Stella Maris Primary School

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1 Context

Stella Maris Primary School is a Catholic integrated school catering for children in Years 1 to 8. The school is part of the wider parish family and enjoys close relationships with members of the church community. Since ERO's review in 2013 Pacific and Asian student numbers have grown. The Māori student roll has remained similar at eight percent. A significant number of children with special needs attend the school. The school is part of the Ministry of Education Community of Learning project that is focused on raising student achievement in North Shore Catholic Schools.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are for all children to develop according to their individual capabilities. The school's vision is reinforced through the Marian values of compassion, service, obedience, empathy, strength, loyalty, trust, courage, faith and wisdom. These values, encouraged and modelled to children on a daily basis, are underpinned by the stated school mission of a Christ-centred community.

The school's achievement information shows that the school consistently meets the government achievement target for 2017 of 85 percent of students achieving at or above the National Standard in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of Year 8. The number of students achieving the National Standard in reading and writing increases as they move through the school. School literacy data shows some disparity between boys' and girls' achievement, with girls achieving at higher levels. The data shows that this disparity is widening in reading and remains static in writing.

The cohorts of Māori and Pacific children remain too small to report overall achievement in relation to the National Standards or to identify trends over time. The school monitors the achievement of these children individually and sets specific achievement targets for each group. School data shows very good achievement outcomes for these students.

School wide systems and processes that support teachers to make robust and consistent achievement judgements in relation to the National Standards have improved. Moderation with other schools has enhanced the dependability of the school's writing achievement data.

Since the last ERO evaluation the school has:

  • improved school systems for monitoring children's progress and achievement
  • implemented a variety of teaching strategies to increase students' ownership of their learning, progress and achievement
  • made better use of achievement information to inform programme planning
  • focused on teachers using achievement data as evidence for measuring the effectiveness of their practice
  • responded very well to recommendations in the 2013 ERO report. 

3 Accelerating achievement

How effectively does this school respond to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration?

The school responds effectively to children whose learning and achievement need acceleration.

Leaders and teachers use analysed achievement information well to promptly identify children who are at risk of not achieving and whose progress requires acceleration. Teachers use this information to develop useful action plans that target children's progress, support ongoing monitoring, and give consideration to next learning steps. Teaching teams meet to consider strategies for better supporting individual children's learning progress. Teachers' evaluation of practices that make a positive difference to student progress is improving outcomes for these students.

The board sets specific and relevant improvement targets that enable the school to measure progress and achievement for different groups of students, including Māori and Pacific. Through these targets the board closely monitors the progress and achievement of these groups. The board could consider setting specific targets to reduce the gender differences in reading and writing data.

Senior leaders place a priority on responding to the learning needs of children with special needs. The board resources a variety of intervention programmes to support these children. An inclusive and responsive approach to diverse individual abilities ensures that children with special learning needs make progress and participate fully in appropriate learning programmes.

Teachers use teaching approaches designed to increase children's engagement in the learning effectively. New approaches to teaching mathematics in Years 3 to 8 show encouraging shifts in achievement for many students, and some accelerated progress. The leadership team is bringing a focus to ways teachers can use these strategies in Years 1 and 2 and extend these approaches to the teaching of reading and writing.

Children have an increasing understanding of their own achievement and next learning steps, and are engaged in the learning process. Teachers share assessment information with students and support them in decisions about how to improve their achievement.

4 School conditions

How effectively do the school’s curriculum and other organisational processes and practices develop and enact the school’s vision, values, goals and targets for equity and excellence?

The school's curriculum, processes and practices promote equity and excellence for children effectively.

Experienced school leaders focus on improving outcomes for children. The leadership team builds relational trust at all levels of the school. This lays a sound foundation for bringing in other initiatives that promote equity and excellence. Leadership is distributed across teaching teams to build individual and collective professional capacity. Teachers share knowledge and skills to enhance outcomes for students. Opportunities for student leadership are growing. The principal promotes leadership through service to others.

The board provides effective governance. Trustees are well informed about children's rates of progress and their overall achievement. They use this information to make appropriate resourcing decisions to improve outcomes for all students.

Programmes are well planned and good quality teaching practices are evident. Staff engage in useful professional learning and development programmes to strengthen learning focused relationships.

