James Cook goes from "worst school" to high achievers

By Numia Ponika-Rangi

James Cook High School was labelled the worst school in Auckland for 2014, because over half of James Cook's school leavers failed NCEA, while a mere 6% gained University Entrance (UE), that's barely a quarter of the average for decile 1.

With 2014's shocking NCEA results and being labelled the “Worst School in Auckland",  it still pains the principal, Vaughn Couillault.

He says, “Yeah that hurt to be honest.  My team were hurt, but we knew that information was a little bit out of date and that we'd already made some significant changes and we're continuing to build on those changes.”

In the matter of a year, it's surprising the turnaround of the stats after the latest NZQA report saying James Cook is now one of the highest achieving schools in Auckland.

Mr Couillault says, “The way I feel now is incredibly proud of the team.  The mahi that's been done around the extra effort that we've put into tamariki to make sure that their educational outcomes are as good as they possibly can be.”

Mr Couillault is aware of the commitment from staff, students and their families to correct this issue, crediting success to the former Te Kotahitanga Project.

“We've continued to build on learnings from Te Kotahitanga to make sure our classroom practise is the very best it can be for our Māori learners."

So while the students are on holiday, the principal is nose to the grindstone to ensure the standards are maintained and that his school will never again be named "Worst School in Auckland," says Couillault.