St Joseph's School (Stratford) - 09/07/2014

Findings

The school’s special character is clearly evident in practice. Most students achieve at or above National Standards. Teachers engage students in meaningful learning activities. Parents are involved in their children’s learning and contribute to many aspects of school life. Students’ wellbeing is a priority. Self-review practices continue to be strengthened.

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 Joseph’s School is a state integrated Years 1 to 8 Catholic school situated in Stratford. At the time of this review the roll was 202 students, of whom 25 identify as Māori.

The mission statement 'Caring, Sharing and Daring in Prayer' underpins all that happens at St Joseph’s for students, teachers and their involvement with the community. The school’s focus on ‘missioning’ encourages students to care for others. Students and families fundraise and support several local, national and international causes.

Students have many opportunities to lead and be effective role models. Teachers know students and their families well. Strong, respectful relationships and an inclusive, welcoming environment support commitment to students’ holistic wellbeing. The extensive grounds and range of learning spaces support teaching and learning.

Special character is strongly evident across all aspects of school life. Prayer and spirituality encompass all areas of the curriculum. The board provides additional staffing and resources for the curriculum to cater for the needs of all students. The school enjoys a high level of parent and parish community involvement and support.

2 Learning

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

Senior leaders, teachers and trustees make effective use of achievement information to support and promote engagement of all students.

End of year 2013 data indicates that the majority of students achieve at or above in relation to the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Māori student achievement is comparable to that of their peers.

Leaders and trustees use achievement information to make suitable decisions about improvement targets, resourcing, professional learning priorities and teachers’ professional learning and development (PLD).

Staff incorporate a range of assessment tools in making overall teacher judgements about students’ progress and achievement. Processes for moderation of assessment judgements are sound. Teachers have shared expectations for achievement across all year levels. They use achievement information to identify students’ specific learning needs.

Students at risk of not achieving are appropriately identified. Strategies and interventions are put in place to promote their engagement and learning. An agreed next step is to evaluate the impact of these strategies.

Parents receive informative written reports about their children’s progress and achievement twice each year, and verbally at parent-teacher interviews. Information includes achievement for literacy and mathematics in relation to National Standards. Teachers also effectively report progress and learning for other curriculum areas.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum effectively promotes student engagement and supports learning. Since ERO's 2011 report ongoing PLD in writing and mathematics in particular, has contributed to improved outcomes for all students.

Curriculum priorities in reading, writing and mathematics align to The New Zealand Curriculum expectations. The school’s mission and values are clearly evident in all aspects of school culture, and woven throughout the curriculum. Teachers plan programmes with relevant integration across learning areas through meaningful, interesting contexts.

Staff are supported by collaboratively developed guidelines that promote consistent practice across the school. ERO identified and senior leaders agree that the school should continue to review the effectiveness of its curriculum to ensure further coherence across the school.

Teachers actively work to build and maintain positive and constructive classroom environments. They use a range of effective strategies to promote learning. Students are highly engaged in meaningful tasks. They are confident, willing to contribute and able to work cooperatively. Respectful relationships and interactions are evident between students and adults.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support teaching and learning is developing. School leaders and trustees recognise a strategic approach is needed to assist successful implementation of use of ICT to support teaching and learning.

Staff are committed to supporting transition into the school for students as new entrants and for those leaving for secondary school. Next steps are to strengthen systems by:

liaising with early childhood services to support continuity of learning between Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, andThe New Zealand Curriculum as implemented by the school

  • evaluating the impact of the various transition processes.
  • This should enhance existing transition programmes for students and their families.

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

Māori students achieve well. They are actively involved in all aspects of school life. Senior students are provided with a range of opportunities to take on leadership roles and act as positive role models for their peers.

The school is focused on strengthening Māori perspectives in school programmes. Teachers align special character and Māori spiritual dimensions. Leaders agree that this should be more explicit in curriculum documentation.

Senior leaders and trustees are investigating how to:

  • strengthen local iwi connections at board level
  • increase whānau views in school decision making
  • implement Ka Hikitia: Accelerating Success 2013-2017.

In addition, the school should consider:

  • more meaningful integration of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori in class programmes
  • increasing the visibility of Māori perspectives in the environment
  • the use of Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners as a resource to support teachers' understanding and practices that promote good learning for Māori students.

A strong foundation is being made to strengthen Māori success as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school continues to develop its approach to sustaining and improving its performance.

Appraisal processes have been recently reviewed and are at an early stage of implementation. Teachers' and leaders' appraisal goals are aligned to school priorities and student learning outcomes. School leaders have identified that the following aspects of the process need to be strengthened to further promote improvement:

  • regular constructive feedback
  • teaching as inquiry
  • self reflection.

Trustees are active in the school and committed to its vision and priorities. They are clear about their roles and responsibilities. The board focuses on student achievement and gives priority to resourcing that supports learning for all groups of students.

Trustees receive a wide range of information about student achievement, curriculum and PLD. They are well informed about day-to-day operation and the progress and achievement of students. Reports to the board should consider the impact of initiatives on improving students' learning outcomes.

The principal models and provides strong professional leadership. Staff work collaboratively and are supportive of each other. Professional development is purposeful and effective in engaging teachers in focused learning aligned to learner priorities.

Senior leaders, trustees and teachers demonstrate a clear understanding of the importance of forming partnerships with parents, whānau and the wider community. A variety of opportunities are provided for parents to engage with the school. There is high parent participation in education outside the classroom. School parent partnerships are strong.

ERO recommends and school leaders agree that there is a need to develop a suitable framework to evaluate programmes and practices that promote improvement. The framework should include reference to best practice indicators for success and processes for gathering evidence. This should enhance board decision making, the allocation of resources and monitoring the impact of planned change.

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

The school’s special character is clearly evident in practice. Most students achieve at or above National Standards. Teachers engage students in meaningful learning activities. Parents are involved in their children’s learning and contribute to many aspects of school life. Students’ wellbeing is a priority. Self-review practices continue to be strengthened.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.index-html-m2a7690f7.gif

Joyce Gebbie

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

9 July 2014

About the School

Location

Stratford

Ministry of Education profile number

2238

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

202

Gender composition

Female 53%

Male 47%

Ethnic composition

Māori

NZ European/Pākehā

12%

88%

Special features

Integrated Catholic School

Review team on site

June 2014

Date of this report

9 July 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

May 2011

May 2008

June 2005