St Francis Xavier Catholic School (Whangarei)

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Education institution number:
1588
School type:
Contributing
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
442
Telephone:
Address:

1 Percy Street, Whau Valley, Whangarei

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School Context

St Francis Xavier Catholic School (Whangarei), caters for students in Years 1 to 6. The school roll of approximately 530 students includes 24 percent Māori, 2 percent Pacific, 6 percent Filipino and a variety of other ethnicities.

The school’s mission is to provide an education that meets the needs of each individual child. The Gospel values of honesty, compassion, service, love, and forgiveness underpin the mission. These values are well understood and are shared by parents, teachers and students.

Leaders and teachers regularly report to the board, schoolwide information about outcomes for students in the following areas:

  • achievement in reading, writing and mathematics

  • outcomes for students with additional learning needs, including those who are gifted and talented students

  • progress and achievement in relation to school targets

  • outcomes related to engagement and wellbeing

  • outcomes related to identity, culture and language

  • the special character of the school’s curriculum.

Since ERO’s 2014 report, school leadership and stewardship have remained stable. Staff have participated in professional learning in the teaching of mathematics and writing to increase their capability to make positive changes for learners.

St Francis Xavier Catholic School is part of Ngā Kura mo te ako o Whangarei Group 1 Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL). The CoL is focused on improving student wellbeing and achievement.

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 successful in working towards equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. Overall school data show consistently high levels of achievement in reading, writing and mathematics.

As a group there is disparity in achievement for Māori. However, by Year 6 Māori students have progressed well enough to reduce this disparity. Pacific students achieve well. Their achievement levels in reading, writing and mathematics are similar to that of the school population.

School literacy data show some disparity between boys’ and girls’ achievement. Raising boys’ achievement in literacy is a schoolwide target, and is also being considered as an achievement focus across the CoL.

Students achieve very well in relation to other school valued outcomes. Most students:

  • demonstrate confidence in themselves as learners

  • are confident in their language, culture and identity

  • are caring and accepting of others

  • value the contribution they can make to the school community.

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

The school takes a very effective, holistic approach when responding to those Māori and other students whose learning and achievement needs acceleration.

There is a collective responsibility for supporting students’ progress and achievement across the school. School leaders and teachers place priority on ensuring that all students have the maximum opportunity to learn. They meet regularly to discuss students’ progress, and strategies to support students whose learning needs acceleration.

School data show a positive shift in Māori students’ achievement as they move through the school. This positive shift is highly evident in reading. By the end of Year 6 most Māori students are achieving at or above expected levels. The Māori graduate profile is underpinned by a strategic plan that is monitored, regularly reviewed and updated to ensure the school is continuing to respond effectively to Māori students.

Leaders and teachers respond well to students with additional learning needs. Almost all students show positive shifts in their wellbeing, confidence and engagement in their learning.

New learners of English receive highly effective support to enable them to make progress in their learning and have full access to the curriculum. Effective strategies are shared and used across the school to support the learning and achievement of all students whose learning needs acceleration.

Children who are identified as gifted and talented are able to engage in challenging and purposeful learning activities that meet their individual strengths. The gifted and talented programme is broadly defined and is available to target children, based on a gift or talent they have or show potential in. Māori dimensions of gifted and talented are valued and affirmed by the programme.

The school’s achievement targets address identified disparities for groups of students. Progress towards these targets is monitored by teachers, school leaders and the board.

2 School conditions for equity and excellence

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

School leadership is highly effective. Leaders build relational trust and collaboration at every level of the school community. They actively promote practices that focus on students’ wellbeing, engagement in learning, and confidence in their identity, language and culture. Leadership is distributed among staff, and is highly visible in school initiatives that are focused on the achievement of equity and excellence.

Leadership opportunities for children are very evident. Student leadership roles and responsibilities align closely with the school’s values. Children appreciate the contribution they can make to the school community.

The whānau group structure supports a caring, collaborative learning community that is inclusive of diverse learners. This structure is highly successful in promoting learning through tuakana/teina relationships. Children have multiple opportunities to learn from, and with, each other across a variety of contexts.

Children enjoy a coherent and broad curriculum that responds to children’s strengths, cultures, interests and talents. The school’s curriculum-mapping approach is well embedded, and supports regular internal evaluation of curriculum content, and effective teaching and learning.

Children learn in stimulating environments that enhance learning and wellbeing. The school’s high quality physical environment is thoughtfully designed. It affirms and celebrates children’s interests and identity, and extends their learning experiences.

The school prioritises time for teachers to share effective practices and work collaboratively. Teachers meet regularly to monitor and track student progress. They reflect on the impact of their teaching on student outcomes, and modify their practice. Teachers implement teaching and learning strategies that respond to the needs and strengths of individual, and groups of children.

The school has strong stewardship. Trustees actively represent and serve the school community. Trustees and staff share a strong commitment to the school, and work collaboratively. They prioritise student wellbeing, achievement, and initiatives that make a difference for children. Trustees take a lead in strategic planning review, and place value on high levels of consultation with staff and the community.

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

To continue to support the achievement of equity and excellence, leaders and teachers could develop further opportunities for children to be leaders of their own learning, and the learning of others. The school is well placed to build on the strong learning behaviours demonstrated by children to further empower student ownership of learning.

The school should continue to build on the new ‘transition to school’ programme and sustain learning partnerships with parents and whānau throughout their time at the school.

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.

4 Going forward

Key strengths of the school

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

  • a supportive and collaborative culture that provides opportunities for innovation, and responds to the strengths and needs of individuals and groups of children

  • leadership and stewardship that place priority on improving outcomes for all children

  • a strong sense of community and shared values that are reflected in everyday practice, and are shared among the wider school community.

Next steps

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

  • further empowering children to be leaders of their own and others’ learning

  • sustaining learning partnerships with parents of children whose learning needs acceleration.

ERO’s next external evaluation process and timing

ERO is likely to carry out the next external evaluation in four-to-five years.

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

Te Tai Raki - Northern Region

18 January 2018

About the school

Location

Whau Valley, Whangarei

Ministry of Education profile number

1588

School type

Contributing School (Years 1 to 6)

School roll

529

Gender composition

Boys 50% Girls 50%

Ethnic composition

Māori

āāPkeh

Filipino

Indian

African

Pacific

British/Irish

Sri Lankan

other Asian

other European

24%

51%

6%

5%

3%

2%

2%

1%

3%

3%

Provision of Māori medium education

No

Review team on site

November 2017

Date of this report

18 January 2018

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

July 2014
May 2010
June 2007

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