St Peter's College (Epsom) - 14/11/2012

1 Context

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

St Peter’s College (Epsom) has many positive features that impact on student learning. For over 73 years, this Roman Catholic school has provided an education in the tradition of Edmund Rice for Year 7 to 13 boys. Since the last ERO visit in 2009, the school roll has grown to 1226 students with 110 identified as Māori and 227 Pacific. In addition there are 40 international students.

The many areas of good performance outlined in the 2009 ERO report have been sustained. The tradition of Edmund Rice permeates school life. The religious studies programme promotes each boy’s thinking and understanding of themselves and the world. The College’s increasing focus on academic achievement continues. Students achieve well in gaining external qualifications. A positive, supportive, well managed learning environment continues to characterise the school.

On-going school development is aimed at achieving high standards in all aspects of school operations. Major property developments, such as the technology block, gymnasium, sports fields, have been completed and the hall is being renovated. Changes in the senior leadership team and teaching staff are having a positive impact on student learning.

2 Learning

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

Students are highly engaged in all aspects of school life. In classes, the boys are focused on learning. There is a strong work ethic. Service in helping others is expected of every student and 98% of students met this expectation in 2011. Every student participates in co-curricular activities. Sport, music, and the arts are prominent aspects of their education. Student leadership is encouraged, valued and an integral part of the school.

Levels of attendance are high and closely monitored. Retention rates are positive with most students reaching Year 13.

School information about academic achievement in the senior secondary school indicates considerable improvement over the past three years in National Certificates of Education (NCEA). In 2011 achievement levels were well above that of similar boys’ schools nationally at Levels 1 and 3. Overall achievement in Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) is high. Student success in gaining University Entrance from Year 13 is noteworthy and is especially high for CIE students. The school’s Māori and Pacific students achieve very well in the senior secondary school.

The progress and achievement of individual students in Years 7 through to 10 is recorded and closely monitored. This information is well used to identify and provide for more able students and students requiring learning support. The school is yet to provide the board of trustees with evaluations of overall student progress and achievement in literacy and numeracy over these four years. Similarly, summative information about the overall progress and achievement of groups of students including Māori, Pacific and students with special needs from Years 7 to 13 should be made more readily accessible to the board.

In 2011 the school set achievement targets for Year 7 and 8 boys in National Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. The targets set and achieved for reading and writing were considerably higher than for mathematics. Students at risk of not achieving at or above National Standards are identified and well supported. The school could consider setting specific targets for groups of identified students whose progress needs to be accelerated in order for them to achieve NCEA Level 2 when they reach Year 12. Comprehensive strategies are in place to promote the success of Year 7 and 8 Māori and Pacific students and to accelerate the progress of underachievers.

The destination of boys leaving school from Years 12 and 13 is well tracked. School records indicate that almost all these students gained placements in tertiary education and training, or employment in 2010 and 2011.

3 Curriculum

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

The school has a broad curriculum that very effectively promotes and supports student learning. The curriculum is closely aligned to the vision, principles and values of The New Zealand Curriculum.

On-going curriculum review and development is a noteworthy feature of the school. It reflects the commitment of the trustees, headmaster and teachers to serve and support students to learn, achieve, and become ‘the St Peter’s Man’. Teachers’ professionalism and commitment are reflected in their high level of involvement in co-curricular activities and in their willingness to learn and respond to change and innovation.

The following are some of the significant and positive curriculum developments that have occurred since ERO’s last visit in 2009.

The school timetable. Students now have a seven-period day, the same bell times every day and maximised time for learning in the mornings. This development gives the boys the security of a regular routine and enables them to take another subject or have study time in the senior school. It also means that they are taught each of their subjects every day. The acceptance of this change by students and teachers, and the settled and purposeful learning environment are indicative of the success of this development.

