Sacred Heart Cathedral School - 30/01/2019

School Context

Sacred Heart Cathedral School is situated in Thorndon, Wellington for students in Years 1 to 8. Ten percent of students are Māori, thirteen percent are Samoan and twenty four percent are Filipino. Six percent of students are learning English as second language learners.

A new principal was appointed in May 2016.

The school’s mission is ‘To educate our children within a Catholic environment to achieve their full spiritual, academic and personal potential’. The school’s values are: ‘excellence, innovation, inquiry, curiosity, diversity, equity, community and participation, ecological sustainability, integrity and respect’.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • reading, writing and mathematics

  • wellbeing

  • curriculum programmes and initiatives.

In 2017 and 2018, professional learning and development of staff has been focused on literacy, digital technology, mathematics and culturally responsive practice. External expertise has supported these initiatives.

The school is a member of the Wellington Catholic Kāhui Ako. The principal co-shares the lead role of this community.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – achievement of valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

Achievement data from 2016 to 2018 shows that most students at Sacred Heart Cathedral School are achieving at and above The New Zealand Curriculum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics. This data shows disparity for boys in writing over this time.

The percentage of Pacific students achieving at and above expectations has increased since 2017 in reading, writing and mathematics. The percentages are lower than for Pākehā students in mathematics.

Māori student achievement at the end of 2018 is similar to Pākehā students in reading and writing.

1.2 How well is the school accelerating learning for those Māori and other students who need this?

There is evidence of target students making accelerated progress during 2018 in reading and mathematics. In reading, many students achieving below expectations at the start of the year made accelerated progress. In mathematics, approximately half of target students made accelerated progress during the year.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence – processes and practices

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Students have many meaningful opportunities to lead, participate and celebrate success across the curriculum. This includes sporting, cultural, artistic, leadership and service activities. There is a schoolwide focus on students knowing the purpose of their learning. High levels of student engagement are evident. Students speak confidently, are proud of their school and demonstrate a strong sense of belonging. Relationships are respectful and interactions are inclusive and positive.

The curriculum framework is clearly underpinned by the Catholic charism and is closely aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum. The curriculum principles have been unpacked to promote a shared understanding of what is important for children and teachers, along with the school values. The local environment is well used for authentic, place-based learning experiences.

Leaders and teachers know the children well. Student achievement is tracked and the board of trustees receives predictive and summative reports. Teachers make good use of nationally-normed assessment tools to identify students’ next learning steps. Clearly documented assessment guidelines promote consistent practice and high expectations for the learning and success of all students. Leaders have identified that while they moderate assessment judgements informally, making this process more formal in the future is a next step.

Teachers inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching and use deliberate teaching strategies to accelerate student progress. The revised appraisal process, introduced in 2017, is comprehensive and focused on continuing to improve teaching and learning. It is clearly linked to the Standards for the Teaching Profession.

Clear plans have been developed to promote Māori success as Māori. Teachers are reflecting on their skills and working to increase their cultural capability.

The bicultural curriculum is promoted in a range of ways, including kapa haka and school visits to the local marae. Tuakana teina relationships between students are well established.

A well-considered Pasifika Plan documents a strong focus on Pacific students’ presence, engagement and achievement. Establishing and maintaining respectful relationships that enhance the learning and wellbeing of Pacific learners is a clear expectation.

Students with complex needs are supported through individual education programmes, appropriately developed with families and external agencies. There is a specific programme which effectively supports students who are English language learners.

Leaders promote an orderly and supportive environment that is conducive to student learning and wellbeing. Organisational structures, processes and practices encourage and support collaborative activity with an ongoing focus on teaching and learning. The principal, other leaders and trustees build strong educationally-focused relationships with other educational and community institutions and organisations to increase opportunities for student learning and success.

Trustees and leaders drive the clear vision for school direction and continual improvement. Strategic and annual planning, professional learning and development, appraisal and resourcing are well aligned to promote improved outcomes for students. Trustees bring a wide range of skills and knowledge to their stewardship role.

2.2 What further developments are needed in school processes and practices for achievement of equity and excellence, and acceleration of learning?

Leaders have identified, and ERO’s evaluation supports, that teachers should continue to:

  • build on current practice in developing learning partnerships with all parents, whānau and aiga
  • promote student choice, agency and knowledge of their learning to increase the consistency of this practice across all classrooms.

Internal evaluation requires further development. Patterns of achievement and outcomes for groups and cohorts of students are recognised and appropriately shared. It is important to use a collaborative sense-making approach to more effectively evaluate this data. This should assist in identifying if a pattern exists, what has worked and where to next. Clearly identifying indicators of expected outcomes at the planning stage should assist with the regular evaluation and reporting of progress and the effectiveness of initiatives.

3 Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board 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 the following:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • finance
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student safety and wellbeing:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration and certification
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand down, suspension, expulsion and exclusion of students
  • attendance
  • school policies in relation to meeting the requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

For sustained improvement and future learner success, the school can draw on existing strengths in:

  • a well-developed curriculum that provides students with authentic learning experiences

  • a clear vision for school direction and continual improvement that emphasises positive outcomes for students

  • organisational structures processes and practices that promote student learning and wellbeing.

Next steps

For sustained improvement and future learner success, priorities for further development are in:

  • teachers continuing to promote student choice, agency and knowledge of their learning

  • leaders, teachers and trustees strengthening internal evaluation to better determine the impact and effectiveness of programmes and initiatives on outcomes for students.

ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services

Southern Region

30 January 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 51%, Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori 10%
Pākehā 30%
Filipino 24%
Samoan 13%
Other Asian 11%
Other Pacific 6%
Other ethnic groups 6%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2018

Date of this report

30 January 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review February 2016
Education Review October 2012
Education Review August 2009