Why choose Sacred Heart School?

respect_smAt Sacred Heart we pride ourselves on our caring environment, constructive relationships with our local community and our consistently high academic achievement. These attributes have been strengths of our school since it began and are the foundations for the success of our children and our strong reputation.

What’s it like at Sacred Heart School?

If you haven’t been to a Catholic Primary School, or if your experience of Catholic education is from a few years ago, you might have some questions about what your child’s experience at Sacred Heart would be like. Here we try to answer some of the questions we have been asked.

“I’ve heard that your curriculum is dominated by Church teaching. Is that true?”
Our Catholic character is a visible and celebrated part of our school, but that doesn’t mean we teach only religion.
As with other primary schools, we teach the curriculum set by the Ministry of Education. Basic values and teachings of the Catholic faith are taught and integrated into the core curriculum without overshadowing it. At Sacred Heart we have chosen core values that are the foundation of everything we do: Respect, Justice and Humanity, under the umbrella of Truth. Our Special Catholic Character provides a way of looking at the curriculum that encourages a focus on our core values. This helps to provide children with the skills to develop their full potential academically, spiritually, physically and culturally. Many schools identify values for their school but find it hard to bring them to life. Our families find the environment that our Special Character provides invaluable in promoting our values.
Prayer forms a small but important part of each day, and significant Christian feasts and seasons such as Lent, Easter and Christmas are celebrated.
Our values: Humanity “Not being of any religious denomination, I’m impressed the school’s values are not just words on paper but are taught and reflected on throughout classes”
“Do you have to be Catholic or go to church every week to attend Sacred Heart?”
No, though we encourage participation in our parish community.
Families choose Sacred Heart for a warm, nurturing, holistic education in a community that supports the whole family. We welcome enquiries from all children and have a proportion of open enrolment places available as set by the Ministry of Education. All families are encouraged to support their children in the prayer and sacramental programmes within the school and, where possible, to take an active part in their local parish community on Sundays.
Sacred Heart’s Parish Priest is chaplain to the school and is available for meeting with children and families.
compassion_sm “I love hearing from the children at our prayer and Mass times. They make it so special with their thoughtful, grateful perspectives.”
“Is it expensive to attend Sacred Heart?”
Sometimes people think Catholic Schools are like private schools that charge high fees. This is not the case.
All children attending Catholic Primary Schools pay attendance dues of around $100 a term. This fee is not a donation to the school, but goes towards the school buildings and their maintenance by the Diocese.

If paying this amount is a concern for you, please speak with the Principal. The Catholic Diocese has a policy of ensuring that no child with a Catholic heritage will be denied a Catholic education.
Like other schools, there are some stationery and activity costs – these are kept to a minimum.

sharing_sm “Our children thrive at Sacred Heart and we consider the experience invaluable.”
“Are the uniforms expensive?”
Not when you consider the savings involved in not buying other clothes, and the arguments solved about what to wear to school!
Uniforms can be purchased from the Warehouse at reasonable costs. The School has a supply of second hand uniforms at very modest prices. It is possible to purchase uniforms second hand on Trade Me  or Dunedin Market Place – just check as, all Catholic school’s uniform is slightly different.
Feedback from parents is that they love uniforms. Although there is initial cost, uniforms save a lot of money on clothing during the school years.
uniform_sm “School uniforms have saved us so much money, they only need a few clothes for weekends and there
is no drama every morning about what is going to be worn – I love that the uniforms wear well and jerseys
are pure wool!”
“I’ve heard you have small classes, how does this affect my child’s learning?”
We do have small classes, and this is to your child’s advantage.
Small class sizes are invaluable. Children receive more individual attention. Staff are able to continually review learning and progress. Our classes are made up of children from different year group.  This allows us to provide opportunities for children with different abilities to work together regardless of their age. For example, children who excel in reading can easily learn alongside older class peers. Likewise children requiring extra help are catered for more readily with support of more able students.

Learning coding and electronics

Smaller class sizes also allows for greater interaction between junior and senior pupils. Our school is proud of the way our older children support the more recent additions to our community.
‘Out of classroom’ inquiry learning opportunities are easy, safe and relatively inexpensive for a smaller class. At Sacred Heart School we enjoy regular visits to a number of local facilities, including Dunedin Public Art Gallery, SPCA, the Dunedin Botanic Garden, Otago Museum, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, Kavanagh College and our local Chingford Park.

ukulele_sm “Since moving my child to Sacred Heart, I have noticed a huge change in her learning – she has jumped up levels and has improved so much, I’m so happy”
“If Sacred Heart School is as good as you say, you must have high achievement. Is that true?”
Yes, our children regularly achieve a very high standard in academic achievement, and also in cultural, sporting and community arenas.
futsal_smSacred Heart School prides itself on high levels of achievement in the key areas of reading, writing and mathematic. We  take pride in our highly skilled and experienced staff.

