Cullinane College

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School Context

Cullinane College is a state integrated, Catholic co-educational secondary school in Whanganui. It has 319 students from Years 9 to 13 and 49% identify as Māori, with 5% of Pacific heritage.

The college hosts exchange and international students and supports the technology curriculum of neighbouring Catholic schools. Arahunga Special Needs School and Outreach Centre operates a satellite facility on the school grounds.

Education is based on the school’s mission, ‘For Love of God, Life and Learning’, through the traditions of the Catholic Church. Students are encouraged to lead lives based on Catholic values. The SOUL values of service, optimise, unity and love are promoted to enhance the school culture. 

The school’s annual plan has a goal with a focus on improving achievement through supporting those students with learning needs in literacy and numeracy.  

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

  • achievement of national qualifications
  • achievement in literacy and numeracy and other learning areas through department reports
  • attendance.

The school is undergoing significant change. A new principal started in Term 2, 2018 and senior leaders are in the process of being appointed. The board operates with combined parents’ and proprietor’s representatives. The school is in phase two of a three stage process of demolition, refurbishment and strengthening of buildings. 

Evaluation Findings

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 progress towards equity in outcomes for learners at senior levels. Attainment in National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) have steadily improved over time.

Nearly all students, including Māori gained NCEA Level 2 in 2017 and most students achieved Level 1. A majority achieve Level 3.

Less than half of Māori students achieved Level 3 in 2017, a variation after two years of positive reporting. The school is aware of the noticeable disparity for Māori and boys at NCEA Level 3 and in attainment of University Entrance.

All students of Pacific heritage achieved at the three levels of NCEA and gained University Entrance.

Years 9 and 10 information gathered at the time of transition into the school, identified many students as achieving below expectations in literacy and mathematics. School-reported data shows most students make expected progress, however this is not the case for all.  

Students requiring additional learning support are well identified and appropriate interventions are put in place to support them.

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

Although many students identified as at risk achieve well in Years 9 and 10, leaders do not report on acceleration of progress. The school does not yet not have a clear picture of the rate of progress of target students and others at risk of not achieving.   

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 board and leaders positively engage in strategic partnerships with iwi and hapū and continue to engage with whānau to develop a culturally responsive curriculum. Staff have good access to a range of professional learning and development to support responsive teaching and improvement. Systems are in place for gathering, sharing and reflecting on information to support students’ learning.

A well-considered transition programme supports students’ entry at Year 9. The school uses an appropriate range of data, together with information from contributing schools, to identify students at risk of not achieving. This baseline data supports teachers to plan and deliver responsive programmes.    

Students enjoy positive and affirming relationships with teachers. Good levels of engagement are evident in well-resourced classrooms. New facilities continue to increase the range of learning opportunities for all. Students are encouraged to grow in leadership and contribute to decisions about their learning. They enjoy a broad curriculum with many opportunities to lead, participate and celebrate success in a range of academic, sporting and cultural activities.

The holistic wellbeing of each student is a strong focus. The Catholic charism, restorative approach, and an emphasis on valuing culture, language and identity contribute to student and family engagement in the school. Leaders and teachers are reflective and have a good understanding about students and their community.

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

Strengthening internal evaluation to be evidence-based and systematic, should better identify what has worked and made the biggest difference in student progress and determine changes needed to ensure all learners are experiencing success.

It is timely for school leaders to develop a shared understanding of what is expected and accelerated progress in Years 9 and 10. This should enable teachers and leaders to improve the use of data to track, monitor and report the rates of progress of those students at risk of not achieving.

The school has yet to put in place a structured appraisal system based on clear processes and expectations that meet the requirements of the Education Council. Strengthening how well teachers inquire into the effectiveness of practice should further support their capacity to respond to the needs of individual students.

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.

Appraisal audit

The appraisal process does not meet requirements. Trustees and leaders need to ensure that a robust appraisal system is developed and fully implemented for all staff.

