Nelson College For Girls - 24/05/2016


Nelson College for Girls has a long history of providing secondary education for girls. The school is well resourced for learning and has a history of high achievement in NCEA.

Strong leadership by the principal and senior leaders and a major change in teaching and learning are contributing to a stronger focus on student-centred and future-focused learning.

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

1 Context

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

The college is well established in the city and has provided 130 years of secondary education for girls, mostly from the Nelson region. The girls are proud of their school and its traditions. They enjoy the many opportunities provided for their learning and wellbeing, and particularly the positive relationships fostered with staff and their peers from across the school.

The school’s positive culture, recognised in the 2012 ERO review, continues to be very evident. The school’s vision ‘to educate and empower young women to achieve their potential’ and its ‘PRIDE’ values, guide teaching and learning and are regarded as what matters most by the girls, staff and school leaders.

The school is well resourced for learning and provides many on-site facilities. These include a gym and swimming pool, a private preparatory school for girls from Years 7 and 8 and a boarding house which hosts a number of girls from overseas. A young parent school, located offsite, is governed by Nelson College for Girls.

The school has made good progress responding to the recommendations identified in ERO’s last report. A number of major developments are currently underway. These include ongoing curriculum development.

The school is working alongside other local schools to help improve opportunities for their girls to achieve. The school roll has remained stable with an increase in the number of Māori girls.

2 Learning

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

The school has a history of high achievement in NCEA, when compared to similar schools. The school’s data shows lower levels of achievement in Years 9 and 10 and lower overall success for Māori girls compared with their school peers. These are a current focus for school-wide improvement. Achievement information is being increasingly used to promote students’ engagement, progress and achievement and to better inform effective teaching and learning.

Work with an external Ministry of Education student achievement facilitator (SAF) to improve achievement in reading for a small number of junior girls has resulted in improvements to the ways learners are identified, monitored and supported.

Junior school leaders and teachers are using achievement information well to help ensure all girls make progress in their literacy learning. The next step is for leaders and teachers to extend these good practices to mathematics and writing.

Senior leaders use a range of data to identify areas for improvement within the school and areas that require further support. They have improved the use of achievement data across the school, to promote equity and excellence for all girls. Curriculum leaders keep teachers well informed about the levels of achievement in all learning areas and for all year levels. Leaders make good use of engagement and achievement information to provide support for girls who are at risk with their learning.

Trustees are well informed. They use achievement information to monitor progress in meeting the strategic goals and targets and to inform decision making.

Next steps

The school is in the early stages of developing an effective system and process for meeting the needs of girls with high needs. Key appointments have been made and an action plan developed to centralise current support and give strategic direction. Increased collaboration is needed across the school to discuss and plan for meeting the needs of these girls.

There needs to be better use of the New Zealand Curriculum levels in assessments at Years 9 and 10 so achievement can be more accurately reported to parents and the board.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes girls’ learning. It has a strong values and skills emphasis. Ongoing improvements are being made to teaching and learning practices.

A positive culture is evident across the school. Girls benefit from a broad range of experiences and opportunities for learning. The school is well resourced for in and out-of-class learning. There are many opportunities for girls to extend their skills and interests in areas such as sports, art, music and cultural activities. A competitive house system helps build relationships and whanaungatanga across all year levels. Deliberate strategies are in place to build a culture of cooperation and collaboration across the school, for example, through student leadership roles and senior assemblies.

A review of the curriculum vision and values has resulted in an increased focus on building students’ confidence and resilience and a greater emphasis on students leading their learning.

There have been a number of improvements in how well girls are supported to move in, through and out of the school. These includes girls' involvement in planning for their future within learning areas, the increased use of information technology, more focused pastoral care and support, and on strategies for supporting transition of students into the college.

Senior and middle leaders agree that they need to continue the development of student-centred learning across all learning areas and school operations.

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

Since the 2012 ERO review, the language, culture and identity of Māori students is being actively promoted by the principal and senior leaders and becoming more visible in the life and culture of the school.

The school has increased opportunities for Māori students to take leadership roles and to positively influence the school culture. All girls have a variety of opportunities to learn te reo Māori. A challenge is to increase the number of students opting to take te reo Māori classes. The ‘Pikimai’ kapa haka group provides extended opportunities for learning and is growing in size.

School trustees and leaders have identified that Māori girls should achieve equitable and excellent outcomes. A Māori trustee and the college kaumātua are helping to strengthen the ways in which Māori parents and whānau are involved with the college and relationships with local iwi.

The next steps for the school are to:

  • continue to implement the school-wide plans to make teaching and learning more culturally responsive
  • seek the views of Māori students to inform internal evaluation and ongoing planning
  • improve how the school engages Māori girls in in their learning and the life of the school.

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

The levels of engagement and achievement of Pacific girls are similar to their school peers. External support has made a positive difference to understanding the use of a range of data for Pacific students.

Next steps

School leaders have identified that they need to:

  • review the college’s action plan for Pasifika to include outcomes for students and the effectiveness of initiatives
  • continue to investigate ways to include Pasifika families in the life of the school and student learning.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to make positive improvements to sustain its performance. A focus on achieving the best outcomes for students is contributing to positive changes to teaching practices and how students are engaged in their learning.

Trustees are very aware of their stewardship role and seek training as needed. They have a strong focus on improving student achievement and retaining senior students at school.

The capacity of the board to achieve its goals for students’ learning has been strengthened through some strategic staff appointments. Trustees share the principal’s vision for teaching and learning and have sound plans in place that support school development. They know the community well and are building stronger links within the school’s community.

A culture of improvement and collaboration is being developed across the school. The principal, with the support of a strong senior leadership team, is ably leading significant change. A number of changes to staff have been made to ensure key school initiatives are well led and supported. Good use is being made of the strengths of staff and new leadership roles have been established. Teacher capability is being built through well-targeted teacher professional learning and effective appraisal.

Next Steps

The board and senior leaders should now extend the scope of internal evaluation in the school. This should include:

  • improving issues of equity and excellence
  • establishing clear processes to guide effective evaluation practice for all
  • embedding and implementing current developments in inclusive ways for staff and students
  • building more systematic and strategic evaluation at all levels of the organisation.

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

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s internal evaluation process for international students is carried out each year.

At the time of this review, there were 53 international students at the school, many from Asia and Europe. International staff work well together so that students are provided with high quality pastoral care and education. Students’ individual progress and achievement is well tracked. They receive effective support for learning English in a variety of ways. Students are well integrated into the school and community.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, Clarice Johnston House, provides accommodation for a maximum of 150 students. This is 15% of the school roll. It is owned by the Nelson College for Girls' Board of Trustees. Girls attend the hostel from a wide geographical area. A number of the girls are international students.

The hostel provides a welcoming place for boarders. Students’ safety and wellbeing is well managed. Positive relationships are maintained between students and the hostel staff. These are supported by clear routines and expectations for all.

The manager works closely with the school principal and staff. Students’ individual needs are closely monitored and responded to. This is especially evident in the way older girls help younger girls. Some school staff come to the hostel regularly to help girls with their curriculum programmes and achievement.

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.


Nelson College for Girls has a long history of providing secondary education for girls. The school is well resourced for learning and has a history of high achievement in NCEA.

Strong leadership by the principal and senior leaders and a major change in teaching and learning are contributing to a stronger focus on student-centred and future-focused learning.

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

Chris Rowe

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Acting)

24 May 2016

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition





Other ethnicities






Special Features

School Hostel, Teen Parent Unit, Preparatory School

Review team on site

March 2016

Date of this report

24 May 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

September 2009

June 2006