When it comes to assessment of students’ progress we apply a high standard when determining our “overall teacher judgements”. Our statistics in Reading, Writing and Mathematics have remained consistently high and above expectations both regionally and nationally. This data also reflects the immense value of Catholic Education nationally because our network of schools performs well in excess of national expectations.

pukana_smResearch tells us that children achieve best in communities where there is a high level of pastoral care, parent interest and involvement. This is certainly true of the Sacred Heart School community, which also has a significant outreach into the wider community.

Sacred Heart is one of 11 local Catholic Schools who have joined to form Dunedin’s first Community of Learning (COL).  The COL is a government initiative which supports schools to form networks to share resources, skills and ideas with a view to improving academic achievement and exposure to cultural and sporting resources across the network. Through this network, we will expand our already significant opportunities for achievement in all areas of school life.

 academic_sm “It is truly a nurturing environment where each child’s individual needs are met. Having siblings who are very different it has been wonderful to see how each has been able to reach their maximum potential academically, socially and culturally.”
“In days gone by Catholic Schools had a reputation for strict rules and attitudes. What’s it like at Sacred Heart?”
We apply a modern and consistent approach to discipline in line with our school values, recognising and acknowledging positive behaviour, and using restorative practices when necessary.
Sacred Heart School offers an open and caring community, visitors and educational experts that visit our school often comment on how caring and happy our children are. Sacred Heart is invested in a Restorative Practice model. This focuses on the importance of relationships in managing and resolving conflict. Recently we have extended our engagement with this model, and have adopted the Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) model endorsed by the Ministry of Education. In a small school any issues can be addressed quickly and resolved quickly.


“Sacred Heart School was a perfect choice for my children. They immediately felt secure and comfortable in the family oriented environment where the older kids play and look out for the younger kids.”
“What about the availability of extracurricular activities?”
Sacred Heart provides a wide range of sporting, cultural and educational opportunities, and encourages involvement in the wider community.
Sacred Heart students enjoy a range of sporting activities, including Futsal, Netball; swimming – lessons over a fortnight taught by JC Swim School; and many of our students also play Tennis, Cricket, Rugby, Soccer, Dance, BMX and Athletics through our local groups and clubs.

Photo credit: Roslyn Nijenhuis Photography

Music is part of every day at Sacred Heart, and the school excels in Kapa Haka and Pasifika performance. Our children regularly receive performance invitations which the students gain a great deal from.Examples of recent performances include:

  • Valley Project CreekFest – Waiata for David Ellison, Upoko of Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki
  • Hosting Matariki annual performances along with other community schools
  • Performing at Toitu Early Settlers Museum for Matariki
  • Regular annual performance at Polyfest
  • Singing and Kapa Haka performances at Early Childhood Centres and Otago Museum.

Upoko David Ellison, Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki. Photo credit Edith Leigh Photography.
“I’m totally impressed by Sacred Heart School. The teaching staff, trustees, and especially the TAMARIKI. A delightful atmosphere.”
Through our curricular and Special Character activities, our children are exposed to a wide range of environmental and community focused activities which enrich their understanding of social and environmental issues. These have recently included:

  • Our Year 5&6 students participated in a Caritas Challenge, busking to raise money for their own dinner of rice and bread and sleeping in cardboard boxes to raise awareness of homelessness.
  • Performing at the Dunedin Climate Change Vigil
  • Visit to Otago Peninsula Albatross Colony and Rocky Shore studies
  • Visit and tree planting at Sinclair Wetland, to support our Wetlands studies
  • Year 5 and 6 Camp (Queenstown).

“What makes Sacred Heart School so special?”
Sacred Heart has a strong tradition of valuing people
We are recognised for our high quality learning within an engaging and caring environment. Our students are celebrated and nurtured, and our families feel welcome and connected. The school benefits from a dedicated Parents and Friends Association (PFA). The PFA provides a social and pastoral role within our school community, and is most visible with organising social and special events. Pastoral care is primarily about supporting our community as a whole, and people or families in our community when needed (e.g. new baby, sickness, bereavement). The pastoral role is provided by the PFA in numerous ways and is a very important part of the community. All families experience times when a little extra help can make a big difference and most families at school have been the recipient of a bit of baking or a meal when they are experiencing a challenging time.
The PFA organises a school social event every term. This is a great opportunity for new families to make new friends and get to know other parents.

Want to find out more? Please email:  principal@sacredheartdn.school.nz to have a chat and arrange a visit

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