Marian Catholic School (Hamilton) - 20/12/2013

1 Context

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

Marian Catholic School is a state integrated full primary school catering for students from Years 1 to 8, located in Hamilton. The student roll has remained close to its 600 maximum allowed by its integration agreement, and an enrolment scheme is in place. The current student roll is 622 of whom 11% are identified as Māori. The school has five International fee paying students enrolled.

A feature of the school is its special catholic character which permeates all aspects of programmes and operations. Its mission statement is ‘Marian School exists to provide children with the tools to become successful life-long learners, in a Catholic context’. An affirming, inclusive and respectful culture is highly evident amongst students, staff and families. Service to others, especially those in need, is strongly promoted.

The experienced and long-serving principal is well respected and takes a leading role in local educational networks. He is supported by a competent senior leadership team which includes the deputy principal and team leaders, two of whom have been appointed since the last review.

The board is led by an experienced chairperson, and includes proprietor’s representatives and trustees of Māori and Pacific origin. A recent parent community survey was completed which informed the board’s review of the strategic plan, and identified priority areas related to faith development, arts, the provision for e-learning, catering for diverse needs and ongoing improvements to school facilities. Since the last review the school has opened a new library.

The school has a positive reporting history with ERO. Recommendations in the 2009 report related to aspects of teaching practice and initiatives to strengthen Māori dimensions in the school. The board and school leaders are continuing to respond to these recommendations through ongoing professional development contracts and community consultations.

2 Learning

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

The school collates and analyses an extensive range of student achievement and progress information. School leaders make effective use of this information to report overall student achievement to the board and parents, and to inform decision making related to professional development priorities and staff support. They sought input from staff and developed annual plans based on student achievement evidence.

The Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) works closely with classroom teachers, and uses achievement information to clearly identify students in need of additional support in their learning. She coordinates the team of experienced teacher aides to implement effective in-class and withdrawal interventions. Progress of these students is carefully monitored and reported to school leadership and the board. Classroom teachers use achievement information to form ability groups in reading, writing and mathematics, and share with parents. While trustees use achievement information to set targets for groups identified within teaching teams, these targets do not specifically relate to the progress of priority learners.

Students maintain learning journals and ‘whakapapa mahi’ books which include samples of teacher and self-assessed work and personal goal settings. These books are shared periodically with parents. Written reports to parents are comprehensive and have an additional information sheet intended to help parents interpret the information. Parents spoken to by ERO felt well informed about their child’s progress and achievement, and how to support their next steps in learning.

National Standards data for 2012 indicates that a high proportion of students are achieving at or above expected standards in reading and mathematics. The proportion of students achieving at or above the standard in writing is not as high, and the school has made written language a focus for professional development and target setting. An analysis of trends and patterns shows that girls achieve better than boys in reading and writing, and Pacific students do not yet achieve as well as their peers. A considerable proportion of Pacific students have English as their second language (ESoL). Māori student achievement is comparable to non Māori in reading, but is below national expectations, especially in writing.

3 Curriculum

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

Students participate with considerable success in a broad range of academic, sporting, cultural, leadership and special character programmes which promote and support learning. They have opportunities to participate in regular liturgies in classrooms and the adjoining cathedral church. Parents are encouraged to contribute to school events and feel well informed through regular newsletters and the school website. Staff give generously of their own time to facilitate extra curricula activities. They also model the values inherent in the school’s special character to promote service to others and to show compassion for those in need.

Teachers successfully establish mutually respectful relationships with students, and classrooms are settled and productive. Student work is regularly displayed to share and celebrate their achievement. Teachers articulate high expectations for student achievement and behaviour. They share the purpose of programmes with students who are responsive to the learning experiences presented. ERO and senior staff agree that the development, sharing and effective use of success criteria by students to take greater responsibility for their own learning is at an early stage of development.

School leaders provide thorough documentation to guide curriculum planning, delivery and assessment, which occurs predominantly within the four teaching teams. They recognise that planning programmes to integrate several curriculum areas is a next step. A focus for professional development has been literacy and assessment. The school identified the need to improve student achievement in the surface features of written language. Opportunities are provided for teachers to undertake leadership roles within teams and curriculum areas.

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

Māori students participate and enjoy success in the special character, leadership and sporting aspects of school life. Students in Years 5 to 8 have the opportunity to engage in kapa haka, and an overnight marae visit experience.

The board, school leadership and teachers are conscious of the need to make more effective progress in promoting Māori success, as Māori, and to reflect a greater emphasis on aspects of Te Ao Māori in school environments and programmes. They have made repeated attempts to engage with their Māori parents, but with limited success so far. There remains the need to strengthen leadership of Te Ao Māori initiatives throughout the school, and to increase the confidence and competence of staff in te reo and tikanga Māori practices.

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. Supporting factors include:

  • effective governance by trustees who bring considerable experience and expertise to their roles
  • a principal and senior team who provide professional leadership and a positive sense of purpose and direction for the school community
  • self-review processes which gather a range of relevant information and perspectives to inform strategic and operational planning
  • staff who plan and work collaboratively to promote positive educational outcomes for students
  • students who are well supported by their families to engage in academic, cultural, sporting and special character programmes
  • the ongoing support of the parent and church communities, including Pacific.

The board and school leaders have recognised, and ERO agrees, that an externally facilitated professional development and appraisal programme for the senior leadership team is necessary to support ongoing school improvement. Areas for consideration in this programme include:

  • more effective use of evidence from self review to evaluate school initiatives
  • strengthening teaching strategies to effectively cater for diverse learning needs in the classroom, including students with special abilities
  • reviewing the appraisal system for teachers and the setting of school-wide progress targets to better support strategic priorities
  • strengthening Māori perspectives and practices throughout the school.

Provision for international students

Marian school 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. At the time of this review there were five international students attending the school.

The school has attested that it complies with all aspects of the Code. ERO investigations confirmed that the school’s self-review process for international students is thorough.

International students continue to benefit from the inclusive and respective culture highly evident in the school. They are well integrated into all aspects of school life and encouraged to participate in extra -curricular and special character activities. A pastoral care coordinator effectively oversees all enrolment and legal matters. She is successful in establishing and maintaining relationships of trust and confidence between the school and the families of the international students.

The deputy principal and class teachers coordinate the assessment and reporting of the academic levels and progress of international students. These students are supported to access the curriculum by a competent team of ESOL trained teacher aides.

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

20 December 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Number of international students


Gender composition

Girls 55% Boys 45%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā




South East Asian

Other European


Other Asian











Review team on site

November 2013

Date of this report

20 December 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

June 2009

April 2006

September 2002