St Francis Xavier Catholic School (Whangarei) - 30/07/2014

Findings

St Francis Xavier School’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. The special Catholic character of the school contributes to a learning culture that is calm and purposeful and focused on student wellbeing. Learning programmes are well designed to support students achieving below expectations and extend those with special abilities.

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?

St Francis Xavier Catholic School is located in attractive, well maintained grounds in the suburb of Whau Valley, Whangarei. It is a state integrated school for students from Years 1 to 6. The school serves a growing ethnically diverse community. Māori students make up the largest ethnic group after New Zealand European.

The school’s special Catholic character supports a caring and respectful tone which promotes the development of the whole child. Students who spoke with ERO said they are learning more about what it means to be Catholic.

The school has a long serving team of capable professional leaders, committed teachers and support staff. The recent development of five vertically grouped whānau classes promotes the concept of tuakana/teina relationships between younger and older students. Leadership opportunities have been extended through the appointment of whānau leaders to these teams.

The school’s community is positively involved in the school. A closer relationship has been developed between the school and whānau of Māori children.

Staff have been involved in a number of school wide professional development initiatives. These have included numeracy development, accelerating learning in maths (ALiM) and accelerating learning in literacy (ALL).

The 2010 ERO report acknowledged that students were engaged well in their learning, and that parents and whānau were involved in the life of the school. The report also noted that students achieve very well. These positive features continue to be evident. The management team has made progress in addressing the areas for development noted in ERO’s 2010 report.

The board, principal, senior managers, whānau leaders and teachers have continued to place a deliberate focus on raising student achievement which has resulted in positive changes to learning outcomes for students.

2 Learning

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

Student achievement information is well used by staff to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement. Reference is made to the Ministry of Education’s public achievement data in school analysis. Teachers use appropriate assessment processes to determine student achievement levels. Trustees and school managers use data to set school priorities, identify professional learning and development, and make resourcing decisions.

School-wide and class achievement targets are identified and action plans developed. The progress and achievement of these target students is monitored. Teachers use achievement data to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching and to plan for the different learning abilities of students.

The school has an inclusive and responsive learning environment. Learning programmes are designed to support students who are achieving below expectations and extend those with special abilities. Special learning assistants support teachers to address student learning needs effectively. Students with special learning needs are carefully transitioned and are well supported within the school’s culture of caring and respect for others. Students said that this is a nice community of people helping each other and we don’t judge you if you are different.

The school has a number of new English language learners. The use of English language learning progressions (ELLPs) helps teachers to identify students learning needs and abilities and value their student’s capability in their home language.

Students are highly engaged in and focused on learning. They talk confidently and knowledgeably about their learning. Students said they experience different ways and strategies for learning and see how others think and learn. Teachers could now consider extending students’ knowledge and understanding of their learning progress and achievement. This would enable students to set more learning focused goals and monitor their own progress.

The school’s data about achievement in relation to National Standards suggests that all students, including Māori and Pacific students, continue to achieve particularly well in reading, writing and maths compared with other local and national achievement levels. The school is well placed to meet the Ministry of Education goals of having 85 percent of students achieving at or above the National Standards in reading writing and mathematics by 2017.

Senior managers are continuing to review and refine the reporting of student progress and achievement in relation to the National Standards to parents and whānau.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum promotes and supports student learning very effectively. It reflectsThe New Zealand Curriculum and community expectations. It gives value to the special Catholic character of the school. The learning culture that results is calm, settled and purposeful. This inclusive school tone has a strong influence on student wellbeing.

Students benefit from the school’s integrated curriculum mapping model. The curriculum is organised around concepts that give coverage to all curriculum areas. Teachers collaboratively plan a concept, considering the strengths and needs of students and the local environment. This approach to curriculum promotes high levels of engagement as teachers and students develop relevant and authentic contexts for learning. The curriculum is reviewed and monitored to ensure the consistency and effectiveness of teaching and learning.

Literacy and numeracy are appropriately prioritised in the curriculum. Improving student learning in mathematics has been a recent focus. Teachers incorporate te reo and tikanga Māori and Te Ao Māori within a concept focus. Co-curricular activities, environmental sustainability and extension programmes provide students with diverse learning opportunities. Art, music and kapa haka complement sport and physical education programmes and opportunities for leadership.

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are used to enhance and extend learning opportunities for students. Funding is available for teachers to apply for and illustrate how this technology will support student learning and achievement in their classroom. This is a well considered approach to build teachers capability and use of resourcing.

The school has strong pastoral systems, which provide an extensive wrap around approach for families and their children. These include a range of support agencies including the Parish, a family support worker and the school Parents, Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA).

School managers and whānau leaders identified future priorities for reviewing and developing the school’s curriculum. These include:

  • continuing to provide authentic opportunities for students to enrich their lines of inquiry and critical thinking skills across the curriculum
  • continuing developments towards a bi-cultural curriculum.

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

St Francis Xavier Catholic School recognises and celebrates its bi-cultural heritage and bi-cultural partnership as being integral to the development of the whole child in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The school’s charter is strategically focused on improving outcomes for Māori. Whānau views and perspectives are sought by the board of trustees to further enhance educational outcomes for Māori learners. They are exploring the development of a Māori graduate student profile which could effectively promote educational success for Māori as Māori.

Twenty-five percent of the students at the school identify as Māori. These students make good progress in their learning and generally achieve well overall. They take leadership roles in kapa haka performance, powhiri and assemblies. Māori students said they value the inclusion of aspects of Māori culture and language in the school environment and learning programmes. The school’s gifted and talented programme, Diving Deeper, provides Māori students with opportunities to extend and enhance their te reo and tikanga Māori skills.

National Education Initiatives such as Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013-17, and Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners, have been well considered by the school in consultation with the board, senior managers, whānau leaders and teachers to enhance outcomes for Māori students. School managers and teachers are currently developing the integration of the Tātaiako cultural competencies throughout the school’s curriculum planning and teacher practices.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain ongoing development and capability

Board leadership is highly effective. New and experienced trustees bring a variety of skills and expertise to their roles. There is a unity of purpose and good working relationships between the board and management of the school. Board decision making is focused on continuing to raise student achievement.

The principal and senior management team have focused on establishing a strong foundation for the school’s continued growth and capability. The team works collaboratively across the school, and their approach is underpinned by gentleness and respect. Their coaching and mentoring roles help sustain professional learning in mathematics and literacy. Newly developed whānau leadership roles recognise staff capabilities. Expertise from within the staff is acknowledged and encouraged.

Contribution to and working with the wider educational community is a continued focus. The principal and senior managers build networks with other schools and continue to build relationships with contributing early childhood centres and to support transitions for new students.

The board of trustees and senior managers are using a range of self review practices, and increasingly involve input from students, staff and the school community. To further support sustainability and improvement the school needs to continue to strengthen the evaluative practices of their self review.

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.

Conclusion

St Francis Xavier School’s curriculum effectively promotes and supports student learning. The special Catholic character of the school contributes to a learning culture that is calm and purposeful and focused on student wellbeing. Learning programmes are well designed to support students achieving below expectations and extend those with special abilities.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services Northern Region

30 July 2014

About the School

Location

Whangarei, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number

1588

School type

Contributing (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

475

Gender composition

Girls 51%

Boys 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

Filipino

British/Irish

African

Indian

Samoan

OtherAsian

other European

other

23%

58%

4%

3%

2%

2%

1%

2%

2%

3%

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

30 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2010

June 2007

September 2001