Catholic Cathedral College - 05/08/2013

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Catholic Cathedral College is a coeducational, integrated, Years 7 to 13 secondary school. The school’s special character reflects its strong Catholic values.

The roll is steadily increasing and is culturally diverse. The school culture is welcoming, inclusive and respectful. Students spoken with by ERO were proud of their school, its family-like nature and safe learning environment.

Since the September 2009 ERO review, the school has experienced a lot of change. As a result of the Christchurch earthquakes, the school had to be relocated for a time. Since its return to its central city location, it has shared the site with another secondary school.

There has been a high staff turnover in the last two years. A new principal and deputy principal started at the beginning of 2013.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Areas of strength

The school is making positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. The newly appointed principal is setting high expectations for students and teachers. Staff and students spoken with by ERO were very aware of this lift in expectation and are responding positively.

Recent changes to improve student engagement, progress and achievement include:

  • reviewing systems and procedures to strengthen the use of achievement information
  • the appointment of an academic coordinator and a scholarship coordinator to monitor and improve student outcomes
  • closer monitoring of student attendance and sharing the importance of this with students and parents
  • the development of class profiles that identify students’ learning strengths and needs, to inform teaching practices.

Students benefit from extensive and effective pastoral support. Teachers and leaders work well together to build students’ wellbeing and self esteem. They recognise the importance of these in making sure students are able to engage with their learning.

Students and parents receive informative three weekly reports about student progress and work habits.

School leadership is making useful connections by consulting with different groups such as Pacific and Filipino families. This is helping leaders to find out about parent wishes for their children, and to share ideas about supporting students’ learning and achievement.

Areas for review and development

The principal and senior leadership team have identified, and ERO agrees, that there is a need to improve the collection, analysis and use of achievement information. This would assist the school to better:

  • measure effectiveness of programmes and interventions
  • identify students’ next learning steps and establish the right levels of challenge
  • confidently share student achievement information to inform planning
  • track progress over time for individuals and groups
  • report to trustees, parents and students
  • assist teachers to reflect on and improve their practice.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s curriculum provides suitable support for student learning. The principal has identified that parts of the curriculum need further development. The heads of department (HOD) committee has responsibility for strengthening curriculum design and review.

The teachers’ focus on improving literacy skills of students was evident in the class programmes observed. Students spoken with by ERO liked the way teachers knew them as individuals and helped them with their learning.

Teachers are working in teams across subject areas to raise student achievement as part of their professional learning programme. They are looking for the best ways to overcome any difficulties students face in their learning.

A positive learning culture is a strength of the school. Factors that contribute to this culture are:

  • a school-wide positive behaviour programme
  • clearly understood school values
  • positive relationships and healthy competition developed by the regular grouping of older and younger students.

Students enjoy many opportunities to participate in sporting and cultural activities.

Areas for review and development

There is a need to further define roles and responsibilities for curriculum design and review. These include:

  • senior leadership responsibilities for curriculum and assessment
  • terms of reference for the HOD curriculum committee
  • guidelines and expectations for heads of department.

Senior leaders need to ensure that the school charter, departmental curriculum statements and classroom planning are well linked.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The curriculum is increasingly supporting Māori success as Māori.

Areas of strength

The teacher of te reo Māori holds a high level of respect and mana amongst teachers, parents and students. He is supporting staff and students to improve their understanding of New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

Students who are Māori are achieving well in the NCEA level 1 compared with Māori students at similar schools. They are achieving at similar levels to their Catholic Cathedral College peers in NCEA Level 2.

A number of activities and protocols give Māori students opportunities to identify and succeed as Māori. These include marae visits, powhiri and kapa haka.

Useful consultation with parents and whānau of Māori students has helped school leaders build better understanding of how to improve learning outcomes for these students.

Area for review and development

Leaders and teachers need to include more bicultural activities and understandings in all curriculum programmes.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

Areas of strength

The school has experienced challenging times and has come through these with a renewed energy and sense of purpose. The board and newly formed leadership team have a strong focus on raising student achievement.

The senior leadership team has a clear vision for school improvement and is gaining good support from staff and students. The good level of communication and consultation by leaders is widely appreciated. Their purposeful approach and improvement focus is helping to develop a shared understanding of the school’s ongoing development and direction.

The strategic plan provides useful direction for making further improvements at the school. There are well established policies and procedures for guiding the way trustees work. Timetabled reviews of curriculum and school operations provide trustees and school leaders with useful recommendations to improve outcomes for students.

Senior leaders and teachers provide annual subject achievement reports that help the board to understand how well students are achieving.

Areas for review and development

The board, leaders and teachers need to further develop planning. This includes setting measurable goals so that success in attaining them can be monitored and evaluated.

The board chair and principal have identified a need to review appraisal systems to ensure that they effectively support teachers to improve their practice. ERO agrees this is an important next step.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238Fof the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review, there were no international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services Southern Region

5 August 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā


Other Pacific


Other ethnicities







Review team on site

June 2013

Date of this report

5 August 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

September 2009

October 2006

June 2004