Villa Maria College - 24/06/2019

School Context

Villa Maria College is a state integrated Catholic school providing education for 824 girls from Years 7 to 13 in Christchurch.

The college’s mission is ‘empowering each young woman to determine her potential, live Gospel values, confidently embrace life-long learning and, as a Mercy woman, be inspired to make a difference’. Its vision is ‘to do the ordinary things extraordinarily well’.

The key Mercy values are Manaakitanga – Hospitality; Whakaute – Respect; Tika – Justice.

The school states that its current key strategic goals include:

  • enabling students to build a relationship with Jesus Christ, by living gospel and Mercy values in all they do
  • developing learners with a sense of agency and personalised learning programmes to meet their individual achievement goals
  • building resilience by developing confidence and life skills.

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

  • reading, writing and mathematics from Years 7 to 10
  • achievement in the national qualifications framework
  • priority groups, including Māori and Pacific students
  • engagement and wellbeing
  • special character.

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 school is highly effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for its students.

Most students achieve consistently well in reading, writing and mathematics from Years 7 to 10.

Almost all students achieve Level 2 NCEA in Year 12, and Level 3 NCEA in Year 13. Over time, more than half the students achieve NCEA qualifications with merit or excellence. Māori students achieve as well as their peers, and sometimes better.

Leaders and teachers are aware that there has been some inequity in NCEA achievement outcomes for Pacific students, and have responded in a targeted way. NCEA rates of achievement at NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 in 2018 show very positive outcomes for Pacific students across these levels.

In a 2018 survey, most students indicated that girls treat each other and teachers with respect, a key Mercy value. Almost all students stated that they felt safe at school.

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

The school has effective systems and processes for achieving acceleration, where needed.

Schoolwide data shows that while most junior students achieve at expected curriculum levels, almost all girls achieve the expected qualification at each level of NCEA.

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 participate and learn in caring, collaborative, inclusive learning communities. Girls are at the centre of college systems, processes and decision making. The special character of the college is highly evident in all aspects of the day-to-day life of the school. Respect, empathy, relational trust, and cooperation are expected and exhibited by girls in class and in the wider life of the school.

Students have highly effective, sufficient and equitable opportunities to learn. Leaders are responsive to the views of students and the community. The curriculum is designed and modified to be relevant specifically to Villa girls. College leaders are aware of the need for, and are maintaining, the valued college traditions while embracing innovation.

Leaders very effectively and collaboratively develop and pursue the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence. There is clear alignment from its strategic vision through to classroom practice. College leaders model and expect a high level of professional reflection. There is a culture of continuous improvement, with leaders promoting and participating in schoolwide improvement initiatives. They have a strong focus on building the capability of staff through professional learning and support.

Student learning, wellbeing, achievement and progress are the board’s key concerns. Trustees scrutinise the comprehensive, well-analysed information they receive from school leaders and teachers. They are very well informed to make sound resourcing decisions. Relational trust between trustees and college leaders is evident. Trustees understand their roles as stewards of the college. They organise themselves effectively to meet statutory requirements. There are strong connections between trustees and the local community.

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

Leaders and trustees have identified that there is a need to further develop culturally responsive practice. While there are many positive initiatives in place, more could be done to recognise the language, culture and identity of some groups.

College leaders agree that it is timely to plan how to evaluate the impact of the recently-introduced AKO programme. Some issues that have been identified are being addressed through surveying students and teachers, and changing the timetable. However, school leaders now need to plan for how they will evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative in meeting its stated goals.

There is a need to continue to improve consistency of implementation of the appraisal process. The documented systems and processes meet requirements, but there is considerable variability in how teachers and leaders are completing the process.

3 Other Matters

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (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 the review, the school had 28 International students, 19 of whom were long term and 9 short term.

The International students’ programme is well organised. Students receive appropriate care and support to successfully participate in the school’s academic and wider curriculum. Communications with, and reporting to families are robust. The school regularly reviews the programme in order to meet the aspirations of students and their families.

4 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.

Area for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure that all managers and teachers consistently complete all aspects of the school’s appraisal process each year.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Villa Maria College’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Strong.

ERO’s Framework: Overall School Performance is available on ERO’s website.

6 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • strong collaborative leadership
  • effective stewardship
  • a curriculum that meets the needs and aspirations of Villa Maria College girls.

Next steps

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

  • further developing and embedding cultural awareness and responsiveness practices
  • the evaluation of a recent major initiative
  • effective implementation of the appraisal process.

Alan Wynyard

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

24 June 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 7-15)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 824

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 72%

Māori 9%

Pacific 3%

Asian 9%

Other Ethnicities 7%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

May 2019

Date of this report

24 June 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review April 2013

Education Review June 2009

Education Review August 2005