Francis Douglas Memorial College

Education institution number:
School type:
Secondary (Year 7-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Boys School)
School with Boarding Facilities
Total roll:

201 Tukapa Street, Westown, New Plymouth

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Francis Douglas Memorial College - 26/09/2018

School Context

Francis Douglas Memorial College is an integrated Catholic boys’ secondary school that caters for students in Years 7 to 13. At the time of this ERO evaluation, there are 784 students and 13 International students on the roll. Increasing numbers of Māori make up 16% of the roll, and students of Pacific heritage two percent. The college has a five-day hostel that accommodates over 120 boys from the Taranaki province and beyond.

The college’s vision and objectives are closely aligned to the Catholic and Lasallian Christian values of faith, service, community, integrity and scholarship. These are embodied in the broader goal for all students to develop and demonstrate the character and qualities of a Good Caring College Man.

The current school goals and targets prioritise continued improvement in national qualification results for those students at risk of not achieving, and increased levels of certificate endorsements overall.

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

  • achievement in New Zealand qualifications
  • end-of-year results and progress against expectations in all curriculum areas
  • reading, writing and mathematics achievement in Years 7 to 10
  • engagement and wellbeing.

Since the September 2015 ERO report, changes in leadership roles include two deputy principals and three heads of departments. Property developments include a remodelled classroom block and new digital technology facilities.

Teachers have recently been involved in professionallearning and development (PLD) in appraisal, teacher inquiry, literacy and culturally responsive teaching.

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 has made good progress in further improving outcomes for learners, particularly across senior levels. Since the previous ERO report, there has been steady improvement in overall achievement. High numbers of students gain National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) at Levels 1 and 2. In 2017, nearly all school leavers had gained NCEA Level 2 or above.

Māori student achievement is high, particularly at NCEA Levels 1 and 2. All students gained NCEA Level 1 and 2 in 2017 and their overall achievements were comparable with and sometimes above their peers in the college. Leaders recognise that there is some disparity for Māori gaining University Entrance.

Small numbers of Pacific students achieve well overall, with all achieving at NCEA Levels 2 and 3 in 2017.

Recent school achievement data in Years 7 to 10 shows variations over time in levels of achievement in relation to expectations.

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

The school identifies those students who need acceleration schoolwide, but does not yet have a clear picture of the overall rates of acceleration for students who are achieving below curriculum expectations at Years 7 to 10.

There are examples of small groups of Māori and other junior students whose learning is accelerated through recent targeted actions in literacy and numeracy.

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 quality, analysis and use of student achievement information in the senior school supports improved rates of equity and excellence, especially at NCEA Levels 1 and 2. There are appropriate processes and programmes that promote the wellbeing, identity and learning partnerships for those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration, especially at NCEA Levels 1 and 2.

Inclusive school values contribute to students’ sense of belonging and success as learners. Shared expectations for being aGood Caring College Man are promoted through the Lasallian values and the school curriculum. Strong connections and relationships between students and with teachers creates a culture and environment that promotes wellbeing and learning.

Effective leadership and collaboration with staff is developing robust and effective processes to know about, monitor and respond to students’ pastoral and learning needs. This includes the regular sharing of detailed and timely information about individuals and interventions and programmes that are responsive to identified needs.

Increased opportunities for sharing with parents and whānau about their son’s learning and achievement strengthens learning partnerships.

A strategic and coherent approach to building professional capability provides increased opportunities, expectations and resources for teachers to further develop practices. Enhanced processes related to senior assessment, teachers’ appraisals, inquiry and evaluation are building leader and staff capability. A well designed and planned schoolwide PLD programme develops shared understandings and expectations for effective teaching.

The school provides a wide range of curriculum choice and opportunities for students with different interests and aspirations, to succeed across all areas within the New Zealand Curriculum including specific vocational pathways. Students’ learning is enriched through a range of training opportunities and vocational experiences beyond the school. Ensuring the curriculum is appropriately future focused is part of ongoing review.

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

Learning progress as students move from entry at Year 7 through to Year 10 is considered. Leaders and teachers now need to develop a shared understanding of indicators of acceleration in Years 7 to 10. This should assist better understanding of the impact of curriculum and interventions on learning and progress.

Leaders and teachers should continue to develop a shared understanding of effective teaching practice so that it supports the school’s vision and aims for students to be creative, critical, independent and collaborative learners achieving their potential.

Programmes and practices show the value of te ao Māori and contribute to Māori success. Extending consultation and strengthening relationships with whānau and iwi should contribute to the building of knowledge and practices that promote success as Māori.

Further developing teachers’ and leaders’ understanding and use of inquiry and internal evaluation is a next step. This should enable them to better determine the effectiveness of strategies and the impact of programmes on improving outcomes for all learners.

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.

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • ensure all policies made available to the public in hard copy are signed and have the latest review date.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, La Salle House, accommodates 121 students, 15% of school roll. It is owned by the Trust Board of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in New Zealand.The Hostel Board operates as a separate entity to the College Board.The hostel owner has attested that all the requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

The various hostel facilities are located within the college site. The Year 11 area has recently been refurbished. The hostel and school operate effectively together to promote a safe emotional and physical environment supporting learning for boarders. Nearly all boarders achieve the relevant NCEA for their year level.

