Sancta Maria College - 09/10/2015


Sancta Maria College serves its community well. It provides students with a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes learning and high levels of achievement. Students respond positively to the school’s expectations. Ongoing school improvement is guided by the new principal's purposeful strategic planning and collaborative leadership.

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?

Sancta Maria College is a state integrated, co-educational Catholic secondary school providing education for students in Years 7 to 15. It serves an ethnically diverse community. The number of Filipino students is increasing and they now make up 21 percent of the school’s roll. Eleven percent identify as Pacific, and four percent as Māori.

Through its mission statement the school aspires to prepare students for the future by providing a Catholic education in a nurturing community shaped by school values. Students report a strong sense of pride in their school and they appreciate the school’s supportive culture.

Since the 2012 ERO review, two new appointments have been made to the senior leadership team. The board appointed an experienced principal at the beginning of 2015 after the school’s foundation principal retired. The principal has begun to prioritise planned, consultative change to maximise the potential of students and teachers.

Since ERO’s 2012 review, there have also been changes in the board of trustees, including a new chair and several new board members. External training is helping trustees to improve board operations and develop greater coherence to the school’s direction.

Previous ERO reports have identified strengths within the school. They noted high expectations for behaviour and academic endeavour alongside the school’s Christian values. Pastoral care, learning support and guidance counselling enhanced the holistic support for students. These positive features continue to be evident.

The 2012 ERO report identified several key areas for school improvement. Steps have been taken to address these. The senior leadership team agree that further improvement is necessary in relation to student learning and achievement, curriculum development, self review and provision for Māori and Pacific success. 

2 Learning

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

The board and school leaders use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ progress and achievement. Achievement in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is very high for most groups across the senior school.

Senior and middle leaders monitor achievement at Years 11, 12 and 13 and alert teachers to respond to students’ learning needs throughout the year. Teachers adapt course content, curriculum and assessment delivery to support students to achieve successful NCEA outcomes.

A school-wide focus on knowing each student begins with using the good quality information received from contributing schools. Individual student profiles are collated and shared with teachers to provide a comprehensive foundation for planning class programmes.

Year 7 and 8 information indicates that most students, including Māori and Pacific students, achieve particularly well in relation to the National Standards compared to local and national levels of achievement. This information is collated, analysed and reported and followed up with deliberate planning to reduce achievement disparities.

School leaders agree that increasing the range of assessments, including using standardised assessment tools, would help Year 9 and 10 teachers know students’ explicit learning needs. This knowledge would assist teachers to more consistently report student progress across the curriculum and personalise planning for specific groups of students.

The school could respond more to students’ diverse cultures and languages. Professional learning for teachers and a designated leadership role could bring greater coherence to the school’s cultural responsiveness. The recent introduction of the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLPs) should help teachers to support the progress of students who are new speakers of English.

To enhance student learning school leaders recognise the value of:

  • students receiving more opportunities to self manage their learning
  • focusing charter targets on accelerating the progress of specific groups of students
  • deepening the analysis of Year 9 and 10 achievement information.

3 Curriculum

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

The Sancta Maria College curriculum is effective in promoting student engagement and learning. The Catholic Charism is at the core of the school’s curriculum. Positive learning relationships are evident between teachers and students.

Some teachers are focusing on engaging students in programmes that encourage their thinking and creativity as well as success in qualifications. Often these contextualised programmes reflect students’ interests and strengths. Other innovations include integrating curriculum learning areas, and developing staff and students’ digital competencies.

Year 7 and 8 curriculum leaders are using research to develop new teaching approaches. Student perspectives now contribute more to shaping the curriculum and this is helping them to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners. This work has the potential to influence the development of shared expectations for teaching and learning across the school.

Career services in the school assist students to develop learning pathways that support their transition to further education and training. As a result, many senior students take up successful tertiary study when they leave school. The continued integration of future-focused education pathways across the school could provide students with a wider range of options.