Action required

  • the board of trustees must implement a performance management system for all staff.
    [s 77C State Sector Act 1988; NZ Gazette and relevant Collective Employment Agreement]

Provision for international students

ERO’s investigations confirm that the school’s self-review process for international students is appropriate.  Orientation for students is well considered.  Well-established processes track and monitor the provision of pastoral care, accommodation and achievement for these students.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • systems and processes that support student wellbeing and foster inclusiveness 
  • learning partnerships to promote a culturally responsive curriculum
  • a focus on promoting equitable outcomes for students.

Next steps

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

  • having clear targets and shared definitions of acceleration to promote and monitor progress for at risk learners
  • implementing a structured and robust appraisal process and teacher inquiry to promote consistency and improvement
  • furthering systematic processes and shared understandings of internal evaluation to measure impact of actions, improve practice in relation to intended outcomes and guide decision-making.

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

11 October 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Co-educational Secondary (Years 9 - 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Male 53%, Female 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                     49%
Pākehā                                  42%
Pacific                                       5%
Other ethnic groups           4%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

August 2018

Date of this report

11 October 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

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

1 Context

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

Cullinane College is a state integrated Catholic co-educational secondary school in Whanganui. It caters for 302 students from Years 9 to 13, 47% of whom identify as Māori. There are six Pacific students enrolled. The college hosts exchange and international students from Asia and Europe, with three currently enrolled.

Students are encouraged to lead lives based on Catholic values. The charism and values of both the Sisters of St Joseph and the Marist Fathers permeate the school culture.

The curriculum aspires to prepare students for further education, work and life. Staff and students create a welcoming and caring environment for individuals new to the college, families, whānau and visitors. The college enjoys the support of the local parish and community.

A satellite special needs facility operates in conjunction with Arahunga School. Students with complex needs attend the learning centre. Many individuals transition into mainstream classes during the day.

The college participates in Ministry of Education initiatives, based on priorities decided by the board of trustees and school leaders. Teachers are in the second year as a pilot school for an iwi and school partnership project. The goal of this is to strengthen relationship-based classroom practice and develop the local curriculum for students.

The areas of good performance identified in the 2012 ERO report have been sustained.

2 Learning

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

Assessment information is well used to make a positive difference to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Data gathered for students on entry at Year 9 shows many require accelerated literacy achievement to meet curriculum expectations. Students receive additional support and are provided with extension through a gifted and talented programme as appropriate.

Students' progress is tracked and reported in Years 9 and 10. Some groups show accelerated progress. School leaders continue to strengthen the use of assessment information for teaching in order that more students may achieve at higher levels, especially in literacy.

Leaders are planning to increase the tracking and monitoring of students in the junior school. ERO’s evaluation confirms that planned improvement in the school’s responses at Years 9 and 10 is likely to strengthen progress and achievement outcomes.

School leaders effectively track and respond to information about senior student achievement throughout the year. National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) whole-school results show areas of significant ongoing improvement. In 2014, results for the NCEAs Levels 1, 2, 3 and University Entrance show that, overall, students achieved very well when compared to schools of similar type and all schools nationally. Achievement of merit and excellence endorsements is continuing to lift over time.

There is evidence of good NCEA achievement for Māori students. A particular success in 2014, was that at NCEA Level 2, all Māori students gained the qualification. The school’s planned response to improving literacy achievement in Years 9 and 10 aligns well with ensuring that Māori learners’ pathways through to the senior school promote improved achievement that is consistent over time, at all Levels, and between Māori and other groups within the school.

Pacific student achievement is suitably tracked and monitored. Staff liaise with students and their families to support their achievement.

Annual school targets seek to raise student achievement. Leaders analyse and reflect on outcomes by providing commentary on student performance and achievement. To strengthen practice for improved self review, leaders should extend data analysis to gain clearer knowledge about how effectively actions to promote learning impact on student progress.

Regular reporting to trustees ensures their resourcing decisions are responsive to the needs of students and teachers.

