St Dominic's Catholic College (Henderson)

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Education institution number:
School type:
Secondary (Year 7-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Not Applicable
Total roll:

29 Rathgar Road, Henderson, Auckland

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School Context

St Dominic’s Catholic College (Henderson) caters for young women in Years 7 - 13. Of the 880 students currently enrolled at the school, eight percent are Māori and 24 percent have Pacific heritages. The roll also includes smaller groups from a variety of other ethnic backgrounds.

The school is guided by the Catholic Dominican Charism, the cornerstone for learning at St Dominic’s and basis for student wellbeing. The school’s key values (Veritas in Action) are “respecting God, respecting myself, respecting others and respecting the environment”. These values underpin the school’s mission to “create confident, resilient and connected young women who contribute positively to society”.

Since the 2014 ERO review the school has appointed a new principal and has expanded the senior leadership team.

The board’s strategic goals focus on:

  • strengthening the Catholic and Dominican character of the school

  • raising the engagement and achievement of all students

  • building relationships within the community

  • further developing a culturally responsive learning environment.

The school sets high targets for achievement in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) for Māori and Pacific students. Goals for all students are set in relation to NCEA merit and excellence endorsements. Goals also target achievement in literacy and numeracy for Years 7 - 10 students.

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

  • achievement within the New Zealand Qualifications Framework
  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics for Years 7 - 10
  • student engagement with the special character of the school
  • progress in relation to the school’s strategic goals
  • wellbeing for success.

The school is part of the Waitakere Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL). It is committed to working with the CoL to raise achievement in the Waitakere area through a culturally responsive curriculum and teaching practices.

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 effective in achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for students. High levels of retention through to the senior school support students’ success in learning.

NCEA data show that high levels of achievement in numeracy and literacy have been sustained over time. Most students gain NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3. Achievement in University Entrance (UE) has remained high. The numbers of excellence endorsements in NCEA Levels 1 and 2 have increased steadily over the last four years.

The school is successfully achieving parity for Māori students. The school acknowledges some disparity for Pacific students across year groups.

Students in Years 7 - 10 achieve well in literacy and numeracy. Longitudinal tracking shows the school is accelerating students’ progress and increasing equity for most students over their time at the school. The strong focus on raising achievement in writing is increasing parity for Pacific students in writing.

Other valued outcomes are highly evident in the ways that students:

  • are inclusive, respectful, supportive and accepting of others

  • build sound learning relationships with each other and their teachers

  • take leadership roles and opportunities

  • value connections to their faith and community

  • follow meaningful pathways for the future and increasingly access tertiary level courses.

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

The school responds effectively to those students whose learning needs acceleration.

Disparity for Pacific students is being systematically addressed with targeted strategies to improve learning outcomes. Strategies include student leadership initiatives, academic coaching, culturally responsive practices and targeted careers support.

School information shows that most students whose learning needs acceleration make good progress or accelerated progress over a four-year period in the junior school and go on to achieve NCEA qualifications at Level 2 or above.

Key aspects of acceleration strategies include:

  • early identification

  • specific targeted learning support

  • monitoring student progress within and across years

  • academic coaching.

Learning support for students with additional needs is well coordinated. There is effective liaison between classroom teachers, deans and specialist agencies. The school’s learning culture helps all students participate in a breadth of learning experiences.

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 of trustees and leaders have a focus on and commitment to student wellbeing and equitable outcomes for all learners.

Students benefit from a well-established, faith focused, highly inclusive school culture. Respectful and affirming relationships between teachers and students are highly evident. Leadership initiatives enable students to develop a strong sense of self and ownership in the school that reflect the school’s special character. This culture values hauora and provides a solid foundation for motivating learners to participate, contribute and progress.

Leaders’ strategic and coherent approaches build teachers’ individual capability and increase the school’s collective professional capacity. Leaders and teachers promote shared understandings, high expectations, and a professional learning culture. Leaders foster relational trust and collaboration at every level of the school community. They actively seek community and student input and respond appropriately to suggestions for improvement. They develop and pursue the school’s vision, goals and targets to accelerate students’ progress and promote their wellbeing. Their professional leadership supports a well-considered process of change management.

Leaders actively foster leadership development within the school and across the CoL. Continual improvement is evident through collaborative inquiry into teaching practice and regular internal evaluation. Evaluation informs professional development and targeted initiatives that support opportunities for increasing engagement and improving achievement for learners.

Teachers and leaders have a strong commitment to, and a good understanding of, culturally responsive teaching and learning practices. Ongoing targeted professional learning is well aligned with the strategic direction, of the school and the CoL.

