Sancta Maria College

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

319 Te Irirangi Drive, Howick South, Manukau

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Sancta Maria College - 07/08/2018

School Context

Sancta Maria College is a state integrated co-educational Catholic secondary school providing a special character education for students from Years 7 to 15. It is situated in the suburb of Botany, Auckland.

Of the 994 students enrolled at the school, six percent are Māori and nine percent have Pacific heritages. The Filipino student population is increasing and currently makes up 24 percent of the school roll. There are 38 international students attending the school.

There is significant growth in the number of migrant students enrolling at the school with many enrolling at Year 7 and 8. As a result, the school has significantly increased its provision of English language learning support

The school’s mission is to deliver an excellent Catholic Education that inspires the school community to discover ‘the beautiful, the true, and the good through spiritual, academic, and social success.’ The school’s overarching vision is ‘within a safe, caring Catholic and disciplined environment for young people, students will be given the opportunity to develop strong Christian values, discover and develop their talents, be active learners, and strive to be the best they can be.’ The school is in the process of re-visioning its mission, vision, values and virtues. This process will draw on community voice in order to reflect the school community and its special Catholic character.

Sancta Maria College’s strategic goals aim to provide students with a holistic curriculum that gives all learners the opportunity to learn and achieve in an inclusive, respectful, safe and positive environment. The goals centre on enhancing:

  • the school’s special character

  • student achievement, academic success and wellbeing

  • the school’s future focused curriculum

  • all levels of leadership

  • cultural responsiveness.

The school continues to set the high expectations for student achievement and attainment noted in previous ERO reports. High targets are set in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and University Entrance (UE) for students inclusive of Māori and Pacific students. There are also well-considered achievement targets set for Years 7 to 10 students in literacy and mathematics.

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

  • progress and achievement in relation to school goals and targets

  • pathways outcomes, and destination data

  • programmes and interventions that cater for students with additional learning needs

  • engagement and wellbeing

  • learning and development in a variety of areas including sporting, arts and students’ holistic development in relation to their identity, language and culture.

Since the 2015 ERO review, two new deputy principals have been appointed to the senior leadership team. In order to distribute leadership and expand capacity, three additional members are in acting deputy principal roles. Recent school-wide professional learning has focused on building teacher capability and improving outcomes for all students through a range of initiatives and collegial sharing. The contexts for this work have included:

  • literacy and supporting English language learners

  • culturally responsive practices

  • personalised learning approaches

  • teacher inquiries and reflection

  • coaching and mentoring.

The school is a member of the South East Christian Kahui Ako (community of learning).

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?

Sancta Maria College successfully achieves equitable and excellent outcomes for its students.

Achievement information from 2015 to 2017 shows very high levels of student success in NCEA for all groups of students, including Māori and Pacific. There are very good levels of retention through to the senior school.

The school’s achievement information shows that the vast majority of students achieve in NCEA Levels 1, 2, and 3. For 2017, 13 scholarships in a variety of learning areas have been awarded, and a high proportion of these are with merit and excellent endorsements. Overall results are highly equitable across all groups of students.

Students at Year 7 to 10 achieve well in literacy and mathematics. Most students make sufficient progress through Years 7 to 10 to achieve NCEA Level 2. Students are well supported and prepared to determine their future direction and participate in further education, training and employment.

Other valued student outcomes focus on excellence in a variety of learning areas. Of particular note is the school’s overall success in helping students become active connected learners who contribute to and maintain their hauora (wellbeing).

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

The school is very effectively accelerating the learning progress of Māori, Pacific and other young people whose learning requires this.

The school has very good systems to identify the students whose progress requires acceleration. All students who are new to the school are carefully assessed, tracked and monitored by teachers and leaders. Very good targeted support is provided through a range of multi-layered approaches to respond to students’ learning needs.

Students who enter the school below expected levels in literacy are carefully monitored to provide appropriate language support. Many of these students build their confidence and learning capabilities to make accelerated progress.