The school’s guidance team works hard to support students’ wellbeing. They access extensive support through external interventions and programmes. Students with special learning needs are well catered for by teachers and support staff. They benefit from teachers’ in depth knowledge about their learning capabilities.

The college offers an enriching range of co-curricular activities. There are many opportunities for students to build their leadership capability. Providing leadership opportunities from Year 7 and 8 would support the school’s focus on growing student self efficacy.

School leaders have appropriate plans to enhance the school’s curriculum by:

  • reviewing the curriculum to ensure that it is more reflective of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and meets the learning needs of all students
  • including student contribution to the design of learning programmes
  • developing inquiry-based learning to promote students’ thinking skills
  • including students’ cultures and languages, particularly Māori and Pacific, in curriculum programmes
  • supporting student wellbeing through the curriculum as well as through a more coordinated pastoral care programme that is aligned to the school’s strategic direction.

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

The school is effective in promoting educational success for Māori students. Success in NCEA Levels 1 and 2 continues to be at a high level.

Students perform in kapa haka at events, including school liturgies and ceremonies. They welcome new students, whānau and staff at the beginning of the school year. This role helps builds Māori students’ sense of pride in their identity, language and culture in their school community.

School’s leaders are responsive to the principles of the Ministry of Education’s Māori education strategy, Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017. They are planning to work with an external advisor to help teachers gain deeper understandings about the critical factors for Māori students’ educational success as Māori.

The board and school leaders could consider how bicultural practices could be extended by:

  • encouraging leaders and teachers to reflect more critically about their cultural responsiveness
  • further including Māori perspectives and New Zealand’s bicultural heritage in the curriculum and school operations
  • involving the Māori community more in setting the school’s strategic goals to support learning outcomes for Māori students. 

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The principal has taken a number of actions to improve the school’s performance. As a result the school is well positioned to sustain its strengths and to continue improving.

The principal is establishing positive relationships with the school and community. She is developing clarity around school operational expectations and responsibilities. Comprehensive processes are being developed for staff appraisal and professional learning for leaders and teachers. Teachers are currently participating in an initiative to support them to inquire more critically into the effectiveness of their teaching practice.

The senior leadership team is working collaboratively with the new principal to influence and implement new initiatives and improvements. Reviewing their roles and responsibilities could help develop a more coherent approach to planning, coordinating and evaluating the school’s curriculum and teaching.

Trustees reflect the cultural diversity of the school. Relationships between the board and the school community are strengthening. Trustees recognise the need to develop their strategic capability to ensure the effectiveness of governance. More formalised evaluation could guide this development and ensure that statutory requirements are met.

More in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness of the school’s performance would enhance students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes. Such evaluation should include more community, staff and student perspectives to increase the rigour and coherence of the school’s self-review processes.

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. At the time of the review there were 37 international students attending the school, predominately from Asia. Most students, including those on short term visits, live with local home-stay families.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. Recommendations in ERO’s 2012 report have been addressed. Good systems are followed to review the provision for international students.

Services for international students are very well managed by an international director and staff. Compliance with the Code, information about student achievement and other educational outcomes for international students, are reported to the board.

Further self review is needed to ensure international students are appropriately assessed and supported by teachers with relevant learning programmes, including those for building English language proficiency. 

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.

In order to improve practice the principal should strengthen personnel systems, including the job descriptions and appraisals of the senior leadership team.


Sancta Maria College serves its community well. It provides students with a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes learning and high levels of achievement. Students respond positively to the school’s expectations. Ongoing school improvement is guided by the new principal's purposeful strategic planning and collaborative leadership.

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

9 October 2015

About the School 


Botany, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls       54%
Boys      46%

Ethnic composition

Middle Eastern
South African
South East Asian
Cook Island Māori
South American
other European


Special Features

Host School for Resource Teacher, Learning and Behaviour (RTLB)

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

9 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2012
February 2009
February 2006