Wellington Girls' College

Education institution number:
School type:
Secondary (Year 9-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Not Applicable
Total roll:

18 Pipitea Street, Thorndon, Wellington

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Wellington Girls' College - 01/05/2018

School Context

Wellington Girls’ College in central Wellington has 1471 students, with 8% identifying as Māori and 3% of Pacific heritage. There are 67 international students on the roll.

The college vision is: Mā te kahukura ka rere te manu, ka rere runga rawa - adorn the bird with feathers, let it fly, let it soar. The key values of Manaakitanga, Ngakau pono, Manawaroa and Whakarangatira are promoted and underpinned by Aroha. The college has introduced Te Tohu Raukura to recognise students who excel in demonstrating these values and the competencies, achievement and attributes of the school vision.

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 achievement in all curriculum areas
  • literacy and numeracy achievement and progress at Years 9 and 10
  • student wellbeing and attendance. 

Since the September 2013 ERO report, the college has reviewed and developed its charter and associated programmes and priorities in consultation with the community. This includes a key focus on promotion and response to students’ wellbeing.

Recent teacher professional development (PLD) has focused on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, student wellbeing, curriculum and pastoral review and health and safety.

The college has focused on student wellness, parent engagement and designing a future-focused curriculum. 

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 further improved achievement of equity and excellence for diverse groups of learners.

Since the previous ERO review, there has been steady improvement in overall achievement. High numbers of students gain National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEAs) Levels 1, 2 and 3. In 2016, nearly all achieved at all NCEA Levels and in University Entrance. Certificate endorsements at all NCEA Levels have continued to improve to be well above national rates and schools of similar type. In 2016, nearly all school leavers had gained NCEA Level 2, with 92% gaining NCEA Level 3.

Māori student NCEA achievement is high and mostly comparable with and sometimes above students overall in the college. Since 2015, nearly all Māori students have achieved at NCEA Levels 2 and 3 and rates of certificate endorsements have improved. The college recognises that some disparity for Māori remains for attainment of University Entrance.

The school reports that the majority of Pacific students leave school with NCEA Level 2. High rates of retention support this group to achieve. Information about achievement over time for Pacific students between entry in Year 9 and the end of Year 10 is currently not collated. NCEA achievement for Pacific students is sometimes above and sometimes below that of other students in the college, with consistently equitable patterns of Pacific achievement not yet clear.

Most students with additional learning needs progress to achieve successfully. Significant numbers gain NCEAs.

For Years 9 and 10, mathematics assessment data shows improvement in achievement overall.

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

The school successfully positions Māori and other students to achieve well in national qualifications.

Disparity in achievement is evident for some Māori and Pacific students when they enter the college in Year 9. School data shows most who need to accelerate their literacy learning achieve literacy expectations by the time they reach Year 11.

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?

Trustees strongly advance the school’s vision, values and strategic priorities for the wellbeing, learning and success of all students. There are well defined roles, structures and processes for effective governance and productive relationships between trustees, school leaders and staff. The board is well informed to make strategic decisions and meet its statutory responsibilities.  

Leaders actively engage in external evaluation and are improvement focused. They work closely with the community to review and refresh the college’s charter, values, vision and curriculum. Regular consultation and use of student, parent and teacher voice occurs. This facilitates openness, collaboration and innovation for ongoing improvement in outcomes for learners. Well-considered change management supports the introduction of new initiatives and programmes. Parents, leaders, teachers have responsive strategies for sustaining equity and excellence.

Students increasingly have opportunities to learn and achieve success in future-focused learning programmes. Curriculum review, design and enactment is innovative and responsive to students’ diverse experiences, aspirations and abilities. Learners are provided with opportunities and support to choose, manage and extend their own learning according to their needs and future learning pathways.

The school uses a range of targeted strategies and programmes that support increased opportunities for Māori students to learn successfully and achieve equitable and excellent outcomes. This has been promoted through:

  • strengthened whānau engagement and involvement in wānanga
  • targeting individual students’ needs within classes
  • opportunities for students to participate in culturally empowering learning experiences
  • a collaborative approach to monitoring and mentoring individual students
  • recognition of Māori teachers’ roles in modelling and leading cultural responsiveness.                                 

The school has good systems and processes for supporting and monitoring individual students with identified additional learning and wellbeing needs. Programmes and interventions are targeted to individual needs.

Teachers are actively involved in building their capability and knowledge to support improvement in learner-centred programmes. PLD initiatives and opportunities are responsive and well aligned to meeting the school’s vision and the individual needs and roles of teachers. Department leaders are well supported and encouraged to try innovative approaches and design new courses and learning opportunities to support students’ aspirations beyond school. 

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

Review, research and inquiry processes are well embedded from teacher to leadership and trustee levels. These inform decisions for ongoing improvement in programmes, teaching practices and student support systems. 

A key next step is to have a shared understanding and use across the school of systematic internal evaluation to explore the effectiveness and impacts of strategies and programmes, particularly across the Years 9 and 10 curriculum and in relation to acceleration of learning for equity and excellence. Establishing explicit expectations and measures of progress and acceleration through and across the curriculum should provide a better basis for the college to:

  • build a clearer, evaluative picture of how well it is accelerating the learning of those students who need this during the time they are in Years 9 and 10
  • make decisions at all levels for the responsive, well-targeted teaching and learning of these students.

