St Mary's College (Ponsonby)

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Education institution number:
50
School type:
Secondary (Year 7-15)
School gender:
Single Sex (Girls School)
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
840
Telephone:
Address:

11 New Street, Ponsonby, Auckland

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1. Context

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

St Mary’s College (Ponsonby) is a Catholic girls’ school in central Auckland. The well established state integrated Years 7 to 15 school is one of New Zealand’s earliest colleges. The college has a strong Catholic character based on the values of its Sisters of Mercy founders. Heritage buildings such as the school chapel and music hall are well maintained and in regular use.

Students come from geographically wide spread and culturally diverse communities. Many families have intergenerational connections with the school and the parent, teacher and family association is very active in its support for the school. There are many opportunities for parents and whanau to engage in school events and, increasingly, in learning partnerships.

A new principal was appointed by the board of trustees in 2013. The change in leadership resulted in wide consultation about the school’s charter and its vision for future-focused teaching and learning. The very collaborative relationships between the board, the principal and the senior leadership team enable school operations to be continuously reviewed and improved.

The roll has increased 15 percent during the five years since ERO last reviewed the school. That period has also seen the significant development of new buildings and teaching facilities, including the modern gymnasium. The college directors and the board of trustees are continuing to pursue a programme of well considered property and resource enhancement.

ERO’s 2010 review identified many features of the school that impacted positively on student learning. These features have been sustained and are evident in continued high levels of student achievement. The board’s strategic plan positions the school to make improvements that will further advance student learning outcomes.

2. Learning

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

Student achievement information is very well used.

Information reported to the board demonstrates continual improvement in National Standards at Years 7 and 8, and in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Senior students are performing well above national comparisons and schools of a similar type, and achievement levels in NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance have increased.

School leaders are setting more challenging annual goals and targets using base-line achievement information. The new targets are specifically focused on students who are most at risk of not achieving their potential. Student progress and achievement at all levels is monitored carefully throughout the year. Teachers know students well and adapt programmes to meet students’ identified learning needs.

The school sets appropriate targets for Māori and Pacific learners each year. These are thoughtfully selected based on the actual numbers of students in each year level. Māori and Pacific students have made significant gains, particularly in NCEA Merit and Excellent Endorsement levels. School-wide targets are well analysed and reported, and are now included in the reports of curriculum leaders.

The school has inclusive values and practices. Students with additional learning needs are well supported and involved in all aspects of school life. The learning centre is well resourced and has a central position in the school. The new McAuley Room provides appropriate support for learners with high needs, who attend mainstream classes for much of their learning.

Teachers are exploring ways to use achievement information to inquire into the effectiveness of their professional practice. Expectations of teachers to examine evidence are becoming more evident in teachers’ appraisal processes. Planned professional development enables teachers to share their learning and develop capability for meeting the diverse needs of learners.

Senior leaders are thoughtfully planning a school wide evaluation of teaching and learning. ERO discussed the value of exploring modern learning practices to raise teacher expectations of learning for the 21 century. An effective teaching profile that could result from this investigation could complement the school’s vision of a successful learner.

3. Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum supports student learning very effectively.

The curriculum has a strong component of Catholic education. The Mercy values inherent in the school’s special character are the focus of Religious Education (RE) for all students at all levels. Linking closely with RE is the well established whole school music and cultural programmes. Student leadership opportunities connected with RE, sport and music are sought after and valued.

The whole school Year 7 to 15 curriculum offers a unique opportunity to scaffold learning across all year levels using teachers’ subject specific expertise to deliver engaging programmes. The planned curriculum review will enable all faculties to ensure that programmes are well connected across year levels and aligned to school goals. The introduction of e-learning is being carefully managed and the recent introduction of BYOD at Year 8 is enabling innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

The curriculum provides academic pathways that meet the aspirations of students and their families for university entrance qualifications. Parents and the school have high expectations of continued and successful lifelong learning. Well analysed student destination data clearly indicates that the majority of student leavers enter universities and tertiary education.

The curriculum is adapting to the changing interests of the modern learner. New subjects such as computer coding, health education, commerce, te reo Māori and enterprise are adding diversity and access to meaningful careers choices. A school-wide curriculum review will provide valuable opportunities to further examine what is taught, particularly in relation to the principles and competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum.

The board’s strategic goal of promoting Hauora/wellbeing is thoughtful and appropriate. The holistic nature of wellbeing complements school values of compassion and social justice. Deans and counsellors work with form teachers to build meaningful connections with students and their families. Greater use of restorative practices could be useful in enhancing student wellbeing.

