Sancta Maria College - 25/05/2012

1 Context

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

Sancta Maria College opened in 2004 and is a state integrated, co-educational Catholic secondary school catering for students from years 7 to 15. Since the previous ERO review in 2009 the school roll has continued to increase and now includes a significantly greater number of Filipino students.

High expectations for behaviour and academic endeavour are underpinned by the school’s special character which emphasises Christian values, respectful relationships, caring and success for all. Students display these values in their interactions with each other and adults. The school tone is positive and settled. Students and staff are proud of their school and share a sense of belonging.

A commitment to continual improvement has seen the College make progress with understanding and implementing National Standards in years 7 to 8 and aligning senior school courses to new National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) standards. A number of other significant changes have impacted positively on student learning. These include:

  • extended curriculum and co-curricular opportunities due to the growing school roll
  • close links with three main contributing schools, especially the adjacent Sancta Maria Primary school which opened in 2010
  • greater engagement with families, whānau and the wider community through improved consultation strategies
  • ongoing expansion of campus learning facilities with a new gymnasium, a twelve classroom block and plans in place to complete the library.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

School leaders, working alongside teachers and a capable middle management team, have created a positive learning culture. Pastoral care, learning support, and guidance counselling have been enhanced to provide holistic support for learners.

Students are well engaged in learning and the wider life of the school. They benefit from opportunities to experience an expanded range of co-curricular and leadership activities. Year 10 to 13 student leadership roles have been enhanced to include students who represent and engage with the wide variety of ethnicities in the school.

In National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) Year 11 to 13 students achieve well above national averages and above comparable levels in similar schools. Currently the achievement of girls is marginally better than that of boys. School leaders recognise the need to ensure that gender does not become a significant issue in rates of progress and achievement. Academic tracking for some key groups, monitoring and mentoring for targeted individuals and careers planning have enhanced achievement and built partnerships with some families/whānau.

The school is justifiably proud of the increased academic success of learners in Scholarship examinations, across a range of subjects, and in qualification endorsements. Analysis of individual subject endorsements provides a useful baseline for school leaders to further monitor and evaluate progress.

Pacific learners achieve above national levels in NCEA. Teachers know these students and monitor their progress in the senior school. Evaluating and reporting on Pacific student progress and achievement is an important next step and could further inform strategic gal setting. The school offers a range of interventions to support students. School leaders could report on the success of these interventions and also evaluate outcomes for other specific groups of learners such as international students.

In years 7 to 10, school achievement information indicates that many learners achieve well and some students in Years 7 to 8 are above National Standards. School leaders could now consider how best to collate student achievement information in Years 7 - 10 to clearly show students’ progress and achievement over time. This would enable greater use of this information to inform school strategic planning, set more specific achievement targets and provide targeted teaching for groups and individuals.

Sancta Maria College has implemented National Standards and engaged in relevant professional development. School leaders and ERO agree that further work on National Standards would benefit students as teachers continue to develop their understanding and use of National Standards by:

  • developing more robust moderation processes especially in mathematics and writing
  • sharing more information with students to promote students as ‘leaders of their learning’
  • using curriculum and year level teams to strengthen school wide self-review perspectives.

How well does the school promote Māori student success and success as Māori?

Six percent of students at the college identify as Māori. Māori students are well known to their teachers. The school is working purposefully towards lifting the profile of Māori culture and language in the school environment.

In Years 11 to 13, the monitoring of Māori students’ individual progress and achievement supports them to achieve above that of nationally comparable levels in NCEA. School leaders have recently introduced a range of initiatives to further promote success for Māori including a Māori student leadership group to support teina (junior students).

At the time of the 2009 ERO review, the school planned to appoint a senior manager to oversee the school-wide achievement of Māori students and the place of Māori in the school. This remains a relevant priority for the Board and senior leadership team to progress. It would be useful for school leaders to:

  • use student progress and achievement information to inform more specific achievement targets to promote the success of Māori learners
  • continue to promote learning partnerships with whānau especially in the middle school
  • continue to increase the recognition of Māori language, culture and identity within the school and sustain initiatives which have recently begun
  • promote the use of te reo Māori by staff and increase curriculum opportunities for students to learn te reo Māori.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum and is underpinned by the school’s special character. Significant time and resources have been made available for staff to work in departments and collaboratively design and document the curriculum.

Teachers are developing a seamless curriculum within subject areas. School leaders are supporting them to work across Years 7 to 10. Year 7 and 8 students benefit from a mix of home room and specialist subject teachers with facilities that enhance their learning. Innovative digital technology courses in the senior school enable these students to determine their own learning pathways. This student-led approach has potential as a useful model for future curriculum development.

The school has maintained the high quality teaching practices evident in the 2009 report. Teachers have continued to develop effective relationships that support learning. They provide very good opportunities for students to participate actively in lessons. The school provides high quality learning environments and effective resourcing.

School leaders and ERO agree that the next steps in promoting a highly effective curriculum include:

  • developing an effective teacher profile based on shared understandings of best practice
  • expanding ways to reflect the language, culture and identity of learners
  • using staff expertise to meet individual and group professional learning needs of teachers.

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. An experienced, respected principal is well supported by a senior leadership team that works collaboratively and promotes leadership opportunities for teachers. Staff value how accessible and responsive the leadership team is to their needs and those of the students. Middle managers are reflective, dedicated and focussed on improvement.

The school has met its establishment goals and its foundation students have graduated. School leaders are now well positioned to refine school operations and implement a new school review and development model. To support planning for sustainability, school leaders recognise how important it is to make self review processes structured, manageable and evaluative. Using the existing reviews which are rich in student voice could also enhance self review and decision making.

The board of trustees continues to serve the college well. Trustees bring useful skills and experience to their governance role. They continue to be highly supportive of the principal and staff and ensure the college is well resourced to achieve its strategic teaching and learning goals. More specific and evaluative reports from staff with key responsibilities could help inform further strategic planning.

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 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review there were 21 international students attending the school.

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

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school complies with the Code. Further work is needed however to improve the timeliness of self attestation reporting and the documentation of the school’s self-review, including reporting on specific outcomes for international students.

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
  • 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.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services Northern Region (Acting)

25 May 2012

About the School


Botany, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 54% Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European






South African




Middle Eastern




North and South American

other Asian

















Review team on site

March 2012

Date of this report

25 May 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Review Type

February 2009

February 2006