Students learn through a broad curriculum that is inclusive and increasingly responsive to their individual strengths and interests. All learning pathways are equally valued. Senior students are very well supported to follow their personalised pathways and achieve quality credits. Students in Years 7 to 13 participate in increasingly authentic, relevant learning experiences. They are supported to develop ownership of their learning. The school’s shared value of respect and strong focus on engagement are helping build students’ sense of identity and confidence as learners.

Effective pastoral care and learning support systems and processes help to nurture students’ wellbeing, increase their engagement and reduce barriers to learning. A broad network of deans, counsellors, support staff and teachers provides comprehensive support for students.

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

Leaders, teachers and trustees recognise the positive impact that integrated te reo and tikanga Māori has on Māori students’ success. They are committed to improving the extent to which te ao Māori is woven throughout the curriculum and school environment.

Leaders agree that a next step is the further development of a longitudinal, schoolwide tracking system for junior students. This could assist in identifying the specific acceleration strategies that are effective in supporting ongoing student success.

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 51 international students attending the school.

There are high levels of pastoral care for international students. They are very well supported to achieve educational success. Students’ course selections are personalised and their progress and achievement are closely monitored. They are involved in a range of co-curricular activities and leadership roles, and participate in the wider life of the school. Systems for monitoring compliance with the Code are very effective.

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 St Dominic’s Catholic 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:

  • a culture of high expectations, positive relationships and shared values
  • a responsive curriculum that allows for students to access meaningful career pathways
  • strong leadership, which promotes positive connections and relationships that actively support equity and excellence for all learners
  • well aligned strategic goals and professional learning that promote relationship-based practices
  • comprehensive pastoral care systems that support wellbeing and respond to students’ needs.

Next steps

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

  • providing further opportunities for students to develop knowledge and understanding about the bicultural heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand

  • embedding systems to identify and utilise effective acceleration initiatives.

Steve Tanner

Director Review and Improvement Services Northern

Northern Region

9 August 2019

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Years 7 – 13)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

Māori 8%

NZ European/Pākehā 27%

Asian 20%

Samoan 11%

Other Pacific 13%

Filipino 10%

other ethnic groups 11%

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

June 2019

Date of this report

9 August 2019

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review May 2014
Education Review June 2009
Education Review September 2006

1 Context

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

St Dominic’s Catholic College is a culturally diverse state-integrated school catering for girls from Years 7 to 13. The school’s values are based on the Gospel values of the Catholic Dominican tradition. They are well embedded in school life and create a sense of unity, connectedness and belonging.

Staff and students are proud of their school. Students have many opportunities to participate in a wide range of academic, cultural, arts and sporting activities. They experience a variety of leadership opportunities across the school.

The many areas of good performance outlined in the 2009 ERO report have been sustained. School systems effectively promote student learning and wellbeing. The college’s continued focus on academic achievement continues and students achieve well in external qualifications.

Purposeful self review underpins school improvements. Teacher professional learning and development is well aligned to the school’s vision and strategic plan. The senior leadership and pastoral care roles continue to be strengths of the school. Strategic staff appointments are helping to sustain and enhance school improvements.

Ongoing school development is aimed at achieving high standards in all aspects of school operations. Major property developments, such as the administration block and the school chapel, have been completed.

2 Learning

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

Students continue to achieve well. The warm, mutually respectful relationships that characterise the school promote high levels of student engagement in learning. Teachers know their students well.

School leaders and teachers have sustained and enhanced their use of student achievement information. The commitment to high expectations for progress and achievement are demonstrated through the:

  • monitoring, mentoring and academic counselling that enable students to progress and achieve success
  • deliberate use of student achievement data to identify and provide for more able students and students requiring learning support
  • well analysed student achievement data that informs teaching and learning programmes and interventions.

Achievement information in relation to the National Standards shows that students, including Māori and Pacific students, achieve well in reading. Students at risk of not achieving at or above National Standards are identified and well supported. Teachers are strengthening teacher judgements in relation to National Standards through targeted professional development.

The achievement in literacy and mathematics of Years 9 and 10 students is closely monitored using standardised tests. The school uses the data to set targets to lift the achievement of students overall, and for Māori and Pacific students.

National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results show positive trends over time. School information on student participation in NCEA over the past four years, and particularly in 2013, shows that:

  • merit and excellence endorsements are improving, especially at NCEA Level 3 and for Māori students
  • Māori student achievement at NCEA Level 2 is above that of non-Maori and exceeds national expectations
  • eighty-seven percent of school leavers achieve NCEA Level 2.