Students are confident and motivated learners. They are enthusiastic about their opportunities to achieve and participate positively in leadership, service and peer-support programmes. They engage well with teachers and are particularly responsive in learning contexts that are relevant and where their cultural identity and prior knowledge are reflected and valued.

In some subjects, including the arts and social sciences, teachers make good use of Pacific and Māori contexts for learning. Senior leaders agree that culturally responsive teaching is a key component to include in the planned curriculum review.

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

Māori students report pride in their school, and the desire to be successful learners. The number of Māori students in the school has remained relatively stable in recent years.

The school’s recently reviewed charter and mission statement reflect an ongoing commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and the unique place of tangata whenua. Stated values of whānaungatanga and manaakitanga are consistent with school practices and Catholic character. The charter statements provide connections and particular meaning for whānau Māori.

Māori students achieve well overall and continue to improve at higher levels of NCEA. Whānau attend special events that celebrate achievement. A cultural enhancement team of teachers provides additional pastoral support for Māori students.

The recent appointment of a full time te reo Maori teacher is an important step in promoting further success for Māori students. It signals the board’s recognition that language, culture and identity are critical factors in succeeding as Māori.

4. Sustainable Performance

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

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

The board of trustees exercises responsible decision making and draws on shared notions of stewardship to guide school development. Trustees bring a diverse range of experience and expertise to school governance. They contribute extensively to school operations, particularly in making decisions about long term finance, property and resources. Trustees are also keen to consult parents and respond to feedback from the school’s community.

Trustees have made good use of external expertise to review their approaches to governance. The resulting school charter and strategic plan provide clear directions and are valuable resources to sustain good governance and support future trustees. Policies and procedures are now clearly defined and self review is systematic and thorough.

School operations, including planning, reporting and resourcing, are well aligned with the board’s strategic intentions. Trustees receive well-analysed information and recommendations from school leaders. Increasingly, information is being evaluated and is goal-focused, providing evidence to support better self review.

The new principal is providing effective and professional leadership to the staff. Teachers are confident of the school's direction. This is evident in the ways they engage in professional learning and take a positive and active interest in improving teacher practice. The capability of curriculum managers to be leaders of learning has been strengthened through greater alignment with senior managers and strategic reporting.

Respectful and collaborative relationships with the board of trustees and proprietors enable school leaders to identify key areas for school development. The school is well positioned now to embed recent initiatives and undertake the planned reviews of curriculum, teaching, inclusion, pastoral care and appraisal, all of which have a clear focus on learning and innovation.

Senior managers are aware of the need to be proactive in leading these planned reviews. They have considered their respective roles, and strengthened ways of communicating with staff. The management team is open to external expertise, new learning and evaluation. With the principal’s leadership, the outcomes of these reviews have the potential to move the school forward.

Provision for international students

St Mary’s College is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students established under the section 238F of the Education Act 1989.

At the time of the review there were 29 international students attending the school, mostly from China, Korean and Japan. The board has recently reviewed policies for international students and has clarified its purpose and responsibilities for accepting international students.

Pastoral care services for international students are well integrated with English language teaching. International students make good progress and achieve well academically. The majority gain qualifications that meet their aspirations for entry to a New Zealand or overseas university.

The international student department is well staffed, with a fulltime director, a school dean and a part time accommodation coordinator. The majority of students prefer home-stay arrangements to gain English language speaking experience in a family setting.

International students are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities and engage in Catholic education programmes. Many students become involved in the wider social life of the school, particularly in musical performances and education outside the classroom.

The director meets regularly with the principal and completes the annual self review. The dean analyses academic progress and reports on student outcomes to the board of trustees. The board has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

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 Mary’s College provides a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes learning and high levels of achievement. The vision of successful and capable young women with strongly held values is central to the school’s guiding documents and practices. Students respond positively to the school’s high expectations. School leaders and trustees are committed to providing high quality, well resourced education set in attractive and modern facilities.

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

Dale Bailey
Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern

About the School

Location

Ponsonby, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number

50

School type

Secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll

957

Number of international students

29

Gender composition

Girls    100%

Ethnic composition

Māori
NZ European/Pākehā
Pacific
Asian
other

  8%
66%
15%
  9%
  2%

Review team on site

May 2015

Date of this report

29 June 2015

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

February 2010
October 2007
November 2004

 

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

The principal, staff and board of trustees of St Mary’s College have maintained a strong focus on providing girls from Year 7 to 13 with a high quality education in a caring and supportive environment. The school’s special character, founded in the Roman Catholic faith and the Mercy values of compassion and social justice, is clearly reflected in school practices. Students benefit from teachers’ expertise and commitment and their high expectations for achievement and success. Students have a strong sense of pride in their school. They appreciate the high levels of support given by staff and enjoy the extensive range of learning, leadership and cocurricular opportunities provided for them.

