Our School

See what makes Craighead unique among schools.

Our beautiful campus, set within mature green spaces encompasses modern and traditional teaching facilities along with superior boarding accommodation. Craighead provides a school where students can feel at home and supported in their pursuit of personal excellence. There is a culture of strong work ethic where positive expectations fuel students’ willingness to strive to be the best they can be. Our mission is to provide a nurturing, innovative, Christian living and learning environment, which empowers students to become confident, resilient and courageous contributors to a dynamic world.

School Structure

At Craighead we have developed a curriculum which allows all students to build a strong educational foundation, gives choice in subject selection, and allows students to build rich, varied programmes of study based on their interests. Craighead has a reputation for lifting the performance of its students. This is the result of outstanding teaching and pride in seeing our students achieve to the very best of their ability.

Junior School

These are important years. There is a strong family feeling within the school which makes our junior students feel valued.

We operate a Homeroom environment for our Year 7 and 8 students who remain with their Homeroom Teacher for the core subjects of English, Mathematics, Religious and Social Education and Social Studies. Once a week they are offsite at the local area Technology Centre, where they are exposed to all areas of the Technology Curriculum.

Our junior school students enjoy the small limited-size classes of up to 22 students, and they also benefit from having classes with specialist teachers for Art, Drama, French, German, Te Reo Māori, Music, Physical Education, and Science. The strengths and abilities of all learners are recognised and catered for accordingly. Students who require extra support are given the opportunity to have both individual and small group guidance, and students who require extension are encouraged to take part in a wide variety of opportunities both in and out of the classroom.

We encourage our junior students to become independent, lifelong learners and critical thinkers. They participate in activities, working alongside students of all levels in the school. Our Year 7 & 8 students enjoy having contact with our Year 9 to 13 students and are always included in whole school events, such as Chapel services, assemblies, productions and interhouse activities. Each Year 7 student is paired with a Year 8 student in a big sister/little sister relationship.

Middle School

Years 9 and 10 are in transition from Junior to Senior School. Our programmes in the Middle School develop learning strategies and the skills in preparation for their senior years. Excellent teaching practice combined with high expectations ensure that learning strategies are expanded and developed. Balanced by the students' participation in a variety of co-curricular activities, these strategies complement their academic programme.

Year 9 students have the opportunity to enjoy a 'taster' course of all optional courses we offer, and in Year 10 they can choose a range of optional subjects they're interested in for each semester.

We heartily encourage involvement in a wide range of activities and individual pursuits. Opportunities are offered in a variety of areas including sport, culture, art, and social justice which foster spiritual awareness.

Outdoor Education camps bookmark the beginning and the end of the middle school programme. In the first term of Year 9, our students head out on camp designed to allow students to get to know each other as well as form new friendships. In Year 10, our students enjoy a week together focussing on fun, participation, resilience, physical skills, and co-operation.

Senior School

Craighead offers a very strong senior academic programme with a wide variety of subject options taught by specialist teachers. In NCEA, Craighead students consistently achieve well above the national average, comparing favourably with other girls' schools of a similar equity index in New Zealand.

Career education programmes are offered at different year levels along with professional career counselling. We foster and encourage independent learning and self management skills that help our students excel in their studies and prepare them for life beyond secondary school.

Senior students have increased leadership responsibility and are role models for younger students. At Craighead service and leadership are valued through participation in co-curricular activities that help our students develop time management and inter-personal skills. These activities include community service programmes that help them to learn to manage change, become resilient and work inclusively.

Having received an holistic education within our strong pastoral care system, our senior students leave us as considerate, confident young women who are prepared to be involved and lead in whatever direction their interests lake them.

Useful links:

Our People

Our team at Craighead comprises experienced teachers and hardworking staff who are dedicated to helping every student achieve to their potential. Reflected in all facets of school life are our values of Respect, Integrity, Service, and Excellence. These, together with our focus on pastoral care and academic achievement, make Craighead a place where everyone feels welcome and encouraged to learn new things. At Craighead Diocesan School, your daughter will have teachers and staff who will inspire and empower her to become confident, resilient, and courageous contributors and leaders in a dynamic world.



Our boarding students develop many life skills, building young women that are resilient and well-prepared to deal with the challenges young people face living day-to-day.

Our boarding house is the heart of our school environment. It is a safe, well managed and well provisioned 'home-away-from-home' for 130 students from around and outside our region, this is approximately one third of our school roll attending Craighead.

Each Year group staying in the Boarding House is under the care of a supervisor who takes responsibility for their pastoral care and well-being. In their boarding experience, our students develop a strong sense of community and lifelong friendships as part of a large family. With welcoming, skilled, and caring staff we provide a high quality boarding experience in a homely environment. Within this caring Christian atmosphere a good work ethic is promoted and our boarders develop a shared sense of belonging and acceptance.

A strong feature of our Boarding experience is the “Big Sister, Little Sister” relationships that develop. Students and families speak highly of the dynamic and nurturing environment.

Our boarding complex is made up of two three-level boarding wings: Len Home wing housing Years 7-10, and the Senior Boarding wing which houses Years 11-13. Each wing consists of bedrooms in a variety of comfortable layouts from four beds in a room in the Junior wing through to single accommodation with an adjoining ensuite in the Senior wing. Each wing also comprises family style social areas on each floor containing modern kitchenettes and bathrooms.