3 Curriculum

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

The Cullinane College curriculum effectively promotes students’ spiritual, academic, physical, cultural, vocational and social development.

The college mission statement: For love of God, life and learning - Mo te aroha ki te Atua, kia oranga, kia akona, is the guiding statement of the school curriculum. Shared values are clearly expressed and demonstrated through the gospel values of faith, hope and love.

The climate and tone of the school are positive and provide an environment supportive of students, staff and the community. Religious studies are strengths-based and include aspects of Māori spirituality within a Catholic perspective. Respectful relationships are evident in classroom teaching and learning. Teachers have high expectations for students' learning and support their positive involvement in class.

Year 9 orientation effectively transitions students new to the college. Senior students’ participation in supporting individuals engages them meaningfully in leadership roles that contribute to their emerging skills. This enhances many aspects of college life.

Students in the junior school work toward achievement of a junior diploma. This award acknowledges achievement and promotes acquisition of key competencies such as self management. Students are able to choose subjects to support their interests and promote their creative, practical, cultural and physical development.

Appropriate career advice and guidance assists students in making informed decisions about curriculum pathways. The senior curriculum caters for vocational, academic, cultural, creative and work-based training options.

Student wellbeing is effectively supported. Pastoral initiatives are underpinned through the school’s special character which guides the promotion of wellbeing. Teachers, support staff and external specialists respond well in facilitating programmes and initiatives that encourage students to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing.

Students identified with additional education needs receive additional teaching and participate in specialist programmes to support their success. Continuing to develop evaluation of intervention programmes for these students should strengthen school self review.

Individuals with complex needs in the Arahunga School satellite class are well supported by dedicated and experienced staff.

The principal and senior leaders are knowledgeable about the quality of teaching across the school. They recognise that responsive teaching practice to meet the needs of individual students requires ongoing strengthening.

Current professional learning and development (PLD) matches the need for further development of teacher capability. Continued strengthening of appraisal to assist teachers effective inquiry into their practice, should further improve teachers' responsiveness to students' learning needs.

Leaders and teachers recognise and value the benefits of strong learning partnership with families and whānau. Families are well informed about the achievement and inclusion of their child at school. They actively participate in special events. Family days support the sharing of information about students' progress and achievement with their parents. Written reports provide clear and concise student achievement information.

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

The principal, Māori leadership and staff are strong advocates for Māori success. Curriculum initiatives such as Te Waharoa and Māori performing arts in the senior school effectively promote student achievement and participation at school.

Māori students are well represented in leadership roles across the school and participate meaningfully in all aspects of school life. The kapa haka group, Te Ngākau O Te Awa, competes externally with distinction.

The school is well placed through its leadership and current involvement in PLD to further develop the school's curriculum and teaching practices that are responsive to Māori students’ culture, language and identity.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

Cullinane College is well placed to sustain and continue to improve its performance through:

  • effective and inclusive principal leadership that is well supported by senior and department leaders
  • supportive board representatives who provide clear strategic direction
  • responsive actions that support students' presence at school and nurture their holistic wellbeing
  • teaching that is well supported to continue increasing its responsiveness to student learning needs
  • further development of the school's practices to engage families and whānau in meaningful learning partnerships.

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 three international students attending the school.

A welcoming and inclusive environment fosters international student participation at school and in the wider community. Students’ emotional, academic and social needs are effectively met. Comprehensive orientation, learning support, and accommodation review promote their welfare.

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 college's vision, ‘to provide quality education through the special character of the Catholic Church', underpins school practice. A positive tone promotes the purposeful inclusion and achievement of students, whose contribution and service are valued. College priorities reflect areas for ongoing curriculum development and are well supported by teachers' professional learning and development.

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

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Male 56%, Female 44%

Ethnic composition

Other ethnic groups


Special features

Satellite Learning Unit (Arahunga School)

Review team on site

June 2015

Date of this report

12 August 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

October 2012
September 2009
October 2006