High levels of student achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) continue to be evident for students in Years 11 to 13. Achievement in NCEA for all groups of students, including Maōri and Pacific students, significantly exceeds national and decile averages. The percentage of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements at all levels of NCEA significantly exceeds national levels, and the numbers of students who attain these endorsements has increased considerably from year to year. A very high percentage of students, including Māori and Pacific, are leaving with university entrance and Level 3 NCEA.

Classroom teaching is purposeful and focused. Students enjoy positive relationships with teachers and with their peers. Since the 2007 ERO review, teacher professional learning and development has focused on developing students’ higher order thinking skills to further increase their engagement in learning and to further improve their levels of achievement. At the faculty level, teachers have focused on developing students’ information literacy skills, particularly in Years 7 to 10. The next step now is for school managers to coordinate a school-wide approach to professional learning that covers assessment processes and supports the use of strategies that involve students more actively in learning how to learn.

High quality, consistent leadership is a key factor in the school’s success, together with cohesive and collaborative management practices. The board, principal and senior managers have consulted with the community, staff and students to develop the St Mary’s College Curriculum, which aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum. The board, senior leadership team and staff are focused on ensuring that the St Mary’s College curriculum is effective in supporting student learning: engagement, progress and achievement.

The board’s long-term planning is focused on student success, supported by strong curriculum and assessment practices and by further engaging families in an effective home-school partnership. The board’s strategic goals provide a useful framework for self review of the governance and management of the school.

Future Action

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

2. St Mary's College’s Curriculum

How effectively does the curriculum of St Mary's College promote student learning - engagement, progress and achievement?

School context and self review

The special character of St Mary’s College pervades all aspects of school life. The school’s vision is that students will be empowered by an excellent education and Mercy values so that they are able to play a positive role in society.

St Mary’s College is highly regarded by its community. The school has had significant roll growth over the past seven years. Students are achieving at levels that are similar to those of students in higher decile schools and higher than average levels of students in the same decile.

The principal, staff and trustees are strongly focused on students attaining high levels of achievement. Senior managers have ensured that good assessment practices for NCEA are established. Targets have been set to increase the number of merit and excellence grades and the number of NCEA certificate endorsements. Further, specific achievement targets have been set to increase the number of scholarships gained by students.

Achievement information in Years 7 to 10 indicates that students make good progress in literacy and numeracy over this four year period. Teachers know students well and monitor their engagement, achievement and progress closely. Significant progress is being made in meeting requirements for reporting against the National Standards for students in Years 7 and 8.

Areas of strength

Strong, supportive learning environment. The school provides a strong and supportive learning environment with the aim of imbuing young women with a strong sense of self esteem and confidence. The Roman Catholic beliefs, traditions, and values of the school provide a solid foundation for positive and respectful relationships. The school has a cohesive and well coordinated pastoral care network.

High levels of student achievement. High levels of achievement in NCEA are attained by students in Years 11 to 13. NCEA data show significant improvement in the school’s overall achievement levels since the 2007 ERO review, including an increase in the number of merit and excellence endorsements. Māori and Pacific student achievement in NCEA is comparable with that of other students. Achievement levels consistently exceed comparable national levels.

Strong culture of high expectations. The notable improvements attained in student progress and achievement are underpinned by a culture of very high expectations for students’ work ethic, and their participation in learning. Achievement expectations are made explicit for students. Classroom environments are settled and focused on learning, and increasing numbers of students participate in co-curricular activities. Teachers use a range of effective strategies to engage students in learning, including building respectful and affirming relationships.

Strong focus on individuals. The 2007 ERO report noted the dedication of class teachers and the guidance network, including form teachers, deans, guidance counsellors, careers and support staff, in monitoring progress and achievement of individual students. This dedication remains evident.

Teachers make good use of literacy and numeracy achievement data to identify students who need learning support or extension. Academic monitoring in the senior school helps teachers to track student progress and achievement closely and to provide the appropriate support.

Building community partnerships to improve student learning and achievement. The school has a number of effective strategies to engage parents and to support students’ success at school and their entry into tertiary education. The curriculum has been extended in response to a review of the strategic plan and feedback from parents. A partnership has been developed with a local university to establish pathways into tertiary education.