Most boarders are from the Taranaki province. Thirteen are international students. Well-developed systems and practices and a range of planned activities successfully encourages the building of hostel spirit, identity, belonging and the Catholic special character.Boarder and parent feedback indicates the dean, supervisors and support staff effectively provide for the varying needs of hostel students.

ERO and the board agree a schedule for the review of policies and the procedures should be developed to ensure they are fit for purpose and reflect current legal and Ministry of Education best practice expectations and guidelines.

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 this review, 13 International students attend the school, mainly from Asian countries. They are accommodated in the five-day school hostel during the week and go to local homestays for the weekends.

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school appropriately uses self-review processes to track and monitor the quality and provision of pastoral care, accommodation, language and appropriate learning programmes for international students.

Orientation for students into school is well considered. Student information supports their access to opportunities to be successful in school learning programmes and qualifications. Students experience a range of learning opportunities through the school curriculum including sport and education outside of the classroom. Students are appropriately challenged to develop their leadership and self-management skills.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a wide range of learning programmes, experiences and pathways that provide opportunities for learners’ success
  • collaborative capability and knowledge building amongst staff that promote improved teaching practices
  • systems and processes that are responsive to students’ learning, wellbeing and pastoral needs.

Next steps

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

  • more explicit outcomes targets for acceleration and raising achievement, especially in literacy and mathematics and reporting progress against these
  • use of assessment tools and student achievement information to better inform decisions about teaching and determine the impact of programmes, especially in literacy and numeracy at Years 7 to 10
  • use of inquiry and internal evaluation to inform effectiveness of practices and impact of programmes achieving valued outcomes for equity and excellence.

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

26 September 2018

About the school


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori 16%
Pākehā 75%
Asian 5%
Pacific 2%
Other ethnic groups 2%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

July 2018

Date of this report

26 September 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review September 2015
Education Review September 2012
Education Review August 2009

Francis Douglas Memorial College - 10/09/2015

1 Context

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

Francis Douglas Memorial College is a state integrated Catholic boys’ secondary school in New Plymouth. It caters for 792 students from Years 7 to 13, 14% of whom are Māori. The school hostel, La Salle House, currently has 121 boarders.

In accordance with the special character, students are invited to lead lives based on Christian values and encouraged to participate in the religious life of the College. Values seek to prepare young men for further education, work and life.

In 2015, the Proprietor supplied new art and science buildings. These learning areas are well resourced and provide a valuable addition for the delivery of the curriculum.

The College has a positive reporting history with ERO and stable governance, leadership and staffing.

2 Learning

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

Building on positive achievement outcomes, school leaders and teachers are exploring further ways to use assessment data for teaching, learning and programme evaluation.

School information for the end of 2014 shows that most students in Years 7 and 8 achieved the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori students achieve positively in literacy, with particularly high numbers achieving in mathematics.

An appropriate intermediate department goal is to further develop moderation of assessment in writing. Creating guidelines for assessment in reading, writing and mathematics should also assist in ensuring the reliability and sustainability of teachers’ practice for making overall teacher judgments about students' achievement in relation to National Standards.

Senior leaders and heads of departments (HODs) use data to celebrate, reflect on and report about achievement.

Many students achieve very well in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs). Information for 2014 shows that Māori students achieve well overall and in relation to national comparisons, and mostly at levels similar to their peers in the college. Progress and achievement for the small numbers of Pacific students are suitably tracked, monitored and reported.

Increasing the numbers of students who gain New Zealand Scholarship awards and raising NCEA merit and excellence endorsements is a focus for the college.

School leaders have identified the need to make better use of data at Years 9 and 10. Development should include extending current achievement targets to also focus on groups of students at risk of underachieving at all levels, including Years 7 to 10, and retention of Māori students to Year 13. Better targeting and tracking is likely to assist staff and trustees to know how well any actions that are taken promote accelerated student progress or greater retention.

Teachers have access to a range of data when planning for the individual needs of students. Some teachers use this data well to consider individuals and groups with different learning needs. Promoting consistent and effective use of data to plan for teaching should help ensure that learning is well matched to individuals.

Individual learning plans have been introduced for students in Year 10. The aim is to assist students and form teachers to collaboratively reflect on achievement and discuss possible individual courses and pathways. As implementation is strengthened, the ability to individualise learning is likely to benefit students.

Parents and whānau receive useful information to support their knowledge of student achievement. A high level of parent attendance at interviews during the year promotes discussion about academic progress. The parent portal allows families to access up-to-date information about their child.

3 Curriculum

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

Student learning, progress and achievement are effectively promoted by the school curriculum. A clearly stated vision and mission underpins the provision of education through the college's special character.

Students' skills, abilities and competencies at Years 7 to 10 are fostered through teaching and learning aligned to achievement of the college's Junior Certificate.