Academic and pastoral counselling. Each house teacher is responsible for providing their students with academic and pastoral support. They help students to set their learning goals and pathways through and beyond school. This development is proving popular with parents and students. Attendance at student-parent-teacher meetings is high. From Year 7 students are well supported to identify their learning and career pathways through and beyond school. The careers guidance at Years 12 and 13 is especially noteworthy.

Promoting high quality teaching. Procedures are in place to monitor the quality of teaching and to achieve the expectation of high quality teaching throughout the school. Teachers are supported to develop the kinds of teaching approaches/pedagogy outlined in The New Zealand Curriculum. Considered steps are being taken to introduce e-learning. Teachers are working together to build their knowledge of, and skills, to support Māori education. Effective use is made of assessment and examination results to review and improve learning programmes and classroom teaching. As a next step, teachers could inquire more into the impact of their classroom practice on student progress and achievement.

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

Māori students benefit from the school’s focus on high achievement for all. They achieve well in National Standards, CIE and NCEA, in line with other St Peter’s College students. The school’s Catholic character and pastoral care promote a strong sense of belonging for Māori students and whānau. Students mentor students in other schools. Opportunities are expanding for students to gain marae experience and to fulfil leadership roles as Māori.

The school focus on Māori education has strengthened over the past two years. A school-wide review of Learning Areas identified the need to strengthen the place of the Treaty of Waitangi principle of The New Zealand Curriculum in curriculum decisions. A draft Māori achievement strategy articulates a new and stronger vision for Māori education at St Peter’s College. The Middle School (Year 7 and 8) has a strategy for accelerating Māori achievement through whānau involvement and programme review. The next step is for the board of trustees, in consultation with the school’s Māori community, to incorporate these developments into its policies, plans and annual targets. The increased focus on Māori education is likely to help more students to value their Māori heritage and identify as Māori.

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. A culture of high expectations, shared leadership and inclusiveness prevails.

  • Student performance in internal and external assessments and examinations is rigorously analysed in order to maximise student learning opportunities, lift teacher performance and channel resources.
  • The headmaster effectively leads senior leaders to sustain on-going improvement in their respective areas of responsibility.
  • Whānau are valued members of the school community, as are former students (St Peter’s Men) who maintain links with the school; some as teachers and school leaders.

‘The Way Forward/Te Ara Whakamua’ for St Peter’s College is clearly articulated in the school’s charter and strategic plan for 2012-2015. The charter upholds key elements of the school’s Roman Catholic character, upholds the primacy of learning and gives high priority to pastoral care. These features are integral to school operations.

The strategic plan has key directions for St Peter’s College to secure its position as an outstanding boys’ school. Accordingly the board of trustees agrees that through its strategic and annual plan it could now:

  • set more measurable goals and targets especially in terms of student outcomes in line with Ministry of Education expectations
  • ensure reports that the board receives are more pertinent, clear and precise, so that it is well informed about trends and patterns in student progress and achievement overall, and is well placed to set annual targets for groups of students at risk of under-achieving
  • formalise the headmaster’s annual performance agreement and review the process for appraising the deputy principals
  • make more provision for the promotion of Māori and Pacific success and achievement in consultation with the Māori and Pacific communities respectively.

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 47 international students. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

International students are very well provided for. The tradition set by Edmund Rice of ‘rubbing shoulders together’ reminds staff and students of the importance of learning from each other. Cultural diversity is celebrated in the school and therefore international students readily integrate into the college and their academic studies. Most international students seek academic learning with a view to gaining qualifications to enter tertiary education. Raw data indicates that the students progress and achieve well. This information could be analysed so that the board of trustees receives good information about the students’ progress and achievement.

Students receive high quality pastoral care that includes effective orientation, learning and accommodation support and monitoring. They are involved and enjoy participating in the many cultural, sports and academic co-curricular activities the college provides. They have good opportunities to share their cultures with other students and to show leadership in the school community.

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)

14 November 2012

About the School


Epsom, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Boys 100%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā











Review team on site

August 2012

Date of this report

14 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2009

June 2006

May 2003