learnt the need for leaders to be transparent, focussed, passionate and to model this constantly was vital!

The school has a number of ways of conducting our their school wide self-review in order to keep moving forward. There are both formal and informal systems in place to do so. The formalised ways are the set reviews of various areas, such as a specific NAG, a curriculum area as outlined in our Charter and Self review cycle. They are constantly reflecting on what is needed and where, in all aspects of school operations, assisting them in maintaining a holistic view of leadership across the school. This is based on community, staff and student voice as part of their yearly, ongoing review.

The school is continuously developing the application of their charter to ensure the high levels of student engagement and accelerated progress are not only maintained but also built on. They say it is vital to continue to give their kids and community the best deal possible everyday!  They can not continue this by staying stationary. Let’s keep ‘moving on up!’

Image Gallery