McAuley High School - 30/04/2015

1. Context

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

McAuley High School in Otahuhu continues to provide high quality education for young women. The Mercy Catholic traditions and values are central to the school’s success and create a strong sense of unity, connectedness and wellbeing. The school is very proud of the achievements of past students.

The majority of the students are from various Pacific backgrounds and eight percent are Māori. Many of the staff share the cultural backgrounds and languages of the students. The diversity of the school population is celebrated and serves as a productive resource. There has been significant roll growth since ERO’s 2010 review. Well-considered property development has resulted in modern, purpose-built facilities and digital technologies to support the school’s vision for 21st century learning.

ERO’s 2010 review noted that the school provided high quality education supported by high expectations, highly effective leadership and governance, and strong community engagement. Trustees, school leaders and staff have advanced these positive features at all levels in the school.

2. Learning

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

Student achievement information is used very well. School trustees, leaders and staff have high expectations for all students to achieve and succeed. Well-analysed achievement information is used to set targets and priorities, review the effectiveness of learning programmes, develop meaningful pathways for learners and maintain high levels of student achievement.

Students are supported to become articulate, intelligent young women. The warm, mutually respectful relationships that characterise the school foster high levels of student engagement. Students experience a responsive, challenging and highly supportive learning environment. This environment enables students to engage with their peers and teachers in their learning.

Student achievement in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is well above other secondary schools with a similar student profile and exceeds national averages in Levels 1, 2, and 3. Rates of merit and excellence endorsements have further increased in NCEA Levels 2 and 3. Māori students continue to achieve very well with 62 percent achieving merit and excellence endorsements.

Students make very good progress through Years 9 and 10. Progress information is thoughtfully used to plan appropriate programmes and interventions to accelerate student success. With the school’s deliberate focus on literacy and mathematics, substantial acceleration in the rate of progress over these two years is evident.

Staff work in partnership with students and their parents to understand achievement data, and identify ways to support students’ success. A recently introduced multi-level system quickly identifies students who could be at risk of not achieving and guides their selection of courses and qualification pathways. This monitoring system has contributed to the refinement of reports to parents about their children’s achievement.

3. Curriculum

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

The school curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting student learning. It is well aligned to the vision, values and key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). The student-centred school culture and responsive curriculum benefit learners and their families.

The 21st century vision for learning that is the focus of curriculum development is continually reviewed and refined. The board and school leaders are extending the use of high quality digital technologies to support student learning. Digital communications enable senior students and their families to make well-informed decisions about course selections and qualification pathways.

Curriculum leadership and teacher expertise are strengths of the school. Teachers are highly respected and valued professionals. Comprehensive appraisal of teachers promotes effective teaching and learning practices. Innovative teaching approaches are promoted through well-structured professional learning. Teachers have introduced feedback logs for students as a deliberate teaching strategy to promote students’ ownership of their own learning.

Pastoral care systems are high quality. Deans and teachers track the learning profiles of their students and offer wider support networks if needed. Career services have a high profile in the curriculum. These high quality services are focused on assisting students to find learning pathways that align with their aspirations and support their transition to further education.

Leadership and departmental review of curriculum design and implementation is highly effective and thorough. The board and school leaders are continually improving the school’s curriculum design to maximise the learning potential of all students.

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

McAuley High School is effective in promoting educational success for Māori, as Māori. Prominent factors that promote Māori student success include:

  • the significant commitment to tikanga Māori within the Religious Education curriculum
  • capably lead provision of te reo Māori and tikanga from Years 9 to 13
  • the increased number of Māori staff in the school
  • active engagement of Māori whānau
  • the leadership of the long serving board chair.

Māori students express positive attitudes to school and learning and are well represented in leadership roles. They have opportunities to participate and be successful in a wide range of cultural events that strengthen Māori identity in the school.

School leaders make good use of the Ministry of Education (MoE) strategy Tātaiako - Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, to develop teachers’ bicultural understanding and practice. Trustees and school leaders agree that further developing the school’s Māori Education Plan could provide a more coordinated and strategic approach to promote educational success for Māori, as Maori. The MoE Measurable Gains Framework would be useful to further promote teachers’ cultural responsiveness.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Pacific students?

The school is effective in promoting Pacific student educational success. The majority of students are either Samoan or Tongan, with smaller numbers from other Pacific Islands including the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and Fiji.

Parents and students appreciate the many bilingual Pacific staff who support parents in their home languages. They also appreciate the school’s promotion of Pacific languages and culture, and values that match their own. The school is justifiably proud of the very good results students achieve in NCEA Samoan and Tongan languages.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and continue improving its performance.

The school goals retain a clear focus on equitable outcomes for students. Students and their families take pride in the school. Student and staff wellbeing underpins decision making at governance and management levels. The school has a culture of support for all students and their families.

Senior leaders have school-wide responsibilities and support the work of the very capable curriculum and support service leaders. The principal's leadership enables change to occur in a collaborative and highly professional manner. Her high expectations for staff are appropriately balanced by strong levels of relational trust and systems for accountability. Senior leaders are well respected by students, parents and staff. They operate strategically, and provide cohesion and consistency across the school.

The board is well led. Trustees are actively and thoughtfully involved in developing high quality learning environments for staff, families and students. They bring professional expertise to their governance roles and make decisions that support the strategic direction of the school. The board and principal ensure that school systems and processes are well aligned with the school’s vision and mission.

School developments align well with the board’s strategic direction, vision and values, and a culture of personalising learning for each student. Self review is well understood and used systematically and effectively to inform decisions and school direction. Trustees receive well analysed information that supports and informs their self review and strategic planning.

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.


McAuley High School continues to be a high performing school, providing high quality education for students. Students experience highly effective teaching. They are well supported to achieve personal excellence and are respected as capable, competent women. The school is very well led and governed.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Dale Bailey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

About the School


Otahuhu, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Catholic Integrated Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls       100%

Ethnic composition

Cook Island
other Pacific


Review team on site

March 2015

Date of this report

30 April 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

November 2010
June 2007
December 2004