English language support programmes are high quality and enable students to reach good levels of English to access the curriculum. This provision is offered across the school through in-class support and timetabled classes from Year 7 to 13. Students with English as an additional language are fully integrated in the school’s inclusive culture and achieve very well at NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Highly effective learning support provides a multi-layered approach for students to access personalised and flexible learning opportunities. This supports their individual learning pathways. The Learning Support Department works effectively with students, teachers and outside agencies to provide programmes and resources for students.

Students, particularly Māori and Pacific learners, are responding well to mentoring support aimed at engaging them more effectively in their learning. This is resulting in students successfully making progress and achieving.

A holistic, wrap-around approach to pastoral care and the use of restorative practices sets the conditions for success in student wellbeing and achievement. Effective co-ordination between pastoral and curriculum teams and teachers, parents and outside agencies ensure all students access the curriculum and participate well in appropriate learning programmes.

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?

High quality school leadership supports the achievement of equity and excellence through a planned, coherent approach that is well aligned with school strategic goals.

School leaders build relational trust and collaboration across the school community. This supports change management processes focused on the promotion of student agency, personalised learning, cultural responsiveness, and embedding a school culture of inquiry. Strategic recruitment of new leaders and the growth of ‘expert leaders’ within the school supports improvements in teaching and learning that promote equity and excellence.

Leaders successfully support a collaborative teaching culture where leadership and professional capability can grow and flourish. All teachers participate in the school’s professional development groups to build their professional capacity. Together, they focus on implementing school improvement initiatives to achieve the school’s strategic goals. The school has established a platform for deep inquiry. This is promoting new and innovative ways for teachers to enhance their practice and improve student engagement and progress.

The curriculum is highly responsive to students’ individual strengths and capabilities. It emphasises collaborative learning though problem solving and critical thinking. Vocational education allows students to experience new interests and skills to support their future learning pathways.

Curriculum leaders and teachers connect authentic, cultural and external expertise to deepen student learning. Programmes enable Māori students to explore their histories and cultural identities. Teachers present global and multi-cultural perspectives to expose students to the wider world. Students are supported to develop a sense of service to others and take action to support a sustainable world.

Students are highly engaged in their learning and enjoy the wide range of opportunities they are given to achieve excellence in academic, sporting, artistic and cultural endeavours. This contributes to the school’s high levels of student attendance and retention.

School and community relationships are reciprocal and learning-centred. The school’s communication with its community is very effective and helps build and maintain close connections. Family and whānau are increasingly involved in student learning through digital and social platforms, some of which are led by students.

The board of trustees and senior leadership team work collaboratively to develop the school’s strategic plan. Trustees bring a range of skills to their school governance and stewardship roles. They are improvement-focused and have high expectations for students’ success. Trustees have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities and are actively involved in the life of the school.

Internal evaluation is used very effectively to promote positive change, and sustain systems and processes that support equity and excellence. Cycles of evaluation and inquiry are purposeful and an integral part of the school’s culture. These evaluation cycles work well together, enabling the school community to use information at the student, classroom and school-wide levels to ensure ongoing improvement.

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

To sustain and further support equity and excellence, the school leaders have identified that they will:

  • undertake a planned curriculum review for Years 7 to 10 to develop a coherent, authentic curriculum that reflects the school’s priorities

  • continue to use internal evaluation to enhance wellbeing outcomes for 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.

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 the aspects of the Code. At the time of the review there were 38 international students attending the school.

Sancta Maria College provides international students with very good quality pastoral care and education. Students progress and achieve well in English language learning. They achieve highly in NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 and in University Entrance.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • the board, leaders’ and teachers’ unrelenting focus on achieving equitable outcomes for all students

  • a strategic approach to building professional capability, and collective capacity that promotes innovation and expertise across the curriculum and addresses disparity in student achievement

  • a responsive curriculum that is personalised to cater for students’ various interests and strengths

  • holistic achievement approaches that promote student wellbeing and learning success

  • robust internal evaluation that supports ongoing development and improvement.