Areas for development and review

Leading and effecting changes in teaching practice. The next step for senior managers is to develop a more coordinated and planned approach to staff professional learning and development to ensure that all teachers have a good understanding of the practices most likely to facilitate student learning and achievement. Particular emphasis could be placed on promoting consistent use of formative teaching practices so that students understand how to learn. Teachers could also plan to build on students’ prior cultural knowledge and experiences, particularly for Māori and Pacific students.

Self review. Senior managers could strengthen current self-review practices by:

  • more explicitly documenting decisions made and strategies selected to achieve specified goals for improving student outcomes;
  • developing a coordinated approach to increasing teachers’ skills in using achievement data to cater for students’ learning needs; and
  • refining processes for curriculum reporting in order to produce more succinct and focused evaluation of teaching and learning practices to support student learning, engagement, progress and achievement.

3. Provision for International Students

St Mary's College is providing its international students with high quality educational opportunities. Students benefit from the strong pastoral ethos of the school and the effective systems and practices support student learning and well being. Extensive guidance about learning programmes includes a well developed programme for learning English as a second language. International students are well integrated into school life and report that they enjoy and appreciate the extensive opportunities that are provided for them.

Compliance with theCode of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Studentsand the Provision of English Language Support

St Mary's College is a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code.

ERO’s investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review processes for international students are thorough.

4.Board Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of St Mary's College completed an ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • board administration;
  • curriculum;
  • management of health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management;
  • financial management; and
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO looked at the school’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records. ERO sampled recent use of procedures and checked elements of the following five areas that have a potentially high impact on students’ achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment);
  • physical safety of students;
  • teacher registration;
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions; and
  • attendance.

5. Future Action

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

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region 

2 February 2011

About The School

School type

State integrated secondary (Years 7 to 15)

School roll

802

Number of international students

16

Gender composition

Girls 100%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā 60%,

Māori 10%,

Samoan 9%,

Asian 9%,

Tongan 5%,

other 7%

Review team on site

October 2010

Date of this report

2 February 2011

Previous three ERO reports

Education Review, October 2007

Education Review, November 2007

Assurance Audit, November 1997

To the Parents and Community of St Mary's College

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on St Mary's College.

The principal, staff and board of trustees of St Mary’s College have maintained a strong focus on providing girls from Year 7 to 13 with a high quality education in a caring and supportive environment. The school’s special character, founded in the Roman Catholic faith and the Mercy values of compassion and social justice, is clearly reflected in school practices. Students benefit from teachers’ expertise and commitment and their high expectations for achievement and success. Students have a strong sense of pride in their school. They appreciate the high levels of support given by staff and enjoy the extensive range of learning, leadership and cocurricular opportunities provided for them.

High levels of student achievement in the National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) continue to be evident for students in Years 11 to 13. Achievement in NCEA for all groups of students, including Maōri and Pacific students, significantly exceeds national and decile averages. The percentage of students gaining merit and excellence endorsements at all levels of NCEA significantly exceeds national levels, and the numbers of students who attain these endorsements has increased considerably from year to year. A very high percentage of students, including Māori and Pacific, are leaving with university entrance and Level 3 NCEA.

Classroom teaching is purposeful and focused. Students enjoy positive relationships with teachers and with their peers. Since the 2007 ERO review, teacher professional learning and development has focused on developing students’ higher order thinking skills to further increase their engagement in learning and to further improve their levels of achievement. At the faculty level, teachers have focused on developing students’ information literacy skills, particularly in Years 7 to 10. The next step now is for school managers to coordinate a school-wide approach to professional learning that covers assessment processes and supports the use of strategies that involve students more actively in learning how to learn.

High quality, consistent leadership is a key factor in the school’s success, together with cohesive and collaborative management practices. The board, principal and senior managers have consulted with the community, staff and students to develop the St Mary’s College Curriculum, which aligns with The New Zealand Curriculum. The board, senior leadership team and staff are focused on ensuring that the St Mary’s College curriculum is effective in supporting student learning: engagement, progress and achievement.

The board’s long-term planning is focused on student success, supported by strong curriculum and assessment practices and by further engaging families in an effective home-school partnership. The board’s strategic goals provide a useful framework for self review of the governance and management of the school.

Future Action

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

Review Coverage

This report provides an evaluation of how effectively the school’s curriculum promotes student learning - engagement, progress and achievement. ERO’s evaluation takes account of the school’s previous reporting history and is based on:

  • what is known about student achievement information, including the achievement of Māori and Pacific students;
  • decisions made to improve student achievement using assessment and selfreview information; and
  • teaching strategies and programmes implemented to give effect to the school’s curriculum.

ERO also gathers information during the review to contribute to its national reports. The national reports are published on ERO’s website.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the school or see the ERO website, www.ero.govt.nz.

Richard Thornton

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region