Solway College - 14/11/2013

1 Context

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

Solway College is a state integrated boarding school for girls from Years 7 to 13. It is located in the Masterton suburb of Solway.

The college is affiliated to the Presbyterian Church. Its community is diverse and geographically wide spread. Approximately 18% of students are Māori, with a range of iwi affiliations.

A high proportion of students board in the school hostel which is owned and managed by the Solway College Board of Proprietors.

Christian values, reflecting the school's special character, are evident in the family-like atmosphere. Respectful relationships and caring practices are apparent throughout the school community.

2 Learning

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

The school makes good use of student achievement information. The principal and teachers monitor students’ individual achievement and progress very well, particularly in the senior school.

The board of trustees is well informed about National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) achievement. In 2012 almost all senior students achieved NCEA qualifications. Students in Years 11 to 13, including Māori and Pacific, achieved NCEA qualifications at rates higher than students nationally and in similar schools. Most students leaving school gain at least NCEA Level 2.

Leaders and teachers are trialling a system to set and monitor achievement targets for Years 9 and 10 students. ERO affirms this direction as it is likely to:

  • provide a clearer picture of achievement to support decision-making
  • strengthen the focus on targeted acceleration of progress in the junior school.

Leaders have used achievement information to appropriately identify that writing is an area for further development, particularly in the junior school.

The board receives information about the achievement of Years 7 and 8 students in literacy and numeracy in relation to the National Standards. The process teachers use to make judgements against the National Standards requires some strengthening. Leaders acknowledge the need to explore ways to make this achievement information more robust.

Teachers use assessment information in a range of ways to inform their classroom teaching. Some teachers explicitly share assessments and next learning steps with students. Teachers of students in Years 7 to 10 should further develop these strategies to give students increased clarity about their individual learning and specific needs.

A recently introduced academic mentoring programme is reported to be having a positive impact. Students previously at risk in their learning are making accelerated progress. Students are highly involved in goal-setting and appreciate the responsive support they receive from mentor teachers.

A respectful and caring culture exists school wide. Students with high needs are integrated into a positive social environment. They are well supported to achieve within a flexible and personalised programme, which includes progress towards NCEAs.

Parents and caregivers receive regular, comprehensive information about their daughters’ achievement and progress.

3 Curriculum

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

The school curriculum effectively promotes student learning. Teachers and leaders provide a wide range of learning opportunities, including in sports and the arts.

Subject selection in the senior school is flexible and responsive to learners chosen pathways. Multi-level classes and e-learning opportunities assist provision of a range of subject choices. Digital technology is used in a flexible, considered and progressive way to support learning.

Teachers demonstrate a genuine willingness to work with students as individuals. High expectations for student achievement and study are conveyed. Students are encouraged and supported to achieve. In classes observed by ERO, students were well engaged in their learning and teachers interacted positively with them.

Learning is enhanced by a school culture that is very responsive to students' emotional and social needs. Effective support for individual wellbeing is a high priority and a shared responsibility.

There are some good examples of the curriculum responding to the cultural backgrounds of students and demonstrating the bicultural heritage of New Zealand. ERO encourages all teachers to continue to:

  • develop their cultural competencies with regard to te ao Māori
  • further develop the reflection of all students’ ethnic backgrounds in teaching programmes and the environment.

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

Māori students experience success in a range of ways. In 2012 a small group of students, including Māori students, was identified as needing additional support to achieve NCEA Level 2. An academic mentoring programme aimed at improving the quality of NCEA results was put in place. The principal reports that this programme is having a positive impact on student achievement.

There is increased provision for students to learn te reo Māori, and a strategic commitment for this to continue to develop. Resources such as Tātaiako -Cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners, should guide teachers to further develop their understanding and confidence with Māori culture and language.

The support of whānau members and connections with them are valued by school personnel. Management and teachers should continue to explore ways to promote increased whānau engagement to ensure that strategic decision-making is well informed by their knowledge and aspirations.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to continue to improve its performance.

Leaders demonstrate a strong commitment to improvement. They have a clear focus on individual student's learning and holistic wellbeing. Teachers and pastoral staff share good practice, ideas and knowledge about students.

Trustees demonstrate a long term commitment to supporting success for all students. Clear and appropriate governance systems, policies and procedures are in place. The board is soon to begin its next cycle of strategic planning, informed by community consultation.

Self-review processes are strongly focused on monitoring student achievement and progress. There are good systems for reviewing policies, procedures and senior courses.

ERO and leaders agree that self review could be strengthened further by improving appraisal of staff, and teachers’ inquiry into their practice. Performance management needs to be more robust in order to contribute to teacher development. A clear process should be established to support staff to consider the effectiveness of teaching, programmes and department performance.

These measures are likely to contribute to improved teaching and learning and ongoing progress for students.

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 this review there were two international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

Since the previous ERO review, appropriate steps have been taken to improve provision for international students. An experienced teacher of English language learners works in consultation with the international student coordinator. Suitable programmes are in place to address and monitor the reading, writing, speaking and listening needs of these students.

School staff work collaboratively with hostel staff to provide a good level of pastoral care. Students are well supported to integrate into school life and develop positive relationships with staff and peers.

Strengthening of self review through consideration of a range of information about what the school provides for international students, should better support sustained good practice and board decision making.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel has five separate houses making up the hostel accommodation. Flexible boarding arrangements are offered to meet the needs of families. At the time of this review, the hostel catered for up to 92 students. It is owned and governed by the Solway College Board of Proprietors.

The hostel is of a good standard. Dormitories are attractive, personalised and comfortable. Meals are nutritious. There is good provision for study and recreation.

The head matron and hostel administrator provide effective leadership for the team responsible for the care of students. Systems are well developed to maintain purposeful links with boarders’ homes, the school and between hostel personnel.

High levels of pastoral care foster students’ wellbeing. Boarders are carefully supported to integrate into hostel life. Girls’ views about their boarding experience are sought to make positive changes for their benefit. Careful attention is paid to health and safety. Girls report feeling respected, safe, happy and supported.

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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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


Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

14 November 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 - 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā






Special features

Integrated, School Hostel

Review team on site

September 2013

Date of this report

14 November 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

October 2010

May 2008

June 2005