Our Lady Star of the Sea School (Christchurch) - 18/11/2016

1 Context

Our Lady Star of the Sea School (Christchurch) is a small school that has strong links with the local Catholic parish. The special character of the school is highly evident in all aspects of daily practice and programmes.

The school provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for children and their families. Teachers know children and their families well. They foster close connections with and support from the local community.

The school is actively involved in a well-established cluster of local schools. A Ministry of Education initiative ‘Character Education’ is currently being implemented across the school to promote children’s wellbeing.

There have been changes in staff, including a new principal since the 2013 ERO review.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school for all children are to live out their Catholic faith and achieve personal excellence. This is promoted by children being globally aware, dynamic thinkers, self-motivated, effective communicators and actively involved in the school community. The school fosters the values of Serenity, Tika (Justice), Aroha and Respect.

The school’s achievement information shows that Māori children are achieving well and are at or above the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Across the school, most children achieve at or above the National Standards for literacy and mathematics. The school reports that they are above the national expectations of 85% of children at or above National Standards in reading and mathematics and are close to meeting this in writing. Achievement information over time shows the school has maintained high levels of attainment.

Teachers are undertaking professional development to support their judgements about children’s writing. Moderation practices could be improved in reading and mathematics.

Since the 2013 ERO review, the school has reviewed and refined the school’s curriculum. This has included increasing the ways Māori language and culture are incorporated into class programmes. The system for how teachers monitor and track children’s achievement over time has been improved. Teachers have also increased their reflective practices.

3 Accelerating achievement

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

The school is effectively identifying and responding to children whose learning needs accelerating.

Teachers use a range of ways to assess children’s learning. They make very good use of this assessment information to identify children at risk of not achieving. Teachers work closely together to ensure they effectively identify barriers to learning. They seek early intervention for children who require additional learning support. Positive learning partnerships with parents are fostered to enhance learning outcomes for children.

The Principal and teachers work closely with external agencies to gain valuable advice and guidance. This information, on how to best assist children to progress in their learning, is shared with classroom teachers.

The board resources additional staffing to enable high levels of support for children’s learning and wellbeing. School leaders could make better use of achievement information to regularly report rates of progress to the board. School leaders could improve the usefulness of achievement reports to the board by including information about programs in place for children below National Standards, what is working and what could be further resourced.

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 effectively underpins children's learning and wellbeing. The integration of the school's special character and values are key aspects of the curriculum and the school's approach to equity and excellence.

Teachers have a holistic approach to children’s learning and wellbeing. They are supporting children’s growing confidence in the use of te reo Māori, especially in support of the school’s special character.

Children benefit from many rich and interesting learning experiences. Teachers provide differentiated learning programmes to build on children’s strengths, interests and extend their learning. They support children's independence and increasing ownership of their own learning.

Children are well supported to reflect on their learning and regularly review and set new learning goals. Older children have many leadership opportunities and are well supported to understand leadership roles and responsibilities. Younger children benefit from positive interactions and help from older students.

Teachers foster high levels of parent and community involvement. They develop positive learning partnerships with parents, particularly for children with diverse learning needs.

The principal and teachers are building a reflective culture. They actively seek and use children's ideas and opinions to inform decisions and influence change. The principal provides teachers with regular and ongoing feedback about their teaching and learning practices. Professional development opportunities are supporting teachers to move towards modern learning practices and greater integration of the curriculum.

Trustees bring a range of skills to the board. The board is aware of the ongoing priorities for the school and the need to have greater involvement in setting strategic directions.

The board, school leaders and ERO agree that the key priorities for ongoing improvement are to:

  • strengthen evaluative understandings and practices
  • ensure the board have greater input into strategic planning and annual goals
  • further develop moderation guidelines and processes
  • continue to develop the school’s local curriculum so it better reflects the local community, current school practices and use of te reo Māori
  • ensure that appraisal processes are robust and fully reflect the Education Council's requirements.

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.

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

The principal and teachers know children well. They provide an inclusive learning environment where wellbeing and learning are nurtured. Children at risk of not achieving are very well supported. Teachers respond to children's interests and actively seek their views and opinions.

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
  • provision for international students.

7 Recommendations

For the school to continue to improve its performance, ERO recommends that the teachers:

  • develop further moderation practices
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the assessment information that is used to report progress.

ERO also recommends that NZSTA provide support for the Board in its governance role to continue to strengthen strategic practices and directions. 

Dr Lesley Patterson
Deputy Chief Review Officer Te Waipounamu Southern

18 November 2016

About the school 



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Boys 34; Girls 32

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

September 2016

Date of this report

18 November 2016

Most recent ERO reports

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

April 2013
January 2010
February 2007