The school's curriculum supports children well in the five key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum; thinking, using language symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing. Good progress is being made towards developing a curriculum that is more personalised for, and self-directed by, the learner.

Some progress has been made to strengthen bicultural components of the curriculum. Māori contexts are evident in some programmes and in the environment. Leaders could consider how parents and whānau support could contribute to strengthening opportunities for Māori children to experience success as Māori and for all children to learn about New Zealand's bicultural heritage.

A coaching model is an integral part of teachers' appraisal. It is timely for leaders to consider reviewing the appraisal process to help teachers to reflect on their practice and document evidence against the Practicing Teacher Criteria. A next step is to include the cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners in the school's appraisal system to help grow teachers' knowledge and understanding of te ao Māori.

The school fosters very good relationships with parents that centre on learning partnerships with children. A variety of effective information sharing strategies keep parents well informed about their children's progress and achievement. School leaders and teachers also provide parents with the knowledge and skills to successfully support their children's learning at home.

The school is taking positive steps to build an environment where growing numbers of Pacific students are able to find a place and be confident in their cultural identity. Initiatives include the establishment by parents of a Pacific cultural group. The board is committed to implementing initiatives that enhance Pacific learners' and their parents' of involvement in the life of the school.

Internal evaluation is used well. Outcomes of school-wide curriculum review provide clear rationale for positive change. Staff and the school community are consulted widely as part of review processes and develop shared ownership of outcomes that support the school's overall improvement focus.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to accelerate the achievement of all children who need it?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • respond effectively to the strengths, needs and interests of each child
  • regularly evaluate how well teaching is working for these children
  • act on what they know works well for each child
  • build teacher capability effectively to achieve equitable outcomes for all children
  • are well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

The school is well placed to sustain progress made in teaching practice and to make ongoing improvements that impact positively on all children's learning.

Leaders have identified relevant priorities for further development. These include:

  • strengthening bicultural processes and practices
  • continuing to develop student centred learning approaches that promote children's active engagement in learning and support them to grow as leaders of their learning
  • continuing to strengthen the evaluative quality of teacher reflections and school reviews
  • reviewing the school appraisal process.

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

6 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 the following:

  • board administration

  • curriculum

  • management of health, safety and welfare

  • personnel management

  • 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

  • processes for appointing staff

  • stand down, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions

  • attendance

  • compliance with the provisions of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

7 Recommendation

ERO recommends that school leaders continue to strengthen the evaluative component of self review when prioritising actions that make a difference for the learner. 

Graham Randell

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

16 November 2016

About the school

Location

Silverdale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1663

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

280

Gender composition

Boys 54% Girls 46%

Ethnic composition

Māori

Pākehā

Asian

Pacific

other ethnicities

8%

80%

6%

4%

2%

Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

16 November 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2013

June 2010

May 2007



1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Stella Maris is a state-integrated Catholic school in Silverdale, north of Auckland. It provides education for students from Years 1 to Year 8. A new principal started at the school in 2011. The special character of the school is reflected in all aspects of school life.

Teachers and students work in classrooms located around central atriums. Most classes include children from two year levels. A significant number of children with special needs attend the school.

The school is set in expansive grounds. A new library was opened recently and has improved the range of learning spaces available to students and teachers.

The school is supported by a strong and active parent group known as the Parent, Teacher and Friends Association.

The previous ERO report in 2010 found an inclusive school culture and students well engaged with their learning tasks. These characteristics continue to be evident in the school. At the time of the last review the school planned to make greater use of student voice to promote student ownership of learning. Some progress has been made in this area.

2 Learning

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

The school is developing its capacity to use achievement information more fully to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement.

Senior leaders use data to monitor student achievement in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. They also use this information to identify students who need to be supported to make better progress. Some students are involved in additional learning programmes to help improve their achievement in reading and mathematics.

Teachers use the achievement information to identify students’ levels of achievement, to group students for learning, and to track their learning needs in mathematics. They now discuss student achievement at team meetings. Teachers have also begun to use a new recording and planning format to help make greater connections between what they know about students and what they plan to teach.