A wide range of courses encourages high retention of students in the senior school. Courses provide for meaningful academic and vocational pathways. Career advice and guidance effectively supports students. Involvement in sports, cultural experiences, service and leadership is valued.

Students learn about te reo Māori and tikanga in Years 7 and 8, with further optional modules in Years 9 and 10. A small number of students learn te reo Māori for NCEA. The Māori department is working to increase numbers taking senior courses.

Staff appropriately cater for student wellbeing. Relationships are based on mutual respect and shared expectations for positive participation. Teachers in charge of form groups are enhancing their role in supporting and facilitating inclusion. Restorative practice is emerging to promote students’ positive engagement.

Students with additional learning needs are well supported. There are comprehensive processes to identify the needs of individuals, then track and monitor their progress. Parents and whānau contribute to individual education plans for students with more complex needs.

Students participate positively in the classroom. Teachers encourage students to share their ideas and ask relevant questions to support their understanding. The school has implemented actions to further develop the range of strategies that teachers use to meet diverse learning needs.

As part of an inquiry process, teachers are encouraged to reflect on the impact of their practice on student achievement. Staff collaboratively share strategies in professional learning groups. The appointment of a professional learning and development facilitator further supports development of teachers' practice.

Teacher appraisal has been reviewed in 2015 to make it more rigorous. Staff are increasingly gathering evidence of their performance aligned to the requirements of the Practising Teacher Criteria. The appraisal process should be further strengthened by ensuring that teachers receive timely and relevant feedback from observations, and by linking expected appraisal outcomes at all levels of responsibility to whole-school priorities, targets and performance indicators.

A next step is collaborative review by leaders and teachers of the school's curriculum in relation to the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). This should aim for closer alignment with, and to build shared understandings of, the NZC principles. During the review, it should also be useful to develop clear statements of expectations for effective teaching practice and use of assessment information, especially at Years 7 to 10.

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

Māori student’s participate in leadership and have a positive presence in the college. There is opportunity to be involved in tikanga Māori. Contexts that reflect Māori student’s culture and language are included in aspects of the curriculum. Annual whānau meetings provide information about Māori student achievement and outline curriculum experiences linked to aspects of culture, language and celebrating identity.

It is timely for trustees, leaders and teachers to establish a clear, strategic response to further promote the cultural aspirations of Māori learners and their whānau. They should:

  • further investigate methods for gathering whānau and Māori student voice to support review and include in curriculum expectations
  • continue to work with teachers to develop shared expectations of appropriate evidence to demonstrate cultural competence
  • develop shared expectations for the use of relevant contexts that recognise Māori students culture, language and identity across curriculum subjects.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The college is well placed to strengthen review and evaluation practice to sustain its performance and continue to build student success.

Senior leaders recognise the benefits of reviewing strategic and annual planning. Collaborative review should ensure that all stakeholders are involved in setting priorities and contributing to ongoing development.

Trustees bring a range of valuable skills to their governance role. Elected trustees work with proprietors’ representatives to support school operation and development. They review policies and procedures on a planned cycle to meet their legislative obligations.

HOD reports about subject areas provide an overview of successes and barriers to student achievement. Senior leaders and trustees are considering the benefits of a common format for these reports. As part of proposed changes, leaders should increasingly strengthen HODs' review capability by establishing the need for departmental reports to make clear links to the school's annual achievement targets.

Initial consideration of leadership roles and expectations has occurred. To sustain current good practice and support change management, expectations for performance, that are currently often implicit, need to be made explicit. This should provide a clear basis for evaluation of effectiveness and inform strategic approaches to building effective leadership practice.

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 eight international students attending the school. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

Policies and procedures are well documented to guide provision for international students. Students are supported to participate in sporting and cultural activities. Their progress is carefully monitored and there is strong support for their wellbeing and pastoral care. Students spoken with during the review were positive about their experiences in the college.

Provision for students in the school hostel

The school hostel, La Salle House, accommodates 125 students, 15% of the school roll. It is owned by the Trust Board of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in New Zealand. The hostel owner has attested that all requirements of the Hostel Regulations are met.

Boarding is from Monday to Friday. Each Year group is accommodated separately. Students, their parents and whānau receive clear, useful information about how the hostel operates and what is expected of them. Suitable, stable staffing ensures that students’ wellbeing and learning are well supported.

Boarders enjoy good facilities that are being appropriately refurbished over time. The hostel environment closely reflects the school’s special character with its emphasis on helping students to develop self-management skills. Living on the school campus contributes to boarders’ sense of belonging.

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.


The Catholic special character is central to college life. Students experience a wide range of educational pathways to suit their interests and aspirations. Overall, students achieve well. Provision for wellbeing is responsive to individual student needs. Leaders and teachers continue to develop evaluation to further strengthen curriculum expectations and outcomes for students.

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

About the School


New Plymouth

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Secondary (Years 7 to 13)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 100%

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Special features

Catholic special character
Boarding hostel

Review team on site

July 2015

Date of this report

10 September 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

September 2012
August 2009
July 2005