St Benedict's School (Khandallah) - 11/08/2016

1 Context

St Benedict's School is a primary school in Khandallah, Wellington. It caters for students in Years 1 to 8, and provides education with a Catholic character. Roll numbers are stable. The current roll comprises 69% Pākehā and 6% Māori. The remainder of students are from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. Many staff have long associations with the school.

The June 2013 ERO report identified a number of areas requiring improvement, including: curriculum review and development; integration of te ao Māori and culturally responsive practices; consultation with the parent community; teacher inquiry; and alignment of systems and processes to support effective evaluation. Whilst there has been some progress towards addressing these areas, further work is required to develop and embed practice.

2 Equity and excellence

The vision and valued outcomes defined by the school are 'developing our children's minds, guiding our children's hearts'. The vision is supported through the gospel values of Empathy, Perseverance, Integrity and Creativity (EPIC), established by the Brigidine Sisters.

The school’s achievement information shows that nearly all students continue to achieve at or above in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. High numbers of students achieve above the standard, particularly girls in reading and boys in mathematics. Most Māori and Pacific students achieve well, with minimal disparity in achievement evident between groups for literacy.

Strategic targets are set to raise student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics. Next development steps for the school are to make expectations for accelerated learning progress more specific for students at risk of not achieving and regularly monitor their progress towards goals.

In-school moderation, particularly for writing, occurs in syndicate meetings and through informal discussions between teachers. A more rigorous and systematic approach to moderation is required to ensure schoolwide practices for making overall teacher judgments in relation to National Standards are robust and consistent. This should include leaders ensuring there are clear processes for making judgments, and regular internal and external moderation.

Since the previous ERO evaluation, the school has undertaken mathematics professional learning and development (PLD) and participated in an Accelerated Learning in Mathematics project (ALIM) to support some students working below National Standards. Currently, a Curriculum and Achievement Plan is being developed to provide a framework for supporting students with learning needs. Written reports to parents have been reviewed to provide improved information. Teachers have recently begun to look at culturally responsive practices through the document Tātaiako: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori learners. 

3 Accelerating achievement

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

Māori students are identified in schoolwide and classroom data. Their achievement is reported to and shared with whānau Māori. Recent 2015 data, shows these students achieve as well as their peers in writing and reading. There is a small group achieving below the standard in mathematics.

The school has begun to explore ways its curriculum can further reflect te ao Māori. To strengthen curriculum provision for Māori students, and support excellence and success for them as Māori, the school should develop and implement a strategic plan which:

  • develops the cultural understandings, competence and capacity of leaders, teachers and trustees
  • effectively gathers and responds to the aspirations of whānau Māori
  • sets out clear expectations for teachers’ cultural responsiveness
  • evaluates actions taken and the effectiveness of curriculum and teachers’ practice in promoting the language, culture and identities of these students as they learn.

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

Students who achieve below, in relation to National Standards, are identified for additional support through focused class teaching or working with teacher aides. Some are provided with additional learning opportunities through ALIM sessions. Outcomes reported by the school, for these students, include more positive attitudes and some improved skills and strategies. The school should develop a schoolwide focus on accelerating the progress of students at risk in their learning. This should include establishing systems for measuring these students’ rates of accelerated progress against clearly defined learning goals.

Students with specific, additional needs are identified on enrolment and a range of strategies and resources are put in place. Plans are underway to review the effectiveness of provision for these students. This is timely and should seek to improve:

  • regular, responsive two-way communication with all involved in each child's learning and care
  • processes and systems for assessing, action planning, reporting and evaluating of support provided.

The school is currently developing a process for identifying and implementing support for students at risk in their learning. This process should also include:

  • expectations for communicating with families and building learning partnerships with parents and students
  • clear individual goals and expectations for students' accelerated progress
  • regular monitoring and reporting in relation to goals
  • identification of successful strategies and next steps for improvement.

Pacific students are achieving well. Specific strategies to support their language, culture and identity through learning should be further explored.