Next steps

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

  • ongoing development of structures and processes to enhance the Year 7 to 10 curriculum

  • enhancing Māori whānau and Pacific fanau input into school planning.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Julie Foley

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

7 August 2018

About the school


Howick South, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Secondary (Year 7 to 15)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori 6%
Pākehā 29%
Filipino 24%
Chinese 10%
Indian 7%
Samoan 6%
other 8 %

Students with Ongoing Resourcing Funding (ORS)


Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

June 2018

Date of this report

7 August 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review October 2015
Education Review May 2012
Education Review February 2009

Sancta Maria College - 09/10/2015


Sancta Maria College serves its community well. It provides students with a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes learning and high levels of achievement. Students respond positively to the school’s expectations. Ongoing school improvement is guided by the new principal's purposeful strategic planning and collaborative leadership.

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

1 Context

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

Sancta Maria College is a state integrated, co-educational Catholic secondary school providing education for students in Years 7 to 15. It serves an ethnically diverse community. The number of Filipino students is increasing and they now make up 21 percent of the school’s roll. Eleven percent identify as Pacific, and four percent as Māori.

Through its mission statement the school aspires to prepare students for the future by providing a Catholic education in a nurturing community shaped by school values. Students report a strong sense of pride in their school and they appreciate the school’s supportive culture.

Since the 2012 ERO review, two new appointments have been made to the senior leadership team. The board appointed an experienced principal at the beginning of 2015 after the school’s foundation principal retired. The principal has begun to prioritise planned, consultative change to maximise the potential of students and teachers.

Since ERO’s 2012 review, there have also been changes in the board of trustees, including a new chair and several new board members. External training is helping trustees to improve board operations and develop greater coherence to the school’s direction.

Previous ERO reports have identified strengths within the school. They noted high expectations for behaviour and academic endeavour alongside the school’s Christian values. Pastoral care, learning support and guidance counselling enhanced the holistic support for students. These positive features continue to be evident.

The 2012 ERO report identified several key areas for school improvement. Steps have been taken to address these. The senior leadership team agree that further improvement is necessary in relation to student learning and achievement, curriculum development, self review and provision for Māori and Pacific success. 

2 Learning

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

The board and school leaders use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ progress and achievement. Achievement in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is very high for most groups across the senior school.

Senior and middle leaders monitor achievement at Years 11, 12 and 13 and alert teachers to respond to students’ learning needs throughout the year. Teachers adapt course content, curriculum and assessment delivery to support students to achieve successful NCEA outcomes.

A school-wide focus on knowing each student begins with using the good quality information received from contributing schools. Individual student profiles are collated and shared with teachers to provide a comprehensive foundation for planning class programmes.

Year 7 and 8 information indicates that most students, including Māori and Pacific students, achieve particularly well in relation to the National Standards compared to local and national levels of achievement. This information is collated, analysed and reported and followed up with deliberate planning to reduce achievement disparities.

School leaders agree that increasing the range of assessments, including using standardised assessment tools, would help Year 9 and 10 teachers know students’ explicit learning needs. This knowledge would assist teachers to more consistently report student progress across the curriculum and personalise planning for specific groups of students.

The school could respond more to students’ diverse cultures and languages. Professional learning for teachers and a designated leadership role could bring greater coherence to the school’s cultural responsiveness. The recent introduction of the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLPs) should help teachers to support the progress of students who are new speakers of English.

To enhance student learning school leaders recognise the value of:

  • students receiving more opportunities to self manage their learning
  • focusing charter targets on accelerating the progress of specific groups of students
  • deepening the analysis of Year 9 and 10 achievement information.

3 Curriculum

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

The Sancta Maria College curriculum is effective in promoting student engagement and learning. The Catholic Charism is at the core of the school’s curriculum. Positive learning relationships are evident between teachers and students.

Some teachers are focusing on engaging students in programmes that encourage their thinking and creativity as well as success in qualifications. Often these contextualised programmes reflect students’ interests and strengths. Other innovations include integrating curriculum learning areas, and developing staff and students’ digital competencies.

Year 7 and 8 curriculum leaders are using research to develop new teaching approaches. Student perspectives now contribute more to shaping the curriculum and this is helping them to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners. This work has the potential to influence the development of shared expectations for teaching and learning across the school.

Career services in the school assist students to develop learning pathways that support their transition to further education and training. As a result, many senior students take up successful tertiary study when they leave school. The continued integration of future-focused education pathways across the school could provide students with a wider range of options.