Pacific students achieve well at NCEA Level 1. They are achieving above national levels in NCEA Level 2, with an increasing number of students achieving merit and excellence endorsements. However, Pacific students still continue to achieve below expectations at NCEA Levels 1 and 3. Senior leaders acknowledge that Pacific student achievement across the school remains an area of focus. School leaders and teachers continue to prioritise strategies that support Pacific learners to make accelerated progress and enjoy success.

A school-wide culture of self review is contributing to the effective use of student achievement information. Trustees and school leaders could now consider setting more explicit annual targets for specific groups of students who need to experience improved success. School leaders acknowledge that teachers could more consistently share progress and achievement information with students, to increase ownership of their learning.

3 Curriculum

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

St Dominic’s Catholic College’s curriculum is effective in the promotion and support of student learning. Students benefit from the school’s academically-focused curriculum that is underpinned by the school’s Catholic values.

The high quality pastoral care systems effectively support students’ well-being. Students are also well supported as they transition into and through the school, and beyond school. Senior leaders and staff have high expectations for all students to experience success and achieve. Students requiring additional support are well catered for through effective learning programmes, including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Classrooms are settled and purposeful learning environments. Teachers establish positive and affirming relationships with students. Staff are collegial and deliberately seek ways to ensure that their teaching is relevant and improves outcomes for students. Teachers in many departments provide learning contexts that are culturally responsive to Māori and Pacific students.

Heads of department provide strong curriculum leadership, and promote collaborative approaches within and across curriculum areas. They make well informed decisions about programme development using well analysed student achievement information and departmental review findings.

For further curriculum development, school leaders agree that they could continue to:

  • review and develop the school’s curriculum design and implementation to further promote independent, self-managing learners
  • strengthen career services.
How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

St Dominic’s Catholic College effectively promotes educational success for Māori, as Māori. Twelve percent of students identify as Māori.

Prominent in the factors promoting Māori student success is the growing recognition of tikanga Māori at important school occasions and the significant roles Māori students have in leading karanga, waiata and haka. There is an increasing profile of, and support for, kapa haka. Attractive Māori artworks depicting local Māori history are prominently displayed to celebrate and promote New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

Māori students express positive attitudes to school and learning and are well represented in school leadership roles. Te reo Māori is offered in Years 7 to 10, with increasing numbers of students studying te reo Māori at Year 9. Currently students in Year 10 study te reo Māori through distance elearning.

Strategies for further engaging the Māori community is an area identified by the board and senior leaders for improving outcomes for students. School leaders and ERO agree that the development of a school-wide education plan for Māori success would provide a more coordinated and strategic approach to promote success for Māori students. This plan should specify achievement targets and reflect whānau aspirations for success for Māori as Māori. Senior leaders could consider appointing a senior manager to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the plan.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is very well placed to sustain and improve its performance. The wellbeing of all students, and especially Māori and Pacific students, underpins decision-making in this school. School leaders and trustees work collaboratively to continue to improve outcomes for the girls and young women at St Dominic’s Catholic College.

The principal’s capable leadership, together with well-analysed information about student achievement and school operations, enables trustees to make informed decisions. The senior leadership team models professional integrity. Leaders use self review effectively to improve school performance and inform decision-making.

Effective self review enables school leaders to respond to the needs of students and parents, and make ongoing improvements. Senior leaders and ERO agree that increasing student voice could be a useful next step to inform self review.

Professional learning for teachers is focused on enhancing students’ learning and achievement. Comprehensive appraisal of teachers promotes effective teaching and learning practices. Teachers are encouraged to inquire into their own teaching practice, and make use of student achievement information to target the progress of each student. The role of middle leaders to lead learning across the school is being strengthened.

Trustees are justifiably pleased with the school’s good progress and see their roles as sustaining and supporting continued improvement. The work of senior leaders and the board is well coordinated. The school’s six strategic pillars provide a well aligned, coherent framework for managing and reporting school improvement. The board continues to place high priority on supporting Pacific and Māori student achievement.

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

International students attending St Dominic’s Catholic School receive very good learning opportunities, enjoy participation in co-curricular activities and are well supported by the school’s high quality pastoral care systems. At the time of this review there were 42 international students from Asia attending the school. Their wellbeing, academic progress and achievements are closely monitored. Even though the numbers are small, international students achieve particularly well in NCEA Level 3.

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.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

26 May 2014

About the School


Henderson, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Catholic Girls Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā

South East Asian







other Pacific

other Asian

other European















Review team on site

March 2014

Date of this report

26 May 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

September 2006

September 2002