Sacred Heart College (Lower Hutt) - 27/09/2018

School Context

Sacred Heart College (Lower Hutt) is a Catholic girls’ school providing special character education for students from Years 9 to 13. There are currently 801 students attending and 20% are Māori, with 15% of Pacific heritage. 

The school vision aspires for students to be compassionate, confident and resilient young women, who live gospel values, challenge themselves, have a thirst for knowledge and are ready to serve others.

Achievement targets in 2018 aim to: increase the percentage and quality of National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) for students at Levels 1 to 3; and achieve the expected level of progress for students in Years 9 and 10 in literacy and numeracy.

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

  • progress and achievement from Years 9 to 13
  • engagement, wellbeing and attendance.

The school is part of the Hutt Faith Based Kāhui Ako.

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?

The college achieves positive achievement outcomes for most students. In 2017, student leaver data shows nearly all students achieve NCEA at a minimum of Level 2. Many achieve Level 3 and University Entrance with results similar to national figures.

Most Māori and Pacific learners achieve well. Identified disparities in qualifications at NCEA Levels 1 and 2, when compared to Pākehā students, are appropriately addressed.

School leaders acknowledge that increasing results at NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance for Māori and Pacific learners, when compared to Pākehā, is a priority for the college. Increasing the number of students achieving accelerated progress in Years 9 and 10 should build an achievement trajectory that is likely to impact positively in addressing this priority.

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

The college responds well to Māori and other students requiring their learning and achievement accelerated. Many targeted students, particularly those receiving learning support or in the senior school, show positive achievement outcomes.

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?

The Sacred Heart College curriculum is centred on a clear mission, linked to the special Catholic character. Shared school values encourage respectful relationships between students and staff. Students have sufficient opportunities to learn and achieve. Courses and options from Year 9 and into the senior school offer a wide range of experiences for learners, promoting high levels of student retention at school. The provision of te reo Māori at all levels and Māori and Pacific performing arts, values and reflects the culture, language and identity of students.

Provision of learning is comprehensive and matched to the needs of students. Additional support or intervention is clearly identified from entry at Year 9. The progress of individuals is appropriately tracked and monitored to adapt programmes and inform relevant pathways. External agencies are accessed to gain specialist knowledge to address the diverse needs of students.

Extensive pastoral and guidance networks are in place to promote the positive inclusion of students. Leaders in key pastoral positions develop a sound knowledge of learners over time to support their wellbeing. Mentoring of individual students and groups of learners encourages the development of reciprocal relationships between students and staff.

Leaders demonstrate a sound knowledge of teacher strength and areas for ongoing development. Individual and schoolwide professional learning and development is aligned to college priorities. Teachers and departments are supported to work collaboratively, to build professional capability and promote greater consistency of practice across the school.

The college develops useful partnerships to support delivery of the curriculum. Extensive information is gathered from students to inform decision making and reflect on outcomes. Effective transition processes for students entering at Year 9 begins the partnership between the school and families. Involvement in the Kāhui Akō is emerging as a valuable opportunity to share practice across schools and develop learning pathways at key transition points for students.

Senior leaders and trustees identify well-informed priorities to support ongoing development of the curriculum. These appropriately focus on teaching and learning, wellbeing and relational practice. Distributed leadership supports the implementation of actions to promote development of these priorities.

Collectively, trustees have a range of skills that contribute to their effective stewardship of the college. Reported information supports the provision of appropriate resourcing to promote delivery of the curriculum and meet the needs of students.

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

ERO identifies and senior leaders agree, achievement targets for Years 9 and 10 should be revised to align to those students whose achievement requires acceleration. Using teaching as inquiry to focus on these targeted learners should provide evidence to show teaching strategies that work in accelerating or limiting student achievement.

Curriculum review provides a valuable opportunity for the college to access research and use the voice of Māori and Pacific students and their whānau and families to determine their collective aspirations for cultural success. This should inform development of teacher and department expectations and support delivery of a consistent and comprehensive response to Māori and Pacific students’ culture, language and identity.

The college has developed a wide range of systems and processes to monitor, review and evaluate student outcomes, including models supporting teacher inquiry and appraisal.Continuing to develop the professional capability of leaders and teachers to robustly implement these systems and guide development is an ongoing next step. This should strengthen the use of internal processes and contribute to improved evaluation.

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.

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.

At the time of this review there are nine international student attending the school.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough. Processes guiding the provision for international students are appropriate. Students have access to relevant curriculum experiences including participation in wider school activities. Student wellbeing, academic progress and achievement are appropriately monitored.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • an enacted curriculum that centres on the college vision, mission and shared values
  • courses and options that provide relevant learning and pathways for students
  • extensive systems that support student mentoring and address the pastoral needs of learners
  • appropriate priorities to support ongoing development of the curriculum that encompasses teaching and learning, wellbeing and relational practice. 

Next steps

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

  • continuing to develop the professional capability of leaders and teachers to robustly implement current systems and planned improvements, and evaluate outcomes

  • revising achievement targets for students in Years 9 and 10 matched to those learners requiring their progress accelerated

  • expectations for culturally responsive practices to support a consistent and comprehensive response to Māori and Pacific students’ culture, language and identity.shared

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 & Improvement Services Central

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

27 September 2018

About the school


Lower Hutt

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary - Years 9 to 13

School roll


Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori 20%
Pākehā 47%
Asian 17%
Pacific 15%
Other ethnic groups 1%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

27 September 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2015
Education Review July 2011
Education Review July 2008