The introduction of compulsory te reo Māori at Year 9 in 2018, promotes te ao Māori and reflects the school’s bicultural commitments for all students. Further developing shared understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and reflecting Aotearoa/New Zealand’s bicultural heritage across the curriculum should support sustained schoolwide improvement for equity. 

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. 

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, the number of international students attending the college had grown to 67, predominantly from Asian countries and including two exchange students. 

The school uses self-review processes to monitor the provision of pastoral care, accommodation, English language learning, appropriate learning programmes, community links and achievement for internationals students.

Further development of systematic evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of provision and reporting this to the board is a next step.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • collaborative leadership and governance that are future focused
  • systems and processes that place students’ wellbeing needs at the centre of ongoing change and school improvement initiatives
  • responsive and innovative teaching, learning programmes and interventions that cater for diverse learners’ needs and aspirations
  • partnerships with students, parents and whānau that promote engagement, empowerment and innovation.

Next steps

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

  • the use of evaluation processes and practices to enhance planning and decision making
  • a bicultural curriculum to promote and support equity and excellence in learner outcomes.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Patricia Davey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central (Acting)

Te Tai Pokapū - Central Region

1 May 2018

About the school 

Wellington Girls’ College


Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori                                        8%
Pākehā                                    69%
Asian                                       19%
Pacific                                       3%
Other ethnic groups               1%

International students


Review team on site

February 2018

Date of this report

1 May 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review                September 2013
Education Review                May 2009
Education Review                November 2005

Wellington Girls' College - 11/09/2013

1 Context

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

Wellington Girls’ College, based in central Wellington, caters for 1322 girls, 8% of whom are Māori. The roll continues to grow; however, the number of Pacific students is decreasing. The school, established 130 years ago, has a positive reporting history with ERO.

Since the previous ERO review in 2009, a multi-story administration and teaching facility has been built. There has been considerable development to improve staff and students’ access to, and use of information technologies (IT).

Recent board elections have resulted in three new trustees. The board chair and two other trustees have been re-elected providing the board with useful continuity. The roles and responsibilities of the senior management team have been reviewed and re-allocated.

The school’s motto “Handing Light On” underpins a culture of supporting students and staff to step into leadership roles and in turn assisting others to develop.

2 Learning

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

High levels of student achievement continue to be a feature of the school. Growth in the number of students achieving merit or excellence endorsements at NCEA Levels 1 and 2 is evident in the 2011 and 2012 results. School personnel identify relevant annual goals to improve aspects of NCEA achievement, with improving the rate of excellence endorsements in Level 3 NCEA being this year’s target. Achievement of Māori and Pacific students is comparable with that of other students.

The school successfully retains high numbers of students to Year 13, with 96% of school leavers achieving NCEA Level 2 or above.

Extensive achievement information relating to Years 9 and 10 students is well used to make plans at department and classroom levels to meet their needs. A schoolwide focus to improve writing skills has resulted in very favourable outcomes for students. Heads of departments and senior leaders should take the opportunity to use Years 9 and 10 achievement data further to show progress and evaluate the impact of teaching.

A well coordinated and comprehensive range of support is available for students with special needs.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is matched to the aspirations of students and their families. It provides a broad range of choices and opportunities that suitably support girls’ learning and opens up pathways for them beyond school. Options for senior students are well considered and students are assisted with high quality advice and guidance to make good decisions.

The members of the senior leadership team have clear expectations for high quality teaching that are widely evident in practice. The senior leadership team and board are committed to, and appropriately focused on, using professional learning and development and appraisal to achieve consistently high quality teaching. The introduction of a co-teaching initiative is producing interesting and positive results.

The school’s strategic approach to promoting success for Pacific students includes an achievement plan and the appointment of a Pacific achievement advisor. Their learning and achievement is supported by individual monitoring, encouragement and liaison with families.

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

A comprehensive plan to promote success for Māori, as Māori, is in place. It is important that the senior leadership team continues to prioritise the collaborative implementation of this plan and monitor progress.

Māori students are well supported by staff including a Māori achievement advisor. Individual academic monitoring and goal setting assists students to achieve highly in all aspects of school life. Student leadership and input into decision making is encouraged through the formation of the student group, Te rōpū a Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

Whānau are represented on the board and links with mana whenua are strengthened by close liaison with the Port Nicholson Settlement Trust.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

A tradition of high expectations for achievement, participation, behaviour and belonging is strongly supported by students, teachers, leaders, trustees and the community.

The board provides a clear vision and strategic direction. Its governance of the school is enhanced by the inclusion of members of the senior leadership team on board committees.

School leaders are a purposeful, cohesive group with clearly delegated responsibilities. They skilfully and knowledgeably ensure that the school vision is reflected and enacted throughout school operations and interactions.

Since the previous review, engagement with parents and whānau has strengthened. Providing clear and useful information to parents and receiving their opinion and feedback is a valued feature of partnership between families and the school.

A culture of critical reflection and review consistently supports school improvement. School leaders successfully use research, the opinions of students, teachers and families, and consideration of current practice to identify and implement changes designed to extend and increase performance. ERO identifies that more emphasis on evaluating impacts of initiatives and student progress is likely to enhance some areas of self review. Further opportunities to use student voice in review could also be explored.

At all levels, school personnel participate in and contribute to the wider educational community through involvement in cluster and other schools’ support and development.

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 51 international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

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 four-to-five years.Image removed.

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region (Acting)

11 September 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 9 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Female 100%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā




Other ethnic groups







Review team on site

July 2013

Date of this report

11 September 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2009

November 2005

July 2002