Southland Girls' High School - 08/09/2017


Southland Girls' High School continues to be a high performing school. Learning information shows that students achieve and progress very well at Southland Girls' High School. Students benefit from a highly responsive and thoughtfully designed curriculum. Teachers and leaders have a relentless focus on all students making sufficient progress in their learning throughout their schooling. Leaders and teachers co-construct effective systems to support the commitment they and the trustees have of all students achieving well.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

1 Context

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

Southland Girls' High School continues to be a high performing school. It provides a rich, broad and relevant education for girls in Years 7 to 13. Since 2013 the school community has become more diverse. Staffing has remained stable.

The school’s vision, ‘a quality learning community where relationships count, and excellence is expected’, is highly evident throughout school classrooms, practices and discourse. The vision strongly guides the direction and decisions made by school leaders. Trustees, school leaders and teachers have high expectations for, and are committed to, all students achieving well.

Other key features impacting positively on the students’ learning include: 

  • relevant and effective professional learning and development for all teaching staff
  • the development of progressions describing a year's progress at each year level across all curriculum areas
  • the school’s belief that all students can succeed
  • how leaders and teachers are leaders of learning within their school and beyond. 

Since the last ERO review in 2013: 

  • leaders have strengthened the school’s appraisal process
  • the school has responded very well to the next steps for improvement identified by ERO
  • school leaders have supported staff well to make continuous improvements for the benefit of learners.  

2 Learning

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

The school uses achievement information very well to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Over the last four years, school reports show: 

  • Māori students, overall, continue to achieve well, and in many cases they achieve as well as or better than their peers in this school
  • achievement across the NCEA Levels I, 2 and 3 continues to trend upwards and is higher than national comparisons
  • the number of NCEA endorsements has continued to increase
  • that high levels of reading achievement in Years 7 and 8 has been maintained with approximately 85% achieving at or above the expected level
  • increases in the proportions of Years 7 and 8 students achieving at or above expected levels in mathematics and writing, with now over three quarters of these students achieving at or exceeding expected levels. 

School information for 2016 and 2017 shows many students have made accelerated progress, particularly in Years 10 and 11.

Areas of Strength

Teachers, leaders and trustees have a relentless focus on improving student outcomes. This is seen through teachers and leaders: 

  • having an in depth knowledge of their learners and their needs
  • purposefully collecting and using meaningful learning information
  • working together to construct personalised interventions to accelerate the progress of learners
  • knowing the impact of programmes and interventions. 

The school uses highly effective assessment and moderation procedures to support the reliability of the teachers’ judgements about students’ achievement. These procedures are being strengthened, especially for Years 9 and 10 to provide more useful information.

Leaders, teachers and trustees maintain a clear school-wide focus on improving student outcomes. Robust and collaborative processes are used to set appropriate targets to improve student achievement levels and develop aspects of relevant teaching and learning areas.

Students strongly demonstrate they have management and ownership of their own learning. This includes students:

  • learning how to articulate what they have learnt and their next learning steps
  • choosing programmes, in consultation with teaching staff, that will challenge them and provide the appropriate level of learning support
  • leading the learning conferences they have with their parents and academic tutor.

The learning conferences make reporting more useful to parents to enable them to have a greater understanding and contribution to their daughter’s learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is highly effective in promoting and supporting students’ learning.

Areas of Strength

The school’s curriculum is learner-centred, future focused and enables students to be actively engaged in knowing and making decisions about their learning. It is designed to challenge all students, appropriate to their abilities. The school places equal focus on all year levels and learning areas. This helps leaders and teachers take collective responsibility for students’ learning and wellbeing and understand the broad context of student achievement. This is especially so in Years 7 to 10 when developing core skills needed for success.

The concepts of manaakitanga/caring and respectful relationships, whanaungatanga/positive relationships, ako/teaching and learning relationships and mahi tahi/collaborative relationships are integral as to how the school operates. Students demonstrate a sense of belonging in their school.

Students benefit strongly from personalised learning pathways. They design their pathways in collaboration with their parents, year-level coordinators and academic tutors. Teaching staff use a range of learning information effectively to support students to make appropriate choices.

