Our Lady of Victories - 23/06/2014

Findings

The school has made considerable progress in addressing the areas of concern identified in the 2012 ERO report. The commissioner has worked with the acting principal to substantially improve the school culture. Parents and teachers have responded well to the school’s new direction. Students are learning in a calm and settled environment. There is a strong focus on school values and the school’s special Catholic character.

The board is aware of the need to appoint a new principal and the challenges involved in transitioning to a fully self-governing school.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

1 Background and Context

What is the background and context for this school’s review?

The school has experienced significant difficulties for some years. A commissioner has worked in the school since 2011. The board was unable to sustain its governance role. This resulted in the board being dissolved at the beginning of 2012.

The 2012 ERO review reported that there had been improvements in classroom practices but poor ongoing staff relationships were of concern. A commissioner has worked with the staff and the school’s community to improve the effectiveness of learning and teaching, and to resolve community and staff grievances.

A board was appointed at the end of April 2014 with the approval of the Ministry of Education (MoE). With the election of a new board the MOE was satisfied that a commissioner was no longer required. The principal and deputy principal are in acting positions.

There has been an increase in the school roll of students from different cultures.

2 Review and Development

How effectively is the school addressing its priorities for review and development?

Priorities identified for review and development

The August 2012 ERO review identified the need to:

  • improve the quality of self review
  • establish effective governance arrangements for the school.

Progress

The commissioner has provided effective guidance for developing governance for the school. The MoE approved an alternative constitution for the board that includes two parent-elected trustees, two proprietor's representatives, two MoE appointed trustees, a staff trustee, and the acting principal. Trustees have held one meeting at which they elected a new board chairperson.

Trustees have a good range of skills. The board chairperson brings considerable previous experience as a board chairperson to her role. Trustees will begin training to fully understand their governance roles and responsibilities and how they can best support school leaders. This training needs to be ongoing to ensure the board has the capacity to become a fully self-governing board.

Area for further review and development

A key task for the new board is to prepare for the appointment of a new principal.

Self review is an area that needs further development. The commissioner has worked with the acting principal to establish expectations and guidelines for self review. Discussions with staff and parents have helped to set strategic priorities for school improvement and areas for review. These include:

  • reshaping the school’s vision to better reflect its special character
  • developing goals in the strategic plan as a basis for school-wide review
  • re-evaluating school resources, including information technologies, to identify what is needed and how they can be best used
  • completing job descriptions that will be used for appraisal and review
  • reviewing school systems for the development and monitoring of school policies and procedures.

Self review should be further strengthened when the board develops specific policies and procedures that give guidance for review at board, leadership and teacher levels.

3 Sustainable performance and self review

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

Priorities identified for review and development

The August 2012 review identified the need to:

  • build a professional staff culture and a positive learning environment for students
  • implement an effective appraisal system and professional learning opportunities to support the development of effective teaching, management and leadership
  • develop a positive home-school partnership.

Progress

The commissioner and acting principal have worked with the senior leadership team to significantly improve professional relationships across the staff. A more positive school culture is evident. There is a more collaborative approach to school improvement that is supporting both students and staff.

Senior leaders are working as a team. Professional boundaries have been re-established through the review and development of roles and responsibilities. There is improved shared decision making about identifying school goals and how they can be achieved. Communication and information sharing across all staff have also been improved.

The junior and senior teams are working cooperatively to achieve more consistent school-wide practices. There has been a well considered placement of staff across class levels to make sure individual teacher strengths are matched with what the school knows about its learners.

All staff are benefiting from an appraisal programme provided by an external appraiser. Teachers set goals that relate to the charter goals and their individual professional development needs. They are receiving improved feedback about their progress. Professional learning opportunities are better linked to charter goals and the needs of teachers. Teachers are encouraged to reflect on their classroom practices through planned opportunities to observe one another teach, and to share good practice ideas. Appraisal training is being provided for the acting principal and senior leaders to build their capabilities.

The partnership between parents and the school has been strengthened. There have been community meetings facilitated by the commissioner and supported by the acting principal and MoE personnel.

The commissioner and acting principal have clearly articulated that the school needed new direction. Parents were provided with opportunities to express their concerns, to ask questions and to be part of new developments. Parents have responded positively by increasing their involvement in the school’s Parents and Friends Association. This association is working positively with school leadership to achieve strategic goals. Parents have also increased their involvement in school working bees, their participation in events that celebrate the school’s special Catholic character, and in school activities within the wider community.

The next step to further strengthen partnerships with parents is for the newly appointed board to develop consultation processes that will support ongoing involvement of all parents. The board also needs to engage with Māori whānau to make sure their aspirations for students are acknowledged and met.

Areas for further review and development

The board and leaders should continue to monitor staff wellbeing and school culture so that students continue to learn in a positive environment.

School leaders have identified steps to further strengthen the school’s capacity to implement its own appraisal programme. These include:

  • further developing policy and procedures for appraisal so that teachers can have their good practice recognised and areas for improvement identified
  • increasing teachers’ individual reflective practices so they are better able to show how they are meeting their goals and how their teaching is benefiting students’ learning
  • continuing appraisal training opportunities for school leaders so they can confidently move into this role.

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 has made considerable progress in addressing the areas of concern identified in the 2012 ERO report. The commissioner has worked with the acting principal to substantially improve the school culture. Parents and teachers have responded well to the school’s new direction. Students are learning in a calm and settled environment. There is a strong focus on school values and the school’s special Catholic character.

The board is aware of the need to appoint a new principal and the challenges involved in transitioning to a fully self-governing school.

ERO intends to carry out another review over the course of one-to-two years.

Graham Randell

National Manager Review Services

Southern Region

23 June 2014

About the School

Location

Christchurch

Ministry of Education profile number

3463

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

134

Gender composition

Girls 60%

Boys 40%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

Asian

Other ethnicities

41%

20%

23%

16%

Review team on site

May 2014

Date of this report

23 June 2014

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

August 2012

August 2010

August 2007