Sacred Heart School (Dunedin)

Sacred Heart School (Dunedin)

Te Ara Huarau | School Profile Report


This Profile Report was written within 12 months of the Education Review Office and Sacred Heart School (Dunedin) working in Te Ara Huarau, an improvement evaluation approach used in most English Medium State and State Integrated Schools. For more information about Te Ara Huarau see ERO’s website.


Sacred Heart School (Dunedin) is a Catholic School situated in North East Valley, Dunedin. The school caters for students from year 1 to 6. The school aims to support children to develop their full potential spiritually, academically, physically, culturally and socially in a community environment which respects the special needs and gifts of all.

Sacred Heart School (Dunedin)’s strategic priorities for improving outcomes for learners are:

  • strengthen practice and pedagogy for improved outcomes for learners
  • develop a culturally responsive and inclusive localised curriculum
  • recognise the intrinsic dignity and individuality of each child and build on their natural desire to inquire and learn within a special character lens.

You can find a copy of the school’s strategic and annual plan on Sacred Heart School (Dunedin)’s website.

ERO and the school are working together to evaluate the effectiveness of culturally responsive practice across the curriculum to improve engagement and outcomes for all learners.

The rationale for selecting this evaluation is:

  • the principal, board of trustees and staff recognise the need to improve student attendance
  • 2024 – 2025 strategic goals are focused on raising achievement for those learners who have not yet met curriculum levels
  • the school is developing their localised curriculum and wants to ensure that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is woven through learning contexts
  • The principal is working within Dunedin Catholic Schools Kāhui Ako to utilise support and resources for learners who are not regularly at school.

The school expects to see:

  • improved outcomes in  wellbeing and achievement for all learners.
  • higher levels of attendance for all learners
  • the development and use of a localised curriculum that engages ākonga and wider community in reciprocal learning partnerships
  • a strengthening of teacher capabilities and confidence in the use of te reo and tikanga practices.


The school can draw from the following strengths to evaluate the effectiveness of culturally responsive practice across the curriculum to improve engagement and outcomes for all learners.

  • A strong pastoral care focus for all ākonga and wider community.
  • Strong learning centred and caring relationships between staff and ākonga which are evident in day-to- day interactions.
  • Strong connections with Dunedin Catholic Schools Kāhui Ako which supports the school in professional learning for teachers and leadership.

Where to next?

Moving forward, the school will prioritise:

  • strengthening communication with families of learners who are not attending school regularly to support understanding of attendance expectations in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • strengthening teacher pedagogical knowledge in all aspects of culturally responsive practice so that teachers grow their confidence in teaching and learning across the diversity of the school culture.
  • professional learning to deepen staff understanding of a te ao Māori world view.

ERO’s role will be to support the school in its evaluation for improvement cycle to improve outcomes for all learners. ERO will support the school in reporting their progress to the community. The next public report on ERO’s website will be a Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report and is due within three years.

Shelley Booysen
Director of Schools

13 March 2024

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Sacred Heart School (Dunedin)

Board Assurance with Regulatory and Legislative Requirements Report 2023 to 2026

As of February 2024, the Sacred Heart School (Dunedin) Board has attested to the following regulatory and legislative requirements:

Board Administration




Management of Health, Safety and Welfare


Personnel Management






Further Information

For further information please contact Sacred Heart School (Dunedin) School Board.

The next School Board assurance that it is meeting regulatory and legislative requirements will be reported, along with the Te Ara Huarau | School Evaluation Report, within three years.

Information on ERO’s role and process in this review can be found on the Education Review Office website.

Shelley Booysen
Director of Schools

13 March 2024

About the School

The Education Counts website provides further information about the school’s student population, student engagement and student achievement.

Sacred Heart School (Dunedin) - 11/10/2019

School Context

Sacred Heart School (Dunedin) is a small contributing (Years 1 to 6) Catholic school, located in north Dunedin. The current roll is 37 students.

