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4-year challenge ends: Auckland Girls Grammar School back in the clear with ERO

The school had been under a shadow since its Board of Trustees received an independent report in 2014 which identified serious risks to school operations.

The Education Review Office has reinitiated its status quo for the school and recommended that the Ministry of Education reviews the need for AGGS’ Limited Statutory Manager. Since the injection of new Principal Ngaire Ashmore 18 months ago, the school’s officially back on track.

Explains Ashmore: “The ERO (Education Review office) come in and review schools’ performance – usually on a three year basis. Some schools have five years and some schools have 1-2 years. AGGS, when it was struggling, went to a 1-2 year which meant the Education Review Office came in nearly term by term for a couple of years. The aim has been to get back to a three year cycle, which we’ve just achieved.”

A four-strong ERO contingent spent four days at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School at the end of term two with their report now lodged. The report concludes that ‘relationships at all levels of the school are being strengthened, resulting in a more positive professional culture.’ It also concluded that ‘leadership and governance capability has developed sufficiently to be confident that school leaders can self-manage ongoing internal evaluation and school improvement.’

“We were absolutely ecstatic and relieved,” says Ashmore. “We had a fantastic report and ERO has recommended that we be back on a three yearly review cycle. And in the report they also recommended that the Ministry of Education review the role of the LSM (Limited Statutary Manager) in the school.”

An LSM has worked with AGGS since 2016 to offer extra support to the school and address some of the issues that had been raised since 2014. Ashmore says that recommendation is a huge boost for the school’s management team.

“Because ERO identified that we no longer required the role of the LSM it is like coming to the end of a period that the school was facing some real struggles. We’ve now come out of that and we’re poised to really lift off and be the school that we know we can be and have definitely been in the past.”

Ashmore is full of praise for her management and staff, with the school’s turnaround a massive team effort.

“It’s recognition of the enormous amount of work that’s gone in over the past 18 months,” she says. “The foundations were there before I arrived but I was very clear when I was offered and accepted the position (of Principal) that there was a great deal of work to be done.

“I’m so proud of the staff. Sometimes they underestimate their own ability and this ERO report is recognition of the enormous amount of commitment and dedication they’ve put in. And the girls through all of this,” she smiles, “even through the challenging times the girls have been amazing.”

Ashmore says returning to the ERO ‘status quo’ means they can continue their drive towards being the best school they can be – and offering up the best education possible to Auckland city girls.

She explains: “We are really excited. The whole idea that all girls at Auckland Girls’ will be achievers and reach their potential is so exciting. We want to have a presence out there in our community. We believe we’ve got a stunning product to offer for girls’ education in and around the city.”

The report coincides with the upcoming launch of the new AGGS uniform for 2019, so it’s a fresh start in many ways.

“You will see the girls out there in their updated new school uniform – they’re really proud of the changes that we’ve made,” Ashmore says. “We can see it in the day to day work that’s happening in the school. And if you go to our website you can see the teaching and learning that’s been shared.

“It’s so much more transparent and open and it really is about how best to get the best out of the girls. We truly believe that ‘Educated at AGGS, Equipped for the world’ is the catch phrase for Auckland Girls’ Grammar School now – and moving forward into the future.”

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