Parents receive written reports twice a year about their children’s achievement and progress in relation to the National Standards. They meet with their children and teachers at ‘triadic interviews’ to set learning goals.

School achievement data indicates that students generally achieve better in reading and writing than in mathematics. Senior leaders have identified that teachers need to better understand how they can accelerate progress for students, in particular, for those Māori students who are not achieving as well as non Māori students.

Students with special needs are well included within the school community. Teachers lead the process of developing individual education plans for these students. They share information about these students well as they transition within the school. Teacher aides participate in professional development to learn ways to support student’s particular learning needs.

Examples of good teaching practice are evident across the school. Some examples of this good practice include instances where teachers:

  • provide students with specific feedback about their work and share ideas about their next steps so they can improve their learning and achievement
  • promote student use of self and peer assessment strategies
  • use student achievement information to inform programmes and planning
  • reflect on the impact of their teaching on student engagement and learning.

These good teaching practices could be used to promote greater consistency of practice throughout the school to help students make further progress in their learning.

3 Curriculum

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

The school is developing its capacity to promote and support student learning through the curriculum. School leaders have yet to develop and implement a school curriculum that fully reflects The New Zealand Curriculum.

Teachers facilitate the school’s religious education curriculum that follows the national guidelines for Catholic schools. They find opportunities to integrate aspects of other learning areas into the religious education curriculum.

Literacy and numeracy are appropriately emphasised. Teachers cover science, social studies and technology through an integrated approach called ‘concept’. Students inquire into these concepts mainly through teacher-led approaches. Teams of teachers review each concept at its conclusion to evaluate the merits of the unit.

Students benefit from regular art, music and te reo Māori lessons taken by lead teachers. Years 7 and 8 students have opportunities to experience technology at a school with specialist teachers. Senior students contribute to the school community through their representation on councils. As a result students have an increased input into school operations.

Students are encouraged to complete independent projects in the areas of gospel, community, sports, academic and the arts. Teachers lead lunchtime interest clubs that provide extra opportunities for students.

In order to implement school-wide expectations for teachers, senior leaders should:

  • consult with teachers, parents and students, and consider research, to establish what is important in a Stella Maris curriculum
  • develop a curriculum that fully reflects the intentions of The New Zealand Curriculum
  • provide clear guidance for teachers to fully implement the curriculum.

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

Māori students proudly identify as Māori and hold high expectations for themselves. They are aware of the type of education required to help them achieve their aspirations. Religious education provides opportunities for students to recite karakia in te reo Māori. Concepts and lessons are also linked to te reo Māori.

A lead teacher supports senior students to participate in the school’s kapa haka group. A teacher takes a sequential programme of te reo Māori in all classes. Language acquisition could be further supported by classroom teachers reinforcing and building on these lessons.

The board of trustees has implemented some of the suggestions raised during consultation with whānau.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The board provides effective governance of the school under an experienced board chair. Trustees contribute a range of skills and experience that are valuable to the board. They have undertaken training and are confident in their governance roles. The board operates in sub committees and decisions result from robust discussions. Succession planning for sustainability has been considered.

School leaders have developed the strategic plan in response to student achievement data and parent perspectives. The board receives regular curriculum reports that they find useful for informing their decisions.

Senior leaders are experienced and work together cohesively. They have the collective knowledge and capacity to move the school ahead in areas identified for improvement. Leadership is distributed among teachers throughout the school.

Teachers work together to improve their practice through a coaching programme. They focus on religious education, school and individual goals and use classroom walkthroughs to gather evidence to support the programme. Senior leaders could build on these mechanisms to ensure school expectations are being implemented.

Self review is characterised by a planned review cycle for policies and in-depth curriculum reviews. A community survey provides important feedback from a parent perspective. An active parent body ensures concerns are brought to the school’s attention. Senior leaders facilitate well-attended forums for parents to discuss education matters. They should continue to find ways to be responsive to the parent community.

Provision for international students

The school is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. No international students were enrolled at the time of the ERO 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.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

26 June 2013

About the School

Location

Silverdale, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

1663

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

316

Number of international students

0

Gender composition

Girls 54%

Boys 46%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Chinese

Pacific

Other European

Other

78%

7%

1%

1%

12%

1%

Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

26 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

June 2010

May 2007