St Anthony's Catholic School (Huntly) - 01/12/2014

Findings

Students at St Anthony’s Catholic school benefit from committed teachers who promote their wellbeing. The Roman Catholic character of the school is highly visible. After a period of instability the school board and staff recognise the need to redevelop the school Charter and curriculum under the guidance of a new principal.

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

1 Context

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

St Anthony’s Catholic School has provided education for children from the Huntly area for over 100 years. Located in Huntly, the school caters for students from Years 1 to 8. Currently there are 70 students at the school, 21 of whom identify as Māori. The school continues to maintain attractive grounds that include a swimming pool and all weather playing surfaces. The school’s Roman Catholic character is strongly visible through the values it promotes, religious instruction in class, and regular religious observances.

The school experienced a period of roll decline and instability during 2013. During this time the previous principal resigned and in Term 3, 2014 a new principal was appointed. As a result, the school wide improvements that ERO recommended in its last report have not yet been fully implemented. The new principal and staff are now working together as a team to promote positive outcomes for students. At the time of this review the roll had risen significantly and there is a strong community presence in the school.

A committed board of trustees includes a mixture of both highly experienced and new members. There is a settled and welcoming school tone.

2 Learning

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

Current data shows that a clear majority of students are achieving at or above National Standards in reading and mathematics and that most are at or above National Standards in writing. Overall, student achievement is slightly below that for the region.

The board of trustees receives achievement information from the principal which it uses to set targets and to guide its resourcing decisions. The principal and senior staff agree that it would also be useful to set more focussed targets that identify those students whose achievement needs to be accelerated. This should strengthen the school wide focus on these students so that the targets set can be met.

Teachers use a range of appropriate assessment tools as well as anecdotal notes and observations to measure student progress and to modify classroom programmes in response to student needs. They are increasingly confident in making accurate overall teacher judgements about student achievement. Teachers are confident that current practice provides an increasingly more realistic picture of student achievement.

Students who are at risk of under achieving, including those with special needs, are identified, tracked and monitored. A range of interventions are used to support their progress and achievement including referrals to external agencies and the use of teacher aides. The principal has identified the need to strengthen practice around the use of teacher aides and the evaluation of other intervention programmes to ensure they contribute appropriately to student achievement.

Students, especially in the senior part of the school, are supported and encouraged to understand their progress and achievement, and to set and evaluate learning their goals.

Parents receive useful information about their children’s progress and achievement which includes two written reports per year. These are supported by student-led conferences with teachers, parents and whānau where academic and social goals are set and evaluated.

The school and ERO agree that it would be beneficial to:

  • continue to strengthen student awareness and ownership of their own learning, for example, through the use of exemplars and the development of school-wide learning progressions
  • access Ministry of Education support to strengthen school wide-systems that promote consistent, cohesive and robust assessment practices
  • initiate school-wide professional development, particularly in the areas of writing and in responding effectively to Māori and Pacific students.

3 Curriculum

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

The school’s curriculum is increasingly broad and rich. There is an appropriate focus on literacy and mathematics and there are increasing opportunities to support and enhance students’ strengths and abilities in areas such as sports, music, dance and oratory. The school accesses external expertise to provide opportunities for students in technology education, sports and musical instrument tuition. There are a wide range of opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.

Students benefit from warm and respectful relationships with teachers and with each other. There are increasing opportunities for them to learn through information and communication technologies (ICT). Teachers are committed to students and to promoting their wellbeing in all aspects of their lives. They are resilient and have remained focussed on positive outcomes for students throughout recent challenges in the wider school context. Teachers have high expectations for their students and work collaboratively as a team.

Classroom environments are orderly and attractive. They celebrate student work and effectively support mathematics and literacy learning.

The school and ERO agree that it is now important to review the school’s curriculum through a collaborative process involving all members of the school and parish community and in partnership with whānau Māori.

In conjunction with this curriculum review process, the school and ERO agree that it is now timely to explore ways of accessing internal staff expertise more effectively for curriculum leadership.

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

School staff value te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. Te reo Māori is visible in the school through bilingual signage. There is some incidental use of te reo Māori in classrooms. A Māori language tutor has been engaged in the past and there are plans to re establish this in the coming school year. Pōwhiri has recently become a school-wide practice for welcoming special visitors. The new principal is actively developing stronger connections with whānau Māori in the school and in the wider community.

School leaders and ERO agree on the following important areas for improvement:

  • continue to strengthen the ability of whānau Māori to have a voice in school operations, for example, through the development of a Māori forum
  • develop systematic and sequential programmes for teaching te reo Māori and local history
  • increase opportunities for Māori and others to experience success as Māori, for example through the establishment of a school kapa haka.

4 Sustainable Performance

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

St Anthony’s Catholic School (Huntly) is well placed to sustain and improve its performance.

The board is committed to working in the best interests of students. Trustees have a very good understanding of their governance roles and responsibilities. They seek appropriate support and guidance.

The new principal has a clear vision for the future direction of the school. He is leading the development of a supportive, collaborative and inclusive school culture. The principal acknowledges the professional strengths and capabilities of school staff. He is highly visible to parents and the school community and is encouraging more parents to become involved in their students’ learning and in the wider life of the school.

Strategic plans are sound with targets and goals that reflect student needs. The policy review cycle has recently been reactivated and the redevelopment of other board self-review processes such as the triennial work plan is being discussed.

The school and ERO agree it is now important to:

  • ensure that a meaningful and inquiry-based teacher appraisal process is in place to support and challenge teachers, and to meet teacher attestation requirements
  • redevelop the school’s Charter, vision and values in partnership with parents and whānau, staff and students so that it reflects New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and the current school context.

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.

During the course of the review ERO identified areas of non-compliance. In order to address these the board of trustees must:

  1. Provide appropriate career education and guidance for all students in Years 7 and 8. [National Administration Guidelines 1 vi]
  2. Consult with the school’s Māori community and develop and make known to them policies, plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students. [National Administration Guideline 1v]
  3. Work towards offering students opportunities for learning second or subsequent languages in Years 7 and 8. [The New Zealand Curriculum]
  4. Comply with the requirement to adopt a statement on the delivery of the health curriculum, at least once in every two years, after consultation with the school community. [Section 60B Education Act 1989]

Conclusion

Students at St Anthony’s Catholic school benefit from committed teachers who promote their wellbeing. The Roman Catholic character of the school is highly visible. After a period of instability the school board and staff recognise the need to redevelop the school Charter and curriculum under the guidance of a new principal.

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

1 December 2014

About the School

Location

Huntly, Waikato

Ministry of Education profile number

1943

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

70

Gender composition

Boys 42

Girls 28

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Māori

South East Asian

Pacific

Other

24

21

13

8

4

Review team on site

October 2014

Date of this report

1 December 2014

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Supplementary Review

October 2011

September 2008

July 2006