The school uses rigorous systems to ensure students make sufficient progress over each school year in all classes. Key features of these systems are leaders and teachers: 

  • assessing the amount of progress each student has made each term
  • tailoring interventions that target underachieving students to ensure effective pastoral, careers and curricula responses are in place to support each student to reach her potential
  • discussing with students the strong link between learning habits and rates of progress
  • frequently interviewing students to discuss their progress and any barriers to their success. 

Students benefit from high-quality teaching practices. The development and ongoing improvement of these practices is well supported by the school leadership. School leaders are successfully developing culturally responsive learning environments across the school. An effective appraisal process encourages reflection, recognises the existing good practices and provides ideas for improvement. Teachers work collaboratively and take a collective responsibility for the learning of all students at the school.

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

Leaders and teachers continue to build on the learnings from its involvement in the He Kākano and Kia Eke Panuku projects. This is enabling them to effectively promote educational success for Māori, as Māori. Leaders and teachers are being effectively supported to provide a culturally caring and responsive curriculum.

Areas of Strength

The school continues to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with local iwi and students’ whānau.

Leaders and teachers carefully plan responses to and support for Māori students whose learning requires additional support.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. This judgement is based on the following areas of strength.

Areas of strength

There is highly effective leadership at multiple levels of the school. Senior leaders actively encourage and support leadership development. Leaders’ positive influence is seen through: 

  • the development of effective and culturally responsive teaching practices
  • the development of explicitly targeted interventions
  • their modelling of high-quality teaching strategies and inquiry
  • the appropriate adjustments to curriculum design as required
  • the careful change-management practices used to ensure conditions are well established to ensure success. 

There is successful collaboration between relevant groups to: 

  • determine highly relevant annual goals and direction
  • develop sustainable school systems and processes
  • build the capability of teachers and collective capacity of the staff. 

This co-construction gives cohesion to the school’s strategic planning, initiatives and programmes for better implementation and sustainability.

The board is well informed about student achievement and progress. Trustees scrutinise the learning information when setting achievement targets. Their discussions and decisions are focused on planning and appropriate resourcing to ensure all students make sufficient progress.

The school’s culture of ongoing improvement for better outcomes for learners is driven by a robust inquiry process. School-wide, departmental, group and individual inquiries are: 

  • strongly underpinned by learning data
  • based on a wide range of research findings
  • determining the success of planned interventions to accelerate progress
  • identifying appropriate and necessary next steps. 

The school has identified the need to:

  • continue to develop and embed its systems for ensuring all students make a year’s worth of progress
  • develop its practices at key transition points, in particular Year 8 to Year 9, to ensure students’ sense of belonging.

School leaders and trustees have begun to positively address the workload of staff.

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 were 23 international students attending the school.

The international students are engaged in a high-quality programme that is personalised to meet their learning goals. Individual progress and achievement for each student is carefully monitored and reported on. Students receive effective support for learning English, with teachers providing a variety of programmes that are focussed on meeting their future needs. NCEA results for international students are of a very high standard. Students are well integrated into the school community and participate in a wide range of activities beyond the classroom.

International students’ pastoral support and accommodation arrangements are closely monitored by a caring and effective team of well-qualified staff. Students have a choice of either homestay accommodation or living at Enwood House.

Provision for students in the school hostel

Enwood House, the school’s boarding house, accommodates 97 students who make up 9% of the school roll. It is owned by the Southland Girls’ High School board of trustees. The hostel owner has attested that all requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

Boarders experience positive relationships with each other and with Enwood House management and staff. Staff place a particular focus on supporting boarders so that their opinions and ideas are responded to and their needs well considered. The director of boarding has effective systems for monitoring and responding to the safety and wellbeing needs of boarders. These include clear and well-understood guidelines for staff and boarders, and regular communication with parents and caregivers.

The director of boarding communicates and works constructively with school leaders and staff to support boarders’ learning and participation in all aspects of school life. Boarders benefit from well-established homework routines.

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. 


Southland Girls' High School continues to be a high performing school. Learning information shows that students achieve and progress very well at Southland Girls' High School. Students benefit from a highly responsive and thoughtfully designed curriculum. Teachers and leaders have a relentless focus on all students making sufficient progress in their learning throughout their schooling. Leaders and teachers co-construct effective systems to support the commitment they and the trustees have of all students achieving well.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in four-to-five years.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

8 September 2017

About the School 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition



Special Features

School boarding house

Review team on site

July 2017

Date of this report

8 September 2017

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

August 2013
October 2009
August 2006