Examples of the best High Schools in New Zealand

Some things are obvious in life:

  • Lou Reed is the coolest man of rock ever.
  • My wife of 32 years and childhood sweetheart is the world’s most beautiful woman.
  • The business acumen of the Labour government is as thin as grease paper from a fishn’chip shop.
  • A full-grown kauri like Tane Mahuta in the beautiful far north of New Zealand a big tree.

Some things are more subtle.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi.
  • You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the greatest film ever made.
  • Sand in uncomfortable places is worth an afternoon on the beach.

Some things require evidence. I have now spent a month looking at outcomes, post-school destinations, attendance, retention to 17 years old, and other things for the 400+ New Zealand High Schools.

For reasons that I can back up – here are 15 of the very best (I would hate to have a reputation for being negative). They have good results – many regardless of the wealth of the families in their community. For some (e.g. McAuley) they are clearly overcoming what other schools might call deficits. Their students have a high tendency to keep studying when they leave.

This is not quite the All Blacks of NZ High Schools. There are other good/great schools and no doubt good teachers and striving students in every school. But you have to start somewhere. In no order:

  • St Peter’s College (Epsom)
  • Manukura (Palmerston North)
  • Marist College (Auckland)
  • McAuley College (Otahuhu)
  • Lynfield College (Mt Roskill)
  • Baradene College of the Sacred Heart (Remuera)
  • Liston College (West Auckland)
  • Westlake Girls High School (North Otarbour – intentional joke for those in the know).
  • St Catherine’s (Kilbirnie)
  • Selwyn College (Kohimarama)
  • Auckland Girls Grammar School (Auckland City)
  • Sancta Maria College (Flatbush)
  • Napier Girls High School (Hawkes Bay)
  • St Joseph’s Maori Girls (Taradale)
  • St Mary’s College (Ponsonby)

I am happy to hear and be challenged on other candidates for this 1st XV. The main point being that they are clearly doing something right that others can learn from. Nothing replaces well supported, good parenting, but schools have a part to play.

I have also concluded on what the three worst performing schools in New Zealand are. Clues? All founded in the last 12 years at about $50 million each. All decile 10 and lauded by a Ministry of Education and other glossy people who would not recognise a rigorous & excellent education if it bit them their collective posterior.

To access the data set: alwyn.poole@gmail.com

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