Holy Cross Catholic School (Henderson) - 19/08/2011

1 Context

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

Holy Cross Catholic School (Henderson) in West Auckland is an integrated, multicultural Catholic school catering for girls from Years 1 to 8 and boys from Years 1 to 6. The school has a long history of positive ERO reports. ERO has consistently noted the school’s sound governance and management procedures, positive community relationships, high quality teaching practices, and good provision for its Māori students. The school continues to offer students high quality learning opportunities, supported by a knowledgeable, reflective board of trustees and provided by motivated, professional leaders and staff.

Students are central to the school culture and are at the heart of all decision making. They are actively consulted about matters that affect them. The school vision of ‘igniting the flame of knowledge’ drives expectations for trustees, managers, teachers and students to be continual learners and to learn together. Teacher professional development, readings about best practice, and professional discussions with colleagues are used to improve student achievement levels and to support the teacher to better understand the learner.

Since the 2008 ERO review, teachers have undertaken professional development to ensure continued improvements in the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy. Trustees and school managers have continued to build strong links with the parish community and effective partnerships with parents. The school enjoys a strong sense of family, with fourth generation children of some families attending.

The school’s special Catholic character is reflected in all aspects of school operations.

2 Learning

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

Students are well engaged in their learning. They are articulate, and are confident to initiate, explore and discuss their own learning. Together with their parents, they are involved in goal setting and identifying their progress and achievement. High levels of student participation are evident in class programmes and students have access to a wide variety of support, extension and leadership opportunities.

A useful range of achievement data is collected by teachers and used by trustees and school managers to reflect on ways to improve outcomes for groups of students. Student progress in literacy and numeracy is monitored over time. Teachers use data to plan for different ability groups, to identify students who need particular help, and to tailor their teaching to meet students’ strengths and needs. Students who are not progressing at expected rates are identified early, and well monitored processes are put in place to support them to make accelerated progress.

Parents receive written reports twice yearly on their child’s progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards. School achievement data show that increased numbers of students, including Pacific students, are achieving at levels that are at or above the National Standards. School managers have supported teachers to develop their confidence to make overall teacher judgements about student achievement levels. Moderation processes have supported effective assessment at year group, syndicate and whole school levels.

Trustees are well informed about, interested in, and have set targets for, students’ progress and achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to the National Standards. They have sought information to increase their knowledge about the National Standards and now have a good understanding of their role in this area of national assessment.

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

Holy Cross has a strong bicultural focus. The board and staff have undertaken self review from a bicultural point of view. Trustees, managers and staff all take responsibility for raising the achievement levels of Māori students. The board has appointed a t Māori lead teacher to drive bi-cultural initiatives that can be used as a model to improve outcomes for students of other ethnicities.

Changes are being made reflectively, are research-based, use information from the Ministry of Education, ERO and Māori initiatives, and have whānau input and support. School initiatives have been documented in a framework that encourages teachers to reflect specifically on success for Māori. This focused work supports Māori students to achieve as Māori.

The school continues to provide a te reo Māori programme run by a specialist teacher. Most staff use te reo Māori incidentally while teaching. For sustainability, professional development is planned for all staff to further increase their knowledge of, and confidence in using, te reo and tikanga Māori during classroom programmes.

The Māori lead teacher has specific responsibility for collating, analysing, tracking and monitoring the achievement of Māori students during each school year and over time. An holistic approach is taken to sharing Māori student success with parents and to developing a partnership for meeting parents’ aspirations and improving outcomes for students.

3 Curriculum

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

The Holy Cross curriculum has been collaboratively developed, with input from trustees, staff, students and the senior leadership team. Since its introduction, the school curriculum has been reviewed and changed several times. Most recently a new value, ‘joy’, has been added to align with the school’s special character.

The curriculum embraces the school’s inquiry learning approach, information literacy and thinking skills. The school has recently increased its focus on languages with the introduction of Mandarin. The school’s curriculum is closely aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum and processes are in place to monitor students’ access to all aspects of The New Zealand Curriculum. The key competencies are displayed in classrooms and discussed by students so that they understand the relevance of the competencies to their learning. Students enjoy the rich, relevant learning experiences that teachers provide for them. These experiences are building skills that will enable students to become life-long learners.

The attractive, well resourced class environments celebrate students’ work. Learning prompts and clearly defined achievement expectations support teaching and students’ independent learning. Good relationships are evident between teachers, between students, and between teachers and students. Teachers are enthusiastic, committed to the school and have high expectations for students’ learning and behaviour. High levels of student interest and motivation are evident across all year levels.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Holy Cross is well placed to sustain its effective practices and to continue to improve outcomes for students. The board has effectively engaged its community in developing the school’s vision, values and strategic direction. Trustees bring a range of useful skills to their governance role, have a good understanding of their responsibilities, and have sought to keep themselves well informed about new initiatives. Trustees use student achievement information to guide decisions about future planning.

The long-standing principal is a highly effective professional leader who has successfully built a community of learners in the school. She has distributed leadership roles, developing leaders and using teachers’ strengths. As a result, teachers have increased ownership and understanding of effective professional practice. The principal, trustees and senior leaders:

  • have a strong, shared understanding of the vision and direction of the school
  • are committed to, and focused on, improving outcomes for all students
  • have developed comprehensive self-review processes that are robust, consultative, well understood and embedded in practices across the school
  • use student achievement as a basis for all self review and are continually seeking ways to improve student achievement
  • are consultative and sensitive in their dealings with diverse groups of parents and ethnic communities
  • value Māori and include multicultural perspectives in decision making
  • have implemented a robust, ongoing performance appraisal system to support teachers to meet student needs and the board’s strategic goals.

The board ensures, through the principal, that there is clear alignment between the strategic plan, the annual plan, classroom programmes, and curriculum delivery.

Holy Cross provides a nurturing, caring, respectful learning environment that supports students’ learning and achievement very well. Regular surveys of staff, students and parents help to ensure that the school is a happy place for staff and students.

ERO endorses the plans of the board and senior staff to:

  • review the school’s assessment tools to ensure they align with the school’s teaching and learning needs, and the National Standards
  • continue to provide all students with the best possible opportunities to progress and achieve
  • continue to review and develop partnerships with staff, students, parents and communities.

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 the section 238F of the Education Act 1989. At the time of this review, one international student was attending the school.

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

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. 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 students' 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 four-to-five years.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

19 August 2011

About the School


Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Integrated Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)



School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 54%

Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/ Pākehā





other ethnicities







Special Features

Arohanui Special Unit

Review team on site

June 2011

Date of this report

19 August 2011

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Accountability Review

June 2008

March 2005

June 2001