St Joseph's Catholic School (Fairfield) - 14/02/2018

School Context

St Joseph’s Catholic School (Fairfield) provides Catholic education for Years 1-8 students. The roll of 357 includes 9% Māori, 3% Pacific and students from a range of other ethnicities. Through its mission statement and vision the school aims to provide holistic education in an environment that reflects the values of the Roman Catholic Church. These values are; love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, faithfulness, goodness, kindness and gentleness. The school prioritises strategic goals that promote the Catholic faith, high levels of achievement and inclusive learning for all students. Current school targets for spelling were derived from the school’s 2016 achievement data. The school aims for all students to achieve their potential.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board about outcomes for students in reading, writing and mathematics.

Since the last ERO review a number of new trustees have joined the board. Professional learning and development for teachers has focused on oral language, curriculum review and development, te reo and tikanga Māori. The school is a member of the Waikato Catholic Community of Learning|Kāhui Ako.

Evaluation Findings

1 Equity and excellence – valued outcomes for students

1.1 How well is the school achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for all its students?

The school is achieving equitable and excellent outcomes for most students. The school’s achievement data over the last three years indicates that most students, including Māori, are achieving at or above expected levels in reading, writing and mathematics. Boys’ achievement in reading has improved. However, boys do not achieve as well as girls in writing.

1.2 How effectively does this school respond to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school is responding effectively to accelerating the achievement of many Māori and other at-risk students.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

2.1 What school processes and practices are effective in enabling achievement of equity and excellence?

Trustees, leaders and teachers effectively promote the school’s mission, vision and values. Students’ holistic wellbeing is central to decision making. Promotion of the Catholic values and responsive pastoral care contribute to a settled school environment that is conducive to learning.

School practices are inclusive of all learners. Students with additional needs experience a collaborative wrap-around approach that supports their participation and success. The school’s Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) has developed comprehensive systems and practices for identifying students who have specific learning needs, planning for individuals and monitoring progress of students achieving below expected levels. She works collaboratively with teachers to develop personalised plans that are responsive to each student’s needs and strengths. These plans are focussed on learning and skill development. The school also works in partnership with families and external agencies to support improved outcomes for these students.

Leaders and teachers are open to new learning. Innovation and reflection are encouraged when considering new initiatives designed to support higher levels of student engagement. Currently, careful consideration is being given to changes in teaching practice that are required for effective use of modern learning environments, and digital technologies for enhancing teaching and learning.

Teachers are committed to the school’s strategic approach to strengthening culturally responsive practices. This is resulting in increased presence and use of te reo and tikanga Māori across the school.

Reciprocal, learning-centred relationships are highly evident. Parents are well informed and have many opportunities to participate in their students’ learning. Students are making good use of the school’s digital platform and student-led conferences to share their learning with families. Parents are supportive of the school and make a valued contribution through involvement in classroom programmes and extra-curricular activities.

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

School targets are not reflective of all at-risk students. The school’s special needs register identifies all at risk learners. However, not all of these students are included in the board’s annual achievement targets. More inclusive targets and reporting throughout the year should enable the board to know the rates of progress for all students whose achievement needs acceleration.

The teacher appraisal process needs strengthening. The principal needs to continue to review, develop and further document the appraisal process to ensure a robust approach to ongoing teacher development and to improve learner outcomes.

The school is yet to develop a systematic approach to internal evaluation. Leaders and teachers need to develop their capacity to use internal evaluation and inquiry to understand the impact of teachers’ practice and school initiatives on learning outcomes for all students, particularly those whose progress and achievement needs acceleration.

The school’s curriculum review and development is ongoing. Leaders and teachers now need to reach shared and agreed understandings about:

  • school-wide expectations for effective teaching in each learning area
  • learning pathways, curriculum integration and inquiry learning
  • formative assessment practices
  • student agency for greater understanding and ownership of their own learning.

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 established under 238F OF THE Education Act 1989. The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the code.

No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO review.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • leadership that promotes innovation and reflection

  • school culture that strongly reflects the school’s vision and values creating positive environments for learning

  • learner centred relationships that engage parents as partners in their student’s learning.

Next steps

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

  • teacher appraisal to ensure teachers receive regular and robust professional critique about their practice

  • ongoing curriculum review to support the development of shared and agreed understandings and expectations for effective teaching practice across the curriculum

  • targeted planning to accelerate learning [ERO will monitor and discuss progress with the school]

  • internal evaluation processes and practices.

[ERO will provide an internal evaluation workshop for trustees and senior leaders]

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer

Te Tai Miringa - Waikato / Bay of Plenty Region

14 February 2018

About the school



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary Years 1-8

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 51% Girls 49%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā 73%
Māori 9%
Asian 6%
Pacific 3%
Other 9%

Provision of Māori medium education


Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

14 February 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review November 2014
Education Review April 2011
Education Review June 2008