The school states that its vision is to provide a respectful environment that acknowledges the uniqueness of each child while assisting them to develop their potential spiritually, academically, physically, culturally and socially. Its key values are centered on truth, respect, humanity and justice.

The current strategic goals include developing the special character, growing students’ performance in literacy and numeracy, and working to achieve the aims developed through the Dunedin Catholic Schools Kāhui Ako | Community of Learning.

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

  • the achievement of students in reading, writing and mathematics
  • progress in religious education and other aspects of the school’s special character.

The school is governed by a well-established board and led by a long-serving principal and staff. The school has close links with the church and its community.

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?

Reported learning information shows that the majority of students achieve at or above the school’s expected achievement levels in reading, writing and mathematics.

More girls than boys achieve at the school’s expected levels in reading and writing.

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

The school is effective in accelerating progress for students who need this.

The school can show that in 2017 and 2018 most identified students made accelerated progress in reading, writing and mathematics.

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 school’s curriculum is responsive to students’ interests and prior understandings. It draws on parent and community knowledge, underpinned by the school’s special character. Teachers engage community experts and resources to enhance the curriculum in response to students’ interests.

Individual learning plans show teachers know the students and their learning aspirations well. Well-resourced support is in place for a range of additional learning needs, including the use of differentiated instruction and targeted actions for several groups of learners.

Transitions through the school are well supported at all stages. Leaders ensure that students learn in an orderly and supportive environment. Students at all levels have opportunities to learn leadership, service and advocacy skills.

Community and family collaborations with the school enrich opportunities for students’ learning and wellbeing. Parents are welcomed, involved, respected and valued. There are strong links with the local schools, church and community that contribute to reciprocal, learning centered relationships.

The board and principal use a range of communication processes to inform the school community and to support learning at home. Pastoral care is extended within the school and beyond for the wellbeing of all members of the learning community.

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

Leaders need to further build organisational conditions for increased equity and excellence for all students. This includes:

  • developing a coherent framework for internal evaluation, including policy and curriculum review, to identify what is working well and where improvements are needed for students’ learning
  • incorporating Māori perspectives across the curriculum to enable all students to know about New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and for Māori students to know their language, culture and identity are valued
  • further developing guidelines for planning, teaching and assessment so that good practices are sustained for the future
  • using assessment information to show the impact of interventions and to report on accelerated progress.

Leaders and teachers need to establish reliable and on-going ways of knowing about student learning, and strategic direction. Formalising the processes for gathering and using parent perspectives should help ensure their views are included when deciding the school’s strategic direction.

Assessment for learning strategies to strengthen students’ understanding of themselves as learners could be further developed.

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 this review there were two international students attending the school.

International students and their families receive personalised support from the school for learning and pastoral care. They are connected to community resources and are welcomed as members of the school community. Students are provided with appropriate levels of learning support to foster their language skills.

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 Children’s Act 2014.

5 ERO’s Overall Judgement

On the basis of the findings of this review, ERO’s overall evaluation judgement of Sacred Heart School’s performance in achieving valued outcomes for its students is: Well placed.

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:

  • a sense of community and care that ensures children learn in a responsive and supportive environment within its special character
  • its individual approach to student learning and growth that provides each child with the level of support and development that they require.

Next steps

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

  • further developing systems and practices across the school so that students experience a more coherent curriculum, and to ensure the school sustains and improves its performance
  • systematically gathering and using a range of data and perspectives as part of internal evaluation to better identify what is working well for students and what needs improvement.

Areas for improved compliance practice

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should:

  • update and regularly review all school policies.

Dr Lesley Patterson

Director Review and Improvement Services Southern

Southern Region

11 October 2019

About the school

Ministry of Education profile number3815
School typeContributing (Years 1-6) state integrated primary
School roll37
Gender compositionBoys 20, Girls 17
Ethnic compositionMāori: 4 
NZ European/Pākehā: 20
Other ethnicities: 13
Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)No
Provision of Māori medium educationNo
Review team on siteJuly 2019
Date of this report11 October 2019
Most recent ERO reportsEducation Review: May 2016
Education Review: February 2013