The school’s guidance team works hard to support students’ wellbeing. They access extensive support through external interventions and programmes. Students with special learning needs are well catered for by teachers and support staff. They benefit from teachers’ in depth knowledge about their learning capabilities.

The college offers an enriching range of co-curricular activities. There are many opportunities for students to build their leadership capability. Providing leadership opportunities from Year 7 and 8 would support the school’s focus on growing student self efficacy.

School leaders have appropriate plans to enhance the school’s curriculum by:

  • reviewing the curriculum to ensure that it is more reflective of The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and meets the learning needs of all students
  • including student contribution to the design of learning programmes
  • developing inquiry-based learning to promote students’ thinking skills
  • including students’ cultures and languages, particularly Māori and Pacific, in curriculum programmes
  • supporting student wellbeing through the curriculum as well as through a more coordinated pastoral care programme that is aligned to the school’s strategic direction.

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

The school is effective in promoting educational success for Māori students. Success in NCEA Levels 1 and 2 continues to be at a high level.

Students perform in kapa haka at events, including school liturgies and ceremonies. They welcome new students, whānau and staff at the beginning of the school year. This role helps builds Māori students’ sense of pride in their identity, language and culture in their school community.

School’s leaders are responsive to the principles of the Ministry of Education’s Māori education strategy, Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013 – 2017. They are planning to work with an external advisor to help teachers gain deeper understandings about the critical factors for Māori students’ educational success as Māori.

The board and school leaders could consider how bicultural practices could be extended by:

  • encouraging leaders and teachers to reflect more critically about their cultural responsiveness
  • further including Māori perspectives and New Zealand’s bicultural heritage in the curriculum and school operations
  • involving the Māori community more in setting the school’s strategic goals to support learning outcomes for Māori students. 

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The principal has taken a number of actions to improve the school’s performance. As a result the school is well positioned to sustain its strengths and to continue improving.

The principal is establishing positive relationships with the school and community. She is developing clarity around school operational expectations and responsibilities. Comprehensive processes are being developed for staff appraisal and professional learning for leaders and teachers. Teachers are currently participating in an initiative to support them to inquire more critically into the effectiveness of their teaching practice.

The senior leadership team is working collaboratively with the new principal to influence and implement new initiatives and improvements. Reviewing their roles and responsibilities could help develop a more coherent approach to planning, coordinating and evaluating the school’s curriculum and teaching.

Trustees reflect the cultural diversity of the school. Relationships between the board and the school community are strengthening. Trustees recognise the need to develop their strategic capability to ensure the effectiveness of governance. More formalised evaluation could guide this development and ensure that statutory requirements are met.

More in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness of the school’s performance would enhance students’ wellbeing and learning outcomes. Such evaluation should include more community, staff and student perspectives to increase the rigour and coherence of the school’s self-review processes.

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 the review there were 37 international students attending the school, predominately from Asia. Most students, including those on short term visits, live with local home-stay families.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. Recommendations in ERO’s 2012 report have been addressed. Good systems are followed to review the provision for international students.

Services for international students are very well managed by an international director and staff. Compliance with the Code, information about student achievement and other educational outcomes for international students, are reported to the board.

Further self review is needed to ensure international students are appropriately assessed and supported by teachers with relevant learning programmes, including those for building English language proficiency. 

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.

In order to improve practice the principal should strengthen personnel systems, including the job descriptions and appraisals of the senior leadership team.


Sancta Maria College serves its community well. It provides students with a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes learning and high levels of achievement. Students respond positively to the school’s expectations. Ongoing school improvement is guided by the new principal's purposeful strategic planning and collaborative leadership.

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

Graham Randell
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

9 October 2015

About the School 


Botany, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


School type

State Integrated Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls       54%
Boys      46%

Ethnic composition

Middle Eastern
South African
South East Asian
Cook Island Māori
South American
other European


Special Features

Host School for Resource Teacher, Learning and Behaviour (RTLB)

Review team on site

August 2015

Date of this report

9 October 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

May 2012
February 2009
February 2006