The Boarding House is governed by the Board of Proprietors and managed by the Principal and the boarding senior management staff. The Board of Proprietors adopts all the policies of the Board of Trustees which can be found under our School Policies and Procedures page within our Parents tab.

Our boarding handbook below is an excellent guide for parents and students on our boarding experience and service.

If you are visiting our school on our Open Day Sunday 19 May 2024, (2pm start) and would like to tour our Boarding House please register at this link: Boarding House Tour

Useful links

Learning Support

Teachers understand that 'one-size-fits-all' thinking creates barriers which can exclude many students from realising their potential. Teachers regularly ask students about their learning and use this information to adapt and improve learning programmes. They also provide timely and useful feedback to students about their learning. Sometimes a student might need extra support and we provide this in a variety of ways.

All students are supported in achieving their personal excellence at Craighead Diocesan School. As a well resourced school, we offer a number of initiatives to support all students' learning. Individual support is provided both in and outside of the classroom as well as dedicated Literacy and Numeracy Support in small groups. We also offer peer tutoring in both these areas.

We have three part-time Teacher Aides who provide support in a number of classrooms across all levels, and who engage in targeted Tutor Reading with those students reading below their age level. Our Special Needs Coordinator (SENCo) regularly meets with small groups of students in Years 7 and 8 to focus on Literacy and Numeracy skills. Support Studies tutorials also run alongside the girls' regular timetables at Years 9 and 10 so that they don't miss too much of any one subject but still have access to extra support when needed.

Support is offered to our Senior students (Years 11-13) through the Foundation Studies programme which is designed to allow more flexibility and one-on-one time with a teacher in a small but multi-level class. Each student in Foundation Studies receives an Individual Learning Plan based on their individual learning goals.


Accepting challenges, learning new skills and working in teams with different groups of people helps our young women develop resilience, compassion, and a sense of community. Co-curricular activities develop skills for life. Training and competition develop cultural and sporting talents and skills. In addition to this, students develop self-management, teamwork, and leadership skills. Friendships, which last for years, are made through many of these activities.

We at Craighead recognise that participation in formal and informal sport is a vital part of a student’s education and therefore we seek to provide a wide variety of experiences and skill development opportunities for all students.

Our vision is for every student to find a physical activity that enriches their lives by raising their fitness levels, improving self-esteem and encouraging self-responsibility. Our students’ participation in sport and physical activity will be enjoyable, stimulating and challenging, benefiting those students positively and forming the basis of lifelong participation.

This sport ethic lays the path for student sporting achievements, working collaboratively and endorsing the values of positive competition, teamwork and FairPlay throughout a student’s lifelong participation

Craighead will endeavour to help students (both as individuals and as teams) to reach their potential through quality instruction, coaching and mentoring.

Our Sports Director and Sport Coordinator, working with a team of volunteer coaches, endeavour to engage our students in sporting and physical activity. They help develop our emerging sporting talent up to New Zealand representative levels in a variety of disciplines.

Special Senior Athlete focus: Athlete Enrichment Programme

This extra-curricular senior student programme aims to provide students the opportunity to grow as all round athletes and empowers them with the tools to be able to lead well balanced, active lives, so that they continue to pursue their sporting journey beyond school.

The programme content covers: Athlete - Education of Training; Athlete Preparation; Nutrition; Mind & Sports Psychology.

Culture and Performing Arts

The Arts give colour, sight, and sound to our world!

Culture & Performing Arts play a powerful role in wellbeing; connecting people, not only to the world around them, but also to their whānau and communities. It is through our Culture and the Performing Arts that we explore and build our sense of identity through creativity.

We celebrate our cultural diversity alongside the Performing Arts and also through the curriculum, our Cultural Committee and our Kapa Haka. Formalised in 2012 , our Kapa Haka has gone from strength to strength and currently has around seventy members. Complementing our Kapa Haka is our Cultural Committee, ably led each year by two Year 13 Student Leaders. Representing the wide range of cultures present at Craighead, this multicultural group is active in ensuring the voices of all students at Craighead are heard.

These areas have played a big part in the development of Craighead students since the beginning of the school in 1911. Music Fetes were held at the end of each term, with rooms in Shand House being used as theatres. Shakespeare productions were undertaken in 1914 and 1916 respectively. The inaugural Head of Music, Miss Elizabeth Shand, was renowned for playing the piano in Shand House prior to putting the boarders lights out. Befitting the education of the day, Craighead was established with a view to training the ‘…artistic…faculties [developing] the character and ultimately producing … cultured and capable young women’ - giving us just a small glimpse into the history of Performing Arts at Craighead.

Craighead exhibits considerable strength in a variety of areas of the Performing Arts consistently, which is evidenced by:

  • Successful musical stage productions including A Thousand and One Nights, Annie Jr, and several Stage Challenge productions.
  • Student successes in Sheilah Winn Shakespeare competitions, with opportunities to study in Wellington and the Globe in London.
  • Past drama students training at the Stella Alder Studio of Acting in New York, for the Professional Conservatory, and entry into NASDA.
  • A long history of National Level success competing at The Big Sing, members of the National Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra, National Youth Choir and NZ Pipe Youth Band.
  • Successful solo international musical careers such as Kaylee Bell and Isla Brentwood.