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 vision and special character are clearly articulated in the charter. Students are well supported to contribute positively to school life and be successful. A positive tone and relationships are evident. Further improvement of systems and processes is required across the school. This should assist in the enactment of goals and priorities and support innovation and improvement.

Students are well supported to manage their learning and resources through clear expectations and organised environments. Good levels of student collaboration are evident. Inclusive practices are demonstrated. Teachers provide focused, supportive teaching for groups of learners and foster good learning relationships with students.

Curriculum review is underway. As development continues, consideration should be given to providing clear expectations about how teachers:

  • respond to learners at risk of poor educational outcomes
  • support the languages, cultures and identities of students as they learn
  • promote meaningful, authentic learning and students as informed, enabled learners
  • foster learning partnerships with families.

The board monitors progress towards the school’s strategic goals. Surveys undertaken with parents provide useful information that can be further explored to guide school practices and direction. Plans are in place for wide-ranging consultation to develop the new strategic plan. To improve their focus on equity and excellence for all learners, trustees need to ensure targets for accelerating students' progress are specific and measurable.

Consideration should also be given to using the New Zealand School Trustees Association resource,
Hautū - Maori cultural responsiveness self review tool for boards of trustees
, to evaluate the board's stewardship. A cycle is in place for reviewing policies and procedures. Some key policies are under further review to ensure they are up to date with recent legislative and sector changes.

Syndicate leaders work to support teachers to reflect on and improve their practice. Some guidelines are in place to guide the senior leadership team. These should be further developed and implemented to support:

  • clear expectations of their roles in promoting desired student outcomes
  • effective communication
  • development of leadership capacity
  • evaluation of the effectiveness of practices in relation to expectations and outcomes. 

The appraisal process has begun to be improved in response to recent PLD. Further development should assist with:

  • updating the appraisal policy and procedures to align with changes to practice
  • ensuring all leaders and teachers develop and monitor progress towards relevant goals that are focused on accelerating student achievement
  • consistent implementation of the process
  • the use of valid evidence to attest teachers' competence in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria.

Teacher inquiry is supporting teachers' learning about identified student needs. This should be further strengthened through the use of focused evaluative questions and specific measures to gauge the impact of their strategies on improved outcomes for students.

Internal evaluation requires strengthening. Leaders recognise the need to develop a clear framework to enable school actions, strategies and interventions to be evaluated for effectiveness and impact. A robust process should strengthen decision-making.

5 Going forward

How well placed is the school to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children?

Leaders and teachers:

  • know the children whose learning and achievement need to be accelerated
  • need approaches that effectively meet the needs of each child
  • need to ensure the school is well placed to achieve and sustain equitable and excellent outcomes for all children.

There is a positive school tone and established teaching practices which support most learners to engage and succeed. Further development of processes and systems is required to more effectively respond to learners at risk, their cultural identities and need for accelerated progress.  Learning partnerships with parents and families and evaluation of interventions, practices and actions require strengthening.  

Action: The board, principal and teachers should participate in an internal evaluation workshop. They should use this workshop, ERO exemplars of good practice and the School Evaluation Indicators to address the findings of this evaluation and develop a Raising Achievement Plan that includes a schoolwide focus on building teacher capability to accelerate learning and achievement.

As part of this review ERO will continue to monitor the school’s Raising Achievement Plan and the progress the school makes. ERO is likely to carry out the next full review in three years. 

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

Trustees need to ensure that they:

  • meet new requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 and review and strengthen their child protection policies.
    [Vulnerable Children Act 2014; Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015]

To improve current practice, the board of trustees should ensure key policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated, including performance management and complaints policies and procedures.

7 Recommendation

The school should further develop its response to learners and their families through reviewing the curriculum and strengthening learning partnerships.   

Joyce Gebbie
Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

11 August 2016

About the school 

Location

Wellington

Ministry of Education profile number

3000

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

245

Number of international students

1

Gender composition

Female 51%, Male 49%

Ethnic composition

Māori
Pākehā
Asian
Pacific
Other ethnic groups

  6%
69%
18%
  1%
  6%

Review team on site

May 2016

Date of this report

11 August 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review
Education Review
Education Review

June 2013
April 2010
May 2007